Research opportunities within SPIA

My name is Stephanie Cannon, and I am a third-year undergraduate student studying international affairs and Arabic with a minor in Russian. I am also a member of the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program. In addition to my studies, I am a Resident Assistant in Creswell Hall, a member of the Redcoat Band, the Fraternal Education Officer of Sigma Alpha Iota, and a School of Public and International Affairs Ambassador. 

The School of Public and International Affairs provides ample opportunities for students to not only grow academically, but also professionally. The classes offered by SPIA professors provide students the opportunity to study topics ranging from the role of gender in wars to the structure of the intelligence community. The SPIA opportunity that has most shaped my time in college, however, is the research I have conducted with International Affairs Department Head Dr. Amanda Murdie.

During my sophomore year, I conducted research on the cooperation between non-governmental organizations through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. Through this research, I sought to answer the research questions (1) whether religious NGOs are more likely to have links to each other and (2) whether NGOs of the same religion were more likely to have links to each other. Dr. Murdie guided me in my background literature review my telling me credible researchers in the field of nongovernmental organizations. She also helped guide me in using computer programs to analyze data, allowing me to use the program R Studio to analyze the original dataset I coded. Following the analysis of this dataset, I presented my research at the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Symposium and the School of Public and International Affairs Research Colloquium. I am finishing compiling the results into a research paper that I will seek to have published. I am also planning to take a data analytics course next semester to further my knowledge of programs such as R Studio.

This research experience helped to shape my career goals by showing me how much I enjoy conducting research. After graduating from the University of Georgia, I plan to earn a master’s degree either through Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies or Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. During my time in graduate school, I seek to focus my research on combining the fields of security studies, comparative politics, and humanitarian research to show how all of these fields intersect. After obtaining my master’s degree, I seek to work for the Central Intelligence Agency as a counterterrorism analyst or an analytic methodologist. 

The School of Public and International Affairs has given me ample opportunities to grow academically and to establish myself within the University of Georgia community while also shaping my future career goals.