I am a professor of political science at NC State, where I have been since 2002. I received a B.A. in political science from Duke University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Ohio State. My research and expertise focuses on American public opinion and American elections, broadly. I also have more specific interests in gender and politics, media and politics, political parties, and North Carolina politics.
We teach our majors how to think critically, research thoroughly and write effectively — and to do so in the context of the most important issues of the day. These skills and abilities are certainly relevant to careers in politics, but are relevant and valuable to a whole host of future opportunities that value these strengths.
If possible, students should start with general questions and concerns about politics that they find personally motivating/interesting. Research will be far more interesting and sustainable when the student feels that personal connection and interest. A student definitely does not need a particular research question/idea to start as given general areas of interest, faculty are very helpful in refining directions for research.
All our faculty enjoy encouraging and guiding our students in undergraduate research. Students can engage in a year-long honors research project or a single semester research project under the guidance of faculty. After coming up with general ideas, students should contact faculty with expertise in this area of interest. It is great if a student wants to further pursue something they learned about in class and work with the faculty member who taught that class, but they should definitely not be afraid to approach a faculty member whom they do not know from the classroom. We are all here for all the majors, not just the ones that took our classes. I have helped several students with great independent research projects who never took a class with me beforehand.
It’s also important to note that the university really encourages and supports undergraduate research and even has an office to help make this happen — including a number of grants and awards.