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SURF Recipient Explores Public Policy and Natural Disasters

Some students take the summer off to take a break from studying, but Loyola Marymount University senior Greer Gosnell sees it as an opportunity to keep her research moving forward.

“I take 100 percent advantage of the time off during the summer to keep working,” said Gosnell, a political science and economics double major with a minors in environmental studies and Spanish.  “This is the time when you grow the most, and learn more about yourself.”

As a recipient of a 2010 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Gosnell will be studying the effects that natural disasters have on public policy. Specifically, her research will explore the voting trends in India after major floods.
“The poor rural populations will typically demand more land reforms after a big flood. The incumbents will run on these platforms because they want to stay in office,” Gosnell said. “These types of changes which maximize the welfare for the population at large are only possible when disasters like this happen.”
Gosnell will be conducting her own research on the topic using Stata, a data analysis and statistical software program, and trying to find a relationship between all the information. She said she hoped the experience will help prepare for her career.

“This is what academic research is all about. It might not be simple right off the bat, but if I become a professor this is what I’ll be doing,” Gosnell said. “I can better see the impact that political science and economics research has in shaping policy at all levels of government.”

Students in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts have the opportunity each year to conduct a study on the topic of their choice through SURF. Students must present their topic proposal as well as enlist an adviser who will guide them through their studies. Gosnell’s adviser is Andrew Healy, assistant professor of economics.

“Professor Healy is an amazing professor,” Gosnell said. “He trusts that I’ll get the research done, and he gives me great advice for my future. There is a great mentorship between us.”

Posted July 15, 2010