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PoliSci Honor Society Awarded Research Grant

For the seventh-consecutive year, the ONU chapter of the political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha has received a grant through the society's national office. This year, the ONU chapter received $1,279 to conduct research on the 2008 Electoral College.

Dr. Robert Alexander, BA '94, associate professor of political science and the chapter advisor, said that, with the recent presidential election and meeting of the Electoral College, it "made sense" to make it the focus of Pi Sigma Alpha's research.

The chapter is currently in the midst of data collection, which consists of surveying members of the 2008 Electoral College and examining their financial contributions. Once the numbers are in, the students will analyze the results.

For this year's grant, Shaili Patel, a third-year pharmacy student from Mannheim, Ontario, Canada, co-authored the proposal. Proposals to the Pi Sigma Alpha national office each year must discuss what the proposed project is, how it will benefit the chapter, and how it is consistent with the ideals of the society. It must also include an itemization of costs, and a projection of how the project will be carried out.

Alexander said he usually extends an offer to the president or vice president of ONU's Pi Sigma Alpha chapter to participate in writing the grant proposal each year.

"This provides an opportunity to have them learn something they simply would not have the ability to learn in the classroom," he said. "It is quite unusual for an undergraduate to have experience writing a grant proposal. It is my hope that experiences such as this help set them apart when they apply for post-graduate study or for a job upon graduation."

In all, the ONU chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha has been awarded more than $9,000 from the national office over the years to conduct research projects, attend national political science conferences, sponsor award programs, and publish their annual student journal, "Politics From the Hill."

The ONU chapter has also received the "outstanding chapter" distinction by the national office twice within the past five years. According to Alexander, "only two to three schools of our size are designated with this honor yearly. Hence, it really is an accomplishment worth noting."