Student Research

2018 Coverdell Chair Public Policy Student Research Public Policy Student Research Scholar Program

Liberal Arts Pathways to Success

The Coverdell Chair is pleased to announce the second round of the Coverdell Chair Public Policy Student Research Scholar (PPSRS) program for Spring and Summer 2018.  The main purpose of the Coverdell Chair PPSRS program is to strengthen GCSU’s mission as the premier public liberal arts university in Georgia and to attract and retain the highest caliber young scholars. The PPSRS program was created to enrich the academic experience of our undergraduates through research opportunities in Public Policy Studies in all disciplines from the social and physical sciences and the humanities to information and communication technology, nursing and business.
The Coverdell Chair is especially interested in promoting policy relevant research to develop innovative, workable policy solutions for major public problems. By providing access to faculty mentoring relationships and a professional research experience, the PPSRS program enables students to creatively explore their interests at a more in-depth level than can be attained in the classroom. The Coverdell Scholar program provides opportunities for undergraduates to build a competitive edge in the job market.

Funding Cycle: April 15−June 30, 2018

Summary details: Each Public Policy Student Research Scholar may receive up to $2,000 to fund his or her research project, competing for this award with the submission of a research, scholarship, or creative project proposal developed in collaboration with his or her faculty mentor. Selection is based on the project’s educational and intellectual merit, the potential policy impact of the project, and the student’s previous academic success. Faculty mentors may receive up to a total of $500 per project in faculty development funds upon the successful completion of the student grant. For Spring and Summer 2018 up to two PPSRS grants will be awarded.

Deadline for application: 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 18, 2018.

2015-2016 Coverdell Chair Public Policy Student Research Scholar Program Award Recipients



Georgia College Utility Database: Understanding Interest and Developing a Model for Development” Sean Grimes, Marketing Major [Mentor Dr. Doreen Sams, Department of Marketing]

As an institution of higher education and a large user of natural resources, Georgia College has an obligation to comprehend and reduce its environmental impact. Georgia College uses close to $2.5 million of electricity per year, but lacks the reporting infrastructure necessary for reduction.

This proposed research will use a two pronged approach to lay the groundwork for a campus-wide utility information system. I will analyze currently implemented energy data systems at other universities, and survey 3 categories of stakeholders at Georgia College. This will produce a decisional model to assist future development of a system, and an understanding of whether students, faculty, and administrators would utilize it.

The first step to reducing Georgia College’s future impact is grasping its current impact. In order for this to occur, data needs to be organized, current and accessible. The purpose of this research is to pave the way for that to happen.

“An Investigation into the Water Quality of a Middle Georgia Water System and Possible Sources of Contamination”
DeMichael Winfield, Environmental Science Major [Mentor Dr. Samuel Mutiti, Department of Biological and Environmetal Sciences

The main objective of this project is to investigate the type and source of water contamination at Salamander Springs Farm. The key parameters to be tested are dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and pH. The parameters being tested are the presence of available chlorine ions, phosphate ions, nitrate ions and fecal coliforms. Secondly, a general site map and a groundwater flow map will be created for this site. Dye tracing will be used to determine the connectivity of the watershed on the client’s property and to create a contaminate transport model.

Salamander Springs Farm is a permaculture farm that grows organic produce for sale. The owner is concerned about water contamination. In fact this project is a direct response to owner’s concern about a foul smell coming from her fresh water stream. The farm is also a community hub that is used as an educational center. The farm is used by many students in the community to learn about sustainability, agriculture and permaculture farming techniques. The farm is also a part of the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOF) program. This volunteer program sends volunteers to work on organic farms in exchange for housing, food and experience. Monitoring the quality of the water system is key to not only the farm financially, but for the people and community that relies on it.

Coverdell Chair Undergraduate Research Assistantships

The Coverdell Chair sponsors one part-time undergraduate research assistantship for each academic year. The assistant works directly with the Coverdell Chair, Dr. Roger Coate, and it is for five to ten hours per week. To be eligible for initial appointment to the assistantship, students must be enrolled full time, and, at the time of application, have successfully completed no less than 60 or more than 80 credit hours. Preference will be given to students who have: (1) demonstrated a high level of academic excellence, (2) have successfully completed at least one university-level course in quantitative/statistical methods; (3) have successfully completed at least one university-level course in basic macro/micro economics; and (4) have complementary research/public policy interests with those of the Coverdell Chair.

The initial appointment is for one academic year, and the assistantship pays $10/per hour. There is no waiver of tuition associated with the appointment. Students are also responsible for all appropriate fees, including a reduced Matriculation Fee, Activity Fees, Athletic Fees, Bobcat Card, Health Fees, Institution Fee, Tech Fees, Wellness Center, and Transportation & Parking. All new employees are subject to a background check and must complete an orientation process administered by the Department of Human Resources. The semester work period begins on the first day of class and ends on the last day of finals. You are expected to work approximately 5 to 10 hours per week during the semester. The Coverdell Chair determines the specific job description and schedule. It is important to note that, although the initial appointment is for one academic year, it is hoped that, once appointed, the assistant will continue to work with the Coverdell Chair beyond that period. Please note, however, that research assistantship appointments are not guaranteed and are renewed each semester pending evaluations and satisfactory grades. Coverdell undergraduate assistants must maintain at least a 3.2 GPA on undergraduate courses taken at Georgia College & State University. If a student’s grade point average falls below 3.2, the student has one semester to improve and return to the 3.2 GPA level. Applicants are screened and applicants interviewed by the Coverdell Chair Research Assistant Selection Committee. The current research assistant, Mr. Michael Muller, is continuing in the position for Academic Year 2018–2019.



Mr. Michael Muller [Economics & Political Science], Coverdell Chair Research Assistant, Fall 2017–Present





Previous Coverdell Chair RAs, have included:

  • Mr. Timothy Smith [Economics], Fall 2013-Spring 2016;
  • Mr. Taylor Henderson [Political Science], Fall 2010–Spring 2012;
  • Mr. Atanas Sabev [international exchange law student], Spring 2012;
  • Mr. Jeffrey Griffin [Political Science], Fall 2011–Spring 2013.

Coverdell Chair Public Health Policy Internship

In cooperation with the Georgia College School of Health and Human Performance, the Coverdell Chair has agreed to welcome, supervise, and work with one full-time student intern each year. Mr. Jared Brumbeloe [Community Health major], served as Intern for Spring 2014.


2014-2015 Coverdell Chair Public Policy Student Research Scholar Program Award Recipients


“Exploring the Potential for Solar Installation at Georgia College,” Creighton Perme, Business Management Major [Mentor Dr. Doug Oetter, Department of History and Geography]

The objective of this research is to identify the most cost effective approach to achieve sustainable solar energy production at Georgia College. While our institution has made strides in sustainability initiatives, including energy efficiency and LEED certifications, we have yet to make meaningful investments in producing alternative forms of energy. This research will involve an analysis of three comparable higher education institutions that have successfully installed solar photovoltaic production at their university. By interviewing the key stakeholders involved in the process of effective solar energy projects, we will gain insight into the decisions and actions that can be made to bring solar energy production to our campus. The research will also explore Georgia College students’ general knowledge and interest in renewable energy through questionnaires paired with informational displays. Upon completion of this project, the data collected can be applied to help develop a future large-scale sustainable energy project at Georgia College or a similar institution. A detailed manuscript will be presented to the Sustainability Council and the Campus Green Initiative Fund. There is every indication that this project will greatly accelerate the sustainability efforts of our campus.


 “Abuse of Prescription Pills among Greed and Non-Greek Georgia College Students,” Scott York, Criminal Justice Major [Mentor Dr. Carrie Cook, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice]

The goal of this research is to probe into the social structure of the Georgia College student body and assess the overall levels of the illicit abuse of prescription pills among students. Then to further break down that rate into the two major social classes among the students (Greek and Non-Greek). Following a base sampling and overall abuse rate analysis, an anonymous focus group will be created in order to discuss the abuse of these drugs among students. This group will provide a more personal and detailed understanding of the abuse of these drugs among students and will allow for a more impactful conclusion to be provided.

2013–2014 Coverdell Chair Public Policy Student Research Scholar Program Award Recipients






“Tick Borne Disease Policy for Georgia,” Amy Elizabeth Bennett and Erin Elizabeth Kelly, community health majors [Mentor: Ms. Heidi Fowler, School of Health & Human Performance]

The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between environmental factors and the prevalence of tick and tick-borne illnesses (TBIs) in order to draft a tick-borne illness policy in Georgia. In Georgia, ticks are one of the most disease-causing vectors. In order to manage ticks and TBIs it is essential to understand the key environmental determinants of tick abundance, disease persistence and spread. The fieldwork for this project will consist of applying secondary data acquired from the Georgia Department of Public Health (Health Protection and Epidemiology Divisions).  By examining the prevalence of ticks and a variety of tick species that carry pathogens that may affect our community, the analysis will lead to drafting a reporting policy for confirmed tick-borne illnesses. The results should show the risk factor of vector borne disease that live in the climate relatively similar as Baldwin county climate found across Georgia. This risk factor is presumed to be noticed in the eventual construction of a policy requiring reports of cases Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and other tick borne diseases.

MeganSamuel“Heavy Metal Pollution in Kabwe and Phytoremediation of Lead Contamination in Soils,” Megan Corely, environmental science major [Mentor: Dr. Samuel Mutiti, Biological and Environmental Sciences Department]

The goal of this project is to investigate the capacity of various plants and vegetables to remove lead from heavily contaminated soils. This project will study plants as an alternative method for reducing lead concentrations soils in Kabwe, Zambia. The study will investigate the extent and changes over time of lead contamination in Kabwe using previous records. It also investigates the effectiveness of various plants and vegetables to remove lead from contaminated soils under laboratory conditions. Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), lawn grass, water melon and Sunflower plants will be grown in the laboratory and lead concentrations will be analyzed at UGA’s Analytical Lab. Results from this study have the potential for use in the development of combinations of better management practices (BMPs) for the reclamation of lead contaminated soil and reducing toxic exposures in Kabwe. Findings from this study will be communicated to local and national policy makers in Zambia.

LINK: Student research information for Georgia College students

1 Response to Student Research

  1. Pingback: Homepage | Roger A. Coate, Coverdell Chair

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