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UROP Biographies

Jillian Augustat

Jillian Augustat

Age: 21

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: Political Science and Psychology

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Probably Good Time Charley’s on South U.

I think I was most

surprised about all the different ways the data could be used! Election data is applicable to a lot of different types of

research.

 

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I was involved in CLEA during my sophomore year in UROP (2011-2012)
What was the first election you ever voted in?
My city’s local election for mayor in 2011.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
I heard about CLEA through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. I am interested in world politics and the governments of developing and transitioning countries so I thought the project was a great fit.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
I think CLEA is important, because it holds a lot of important electoral information on one easy to access webpage.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
I think I was most surprised about all the different ways the data could be used! Election data is applicable to a lot of different types of research.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I’m currently applying to paralegal positions at law firms. I just took the LSAT and I’m hoping to apply to law school in the fall of next year.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
CLEA definitely reinforced my interest in world politics and my undergraduate class choices.

Bogdan Belei

Bogan Belei

Age: 20

Country of origin: Ukraine

Concentration: Political Science and History

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Law Quad. Ever since I visited campus, I’ve been mesmerized.

My favorite election to

work on was the 2011 Russian Duma election. Due to my focus and familiarity with Russian elections, it was very interesting to analyze United Russia’s loss of a significant amount of seats and their constitutional majority, after an extremely successful display in the

2007 elections.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
My work with CLEA first began in September 2012, so approximately a year and a half now.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
2012 U.S. Presidential Election between Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
My involvement in CLEA began at the University of Michigan through a program called UROP – which is the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. UROP facilitates relationships between professors working on research and undergraduate students seeking the opportunity to gain some experience and insight.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
CLEA is important because it essentially makes everyone’s life much easier. By composing an extensive collection of elections data from around the world, this information is then readily accessible for others to turn into results. Whether the data is used in academia or by government officials, CLEA allows for accurate and concise analysis which leads to productive research and effective policy implementation.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
Electoral system changes. At least for the countries I worked with, it was really interesting to see how often electoral systems changed and for what purpose. Many of these countries are being introduced to democracy for the first time and it certainly takes some experimentation to find a proper fit for each unique situation.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
Currently, I am still deciding between attending law school and graduate school for either Political Science or History – so while I have one more year left, “finish school”, at least for right now, means more school.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Definitely. Working with CLEA introduced me to the entire realm of research that I previously was not very familiar with. It also highlighted my personal skills and interests. My work with the Russian and Ukrainian elections has encouraged me to specialize in a developing region, where I have the advantage of being multi-lingual. Regardless of my career path, I look forward to dedicating my focus towards that region in the future.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
My favorite election to work on was the 2011 Russian Duma election. Due to my focus and familiarity with Russian elections, it was very interesting to analyze United Russia’s loss a significant amount of seats and their constitutional majority, after an extremely successful display in the 2007 elections.

William Feuer

William Feuer
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
I was introduced to CLEA through the UROP program about one year ago and since then CLEA has taught me much of what I know about electoral systems around the world.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The first election I ever voted in was the Michigan primaries for the upcoming 2016 Presidential election.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
After graduation, I'd like to volunteer for the Peace Corps and eventually work in the world of human rights NGOs.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Working with CLEA has definitely helped me to understand that the electoral system in the US is not the default system in the world.

Nathan John Gire

Nathan John Gire

 

Age: 27

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: Political Science and Public Policy

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Blue Nile

Sometimes I would

look at similarities and pick out the reform years and see how the constituencies rapidly change and how the differences could be

startling.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
Fall 2007- Winter 2008.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
2006 Midterm election.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
Undergraduate Research Opportunity
Why do you think CLEA is important?
I wanted to utilize geographic information software to look at constituency level data and know why countries were voting differently in different areas. I wasn’t able to do this extensively but because I know it’s out there and that I can use it in the future I look forward to using it when I start doing research in the future.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
I had worked with data sets before, but it was my first time with such a massive data set. Also sometimes I would look at similarities and pick out the reform years and see how the constituencies rapidly change and how the differences could be startling.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I am currently getting masters in public policy, but I was in the Peace Corps before then and I have also gotten married.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
When I started working with CLEA I had declared Political Science as my undergraduate degree but in a way CLEA got me more interested in quantitative analysis, statistics and being able to utilize data sets that are like CLEA. This also helped in making my decision to apply to The Ford School of Public Policy.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
I think it is The Gambia – I had to go through different data sets and see how the constituencies changed and it was fascinating. I used about 5 different data sets to test malaportionments.

Trevor Grayeb

Trevor Grayeb

 

Age: 19

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: Political Science and International Studies

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: The Common Cup Coffee Shop

Knowing now how

inaccessible this information often is I think it’s even more important that there be a comprehensive and free access database for something as fundamental to the democratic process as

elections.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I started in September of 2012.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The US 2012 Presidential Election.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
When I started doing UROP as a freshman, CLEA definitely stuck out the most to me when I was looking through all the available research projects. I was really interested in learning about different political systems, and a research project where I would get to work with election data seemed like the coolest opportunity, to me at least.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
I think before I started with CLEA I assumed it was a lot easier to find detailed electoral results. Knowing now how inaccessible this information often is I think it’s even more important that there be a comprehensive and free access database for something as fundamental to the democratic process as elections.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
The sheer scale of the project always impresses me. Sometimes individual elections can take a long time to get through, or I’ll have to enter a bunch of data by hand, and I remember that it’s only one out of something like 1,200 elections in the full database.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I’d like to go into international law, either through the private sector or with an international organization.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
I think it has definitely made me want to focus on elections and electoral systems more in my undergrad, and maybe even grad school academics. I plan on writing my senior thesis on the subject, maybe even using CLEA data in the process.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
I’m partial to the 2010 United Kingdom election, the first one I archived on my own. For some reason I decided to do all 650 constituencies in one day – it was awful and I resolved to procrastinate more in the future.

Melissa Anne Hatton

Age: 25

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: Political Science, Minor in Global Change from the University of Michigan

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Good Time Charley's

As the world

transitions into a high-tech, paperless society, having an electronic version of historical election data is increasingly important and useful, especially for data entry into software

analysis programs.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I was a UROP researcher for CLEA during my Junior year -- from September 2009 to April of 2010.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The US Presidential election of 2008.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
I heard about CLEA through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and wanted a unique research opportunity that was related to my field of study, political science. It was a good fit.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
CLEA is important because the information that CLEA collects comes from old papers and books that aren’t always easy to obtain. As the world transitions into a high-tech, paperless society, having an electronic version of historical election data is increasingly important and useful, especially for data entry into software analysis programs.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
What surprised me the most about CLEA is how few constituency-level elections some of the countries have had, especially compared to the US.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 and will be graduating with my Master’s of Public Policy from George Mason University in the summer of 2014. Right now I am very interested in environmental, social and animal policy.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Researching for CLEA has influenced my career path because it helped me to realize how much I enjoy conducting research and that I want research to be a large component of my career, so long as long it relates to my areas of interest.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
The constituency-level election of 2009 in South Africa.

Celia Kaechele

Celia Kaechele

Age: 21

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: Political Science and International Studies with a Minor in Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Turkish, and Islamic Studies

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Silvio’s Organic Ristorante

My experience with

Model United Nations got me interested in Political Science/International Studies, and I found researching elections information difficult. CLEA is important because it is a good resource, which easily provides a wealth of

reliable information.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I was involved during the 2012-2013 Academic Year, and am interested in continuing with it via independent study.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The first election I ever voted in was for the Board of Grand Rapids Community College, but the first major election I ever voted in was the last Presidential Election.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
I transferred to U of M after my sophomore year, and knew I wanted to study Political Science and International Studies. I saw CLEA in the UROP Project Book and was definitely interested in the project.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
It is really hard to find reliable, accurate information about elections easily. My experience with Model United Nations got me interested in Political Science/International Studies, and I found researching elections information difficult. CLEA is important because it is a good resource, which easily provides a wealth of reliable information.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
The variety of elections information definitely surprises me. When I was researching my first elections, I was assigned Japanese elections from 2005 to 2009. Although I could use Google Translate to view the webpages in English, the Elections Results Spreadsheet was in Japanese! It was really cool taking that information from a completely country and formatting it into the CLEA template.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I want to go to Grad School; the Peace Corps has a Graduate Master’s International School, which combines instruction with volunteering. I am really interested in the study of the Arabic language and am interested in working abroad as well.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
CLEA has, at times, gone hand-in-hand with my academic studies. I remember one time I was working on the 2012-2013 elections to the Israeli Knesset. At the same time I was doing that for CLEA, I was studying reforms in the Knesset in one of my classes, so I got to my class work actually reflected in CLEA.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
I’m really interested in countries that have multiple-phase elections. I liked researching the multiple-phase Irish elections, and I’m also very partial to those first Japanese elections I worked on, which was my first experience with two-phase elections.

Zeinab Khalil

Age: 22

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: International Studies, MENAS

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Trotter House Multicultural Center, Crazy Wisdom Tea Room

Having this material

gathered and accessible to the public opens up the way for researchers and policymakers to study the implications of these elections and note trends across time and

regions.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I was involved with CLEA for my freshman year.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The first election I voted in was the 2012 Presidential Election.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
I heard about CLEA through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at U of M.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
It's so important to pay attention to elections at the constituency-level since the results of these elections often impact people directly and closely, yet they seem not to be studied as much as national-level elections. Having this material gathered and accessible to the public opens up the way for researchers and policymakers to study the implications of these elections and note trends across time and regions.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
As a freshman, CLEA was a wonderful opportunity as it allowed me the chance to work with not only my undergraduate peers, but also graduate students and faculty. I was appreciated that they trusted us to work independently on projects and tasks, yet the group still met regularly and operated as a collective.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I'm graduating in May 2014. I will be working on the Turkey-Syria border on a violence prevention and healing project with young Syrian women refugees.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Working with CLEA gave me a head start on finding mentors and carrying out rigorous research.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
Not particularly. I do like skimming through and comparing elections though!

Sara Lewis

Sara Lewis
How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I worked on the CLEA team during Fall 2015 and Winter 2016.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The first election I will vote in will be the 2016 presidential election.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
While working on CLEA, I was surprised by the many different elections that each country has. For example, I was surprised that Australia has mandatory voting.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
After working with CLEA, I am planning on taking a political science class.

Nana Osipova

Age: 23

Country of origin: Azerbaijan

Concentration: Political Science and Russian Language, Literature and Culture

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Iorios

It was great to work

with all the wonderful research sponsors and professors working with CLEA. They always had great advice and were willing to provide help

when needed!

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I worked for CLEA during my freshman and sophomore years.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
2012
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
I applied to CLEA through U of M’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP).
Why do you think CLEA is important?
It serves as a great tool for researchers and professors to quickly find the data they need for their research projects.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
I was surprised by the different ways in which countries had created their districts and voting procedures. It was also great to work with all the wonderful research sponsors and professors working with CLEA. They always had great advice and were willing to provide help when needed!
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I am currently in law school.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Yes, it helped me decide my major (Political Science) and gain an interest in learning more about international issues.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
I can't remember a specific election, but I enjoyed working on all of them because it gave you a chance to see how different each country is.

Yusuf Ali Parray

Age: 21

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: Political Science

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Nichols Arboretum

I was surprised with

the way in which elections can often tell a story regarding the history of a country. From democratic transitions to the rise of dictators, major political events have many ways in manifesting themselves in

the election data.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I was involved with CLEA for about 9 months.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The first election I ever voted in was the 2012 Presidential Election.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
Meeting with Dr. Allen Hicken through the Michigan Research Community.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
CLEA is a significant research tool that has manifold applications in interrelated domains - from academia and researchers to policy makers and think tanks. Moreover, CLEA is a historical database that consolidates an immense amount of fragmented information into a single credible uniformly formatted resource that can serve to improve and build upon the research of others.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
I was surprised with the way in which elections can often tell a story regarding the history of a country. From democratic transitions to the rise of dictators, major political events have many ways in manifesting themselves in the election data.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
I elected to graduate a year early from the University of Michigan in 2013. Since leaving UM, I have been attending the University of Cambridge completing my MPhil in Management degree at the Judge Business School. Ultimately, I have my eye on law school and a career in public service.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Absolutely. CLEA gave me practical insights and real-world examples of the political science theories I was learning in the classroom.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
I don't have a single election as my favorite, but I particularly found working on countries with more volatile histories to be the most interesting.

Natalie Lynn Relich

Age: 26

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: B.A Public Policy 2009

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Good Time Charlie's

I think the true value

in CLEA is that it is a free, comprehensive online database, giving researchers and students easy access to a wealth of information that is ready

for analysis.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
It's been around 5 years or longer since I worked on CLEA. I think it was 3-4 semesters, first through UROP and then through an independent study.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
2006 midterm elections
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
Through UROP.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
I think the true value in CLEA is that it is a free, comprehensive online database, giving researchers and students easy access to a wealth of information that is ready for analysis; this is unfortunately something that can be difficult to come by for researchers.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
CLEA allowed me to learn a lot about other countries' electoral system and how those systems (i.e. which party was in control) change over time.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
Since graduating from U of M, I have worked in the nonprofit industry mainly in international development. I received my Masters in Public Administration from NYU and am currently the Executive Director of the OHorizons Foundation, an organization whose mission is to end hunger by empowering people and communities through accessible and appropriate technology.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
It has been a very long time! But I do remember working on various Indian elections and was really struck by the sheer size of the number of districts and political parties.

Alexander Theuer

Age: 19

Country of origin: United States

Concentration: History and German

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: Espresso Royale

I think it is

important because patterns in the election records could serve a purpose in many other facets of political

research.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
I was involved in CLEA for one year.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The 2012 U.S. presidential election.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
I heard about it through my involvement in the Michigan Research Community.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
I think it is important because patterns in the election records could serve a purpose in many other facets of political research.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
The amount of work that goes into an Excel Spreadsheet.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
Join the Peace Corps and then pursue a graduate degree.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Not particularly.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
Germany 2009 is my favorite!

Xhensila Velencia

Xhensila Velencia

 

Age: 23

Country of origin: Albania

Concentration: Political Science and International Studies, Minor CASC

Favorite Ann Arbor hangout: The Arb

I work as a Researcher

at a Congressional Publication that manages databases on everything about the U.S government and Congress. The reason they hired me was because I was uniquely qualified having done similar work with

CLEA.

How long have you been involved in CLEA?
My sophomore year at U-M and then one semester my senior year, total of 3 semesters.
What was the first election you ever voted in?
The 2008 presidential election.
How did you get involved in/hear about CLEA?
Through UROP.
Why do you think CLEA is important?
I think it provides data that is essential/fundamental for other research and advancing knowledge.
What has surprised you about working with CLEA?
How much work and attention to detail is required and how difficult working through language barriers/ translational issues when breaking down data can sometimes be.
What do you want to do when you finish school?
Work for a few years then eventually pursue an advanced degree.
Has working with CLEA influenced your academic or career path?
Yes. Actually, the job I currently hold I got because of my experience with CLEA. I work as a Researcher at a Congressional Publication that manages databases on everything about the U.S government and Congress and the reason they hired me was because I was uniquely qualified having done similar work with CLEA. I had a lot of various job experiences but CLEA ended up being the one thing that really impressed them and made them want to hire me.
Do you have a favorite election in the Archive?
Poland because there are so many parties or there were for one period in time and they were interesting to learn about- like the Beer Lover’s Party (whose platform was to encourage more beer consumption in Poland) which then later divided up into Little Beer and Small Beer. I also enjoyed working on Albania because translation was not a problem for me, so there were no language barriers in deciphering the data, and I’m familiar with the parties and political history.