Save the date: SIS Quantitative Analysis Festival Friday April 20

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Save the Date: Research Workshop on LaTeX Friday April 6 and April 13

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Save the Date: Research Method Seminar Wed. April 4

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Graduate Student Research Symposium

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This coming Monday select SIS graduate students will be presenting their research at the Spring Research Symposium. This is a great opportunity to listen to original research conducted by other graduate students at AU. If you are a first year graduate student contemplating topics for your thesis or SRP, this might be an excellent opportunity to hear what others have done. Presenters will have ten minutes to share their research followed by five minutes for questions from the audience.

Come to learn about research. Come to support your friends.
Come to learn more about a particular topic.
Sponsored by the Graduate Student Council and the Journal of International Service
Founders Room, SIS

11:30  Crystal Corman
Leadership Spaces and Potential for Women within Islam in Malaysia:Professional Women’s Experiences and Perceptions
11:45  Linh Nguyen
Does urbanization increase access to improved sanitation for all? An analysis of the role of urban poor in explaining variation in access to improved sanitation
12:00  Mohsin Ali
Troubled Frequencies: Pakistan’s Media War Against Militant Ideologies
12:15  Sarah Chu
A Cautious Pendulum: The Momentum of Taliban Negotiations
12:30    Lunch
1:30  Sarah Howell
Research Award Presentation: South Africa for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP17)
1:45  Rebecca Novick 
The Private Sector as a Strategic Partner for Peace: How Business Can Overcome Violence in Colombia and Ciudad Juárez
2:00  Nadia Bulkin
Regionalism in the Mind of Sukarno: Regional Communities in Post-Colonial Context
2:15  Inu Barbee
Regulatory Convergence and North American Integration: Lessons from the European Single Market
2:30  Johannes Langer
A Specter is Haunting Kenya: The Construction of Identity and Electoral Violence
2:45  Anna Fox
Women’s Political Participation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Producing Policy that is Important to Women and Gender Parity?

Save the Date: Research Method Seminar Wed. March 21

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Using Commercial Satellite Imagery to Increase Transparency of Nuclear Forces

Wed. March 21, noon-1:30pm in Hurst 202. A light lunch will be served!!

The advent of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery has revolutionized the ability of people to monitor activities anywhere on surface of the planet. Only a decade ago, access to satellite imagery with better than one meter resolution required top secret access to military spy satellites. Now, anyone with a laptop computer can use GoogleEarth and several other free providers of free commercial satellite imagery to monitor developments in anything ranging from urban sprawl to deforestation to nuclear weapons deployments. As director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Hans Kristensen uses commercial satellite imagery to monitor and document the nuclear forces of the world’s nine nuclear weapons states. His presentation will showcase some of his discoveries and give advise on how to use this unique technology to strengthen analysis and writing on nuclear weapons and non-proliferation issues.

About the speaker: Hans Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists where he focused on researching and describing the status of the world’s nuclear forces and the government policies that guide their potential use. His work is frequently published on the FAS Strategic Security Blog. He is a co-author to the Nuclear Notebook in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the World Nuclear Forces overview in the SIPRI Yearbook. Before he joined the Federation in 2005, Kristensen worked as a consultant to the Nuclear Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C., and before that as a project officer at the Nautilus Institute in Berkeley, California.

Overwhelming quantity for qualitative

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I am excited to see the positive response to RSG’s NVivo workshops! Within hours of sending out initial email announcements of workshops, we had RSVP steadily emailed to us. Last week I led two introductory workshops with 22 people RSVP’d for each! Due to this high demand and space limitations of 22 computers in our training room in Anderson Lab, we had to turn some people away. But I also promised we’d schedule additional workshops. Now I can share the dates.

Who would use NVivo?

Consider using NVivo to analyze your qualitative research

Introduction to NVivo
Wed. Mar. 21, 2:30-4:00 pm
Thurs. Mar. 22, 12:00-1:30pm
Anderson Lower Level, B-13
RSVP at ssrl AT

There are many students across AU who prefer to do qualitative research for their SRP, thesis or when working for professors as research assistants. Of course it would be awesome to find a software program that could aid the process! Many of the people who attended last week fell into these prior categories: I’m preparing to analyze for my SRP now; I hope to use it next year on my SRP; I’m working with a professor’s research project this semester; I’m a PhD student and think this would be excellent! Faculty members also attended or requested private trainings.

NVivo is one of the most respected and robust software programs for qualitative research projects including content analysis, open-ended surveys, focus groups, etc. It is not the only software, but the RSG team has been building staff capacity to support it and now train others to use it. Last semester we offered NVivo 8, but we’ve just upgraded to NVivo 9. This brings a learning curve for our staff, but also some very cool new features!!

If you have an interest, check out these video tutorials created by the company:

Coding your data
Importing your “data” or sources
What’s new in NVivo 9?

Each qualitative or mixed method research project is unique and requires a slightly different approach. Our introductory trainings, as advertised above, will provide a nice overview of the basics for coding text, audio or video. I hope you can attend, but please remember to RSVP! Also, you can always stop by our lab to “play with” NVivo 8 or 9 using our staff-created tutorial found on the CTRL website here.

Save the Date: Student Research Forum Thursday March 1st

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Land Distribution, Imperfect Markets, and Modern Agricultural Value Chains: An Agent-Based Approach

Agricultural value chains in developing countries have undergone considerable change as a result of the food-related trade and foreign direct investment growth that has accompanied globalization. The rise of supermarkets, private grades and standards, as well as export horticulture, however, has threatened to exclude small-scale producers from the new agricultural economy, as such producers generally lack the access to credit necessary to meet the demands of modern value chains. Such exclusion represents a major impediment to the alleviation of upward pressure on global food prices as, due to a relatively low shadow price of labor, smallholders are typically considered more productive than their larger counterparts. In this context, the present paper develops an agent-based computational model to explore the welfare, productivity, and poverty ramifications of land reform in an agrarian economy characterized by credit and labor market imperfections as well as both traditional and modern value chains. The model illustrates the potential trade-off between equity and satisfaction of modern value chain demands.

Heath Henderson is a doctoral candidate in Economics at American University. His research focuses on equity-efficiency trade-offs in developing country agriculture. Prof. Paul Winters is his faculty adviser.


Studying the Dynamics of a Continous Double-Auction Market with Artificially Intelligent Agent Based Models

Recent research has shown the importance of zero intelligence agent based models in studying the features of real world financial markets. Many of the basic characteristics of financial markets have been successfully replicated by these relatively simple models. However, real market participants are not “zero intelligent”. This paper examines whether introducing some nominal intelligence enhances the predictive abilities of the models. I construct a continuous double auction agent based financial market with artificially intelligent agents. The model is used to predict the dynamics of the order book and order flow of a real market and compare the predictive ability to the benchmark zero intelligence agent based models. One month order flow data from the London Stock Exchange is used to calibrate and validate the models.

George Panterov, a doctoral candidate in Economics at American University, will be presenting his co-authored work with Leanne Ussher.  Currently, he is also part of the Research Support Group, where he is a consultant and trainer. His fields of interests are agent-based models, financial market microstructure and non-parametric statistics

Effects of an Input Subsidy Program on Land Allocation and Crop Diversification

In the 2005/06 agricultural season, the government of Malawi implemented a targeted input subsidy program to improve food self-sufficiency and incomes of the poor farm households. The targeted input subsidy program is intended to ease smallholder farmers’ access to productivity enhancing agricultural inputs for maize, and thereby increase the productivity of maize. Although the program may successfully raise the output farmers produce, food nutrition may be undermined if households modify their behavior in such a way that a greater share of resources are allocated to the production of a single crop. Thus, the paper evaluates the impact of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Program on crop land allocation decisions and crop diversification. The paper will also account for the heterogeneity of impact across gender, and compare the effects on staple and commercial crops.

Wendy Karamba is a doctoral candidate in Economics and a Research Support Group consultant. This presentation represents preliminary research that will feed into her dissertation. Her faculty adviser is Prof. Paul Winters.


The Research Support Group, as a part of the Center for Teaching, Research & Learning, is organizing this forum to highlight student research at American University. In addition to the research findings, this forum emphasizes research methods so students can share learning experiences with other students on campus. The Spring 2012 Student Research Forum is open to all masters and PhD students at AU. students who want to present can email


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