Utah State University Senior Madeleine Waddoups was excited when Political Science Prof. Colin Flint invited her to participate in the development of an online newsletter. Their work, however, has stretched into much more than that.
Waddoups met Flint as a student in his Introduction to International Studies class and, she said, she focused on thoughtful contribution to class discussion and excellent writing – in other words, she said, standing out. Flint, she said, “was someone I could see myself doing research with.”
In early 2018, Waddoups was among several Political Science students who worked together to create – and continue to maintain –the analysis news site called Aggies Geopolitical Observatory, or Aggies GO! for short.
The site contains students’ analysis of global events affected by geopolitics – defined as political issues influenced by a nation’s geography. Through their work together, Waddoups and the professor discovered they shared a common interest: loans and development in Africa.
“It was really cool finding out we had this common interest and being able to work toward something bigger from there,” said Waddoups, who since has graduated and works with the Virginia Economic Department Partnership, which focuses on business development within the state.
The student and her mentor met weekly to discuss undergraduate research opportunities, which Flint says he is passionate about.
“In some ways I feel like I’m paying it forward from the professors who mentored me as an undergrad,” he said. “And it means a lot to me to help students develop into critical, analytical thinkers who can engage the public.”
With Flint’s help and encouragement, Waddoups applied a national award for undergraduate students. Her proposal became part of a larger narrative of loans in different countries, and the two decided to pursue publishing the research in an academic journal.
“Professor Flint was helpful in helping me navigate the politics of academia,” Waddoups said.
The project consumed more than a year before they were able to present the research in the nation’s capital as part of the Association of American Geographers Conference.
“To be in a room with people whose articles we used for our research … was an amazing experience,” Waddoups said.
Flint said helping undergraduates conduct research and mentoring them is one of the most rewarding parts of his job.
College of Humanities and Social Sciences