Doctoral student contributes to statewide voter poll | Sociology | SIU

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Doctoral student contributes to statewide voter poll

Ryan CeresolaRyan Ceresola, a first-year doctoral student in Sociology at SIU, recently began his dissertation research in grand fashion when no less than eleven of his research questions were included in the 2014 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s statewide poll.

The Simon Poll is an annual survey of registered voters throughout the 102 counties of Illinois, and features questions on a variety of public policy issues.

Charles Leonard, Visiting Professor at the Simon Institute, notes that “[G]ranting graduate students a piece of our Simon poll real estate is something special. A 1,000-sample, professionally conducted public opinion poll is an expensive proposition, and not something a graduate student could easily afford.”

Said Leonard, “We were very impressed with Ryan’s proposal—the most thorough and professional one we have yet received. Happily, Ryan’s research interests mesh with a main focus of the Simon Institute: promoting ethical government and crafting policy that makes corruption and double-dealing more difficult.”

With survey results now in hand—fresh, original research—Mr. Ceresola is eager to begin analyzing responses.

Each year, The Simon Institute invites select graduate student researchers to participate in the statewide poll. The opportunity was brought to Ceresola’s attention by his graduate advisor, Dr. Rachel Whaley, who encouraged him to submit a proposal.

The proposal called for justifying proposed questions in terms of how they will guide career research. Ryan’s investigative interests center on political corruption—perception of corruption at federal, state, and local levels, respondents’ perception of how that affects their lives, and how news sourcing influences those views.

Ceresola says he appreciates the opportunity to try out new policy-related ideas that he’d never thought about before.

A student member of the Graduate Council, the scholar has additionally been active with the Center for Service Learning and the “Imagining Geographies” initiative. Currently he is the graduate student representative on the Service Learning and Volunteerism board.

Prior to beginning his graduate career, Ryan served for two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer in his native Washington state, an experience which also informs later research. Placing in the 2013 Midwest Sociological Society Student Paper Award Competition, his paper, “Doing Poor in AmeriCorps: How National Service Members Deal with Living below the Poverty Line,” is currently being reviewed for publication in a professional journal.

L.A. Brown