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Undergraduate students are welcome to participate in the LAPOP research institute in order to gain knowledge of international survey methods and applied experience on policy-relevant projects. There are two principal ways in which students may get involved, via the  Fellows Program  and/or as  Research Assistants . Students may also find the  System for Online Data Analysis (SODA)  a useful tool for research projects. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Vanderbilt students with diverse majors work as research assistants alongside LAPOP staff, faculty, and graduate students. These undergraduate research assistants assist in many different tasks involved in the public opinion research design, processing, and reporting.





 Eric Asen























Undergraduate Research Fellows Program

The LAPOP Undergraduate Research Fellows program offers selected students the opportunity to learn the science of surveys, while working to create an original research project. Fellows spend some time in the LAPOP institute working alongside research staff and graduate students to gain hands-on experience, while simultaneously working through assignments that transfer knowledge and build skills in survey analysis and report writing. 

Students may participate via independent study or via a seminar (PSCI 3218). Occasionally, an honors seminar is offered. Interested students should contact Professor Zechmeister or Professor Lupu to inquire about which channels are an option.


Research Fellows conduct original research using LAPOP data. 2014 LAPOP Undergraduate Research Fellow, Emily Stewart, presented her research to LAPOP faculty, staff, and students. Her presentation, "Public Health Services use in Latin America and the Caribbean," can be found here.  This research led to the publication of an Insights that can be found here.

Research Fellows enrolled in seminars often participate in a poster session as a capstone to the course experience. To see a few pictures from the poster presentations for the Spring 2015 Honors 186 class using LAPOP data, click here. To read the Insights reports written by members of this class, see here and here



In Their Own Words

"My favorite project so far was one that included coding survey data to create a set of wordless to show US attitudes toward Mexico. I've also worked on literature reviews about non-response rates and public opinions about climate change. As a research assistant, I've learned how to manage and analyze data, and how to work with team. LAPOP has given me opportunities to use my Spanish language skills and to learn more about topics that interest me."
— Alexa Bussmann, Senior, LAPOP Advanced Undergraduate Research Assistant

“While working in LAPOP, I’ve had the opportunity to explore a variety of research methods. I’ve especially enjoyed the projects which allow me to work with AmericasBarometer questionnaires — such as a project I completed last year in which I translated questions to best match the vocabulary of each country in the survey round. From looking at question construction and translation, to auditing surveys and examining data, working at LAPOP has enabled me to see the whole process of carrying out a complex public opinion survey.”
— Grace Adcox, Senior, LAPOP Advanced Undergraduate Research Assistant

“I really enjoy how every task I do with LAPOP challenges and engages me in a distinct way that helps me further develop different skills. It's humbling to know that I can help with such an important project that has such a tremendous impact.”
— Sam Chavez-Salinas, Sophomore, LAPOP Undergraduate Research Assistant

System for Online Data Analysis (SODA)

LAPOP welcomes undergraduate students at Vanderbilt and elsewhere to use AmericasBarometer survey data in research papers and other course assignments. To facilitate such use, LAPOP and its partners at the University of Costa Rica maintain a website that allows individuals to query and analyze LAPOP survey data. This System for Online Data Analysis (SODA) is free and interactive, and does not require any registration. It is particularly useful for those individuals who do not have access to or skills to use advanced statistical software programs. We have developed a handbook that provides an introduction to the data analysis capacities of the SODA.