Student Uses National Science Foundation Fellowship to Research Political Violence

Image Martin Munoz USD student Martin Muñoz is using an NSF fellowship to research political violence in Colombia and his native Peru.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Martin Muñoz, a political science and international studies major, has earned a fellowship through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program to study civil conflict management and peace science at the University of North Texas this summer.

Muñoz, who will be a senior at the University of South Dakota in the fall, is researching civil-military relations and political violence in Colombia and his native country, Peru, as part of his honors research thesis. Over a period of eight weeks, he will work with senior faculty at the program’s host university to develop theoretical propositions that are tested empirically using tools such as a geographic information system, which allows users to analyze and present geographical data. At the conclusion of the program, he and other students will present their research at UNT and at a national political science conference.

“We are going to focus our projects on the analytical tools they will be teaching us,” Muñoz said. “It’s going to be an intensive eight weeks of learning, reading and writing.”

Through his job as an undergraduate researcher at USD’s Government Research Bureau, Muñoz already has firsthand experience with various data analysis tools, and he said he looks forward to expanding his knowledge of other methodologies that can enhance his research.

“I see this experience as an opportunity to engage myself in research at a very high level,” said Muñoz, whose research mentor is Eric Jepsen, associate professor of political science and international relations at USD. “I couldn’t be more thankful to my political science professors, who go out of their way to get to know their students and take the initiative to help us.”

Muñoz, who plans to attend graduate school in international relations, said the fellowship will also give him the experience many graduate programs seek in an applicant.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation.

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