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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2019 can be found here.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  The National Voter Registration Act
Disciplines:  Political Science, History
Mentor:  J. Morgan Kousser, Prof. of History and Social Science, (HSS),, Phone: 626-395-4080
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  In June, 2018, a 5-4 conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute upheld an Ohio voter purge law against the contention that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993. The Ohio law had been adopted as part of a settlement of a legal case brought by the conservative public interest law firm Judicial Watch, one of at least ten such cases that the group has launched. In early January, 2019, Judicial Watch reached a settlement in one of those cases against L.A. County that could possibly result in the purge of 1.5 million voters from the rolls. One of the chief features of H.R. 1, the Democrats’ comprehensive election proposal introduced in the current Congress, would overturn the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the NVRA in Husted.
Despite the importance of the right to vote, there has been no comprehensive scholarly study of the NVRA, popularly known as “motor voter” – how and why it was adopted, what its effects have been, and what litigation to enforce its various provisions has taken place.
Description:  I have been collecting information and sources on issues about the NVRA off and on for two years, and I’d like help in analyzing them from a SURF student. In particular, the student would analyze congressional action on the NVRA and the 2002 Help America Vote Act, read and characterize all of the legal cases dealing with either law over the past 25 years, and assist in evaluating the effects of the law, both in stimulating voter registration and in purging names from voter lists.

Student Requirements:  Because of the nature of the research, experience in reading and studying legal cases and documents will be a necessary qualification. Experience in statistically analyzing the effects of policy is desirable.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    both Caltech and non-Caltech students 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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