Three LAS faculty with political science appointments earn prestigious research awards

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Award winners, from left, Amy Erica Smith, Jim McCormick and Nell Gabiam.

A trio of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members in Iowa State University’s Department of Political Science has each won a major national award for research during the 2014-15 academic year.

Amy Erica Smith, an assistant professor of political science, has earned a Fulbright Award to conduct research in Brazil, and James McCormick, professor and chair of political science, has earned a Fulbright to do research and to lecture in Australia. In addition, Nell Gabiam, an assistant professor of anthropology and political science, has earned a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to continue her scholarly examination of Syria’s Palestinian refugee camps.

"The Fulbright Award and the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship are highly selective and prestigious honors," Liberal Arts and Sciences dean Beate Schmittmann said. "That three of our faculty with appointments in political science have won these awards in one year speaks volumes for the quality of the scholars we have in our college. Opportunities like a Fulbright or a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship will strengthen their research and teaching careers."

To Brazil Smith will study how Evangelical Christian churches mobilize and influence voters during this fall’s Brazilian presidential elections. Evangelical churches have a history of rallying parishioners to support certain candidates, a practice that is legal in Brazil where Catholicism is the dominant religion, Smith said.

"The Evangelical churches are much more directly involved in politics than the Catholic churches," she said. "The more conservative Evangelicals have a history of religious mobilization."

Smith said she and her research assistants will attend multiple church services each Sunday as part of her data collection. "Sunday will be a big work day for me," she said.

The Brazilian presidential election, Smith added, is an increasingly important event as the nation grows in international stature, including as an exporter of many commodities including petroleum.

Foreign policy McCormick, an expert in American foreign policy, will hold the title of Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chair in American Political Science in Adelaide, South Australia. His award, which goes to a senior-level scholar, is one of only two distinguished chairs offered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission.

"It’s an honor and privilege to be chosen for this award, and I’m excited about the opportunity to do research in Australia," said McCormick, whose Fulbright begins in early 2015.

McCormick will examine the impact on Australian foreign policy resulting from the United States’ "rebalancing" of its interests from Europe and the Middle East to East Asia. Also, he will study how Australian groups, including political parties and the news media, are affecting and shaping their nation’s foreign policy, especially toward the U.S. He also will give four scholarly lectures at selected Australian universities.

The Fulbright is the third for McCormick, who lectured in the Philippines in 2003 and taught American foreign policy in New Zealand in 1993.

The highly competitive Fulbright awards fund international educational exchanges for scholars, teachers, U.S. and international students, and others. The United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, sponsors the Fulbright program.

Palestine refugees Gabiam will use the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s stipend to finish a book, currently titled "In Order Not to Forget: Development in Syria’s Palestinian Refugee Camps."

She has been studying the merits of development aid for Palestinian refugee camps sponsored by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. She focuses on humanitarianism issues and the politics related to a new developmental approach for Palestinian refugees.

"There has been a major shift from providing basic aid for immediate needs of the refugees to developmental aid that targets long-term needs," Gabiam said.

For two years (2004 to 2006) she conducted research and did volunteer work at two refugee camps in northern Syria: Neirab and Ein el Tal. In summer 2012 she gathered data in France in collaboration with Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Center on the premise of "statelessness" in the European Union. She interviewed Palestinians, Roma and Kurds, all of whom have no sovereign state

The Career Enhancement Fellowship, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, was established to increase the presence of minority junior faculty members in core arts and science fields. -30-

About Liberal Arts and Sciences The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in Iowa and around the world.


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Contacts: Nell Gabiam, Anthropology, Political Science, (515) 294-7139, James McCormick, Political Science, (515) 294-8682, Amy Erica Smith, Political Science, (515) 294-7256, Steve Jones, Liberal Arts & Sciences Communication, (515) 294-0461,