The University of Texas at Austin
School of Undergraduate Studies
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Kristin Cummins

Kristin Cummins

Kristin’s undergraduate research topic is Tipping Points in Public Policy

“This program has prepared me for law school, but it also opened my eyes to various other fields that I am now interested in.”

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Bryan Jones, Government

Briefly describe your research project.

I am interested in tipping points when applied to policy. My research project involves the analysis of specific case studies in the areas of education, fiscal, and healthcare policy. I measured the times between press releases in the New York Times by using words such as “Exxon,” “oil,” and “spill” as variables. Because tipping points demand rapid and increased attention, the timing between press releases should, and did, decrease after it reached a critical mass of adopters.

What was the most rewarding part of your research experience?

The most rewarding part of my research was that it taught me discipline and new methods of data collection. I had never worked with quantitative data with regards to research. I also learned how much work is really put into these projects.

How has participating in research affected your undergraduate experience?

This research has been a crucial part of my development as a student and a person. I believe that this program has prepared me for law school, but it also opened my eyes to various other fields that I am now interested in.

What surprised you during the research process?

The most surprising thing throughout the course of my research was how much Dr. Jones and his team truly cared about the results of the project. The emphasis was always on our development as students and researchers.

Do you think getting involved in research will be helpful to you in the future? If so, how?

I believe this research has already helped me. Last semester I had to balance fifteen hours of coursework, being captain of the women’s soccer team, preparing for the LSAT, and working. I learned the true meaning of balancing work and organizing priorities.

What advice would you give to incoming and current students about getting involved in research?

My advice to students is to get involved as early as possible, especially those who are indecisive about what academic path they wish to embark on.

Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place April 15-19 this year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events.