Emeizmi Mandagi found that being involved in research gave her the opportunity to explore topics that were not otherwise covered in her classes. Through several projects, all dealing with Middle East politics, Emeizmi was able to see the implications that government policies can have on real peopleís lives. Her undergraduate research experience has also helped her focus her goal to work as a policy analyst or researcher specializing in the Middle East region. UROP is pleased to recognize Emeizmi for the passion with which she has pursued undergraduate research at UC Irvine.

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

My primary research interests lie in Middle East politics, particularly in the role United States foreign policy plays in conflicts in the Middle East region. Currently, I am working with Dr. Cecelia Lynch as my faculty mentor on my honors thesis research, which assesses whether and how U.S. foreign policy in Syria assisted the rise of violent extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I initially became involved in research during my third year when I approached Professor Casavantes via email after looking over her faculty profile. Finding myself intrigued by her field of research, I asked to work alongside her as a research assistant on her current research focused on the geopolitical motives of the United States for lobbying for humanitarian aid in South Sudan. Through that experience, I learned a lot about the methodology used when conducting research as I completed extensive literature reviews and contacted nongovernmental organizations and think tanks for further recommended sources for a chapter from her forthcoming book.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Research has allowed me to explore other areas of interest that are not discussed in many of my courses. Particularly regarding my honors thesis, I have the opportunity to hone in on a specific topic and tailor my thesis to best fit my research interests. Additionally, through research, I am able to work with faculty members who are experts in their field, and through these interactions with faculty, I have learned so much about various aspects of research.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

This past summer I had the opportunity to interview a friend who identifies as a refugee from the Iraqi War of 2003. The interview itself was enlightening, but it also further drove home the real-life implications foreign policy, and policy in general, has in shaping thousands of lives. Speaking to him only fueled my belief in the importance of participating in research that will inform policies and plans of actions that will prevent further exacerbation of conflicts in other regions.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

After graduating from UC Irvine, I plan to work for approximately three years as a foreign policy analyst or research analyst at a think tank in Washington D.C. After gaining some professional experience, I plan to go on to apply to joint Masterís and Ph.D. graduate programs in Middle East studies. After successfully earning my graduate degree, I then plan to reenter the job market as a policy analyst or researcher specializing in the Middle East region. Becoming involved in research as an undergraduate gives me the ability to improve my skills as a researcher, skills that I will undoubtedly use in my post-undergraduate career and as a graduate student.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

My advice is not to let the intimidation of doing research hold you back. The prospect of meeting with professors may be daunting at first, but the experience is an enriching and insightful one and it challenges your current way of thinking. Conducting research is a learning process in itself, and it pushes you outside of your current academic comfort zone and helps you grow in ways you cannot possibly foresee if you allow it to do so. It all starts with a burning question you have, one that you continuously return to as you go through your academic career. As long as you pursue the journey of coming closer to answering that question through your research endeavors, your passion for your field will show through if you put in the time and effort needed.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '19 Aneesah Syeda Akbar
Nov. '19 Jennifer Fong
Oct. '19 Amanda Woodworth
Sep. '19 Yvette Sanders
Aug. '19 Amber Marie Obenshain
Jul. '19 Gurleen Samra
Jun. '19 Yiwei Gong
May. '19 William Gerald Smith
Apr. '19 Emeizmi Mandagi
Mar. '19 Whitney Zhang
Feb. '19 William Agnew
Jan. '19 Sarah Mahoney