July 29, 2014, BY Paula Cogan Myers

Daisy Bourne '15

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A hush falls over Bucknell University as the students depart at the end of each spring semester. You might wonder if anything happens on campus during the summer. The students and faculty doing summer research can assure you that it does. From exploring how music links with literature in the poetry of Emily Dickinson to installing a network of sensors to measure temperature variability in the Susquehanna River, they're busy pursuing their scholarly interests.

Sample a taste of the work being done on campus this summer in English, economics, psychology and civil engineering.

Daisy Bourne '15, interdisciplinary studies: economics & mathematics

Mentored by: Professor Chris Magee, economics

Supported by the Bucknell Program for Undergraduate Research (Roser) 

In December 2010, protests in Tunisia calling for governmental change sparked similar uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, forging a movement now known as the Arab Spring. Last semester, Professor Chris Magee, economics, in collaboration with Professors John Doces, economics and Tony Massoud, political science, wrote an interdisciplinary article on the various causes of the Arab Spring protests. "We focused on events that were protests or demands for political change in Arab countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Libya," Professor Magee said. "We tried to figure out what factors affected how strong the protests were in a given country." 

Daisy Bourne '15 took Magee's econometrics class and has always had an interest in political science. When Magee told her they planned to continue digging into the data through a summer research opportunity, she was excited about the challenge.

"It combines a topic I thought was interesting with something that is very concretely academic for me," Bourne said. "Using what I learned in my econometrics class gives it a practical application and this is a great opportunity to get to work one-on-one with a professor and access campus resources." 

She spends most days in the library reviewing studies and analyzing data surrounding the Arab Spring protests. "I'm looking to see if there are any specific social, political or diffusive factors that can explain why certain governments reacted more repressively than others to the Arab Spring uprisings in their countries," she explained.  

The studies have helped her learn about the region in general and identify factors and characteristics that are important to the social and political dynamics of the region like religion, oil and others. She's also reading some older literature on authoritarian regimes that look at violations of civil liberties, political rights and political violence.

Her research will add new knowledge and ideas to the professors' project. "Daisy's great to work with because she works hard on her own. Having the econometrics training allows her to research independently," he said. "It's very useful to have students work with us because faculty members think in a specific way and students bring in a new perspective."