Simpson College, (simpson.edu) one of the Midwest’s foremost institutions for student success, today announced Kathryn Hays, a senior triple-majoring in political science, international relations and French, has been chosen to present her research at the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Posters on the Hill event. Selected from a nationwide pool of applicants, Hays’ research focuses on disinformation campaigns from foreign governments and how they affect different electoral systems.
“There’s no question that weaponized information poses a very serious challenge to the underlying principles of democracy,” said Eduardo Magalhães III, Simpson’s Ruth Harp Chair in Political Science and a professor of political science. “Simpson College offers a broad range of opportunities for students to engage with questions in a variety of different fashions, so students can explore these questions from different academic perspectives.”
Disinformation refers to the spreading of false information in order to influence the democratic process, most commonly through the internet and social media. In her research, Hays compared the contrasting effects of disinformation on the most recent presidential campaigns in the United States and France. Hays became familiar with French politics during an internship with the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. She applied for the internship through the Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP), receiving guidance from Simpson faculty.
“I think this is one of the greatest threats to our democracy right now,” said Hays. “I see the side effects of disinformation in my life every day. One way we can keep disinformation from influencing elections is to teach media literacy at a young age and teach students how to interact with people who have different views,” said Hays.
Hays was one of two students selected as keynote speakers for Simpson’s Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium, which was canceled due to COVID-19. The 2019 symposium featured the work of 230 students.
“At Simpson College, undergraduate research is one of many high-impact practices we value greatly for our students throughout their experience,” said Katie Smith, assistant professor of sport science and health education. She also serves as co-director of the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium. “During the 2019-2020 school year, our students have presented internationally and were accepted for presentation at very prestigious conferences in the United States such as Posters on the Hill and Johns Hopkins University.”
For more information on Simpson College’s undergraduate research opportunities, please visit simpson.edu/research.
About Posters on the Hill
Posters on the Hill is an annual event hosted by the CUR that allows members of Congress and their staff members to learn about the importance of undergraduate research through talking directly with the student researchers involved in these programs.
About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has approximately 1,300 full-time undergraduate students and approximately 400 part-time students. Simpson offers more than 80 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.