Merrill College sponsors a Merrill Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program for Merrill juniors and seniors. Students are paired with a Merrill Fellow to work up to 70 hours throughout the winter and spring quarters as paid research apprentices on the faculty member's research.

The purpose of the program is to inspire and prepare Merrill students to pursue graduate studies upon graduation from UCSC. It is designed to provide research experience and personal and professional development for Merrill juniors and seniors. Merrill Fellows nominate a student whose work they are familiar with and whose interests are similar to their own area of research and expertise. As part of their mentorship, students will be employed as Research Assistants up to a maximum of $1190.00 for the school year. Tasks can include writing summaries of readings, library research, photocopying, organizing materials, creating annotated bibliographies, and assisting with the organization of conferences and workshops. Faculty participants provide students with academic and professional guidance, advice about the process of applying to graduate schools, and serve as their mentors.

Check out the Merrill Fellows who can sponsor students.

2023 - 2024 Mentorship Participants

Project Description:

As part of the Merrill College Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program, Mckenzie and Prof. Springer will collaborate on two projects connected to a new research program on American Indian Studies. Depending on how Mckenzie’s research interests evolve during her time in the UCDC program, her contributions will either center on the project related to issues of Native sovereignty and representation given the constraints of American federalism, or an exploration of Native American voting rights and voter suppression. In either, or both, project(s), Mckenzie’s strong analytical writing skills will be utilized to write literature reviews of relevant scholarly work; construct legislative histories of relevant state and federal legislation and related Supreme Court decisions; and identify and summarize pertinent news coverage of state electoral maneuvers intended to disenfranchise Native voters. In each instance, Mckenzie’s contributions will be central to the timely progress of this research program which aims to add knowledge about Native American experiences to our understanding of political science.

Mentee: Mckenzie Daleiden is a fourth-year student in the Politics department at UC Santa Cruz. She will be attending the UCDC Washington Program and participating in an internship, which will guide her in future pursuits of obtaining a law degree. Her past experience working with local community members and low-income residents of Sacramento county to promote equitable access to legal representation has shaped her passion for advocating progressive social justice. Her deep commitment to human rights issues will drive her research in Native sovereignty and barriers to Native American voting rights.

Mentor: Dr. Melanie Springer is an Associate Professor of Politics at UC Santa Cruz. She earned degrees in Political Science and History as an undergraduate at UC San Diego in 2000 and received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University in 2006. She joined the Politics faculty at UCSC in Fall 2013. She specializes in American Politics. Her research and teaching interests include American political development, political history, political parties, voting and elections, state politics and policymaking, sovereignty, and American Indian political rights. Her book How the States Shaped the Nation: American Electoral Institutions and Voter Turnout, 1920-2000 was published in 2014 with the University of Chicago Press (Chicago Studies in American Politics). This work examines the effects of numerous state-level electoral institutions on 20th century voter turnout rates in the American states. Her research continues to be published by various other scholarly presses. She is excited to be Mckenzie’s faculty mentor!

Project Description: This project concerns urban politics. Prof. Read has a special focus on urban democracy in Taiwan, but the questions pertain to many kinds of cities around the world. A key topic of the research has to do with accountability relationships between elected city councils and
powerful mayors: under what conditions can elected councils act as a check and balance? Sara will help research and make sense of the academic literature on city politics and city councils. She will identify and read published scholarship in this area and summarize it in annotated bibliographies or reports. This will also help deepen her skills in searching through, sifting, and processing a large body of knowledge, which should directly pertain to her future legal career.

Mentee: Sara Beckman is a third-year undergraduate student studying Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz. Coming from San Diego, Beckman enjoys
spending time at the beach and with her friends. She has loved her time at UCSC, especially in her participation on the university’s
NCAA Women’s Tennis team. Beyond the campus, Beckman’s commitment to the Santa Cruz community shines through her volunteer
work at local food banks and the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. Beckman plans to attend law school after her graduation due to her
interest in the ethical implications within the growing fields of science and technology.

Mentor: Ben Read is a professor in the Politics Department. His research has focused on local politics in mainland China and Taiwan, and he
also writes about issues in field research and comparison. He is author of Roots of the State: Neighborhood Organization and Social
Networks in Beijing and Taipei (Stanford, 2012), and coauthor of Field Research in Political Science: Practices and Principles
(Cambridge, 2015). He co-edits the Cambridge Elements series in Politics and Society in East Asia. In his spare time he parents, cooks,
reads, reviews Chinese vocabulary, tinkers with computer code, rides bicycles, and flies small airplanes.

Click here for Official Application
  to the program, to be filled out by your Merrill faculty fellow sponsor.

Questions about the program should be addressed to Merrill College at