Evrim Agca is a rising second-year majoring in Industrial Engineering and Economics. Inspired by the work of Professor Ed Malthouse with the Medill Spiegel Research Center, he plans to research civic engagement.

Tell me about your SURG topic.

Agca: I went to the Industrial Engineering department research and faculty page and I saw a professor, Ed Malthouse, and I thought the intersectionality of his research is pretty fascinating in that he wasn’t just a traditional McCormick professor. He was in different departments, like Medill, specifically the Spiegel Research Center, which focuses on media sciences, integrated marketing communications, and also journalism through some aspects. Some specific topics or fields of study that his research group had explored in the past were news deserts, communities within America that have access to little to no local news. That’s more of a recent development, [within] mainly the last 20 years with the rise of large media outlets going on to the internet. I wanted to focus in on that kind of research because as an IE major who’s also econ, I want to have a more humanities-related approach to the hard skills I’m learning in school. I thought this would be a great way to develop into that. On the topic of what I’m specifically researching, I thought doing something along the lines of local news – its presence and how it impacts communities – would be something I would want to do. I ended up going with civic engagement. A very popular way of analyzing civic engagement is obviously voter turnout. Previous studies have worked on that, but there are still a lot of ways to qualify previous studies and add your own contribution to it. All in one sentence, my study is about quantifying the effects or correlation between local news and voter turnout in each county.

Where do you hope this research will go?

Agca: That’s actually a great question because I’ve been thinking about that as well. I don’t want to assume how anything is going to unfold, but I’ve been thinking if it becomes a project that I feel very accomplished in and I think the results are very cool, if I could publish it that would be great. I know there is an undergraduate research journal but I haven't been exposed to it too much, but I could probably explore that. This is more of a fun thing, but I want to travel outside of campus because I stay here a lot. A lot of my friends go to different schools to meet up with their friends but I don’t usually do that. If I could go to some conferences related to journalism, local news if possible, or data science, and share what I’ve brought and meet different people that have done similar research, that would be cool.

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