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Students to Present Undergraduate Research at State Capitol

March 22, 2019

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As part of the annual Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol on April 1, 2019, TLU students Le Johnson and Mary Eby have been chosen to present their research project, “Using Random Walks to Generate City Council Districts in Seguin, TX" with faculty mentors Dr. Betseygail Rand (math and computer science) and Dr. Will Hager (math and computer science).

At-large elections of city council members are often criticized for producing racially homogenous representation, reflecting the preferences of the majority population. The traditional remedy is to switch to single-member districts. San Marcos has at-large city council elections, while Seguin and New Braunfels have single-member districts. Johnson and Eby's research evaluated and compared elections Seguin, San Marcos, and New Braunfels by generating a random statistical sampling of all valid San Marcos districting. 

This population can then be a benchmark against hypothetical districting: How easy is it to draw districting that provides opportunities for minority representation on the San Marcos City Council? Finally, they evaluated alternate voting systems (cumulative voting, single-vote transfer, etc.0 to determine what kind of representation they would be projected to achieve. 

A total of 68 research projects from  59 colleges, universities, and health science centers will be presented during the event, which showcases research prepared by undergraduate students for legislators and the public.The program's goal is to showcase how undergraduate research impacts Texas and its residents. Each higher education institution selected participants based on its own preferred criteria.

Two other projects were also nominated: Andrew Hamilton, “Using Big Data to Search For Rare Stars” with faculty mentor Dr. Josh Fuchs (physics) and Loan Vu, “Staphylococcus aureus Prevalence in an Asymptomatic Population in South Central Texas,” with faculty mentor Dr. Bob Jonas (biology).

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