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Baker Scholar Nolan Ragland named Undergraduate Researcher of the Year
Nolan Ragland, Baker Scholar and Ambassador since fall of 2019, was named Undergraduate Researcher of the Year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
This award honors the student who demonstrates excellence in undergraduate research through independent inquiry, classes, and student employment during their undergraduate career.
Ragland has extensive research experience as an undergraduate, working as a Global Security research assistant for the Baker Center under the mentorship of Global Security director Krista Wiegand. He was also a research assistant in the Department of Political Science, having worked on the project Race, Gender, and Identity in Political Advertising with assistant professor Leah Christiani.
He co-authored a paper Who Sets the Human Rights Agenda, with Jonathan Ring, political science lecturer and director of Baker Center’s Student Programs. In their paper, they conducted a mixed-methods analysis on how the global media, the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations influenced each other in how and how much they discussed the ongoing human rights crisis in South Korea in the 1980s. Ragland collected data on human rights discourse, and wrote the case study of human rights violations, student protests, and democratization in South Korea. Ragland presented the research at the International Studies Association (ISA) – Midwest Conference, the ISA Annual Conference, and UTK EUReCA.
Ragland’s senior thesis, Does Electoral Proximity Influence Commitment to International Human Rights Law, builds on the democratization explanation for human rights treaty accession. He presented his thesis at the ISA Midwest Conference in November 2022 and will present it at the upcoming EUReCA in April 2023. He began working on his thesis in July 2021, with associate professor of political science and Baker Center fellow Gary Uzonyi as a mentor.
Along with his other involvement in the Baker Center programs, he is a leader among his peers. He contributes to a collaborative environment where students learn how to make the most out of their UTK experience. As a student worker, he was instrumental in maintaining and rebuilding the Baker Ambassador experience after the pandemic disrupted in-person programming.
“In the Baker Center student programs, Nolan is a model of professionalism and ambition who I frequently rely on as a leader,” Ring said. “He mentors younger students, contributes to our campus engagement efforts, and represents the Center when distinguished guests visit.”
Ragland will graduate Summa Cum Laude this spring as a member of the Chancellor’s Honors program with dual degrees in political science and global studies with minors in statistics and public policy analytics. After graduation, he will be pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.