Undergraduate Awards

The Political Science Department has several awards for outstanding undergraduate students. Deadlines for all awards are the last day of spring semester classes and nominations/applications should be sent to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (where they are required).

To nominate a paper, please email it to the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.

C.M. and Demaris Hudspeth Award for Best Undergraduate Seminar Paper in Political Science

The Hudspeth Award is named in honor of C.M. “Hank” Hudspeth and his wife Demaris. Hank was a Rice alumni who became a lawyer and taught as an adjunct faculty member at Rice for many years. He was instrumental in the founding of the Political Science Department at Rice. The award is given to a student who wrote an outstanding research paper in one of the academic year’s 400-level research seminars. The award carries a cash prize of $250.* Students may nominate their own papers or seminar instructors can nominate outstanding papers. To nominate a paper, please email it to the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Previous Hudspeth Award Winners

2024 - Andrew Kim, “Veneration vs. Respect: Reevaluating Public Aversion to Amending the U.S. Constitution”
2023 - William Heston, "Women Presidential Candidates’ Effect on Voter Turnout in Latin America.”
2022 - Shiloh Miller, "Refugees and Civil Conflict: Do Economic, Social, and Political Integration Policies Mitigate or Aggravate Grievances?"
2021 - Mikayla Knutson, “The Impact of Catholicism on the Strength of Latin American Gender Quotas”
2020 - Emily Klineberg, "Discrimination as a (de) Mobilizing Force on Political Participation Among Marginalized Groups"
2019 - Sarah Berton, Connor Rothschild, Maddy Scannell, and Eric Stone, "¡Vota! Testing the Impact of Spanish Language Ballots on Election Results and Preferences"
2018 - Alberto Tohme, "A Prediction on the Outcome of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis"
2017 - Emily Jacobson, “Influence of Sex on Presidential Approval Ratings in Latin America”
2016 - Derek Holliday, "The Strategic Development of China-Africa Relations"
2015 - Matthew Proffitt, "Evaluating the Effectiveness of the ICC"
2014 - Giacomo Frateschi, "An Analysis of Democracy and Sanctions in Resource Rich Nations Using the Selectorate Theory"
2012 - Dylan McNally and Matthew Nanes, "Cheating in OPEC: Political Determinants of Why States Break Quota!"
2011 - Tara Slough, "The Influence of Justices' Gender on Supreme Court Sex Discrimination Cases"

Douglas S. Harlan Award in Political Science

The Harlan Awards are named after Douglas S. Harlan who was a Rice alumnus, political science major, San Antonio lawyer, and advocate for local politics. The awards are given to a junior political science major and to a senior political science major with an overall GPA of at least 3.0. The winners have a demonstrated commitment to political involvement including, but not limited to, service as a campaign volunteer or staff member, service as an election official, or service as an intern with an elected official. Note that the award funds can be used to help cover the expenses of an internship. The awards carry a cash prize of $1000.*

Previous Harlan Award Winners

2024 - Diego Palos Rodriguez
2023 - Vivian Zheng
2022 - Jamie Stewart-Aday
2021 - Mason Reece
2020 - Meredith McCain
2019 - Chloe Wilson
2018 - David Cirillo and Anson Fung
2017 - Zachary Birenbaum
2016 - Summer Roberson
2014 - Evan Austin and Blake Delaplane
2013 - Alexander Bohn and Charlotte Brown
2012 - Benjamin Chou

John S. Ambler Award for Best Honors Thesis in Political Science

The Ambler Award is named after Professor Emeritus John S. Ambler who taught comparative politics in the Rice Political Science Department from 1964-2019. The award is given to a student who has written an outstanding honors thesis during the academic year. The award carries a cash prize of $250.* All students completing an honors thesis will be automatically nominated for the award.

Previous Ambler Award Winners

2024 - Will Cover, “Judging Our Judges: Comparing Evaluations of Candidate Attributes in Partisan and Nonpartisan Judicial Elections.”
2023 - Noah Rabkin, “Pretrial Detention, Risk Management, and the Quest for a Sense of Objective Dangerousness.”
2022 - Lila Greiner, "The Immigrant Utility Heuristic: Latin American Immigrants as a Voting Bloc in the United States."
2021 - Hattie Amelia Lindell, “The Great Awakening: How and Why the Q-Anon Conspiracy Theory Motivates Voters” and Lauren Palladino, “Is the Media Against Me? Personality Traits as a Predictor of Hostile Media Bias”
2019 - Daisy Gray, "Less Money, More Problems: Evaluating the Effect of Bail Reform on Bond Forfeitures in Harris County," and Chloe Wilson, "Early Campaign Contact and Voter Turnout in the 2018 Texas State Senate District 6 Special Election"
2016 - Yasna Haghdoost, "Martyr Complex: The Strategic Deployment of Shiism Within the Islamic Republic of Iran"
2014 - Geoffrey Clinton Willbanks, "The Price of Education: An Analysis of School Board Elections in the United States"
2013 - Anthony Lauriello, "Uncommon Law: A Comparative Analysis of Libel Law in the US and Great Britain"
2012 - Tara Slough, "Social Development through Music Education: a Critical Examination of Venezuela's El Sistema"
2011 - Elie Bengio, "Foreign Policy Substitutability: The Utility Maximization Approach"

Departmental Honors

Departmental honors go to all students who enroll in the department Honors Program and successfully complete all requirements.

Distinction in Research and Creative Works

This is a university award, granted at Commencement and appearing on a student’s transcript and diploma, that is given by academic departments at Rice to undergraduates who have demonstrated excellence in research and creative work. In political science, the award is given to political science majors who have completed an exceptionally well-done political science research project(s) during their time at Rice. Students may nominate themselves or may be nominated by a full-time faculty member in the Political Science Department.

Previous Distinction in Research Awardees

2024 - Will Cover & Zhalin Mehta
2023 - Daniel Helmeci
2022 - Franklin Estein, Benjamin Lamb, Mason Reece, & Krithika Shamanna
2021 - Hattie Amelia Lindell & Lauren Palladino
2019 - Anson Fung & Jed Greenberg
2018 - David Ratnoff
2017 - Emily Jacobson & Zachary Birenbaum
2013 - Benjamin Chou, Ameer Jumabhoy, Anthony Lauriello, & Glory Nwaugbala

* Note: The cash prize amount may vary in any given year depending on the number of winners of the award.