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Announcing: 2019-2020 Young Scholars

AEI’s Initiative on Faith & Public Life is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019–2020 Young Scholar Awards. This year we received impressive applicants from schools across the country on topics ranging from public policy, economics, law, and political theory. We selected six undergraduates who will pursue rigorous, original research over the course of the 2019–2020 academic year under the guidance of a faculty adivsor and experts at AEI. The students will receive a $5,000 scholarship toward tuition, defend their research in front of a panel of experts at AEI’s headquarters in Washington, DC, and attend AEI’s 2020 Annual Dinner. Their completed projects will be published as a hard copy compilation, as well as on the initiative’s website. Congratulations to this year’s Young Scholars, and thank you to all who submitted research proposals.

2019–2020 Young Scholar Award Recipients

Joshua Baker is a senior at Baylor University, majoring in economics and biology. Mr. Baker will analyze if group prenatal care is an effective model of care for high-risk obstetric patients. The retrospective, observational study will employ propensity score matching to help determine if group prenatal care improves health outcomes, while concurrently reducing health care expenditures. Taking into consideration the challenges facing healthcare, Mr. Baker hopes his study can help inform health systems about how to best optimize care for this specific patient population.

Thatcher Broyles is a senior at Belmont University, majoring in economics with a double minor in mathematics and finance. Mr. Broyles’ research will examine the potential correlation between United States inmate wages and prisoner recidivism rates. Drawing wage data from the Prison Policy Initiative, Mr. Broyles will look for specific policy changes in prisoner wage legislation to see how these changes affect statewide crime rates and recidivism. He hopes the project’s findings will provide insights into criminal justice reform and the tangible, positive benefits of inmate rehabilitation programs.

John David Logan is a senior at Union University, majoring in political science and international relations. Given the exponential increase in the use of targeted sanctions as a form of economic statecraft, Mr. Logan will analyze the United States’ current use of targeted sanctions and the accompanying externalities associated with their overuse and misapplication. In particular, his study will focus on narrowing their definition and scope, how to effectively manage goal-setting, and will identify the factors that make targeted sanctions effective. The goal of Mr. Logan’s research is to promote prudent and effective foreign policy that is clearly defined and better equipped to generate policy concessions abroad.

Spencer McCloy is a senior at Union University, majoring in economics. Mr. McCloy will examine how the Supreme Court case Lochner v. New York (1905) earned its anticanonical title and undergirds the modern concept of substantive due process. He will also explore whether the Contract Clause could have better defended Lochner and enshrined economic liberty through a more constitutionally explicit means rather than substantive due process. Mr. McCloy hopes the study will act as much needed context to inform the modern conversations surrounding the Contract Clause in Sveen v. Melin (2018) and in civil liberties like those protected in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).

Abby Roeder is a junior at Bethel University (IN), majoring in economics and philosophy. Ms. Roeder’s research will look at moral and political-descriptive language in the United States and argue that an epistemic confusion between the two impedes public policy discussion. John Rawls’ response to moral pluralism will act as the primary interlocutor in her analysis, especially with regard to justice in liberal society. Ms. Roeder intends to demonstrate that by placing moral deliberation as necessarily prior to ideological reasoning in the public policy arena, the assumption of irreconcilable polarization can be rationally confronted.

Renee Waller is a senior at Biola University, majoring in political science and minoring in history. Ms. Waller is also a member of the Torrey Honors Institute, Biola’s great books program. In her study, Ms. Waller will evaluate the merit of nonreligious exemptions in the healthcare industry within an increasingly secular landscape. This study will specifically use natural law theory, classical understandings of duty, and legal precedent to shed light on the strengths and appropriate limits of conscientious exemptions for pertinent healthcare interests, such as euthanasia, abortion, and contraception. By bridging the academic discussion concerning freedom of conscience and religion with current public policy dilemmas, Ms. Waller hopes her research will develop legal and philosophical principles to measure which exemptions, whether nonreligious or religious, are valid within healthcare policy.