Mackenzie Smith, a senior undergraduate student in political science and psychology with the War and Peace Lab advised by Associate Professor Bernhard Leidner and PhD candidate Stylianos Syropoulos, was recently awarded the 2021-2022 UMass Amherst Rising Researcher student achievement award. This honor recognizes the incredible accomplishments of students that are excelling in research, scholarship, and creative activity. This award is given to exceptional students identified by their mentors as having demonstrated leadership and visible impact on their chosen field of study. Smith will take part in an award reception with Chancellor Subbaswamy as celebration for her achievements.
A variety of accomplishments preceded Smith’s receiving of the award. She received an honor's grant for her thesis, "The Influence of the Electorate’s Political Diversity on the Legislative Effectiveness of House Representatives", which was also accepted and presented as a poster for the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference. Her thesis defense titled "Political diversity in the American electorate and its association with legislative effectiveness and political ideology of elected representatives" was accepted as a data blitz for the 2021 meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology Conference. Smith’s focus related to a variety of data collection efforts, the comprehension of complex analyses, and formation of connections between the conceptualization of the research to the final, presentable product.
In the future, Smith aims to “become a lawyer within the political sector. [Her] main goal is to allow more citizens to understand the law and government so that it can work for them instead of against them.” She hopes to continue furthering her research in the subject of political psychology and how citizens make choices that affect the government specifically in day-to-day life. Currently, she is an intern for Congressman Jim McGovern which, in conjunction with her research, are her first steps into the government world.