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This study examines undergraduate research experiences at a minority-serving institution (MSI) in a political science laboratory. Students contributed to projects in a collaborative research lab at the University of California Riverside that involves undergraduate and graduate students in projects related to health and politics. Adopting a participatory approach to research, the study’s research participants also are coauthors who co-created the research protocols; collected the data; transcribed, coded, and analyzed the data; and wrote up the findings. Our analysis of 12 in-depth interviews with current and former undergraduate research assistants (RAs) found that their work in the lab challenged their perceptions of what research is and what it means to do research; shaped their path to pursue graduate studies; developed their social and professional skills; and offered an inclusive and humanizing experience with graduate students and faculty members. Challenges that the RAs mentioned included time management, bureaucratic accounting and payroll procedures, and feelings of self-doubt; the lab’s culture of inclusion and independence mitigated some of these challenges. Our findings align with the scholarly literature that suggests collaborative research opportunities can have beneficial outcomes, particularly for students from groups that are underrepresented in doctoral programs.
As COVID-19 began to spread around the world, so did reports of discrimination and violence against people from marginalized groups. We argue that in a global politics characterized by racialized inequality, pandemics such as COVID-19 exacerbate the marginalization of already oppressed groups. We review published research on previous pandemics to historicize pandemic othering and blame, and enumerate some of the consequences for politics, policy, and public health. Specifically, we draw on lessons from smallpox outbreaks, the third bubonic plague, the 1918 influenza pandemic, and more recent pandemics, such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and Ebola. We also compile reports to document the discrimination and violence targeting marginalized groups early in the COVID-19 pandemic. This article lays bare the continuation of a long history of othering and blame during disease outbreaks and identifies needs for further inquiry to understand the persistence of these pandemic politics.
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