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Department Recognition

Sanford Lakoff Award

Political Science offers undergraduate majors the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. Each spring quarter, the department faculty votes for the senior honors candidate who has submitted the best thesis. The award is called The Sanford Lakoff Award for the Most Outstanding Senior Thesis. This award is named for Sanford Lakoff, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, and the founder of our department.

Congratulations to our 2017-2018 Sanford Lakoff Award recipient:

  • Pravin Wilkins (Political Science/Comparative Politics, Highest Honors, Spring 2018)

Past recipients include

  • Eaton Liu (BA Political Science/International Relations, Spring 2017)
  • Alison Bildsoe (BA Political Science/Comparative Politics, Highest Honors, Spring 2016)
  • Austin Peters (BA Political Science/American Politics, Highest Honors, Spring 2015)
  • Brandon Amash (BA Political Science, Highest Honors, Spring 2014)
  • Arik Burakovsky (BA Political Science/International Relations, Highest Honors, Spring 2013)
  • Charles De La Cruz (BA Political Science/Political Theory, Highest Honors, Spring 2012)
  • Donna M. Farag (BA Political Science/International Relations, Highest Honors, Spring 2011)
  • Jonathan A. Chu (BA Political Science, Highest Honors, Spring 2010)
  • Kelly Zhang (BA Political Science/International Relations, Highest Honors, Spring 2009)
  • Melissa Lee (BA Political Science/International Relations, Highest Honors, Spring 2008)
  • Kaveh Sanandaji (BA Political Science/International Relations, Highest Honors, Summer 2007)

Departmental Honors

Senior Honors Seminar and Senior Thesis
To receive departmental honors, students are required to complete Political Science 191A-B Senior Honors Seminar: Frontiers in Political Science. Through the two-quarter seminar, students will complete a senior thesis. Please note that POLI 191A is offered only in fall quarter and POLI 191B is offered only in winter quarter and these courses must be taken in consecutive quarters.

Admission: Send an inquiry to the Virtual Advising Center

To be admitted to the seminar, a student must have senior standing in the first quarter of the seminar, have a minimum GPA of 3.6 in political science (this includes lower division, courses taken through Education Abroad Program, and Summer Session), have completed all lower-division requirements including POLI 30 (Political Inquiry) and five upper-division courses. Also, students must have an advisor prior to being allowed to enroll.

Award of Honors

The award of honors is by vote of the political science faculty. The award of honors will be based on the average of (1) the student's departmental grade point average at the end of the second quarter of the honors seminar (50%), and (2) the point score assigned the honors thesis by the readers (50%).

DeWitt Higgs Award

In addition to Honors, students may receive an award called the DeWitt Higgs Award for the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Area of Law and Public Policy. This award is named for DeWitt "Dutch" Higgs, a prominent San Diego attorney who served as a member of the UC Board of Regents for 16 years. He was chair from 1968 to 1970 and vice chair from 1970-71, at a time when students were protesting at the various UC campuses over America's involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Former UC President Charles Hitch said that Higgs was the very "glue" which held the university together during that difficult time.

Congratulations to our 2017-2018 DeWitt Higgs Award receipient:

  • Trent Ollerenshaw (BA Political Science/American Politics, High Honors, Spring 2018)

Past recipients include:

  • Nicole Paige (BA Political Science/International Relations, High Honors, Spring 2017)
  • Anissa Badea (BA Political Science, High Honors, Spring 2016)
  • Samuel O'Brien (BA Political Science, High Honors, Spring 2015)
  • Rachel Isaacson (Political Science, High Honors, Spring 2014)
  • Brian Daigle (BA Political Science, Highest Honors, Winter 2013)
  • Haley Devaney (BA Political Science/American Politics, High Honors, Spring 2013)
  • Lucia Goin (BA Political Science, High Honors, Spring 2012)
  • Vijaya S. Surampudi (BA Political Science/International Relations, High Honors, Spring 2011)
  • Claire E. Halbrook (BA Political Science/International Relations, Highest Honors, Spring 2010)
  • Nicholas Hromalik (BA Political Science/American Politics, High Honors, Spring 2009); read his thesis in published format - Congratulations, Nicholas!
  • Devin Incerti (BA Political Science/International Relations, Highest Honors, Spring 2009)
  • Colin McCubbins (BA Political Science, Highest Honors, Winter 2009)
  • Mark Elliott (BA Political Science/Public Law, Highest Honors, Spring 2007)

TA Excellence Awards

Each year the Department of Political Science selects TA Excellence Award recipients based on TA evaluation scores assigned from undergraduate students.

Students who have taught section at least once during the academic year may elect self nominate. Interested applicants tally all evaluations; the Director of Graduate Studies makes the final decision.

2020-2021 TA Excellence Award recipients

  • Anthony Anderson
  • Rachel Schoner
  • Rachel Skillman

2019-2020 TA Excellence Award recipients 

  • Matthew Draper
  • Brian Engelsma
  • Leonardo Falabella

2018-2019 TA Excellence Award recipients

  • Matthew Draper
  • Nhat-Dang Do
  • Isabel Gotti
  • Alexandra Lange

2017-2018 TA Excellence Award recipients

  •  Lauren Ferry
  • Zoe Nemerever
  • Kristy Pathakis
  • Inbok Rhee

2015-2016 TA Excellence Award recipients

  • Heidi McNamara
  • Brandon Merrell
  • Skyler Roth
  • Ike Sharpless 
  • Abigail Vaughn

2014-2015 TA Excellence Award recipients

  • John Gotti
  • David Lindsey
  • Brandon Merrell
  • Skyler Roth

2013-2014 TA Excellence Award recipients

  • Alex Ruiz
  • Ike Sharpless
  • Garrett Bredell
  • Mona Vakilifathi
  • Nathan Combes

2012-2013 TA Excellence Award recipients

  • Rumman Chowdhury
  • Scott Guenther
  • Jason Kuo
  • Blake McMahon
  • Alan Ward

Past recipients include:

Scott Bailey
Leigh Bradberry
Allen Bolar
Richard Carney
Saul Cunow (09-10)
Hugh Dauffenbach
Mark Farrales*
David Fisk
Kathleen Gallagher**
Michael Hawes

Jessica Hills
Paula Jacobson (09-10)
Danielle Jung
Delynn Kaufman
Michael Kelly
James Long
Daniel Maliniak
Nathan Monroe
Ellen Moule
Angela O'Mahony

Kristen Parks (09-10)
Justin Phillips
Andrew Poe
Stephanie Rickard
David Selby
Sam Seljan***
Jaime Settle (09-10)
Christopher Shortell
Rosco Williamson
Wendy Wong


*04-05, 06-07
** 01-02,05-06
***past, 08-09

Peggy Quon Prize

This annual prize is awarded to the Ph.D. in Political Science candidate whose dissertation is most likely to contribute to the scientific study of politics.

Previous Peggy Quon Prize recipients!

Susan Hyde
Cheryl Boudreau
Andrea Campbell
Royce Carroll
James Druckman
Erik Engstrom

Susan Hyde
Scott Kastner
Eric Magar
Nathan Monroe
Ben Nyblade
Chad Rector

Marc Rosenblum
Jessica Weiss
Nicholas Weller

Betsy Faught Award

Honoring Excellence in Academic Program Management

The Betsy Faught Award was created in 1994, to recognize the outstanding work being done by managers of our General Campus academic units and to inspire high standards of excellence for all campus managers. The award honors the memory of MSO Betsy Faught, who served as MSO in the department of Political Science with skill and efficiency for many years.

This award recognizes the professionalism and dedication of our academic program managers and emphasizes their critical role on campus. The traits attributed to the awardees include the ability to bring people together; skill at analyzing and solving problems; sustained initiative and creativity; influential leadership and management skills; and recognized judgment and integrity.