Clemson University student Ronnie Clevenstine, a senior from Greenville majoring in economics with a minor in political science, has been selected to participate in the Posters on the Hill research forum hosted by the Council on Undergraduate Research. The forum, which showcases undergraduate research from across the country, will take place virtually April 26-27.

Clevenstine’s research looked at the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and state restrictions placed on the program. Working with political science professor Jeff Fine, she looked at how those restrictions differ from state to state and the variables that affect those restrictions, such as political partisanship, economic conditions and racial climate. Clevenstine said this type of research will help inform her future work in addressing food insecurity policy and other social policy research.

“This project helped me get at what research questions I want to ask about these issues,” she said. “I hope to be able to use this type of research to talk to legislators about how we loosen restrictions to SNAP access for vulnerable populations.”

Clevenstine is a student in the Clemson Honors College and the National Scholars Program, Clemson’s most selective academic merit scholarship. She has also participated in Clemson’s Creative Inquiry undergraduate research program, which gives students the opportunity to work in small groups with a faculty mentor to answer challenging questions and solve real-world problems.

Clevenstine’s previous Creative Inquiry projects also dealt with food insecurity. She helped create a community garden in a rural area of South Carolina, and she assisted with a College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences project to create a food access map for Upstate residents experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. She credits her experience in Creative Inquiry with sparking her interest in research.

“What’s so wonderful about Creative Inquiry is that it allows you as an undergraduate to feel like you can work in the research space and contribute in a valuable way. When I came to Clemson, I was not interested in research. I felt like it was something for science or engineering majors; I didn’t think I had a role in that. Participating in Creative Inquiry helped me see myself as someone who can do research, who knows how to ask the right questions and work as part of a team to create something or solve a problem.”

Clemson student Ronnie Clevenstine

Clevenstine was named a Truman Scholar in 2021 and was named a finalist for both the Marshall Scholarship and the Rhodes Scholarship. She received the Duckenfield Scholarship from the Clemson Honors College and the University also recognized her with the Matt Locke Leadership Award and the Martin Luther King Jr. Excellence in Service Award. She held an economics internship last summer with the Brookings Institution and after she graduates in May, she will spend a year working with MEF Associates, a social policy research firm, before pursuing a Ph.D.

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