What do you mean by "mass polarization"?
When you look at the political spectrum in the United States, you see that things are massing up on one side or another, and no one is really in the middle on any of these issues. They feel very strongly about the things they're voting for.
What got you interested in the project?
If you go back in time and look at the 2000 election, it was very polarized. It was almost as polarized as it is now. But if you were to go to Sept. 11, you see how America as a whole became far more cohesive, and how people as a whole are feeling the same way about a lot of issues. The population went from being very polarized to being more cohesive than perhaps it ever had been to yet again being more polarized than ever before.
What did you find out about Tucson voters?
I developed a questionnaire of 17 questions that focused on the War on Terror and terrorism in general in the United States. The questions examined how they felt about the War on Terror and the War in Iraq, and how they felt we were doing there. As far as those two wars are concerned, you see a definite correlation between positive emotions for the war and voting for Bush. Likewise, if you have a negative feeling for both of the wars, you're more likely to vote for Kerry.
What else did you ask?
I asked them to place their fear of future terrorist attacks on a scale of one to 10. One would be the least afraid, and 10 would be the most afraid. If you placed your fear on one to five, you were statistically more likely to have voted for Kerry. If you placed your fear from six to 10, you were statistically more likely to have voted for Bush.
Did you learn anything about the media?
If you got most of your news from television, you were statistically more likely to have voted for Bush in the last election. If you read newspapers, you were statistically more likely to have voted for Kerry. We also looked at specific news channels. The biggest disparity as far as viewers went was between Fox and PBS--which, if someone keeps track of politics, they probably could have figured that out.
This is your second year winning a slot at the International Science Fair. What did you do last year?
I did a project in the field of immunology. Essentially, we gave some mice leukemia and tried to find out whether a specific protein was causing immune suppression, and if so, if that immune suppression was systemic.
Why the wide swing in different fields in your two projects?
I had a lot of struggles trying to find a mentor this year, and if you want to do the kind of science I did last year, you really have to have a mentor to get access to the facilities.
You can't just go down to the grocery store and buy mice and infect them with a disease.
Um. This year's project was something I had in the back of my head the whole time, but I was waiting until I was sure I wasn't going to be able to continue with my project from last year. My mentor from last year was re-assigned to Duke University.
What was it like going to the International Science Fair?
It was amazing. I had never been to Portland before, so just the location itself was nice change of pace for me. It was interesting seeing these people from around the world competing at the same place. It's a very humbling feeling.