Molly Izer’s political curiosity knows no bounds. As a second-year student in the Honors College, Izer has already explored a range of political advocacy spheres. From her high school origins in grassroots organizing in Oregon to her freshman-year congressional internships in Washington, D.C., Izer is now taking the next step with policy research at George Mason University and beyond.
Merging her interests in policy advocacy and research, Izer spent this past summer as both a legislative affairs intern for the Executive Office’s Council on Environmental Quality and as an Undergraduate Research Scholar with Mason’s Office of Student Scholarships, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR). Between both roles, Izer developed her understanding of the internal dynamics of and interactions among Congress and the White House, an area she was encouraged to explore through her first-year research course, HNRS 110: Principles of Research and Inquiry.
“In my [HNRS 110] classes…we were taught to not only look for differences that we could see on the outside, but also look at why they happen that way,” Izer recalls from the course, a first-semester requirement for all Honors College students.
Izer found that her Honors College background in research greatly shaped her success with the summer internships. “[Y]our job [as a congressional and White House intern] is to produce information and compound it in a way that people can consume it quickly, understand it very clearly, and they can apply immediately.”
Practicing collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing information through HNRS 110 also prepared Izer for her summer OSCAR project. Mentored by Schar School of Policy and Government professor Dr. Jennifer Victor, she investigated the informal dynamics that occur within the House of Representatives through congressional caucuses, seeking to understand how the interactions influence various types of legislative behaviors. In September, Izer looks forward to sharing her current findings at the 2022 American Political Science Annual Meeting. Hosted by the leading organization for the study of political science, the meeting convenes in Montreal, Quebec this year. Izer is eager to present her work before similarly motivated distinguished scholars, an opportunity to which she notes few if any undergraduate students are invited.
However, she is no stranger to academic conferences. In Spring 2022, Izer participated in the Midwest Political Science Association’s 2022 conference, presenting her HNRS 110 project "Misinformation: Gone Viral.” Sharing the product of her work widely beyond the Mason community is especially important. On research communication and applicability outside of academia, Izer believes it is important “to [transform research] into something that other people can gain from and something that other people can see and learn from.”
She attributes her preparation for this task to her training in the Honors College: “The Honors College in particular teaches how to not just learn but to be teachers, and producing research gives us an avenue to be a teacher.”
Looking forward, Izer plans to publish her summer research project with Dr. Victor. Her HNRS 110 paper is also forthcoming in the George Mason Review journal. She encourages Honors College students looking to further their research or get involved in political advocacy to put themselves out there and ask for help; her experiences prove to her that reaching out to the professor or applying for the position that interests you can lead to impactful experiences.