Maurits van der Veen

Maurits van der Veen is the director of the STAIR lab and an associate professor in William & Mary's department of Government. His research focuses on how people think about politicized issues in international relations, including foreign aid and European integration.

One of the best ways to gauge how someone thinks about an issue is to see how that person speaks or writes about it. STAIR lab takes advantage of exciting new data mining and machine learning methods that make it possible, for the first time, to do so systematically and efficiently with vast quantities of speeches or documents.

More information about prof. van der Veen's research and teaching can be found here.


Students, Fall 2018

Nada Aljassar

Nada is a senior studying International Relations and Economics. In the lab, she is researching media coverage of Muslims over time. On campus, she is the FACES chair of the Asian American Student Initiative, a tutor for the Athletics department and the TutorZone, and a geocoder for AidData.


Andrea Chavez

Andrea is a senior studying Public Policy with a minor in Global Business. She has been involved projects surrounding international development working on the SDG team for AidData, and an independent study project focused on agriculture in Cotê d’Ivoire.


Tim Chen

Tim is a senior studying government and economics. At STAIR, he works on the project on ideology across time and space. On campus, Tim is a tutor for the Athletics Department.


Molly Dinneen

Molly is a senior studying International Relations and European Politics.


Samyuktha Mahadevan

Samyuktha is a senior majoring in international relations with a focus in data science. Her goal as a member of the Lab is to successfully create a search engine with prediction capacity for western legislative processes. She has been a part of the STAIR Lab for a year and has been on AidData's survey team for a year, where she worked over the summer. During this time she won a grant to pursue her research of the Congressional record. Samyuktha also participates in the Campus Kitchens Project's education team, is a competitive dancer on the Dhamaal Bhangra team as well as captain of the Dhamaal Bhangra B-Team, and is a TA for Breaking Intuition.


Hayden Le

Hayden studies Computer Science and Applied Statistics; they’re hoping to join a CS PhD program after graduating this coming May. Their primary research interest is investigating how to leverage communications over social media to conduct meaningful dialogue about contemporary issues. In addition to their efforts in the STAIR lab, they serve as the SSRMC’s Web Director, work as a Data Science Consultant, and conduct research both with Professor Phillip Waggoner and independently for their Honors Thesis. Though they swore off ever considering children, they are the proud parent of five guinea pigs.


Ryan Semsel

Ryan is a senior majoring in Government and Economics. This is his second year in the STAIR lab. He has been involved in projects including celebrity humanitarianism and trafficking/refugee distinctions. Outside of STAIR, Ryan's involved in a Student Assembly, a greek fraternity, the Buddy community service program, and the conduct board.


Cara Vetsch

Cara Vetsch is a senior studying Government and Applied Mathematics. Her academic interests include statistical analysis involving post-conflict areas, international development, and human rights. At STAIR, she works on projects involving media coverage of minority groups.


Sam Desmarais

Sam is a junior majoring in international relations. He is interested in the international development, specifically the efficacy and use of foreign aid. As part of the STAIR Lab, he works on analyzing congressional and parliamentary debate on foreign aid. On campus, Sam is involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the International Relations Club, and works at the Rec Center.


Seth Fiderer

Seth is a junior studying International Relations and Environmental Policy, with a deep love for everything relating to wildlife protection. On campus, he serves as the Vice President of the International Relations Club and has served as a New Student Orientation Aide with the Office of First Year Experience for the past two years. He has been working with the STAIR Lab since Fall of 2017 on identifying ideology in text.


Katie Heller

Katie is a junior studying Government and Public Health. She is interested by the rise of right-wing populism globally, and European politics. In the STAIR Lab, she is part of the Moral Foundations project, where she helps with research that investigates the use of moral language on debates about the migrant crisis in European parliaments. Outside of the STAIR lab, she is involved in the undergraduate Honor Council, a social sorority, and the Tribe Ambassador program.


Campbell Scheuerman

Campbell is a junior studying Data Science and Government. Her academic interests include Data visualization and how data science can be used to express people’s political behavior. She previously worked in the GeoQuery lab on gathering data sets for the UN Millennium goals. In STAIR lab she is working on using sentence embeddings to help identify similarities and differences in the framing of different issues. On campus she is an employee of the student run Agency 1693, plays ultimate frisbee, and is in a Greek sorority.


Sharon Kim

Sharon is a sophomore studying chemistry. She is interested in the application of data science to specific international politics issues. At the STAIR Lab, she has been working on using text analysis to analyze how media covers minority groups. Outside of the lab, Sharon is also involved in Honor Council and Agape Christian Fellowship.