Alexander Tripp, a junior majoring in political science, will travel to Washington, DC, to present his undergraduate research project at the 23rd annual Posters on the Hill on April 29 and 30.
Every year 60 students are selected from schools across the nation to present their undergraduate research on Capitol Hill as part of the event which allows college students to connect with lawmakers to discuss their research and promote the importance of undergraduate research.
Since 2015, five students from UT have been selected for the prestigious opportunity.
Tripp, who is a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program and a Howard J. Baker Center Ambassador and Baker Scholar, was selected this year for his research paper, “Modern Chinese Development of Latin America.”
Tripp, a native of Powell, Tennessee, was motivated to study Chinese development in Latin America after participating in a summer undergraduate research program at UT. A study abroad experience in Ecuador in 2018 helped him with his research.
“I always had an interest in Latin American culture and wanted to gain fluency in Spanish,” Tripp said. “I was also fascinated by China, this communist country with such a great influence on the world.”
Tripp researched each Latin American country and looked at the history of their relations with China. To do so, he scoured national and international news sources and research articles in peer-reviewed journals to familiarize himself with the different perspectives.
“I found that China would gear its trade strategies toward the host country,” Tripp said.
China would take advantage of desperate situations in less economically sound countries, while developing impressive relations with countries which possess stronger economies. Many of China’s imports—oil, copper, and soybeans—come from producers in Latin America.
“China is utilizing soft power to challenge US hegemony in a region the United States has historically dominated through the Monroe Doctrine,” Tripp said.
Tripp’s research was supported by faculty members Gary Uzonyi, assistant professor of political science, and Richard Pacelle, department head for political science.
“The political science department is very proud of Alec’s accomplishments,” said Pacelle, who served as Tripp’s research advisor. “He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and has accomplished things that few undergraduates have.”
Tripp feels honored to be selected for Posters on the Hill because he believes in the importance of undergraduate research at UT.
“It’s a way for people to connect with higher levels of academia,” Tripp said. “My research focus in foreign policy is very easy to connect with lawmakers on the Hill.”
While in Washington, Tripp will meet with US Representative Tim Burchett and the chiefs of staff for Senators Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn. He will also visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and participate in a question-and-answer session with representatives from the Council on Undergraduate Research.
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