North Texas Daily

Professor gives real-world advice to UNT students

Professor gives real-world advice to UNT students

Professor gives real-world advice to UNT students
October 01
22:37 2013
Regina Fischer / Contributing Writer
Today at the Willis Library, UNT named political science professor John Ishiyama as the Honors College Mentor of the Year.
“He has been an incredible positive influence on me,” said Michael Widmeier, a former student. “Without him, I would not have come this far along as a student.”
Ishiyama is a distinguished research professor for the Department of Political Science, an Honor’s College mentor, a director of the R.E.U. Political Science Conflict Management Program and editor of the journal “American Political Science Review.”

The nomination is due, in part, to Ishiyama’s role as a thesis mentor in undergraduate research in the Honors College program.

Students in the Honors College have the benefit of a faculty member who guides them one-on-one to refine their senior thesis paper, while being groomed for graduate school. Ishiyama said his only motivation is that he “loves teaching.”

In addition to mentoring Honors College students, Ishiyama directs the eight-week summer conflict management program, Science Foundation’s Research Experience for undergraduates. It is one of the few peace-science programs exclusively for undergraduates.

The program gets applicants from across the country, but fewer than 10 percent are admitted. Students learn everything from statistical methods and the cause of civil wars to writing publications and getting published.

The National Science Foundation has been providing an active grant of $427,000 to support Ishiyama’s research and his team. It is one of the few social science programs funded by the National Science Foundation.

Reka Fink, who attended the R.E.U. Political Science Program in June, said Dr. Ishiyama uses his experience to give little “gems” of advice.

“He has a way of saying things that just stick in your mind,” Fink said.

For instance, to be successful in political science one has to be well-published.  To ensure that a manuscript is well received, Ishiyama told her class:  “Thank your enemies, and cite your friends.”

Richard Ruderman, chairman of the Department of Political Science, said he is proud of the advances that Ishiyama makes in academia in political science.

“What he has done is a really remarkably high level of mentoring,” Ruderman said.

In addition to helping students with research and publication, Ishiyama arranges for students to present their research at the Midwest Political Science Conference, a premier political science conference held every spring in Chicago.

Under Ishiyama’s guidance, the political science department was also given the honor of editing the journal of “American Political Science Review” in 2012. The 107-year-old journal is the world’s most prestigious political science publication and is edited by a select institution every four years.

“We get 1,000 submissions a year  – 5.6 percent is our acceptance rate, the highest in the world for political science journals,” he said.

Widmeier, now editorial assistant at the Review and a staff member for the R.E.U. program, said Ishiyama cares about all his students and staff.

“He was definitely someone that I was drawn to for both academic interests and the way he works with people,” Widmeier said. “He’s very much a leader, and he will develop you and take care of you as a student.”

Ishiyama doesn’t like counting up all his accomplishments or the 134 publications under his belt. He would prefer to teach freshman in political science class 104: Introduction to American Government, where he said he feels he can “have the greatest impact”.

Political science professor John Ishiyama. -Feature photo courtesy of UNT

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