Check out past award winners and award descriptions listed below

Abdul H. Rifai Award

Each year, the KPSA awards the Abdul H. Rifai Award for the best paper presented by an undergraduate student at its annual meeting. We encourage students from all disciplines to apply, though the paper must be related to some political issue, event or idea.

The following rules apply:

1. All papers must have a faculty sponsor, identified as such on the title page. Papers which have been previously submitted for course credit may be revised, if desired.
2. Papers must be no more than 15 double-spaced pages long, including text and notes, with 1 inch margins, 12 point font in Times New Roman style. Tables. figures, and bibliography do not count toward page limit count.
3. Papers must be presented at the annual KPSA meeting. Presentations should not last more than 15 minutes, with time for questions. Typically, a panel slot is reserved for undergraduate presentations, though undergraduate papers presented at other panels are eligible.
4. Judges are selected by the KPSA President, and give approximately equal weight to the quality of the paper and that of the presentation. The award is given out at the Friday Dinner Meeting.

Past Winners

2018 B. Gammon Fain, University of Kentucky, “Red Dog, Blue Dog, Yellow Dog: How Democrats Can Use Strategic Communications to Attract Republican and Conservative Voters”

2017 Matthew Young, Berea College

2016 Max J. Prowant, Morehead State University, “Resilient Communists: How Fidel Castro Survived the Soviet Collapse and Cuba’s Uncertain Road to Democracy”

2016 Jeffrey T. Syck, Morehead State University, “The Paradox of the Progressive Presidency: How the Democratization of the Presidential Selection System has Degraded the Office”

2015 Nathan McNichols, Murray State University, “Decisions Dictated By Perceptions: The Influences of Society and Education in Scalia’s Originalism.”

2015 Ashley Taulbee, Morehead State University, “The Evolution of Kentucky’s Constitutions: A Comparison of The Original and Second Constitutions.”

2015 Kelly Grenier, Berea College, “Operation Nudge: How Non-Sovereign Organizations can Gain Quasi-Sovereign Powers to Solve Public Choice Issues.”

2015 Matt Hart, Kathleen Kennedy and Bryan Repishti, Centre College, “Split Ticket Voting in Kentucky.”

2015 Kelli South, Chase Deppen, Matthew Gilbert & Ryan McDonald, Centre College, “Do Coal Unions and Racial Diversity Affect Split Ticket Voting in Kentucky?”

2014 Tyler O’Daniel, Center College, “Cross of Iron: Public Attitudes and Military Spending Since the Cold War.”

2013 Autumn Baker, Morehead State University, ” Roger Sherman: The Transition from Articles to the Constitution.

2013 Ashley Ruggiero, Morehead State University, “Federalism and Administrative Law: Regulatory Power and the U.S. Constitution”

2010 David Hughes, Georgetown College, “Gay Rights and Social Movements in Latin America.”

2010 Wes Hunt, Murray State University, “V.O. Key Revisited: Confirms Campbell’s Model?”

2011 Ahmad Shuja, Berea College, “Minority Secessionism in Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes”

2009 Sarah Spiker, Western Kentucky University, “Eco-Sanitation: A method of providing the human right to dignity across the globe.”

2008 Beth Coleman, Berea College, “Immigration in the EU and the UK: A Conflict of Interests and Policy

2007 Jeremy Wells, Berea College. “Imperium et Sacerdotium: Universalism, Fragmentation, and New Medievalism.

2006 William Gyude Moore, Berea College. “Demographic Pressures and the Stability of the State in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

2005 Diana Freeman, Centre College, “An Explanation of Conflict: Ethnicity, Deprivation, and Rationalization.”

2004 Heather Barton, Berea College, “Political Participation and College Students: The Case of Berea College”

2003 Trish Gibson, Berea College, “Prophet vs. Politician: Evaluating the Role of Charismatic Leadership in the Promotion of Political Stability”

2002 Christopher Skye Freeman, Berea College, “Political Disequlibrium, Containment, and the Cold War: How the Natural Selection of Political Issues May Drive American Foreign Policy and the Unintended Consequences of Political Decisions”

2001 Irakli Khodeli, Berea College, “Human Rights And Sovereignty In Contemporary International Relations”

2000 Gail Guiling, Western Kentucky University, “Black Enfranchisement In Kentucky: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

1999 Carrie Cutter, Centre College, “Foreign Direct Investment in Developing Economies: A Study of Mozambique and Uganda.”

1998 Seth Kincaid Jolly, Centre College, “Mediating European Integration in the 1990s: National Identity and Economics in France and Ireland.”

1997 Lisa Vaughn, Berea College




1993 Michelle Woolwine, Moorehead State University

1992 Lisa A. Clark, Berea College

1991 G. Keith Alvey, University of Louisville

1990 Celia T. Feldpausch, Berea College, “The European Integration Process”
         Tara Bellando, Berea College

Our records right now are incomplete: if you have additional information about these or other award winners, please contact the current president and this page will be updated accordingly. Note as well that we hope to put the full text of the latest winning papers on this site in the near future.

David Hughes Memorial Award

The David Hughes Memorial Award was established to honor the memory of the former Centre College professor and 1972 KPSA President by recognizing the outstanding paper presented at the previous year’s conference by a faculty member or graduate student from a Kentucky college or university. Papers are collected by the Executive Secretary and judged by the Executive Committee. The award is bestowed at the dinner meeting of the following conference.

Past Winners

2018 Joel Turner, Western Kentucky University




2014 Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, J.S. Butler and Davis, University of Kentucky, “The Spreading of Innovation: State Adoptions of Energy and Climate Change Policy.

2013 Mark Peffley of the University of Kentucky, Marc Hutchison of the University of Rhode Island, and Michal Shamir of the University of Tel-Aviv, Israel. “The Impact of Terrorism on Israeli Political Tolerance, 1980 to 2011.”

2012  Dr. Jason Gainous and Dr. Allison M. Martens of the University of Louisville.  “The Effectiveness of Civics Education: Is Being a ‘Good Teacher’ Actually Good for Students?”

2011 Jonathan W. Pidluzny, Morehead State University.”The Social Requisites of Liberal Democracy, and Alexis de Tocqueville’s Analysis of Islam”

2010 Jason Gainous, University of Louisville. “Bowling Online: The Internet and the New Social Capital”

2009 Charles Ziegler, University of Louisville. “Competing for Markets and Influence: Asian National Oil Companies in Eurasia”

2008 William Garriott and Michael Douglas, Centre College. “George Bush, The Rally Effect, And The Partisan Popular Press.”

2007 Jonathan Winburn, Western Kentucky University. “Comparing Redistricting Outcomes Across the States: A Comparison of Commission, Court, and Legislative Plans.”

2006 Kenneth McIntyre, Campbellsville University. “Orwell’s Despair: Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Critique of the Teleocratic State.”

2005 Brian Caza, Georgetown College

2004 John Heyrman, Berea College, “The Electoral College: A Critical Analysis.”

2003 None Selected.

2002 Glenn W. Rainey, Jr. and Jane Gurganus Rainey, Eastern Kentucky University, “Representational Issues and Electoral College Reform: Implications of the 2000 Presidential Election.”

2001 None Selected.

2000 JD Droddy, Western Kentucky University, “Originalist Justification and Methodology of Unenumerated Rights  Note: this article will be published in an upcoming edition of the Law Review of Michigan State University-Detroit College of Law.  Please visit their site for updates and further information:

1999 Shamima Ahmed, Northern Kentucky University, “Assessing the Effectiveness of Welfare Reform Initiatives: The Relevance of Motivational Theories.”

1998 Margaret M. Juergens and Nayef H. Samhat, Centre College, “Middle Powers and American Foreign Policy: A Model for Managing World Politics with Lessons from Irano-U.S. Relations, 1968-1978”

1997 Fragano Ledgister, Morehead State University, “The Racist Right and the Internet”

1996 John Heyrman, Berea College, “Should We Blame the Messenger?  If So, for What?  A Study of Newspaper Coverage of U.S. House Elections.”



1993 Paul Knepper, Northern Kentucky University, Thomas Jefferson, Criminal Law Reform, and the Founding of the Kentucky Penitentiary at Frankfort.”

1992 Paul Blanchard, Eastern Kentucky University, “Education Reform And Executive–Legislative Relations In Kentucky:  HB 940 As The Culmination Of Legislative Independence, 1980-1990”, and John Heyrman, Berea College, “Reflections on Incumbency and the Meaning of Recent Elections in the United States.”

Our records right now are incomplete: if you have additional information about these or other award winners, please contact the current president and this page will be updated accordingly. Note as well that we hope to put the full text of the latest winning papers on this site in the near future.

Michael W. Hail Graduate Student Paper Award

The Michael W. Hail Graduate Student Paper Award (formerly the “KPSA Graduate Student Paper Award”) was established to recognize the outstanding paper presented at the previous year’s conference by a graduate student from a Kentucky college or university. In 2020 it was renamed in honor of long-time KPSA Executive-Secretary Michael Hail who passed away unexpectedly later that same year. Papers are collected by the Executive Secretary-Treasurer and judged by the Executive Committee. The award is bestowed at the dinner meeting of the following conference.

Past Winners

2016 Sarah Fink, Morehead State University, “A Case Study on American Social Media Privacy: Facebook and Government Oversight”

2015 Katie Clark, University of Kentucky, “Consequences of Sexual Violence during Civil Conflicts for Post-Conflict Democratization.”

2015 Jungmoo Woo, University of Kentucky, “The Oil Trade Network and Democratization.”

2013 Mike Morgan, University of Kentucky, and Yu Ouyang, University of Kentucky, ” The Impact of Rhetoric and Tone on Sanction Initiation, Extension, and Termination.”

2012 Mr. Christopher W. Ledford, University of Louisville, “Understanding Ethnocentrism’s Effects on Support for War through the Issue-Attention Framework.”

2011 Mr. G. Jason Smith, Florida State University, “Sovereign Wealth Funds and the Resource Curse: Do Capital Reserves Stabilize Regimes Throughout the Commodity Price Cycle?”

2010 Carolyn Morgan, University of Louisville, “Sind die Deutsche wirklich ein Volk? Voter Behavior and Leftist Party Support in a ‘United’ Germany.”

Distinguished Political Scientists as recognized by the Kentucky Political Science Association

The award is given from time to time to a political scientist whose contributions to the discipline and profession are regarded as outstanding and worthy of notice. 

Nomination is to the Executive Committee, which is charged with the final decision.

Past Winners

2018 Dr. Michael W. Hail, Morehead State University

2017 Dr. Michael Berheide, Berea College



2014 Dr. William C. Garriott, Jr., Centre College.

2013 Dr. Lee P. Sigelman, University of Kentucky

2012 Dr. William Bennett, Campbellsville University

2011 Dr. Edward Kearny, Professor of Political Science, Western Kentucky University

2008 Dr. A. H. Rifai, Berea College

2007 Dr. Larry Matheny, Centre College

2005 Dr. George Masannat, Western Kentucky University

2000 Dr. J. Allen Singleton, Eastern Kentucky University

1999 Dr. Malcolm Jewell, University of Kentucky

1993 Dr. Jack Bizzel, Morehead State University

1991 Dr. Louis Smith, Berea College

1990 Dr. Frederic Ogden, Eastern Kentucky University

1988 Dr. Amry Vandenbosch, University of Kentucky