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SUNY Potsdam Students Conduct National COVID Survey Through Kilmer Labs Initiative

March 17, 2022

SUNY Potsdam Students in Dr. Robert Hinckley’s Lab Lead National Survey on Impact of COVID on Public Opinion 

From left to right: Robert Patterson IV, Daniel Mariano, Anna Mohammed, faculty member Rob Hinckley, Jack Rice, Jessica Perez and Frankie Brown (Not pictured: Delaney Aubertine).

A group of hard-working SUNY Potsdam undergraduates are spending the next few months conducting a national sample survey on the impact of COVID on public opinion. Led by Dr. Robert Hinckley, an associate professor and chair of SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Politics, the students are earning academic credit and valuable firsthand experience in public opinion research. 

The students range from freshmen to seniors and come from different academic majors, but all are working together on the ongoing survey project. The project has been funded through the College’s Kilmer Labs program, which funds faculty-led research with students. 

The students and I have decided to focus on identifying lasting effects of the COVID pandemic on public opinion,” Hinckley said.We plan future press releases and academic presentations of the resulting data.” 

The student research team includes: 

  • Delaney Aubertine 22, a history and politics major and Pre-Law minor from Cape Vincent, N.Y. 

  • Frankie Brown ’24, a music education major from Jordan, N.Y. 

  • Daniel Mariano ’24, a politics major from Massena, N.Y.  

  • Anna Mohammed ’22, an international studies and anthropology major from the Bronx, N.Y. 

  • Robert Patterson IV ’24, a politics major from Mount Vernon, N.Y. 

  • Jessica Perez ’22, a biology major from the Bronx, N.Y. 

  • Jack Rice 24, a politics major from Westport, N.Y. 

The SUNY Potsdam research team is utilizing a standing online panel approach to their survey, using a contract through Qualtrics. This allows the group to build a nationally representative panel from approximately 1,500 respondents. 

The online panel is the cutting edge of sampling designs since most people will not answer their landline or mobile phone when they don't recognize the number,” Hinckley said. “Surveys have become commonplace in our society, but response rates have gone down dramatically. These students will learn the common pitfalls and how to avoid them. They will also build valuable skills in data analysis and the communication of survey results. 

SUNY Potsdam Associate Professor Dr. Robert Hinckley works with students on their Kilmer Lab-funded national public opinion project.

Hinckley has plenty of experience in polling to share with the students, having led public opinion surveys for numerous regional municipalities over the past decade. The new approach will allow him to share the latest best practices with his students and the next generation of researchers—and to share the resulting information with the public. 

The Kilmer Labs program is sponsored by SUNY Potsdam’s Lougheed Center for Applied Learning, with support from the Kilmer Fund, which was established by an anonymous donor to honor Dr. Frederick Barnett Kilmer, a physician and analytical chemist, who was the director of scientific affairs for the Johnson & Johnson Company from 1889 to 1934. 

Kilmer Labs is an initiative to expand research opportunities for undergraduates by supporting faculty research lab projects (usually team-based in format). Faculty members agree to sponsor and employ a certain number of student research assistants over the term of the grant,” said Dr. Tom Baker, associate director of the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning. “The ‘labs in question can take many forms, depending on the nature of the research project. Pilot projects include labs in special education, environmental studies, politics, and at the cross-section of music and human performance. The aim is to provide students with high-impact research experiences under the guidance of faculty mentors. The program also has the collateral benefit of supporting our faculty members research agendas. 

The Lougheed Center for Applied Learning at SUNY Potsdam provides coordinated experiential learning opportunities that broaden and integrate students' knowledge and skills, to foster self-discovery for engaged and life-long academic, personal and career success. To learn more, visit 

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Politics aims to teach, energize, support and inspire students. SUNY Potsdam students pursue the study of political science or international studies to prepare for careers in law, government, foreign service, public policy, social action, teaching, business and more. For more information, visit 

About SUNY Potsdam:  

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit 

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