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May 3, 2024

Professor Jon X. Eguia receives 2024 College of Social Science Cross-Disciplinary Faculty Research Award

Jon Eguia stands in front of a tree in front of a river.

The MSU College of Social Science selected Jon X. Eguia, Ph.D., MSU Department of Economics professor, for the 2024 Cross-Disciplinary Faculty Research Award. He was chosen for this award to recognize his significant research and work with faculty across MSU units, the Michigan government and the public that addresses a a pivotal current topic in Michigan: redistricting.

To help inform the conversation both at the public and decision-making levels, he worked with faculty from the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan with the support from the MSU Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) to create the Partisan Advantage Tracker, an online tool that informs viewers about how fair the Congressional map of districts in each state is. He applied this tool to his work analyzing the redistricting process in the State of Michigan.

In 2020, Eguia served as a co-panelist during several forums for the commissioners tasked with drawing the next electoral district maps for Michigan. He additionally created a report that gathered his own analysis in addition to analyses from other academic and non-academic institutions to present a quantitative analysis of all the proposed redistricting maps of Michigan. He designed this report as a tool to advise the redistricting commission’s decision-making and additionally to stimulate public understanding and discussion.

The most impactful part of the report recommended that the commission reconsider how it divided the City of Detroit causing it to have a low number of majority-Black districts. This report was used to challenge the new maps in courts, most critically at the federal court level, leading to a ruling in December 2023 that this division was unconstitutional, and mandating a redrawing of redistricts.

Currently, Professor Eguia is working to make expert analysis available to the commission and to the public, as the redrawing of the district maps for the Michigan Senate unfolds.

“Here in the State of Michigan, Professor Eguia has been central to the drawing of fair electoral maps, even providing his own proposed maps to the Michigan House of Representatives,” said Steven Haider, Ph.D., professor, chair of the MSU Department of Economics. “Eguia’s research is helping to ensure that everyone’s voice is represented at the ballot box, exactly as enshrined in the Constitution.”

Additionally, Professor Eguia’s research and expertise has been published in elite academic journals and called upon for news media expert requests. He is an important modelof the university’s land-grant mission of serving the public.

“That the College gives an Award for cross-disciplinary research ---let alone that I would receive one--- is thrilling, as it demonstrates the College’s support for the broad research agenda that I have favored throughout my career,” Professor Eguia said. “It is great to work at an institution that values and promotes research that stretches above discipline boundaries.”

Professor Eguia’s academic research on redistricting is ongoing, with a new working paper on the factors that contribute to partisan advantage (unfairness favoring one party) currently under review, with additional work in progress.

He has immense gratitude for the support he’s received from the academic community at MSU.

“This award is yet another instance of a continued wave of support I have enjoyed from my colleagues and the broader community around me since I first joined Michigan State in 2014,” he said. “In the next few days I will be writing many ‘thank you’ emails to all who have contributed to the work that this award recognizes. Much research, and mine in particular, is a collective enterprise.”

By Katie Rose Frey