Challey Spotlight: Rachel Delaney

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth is highlighting the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Rachel Delaney.

Challey Spotlight: Rachel Delaney

Graduate student, Psychology

Rachel Delaney is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology at NDSU. She received her B.A. in psychology and communication with a concentration in rhetoric and public advocacy at Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2021. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she is a first-generation college student who was hired as a graduate research assistant at the Challey Institute in January 2022. She also is co-host of the podcast Scientists in Training.

What inspired you to go to graduate school?  What areas are you interested in researching?

As cliché as it sounds, I want to contribute positively to society, and I see research as an avenue to do that. I love researching and reading and writing scholarly articles. I was drawn to NDSU because they have a good statistics program and the specific areas of research aligned with my interests. I am still in my first year, but I am interested in political polarization and positive psychology. Specifically, the research question I am most interested in studying is ways we can reduce political polarization.

As you said, you want to make a difference in the world. What are the career goals NDSU is helping you to achieve?

Right now, my goal is to become a professor at an R-1 institution and have a good balance of researching and teaching. However, I could also see myself going into industry. Either way, I want to give back and make a positive impact on society.

What excites you about being part of the Challey Institute?

The Challey Institute is interdisciplinary, and I want to be an interdisciplinary scholar; so that is just one way that the Challey Institute and I are similar. Also, the goal of the Challey Institute is to advance understanding in multiple areas to help society flourish. To me, that idea is exciting and aligns with my passion. I also appreciate the commitment the Challey Institute has to its students, whether that is providing financial support, engaging students with ideas, or helping bring their goals to fruition.

The Challey Institute has hosted a number of diverse speakers this year, both in the Menard Family Distinguished Speaker Series and the Human Progress and Flourishing Workshop. Who has inspired you?

I have honestly enjoyed hearing from all of the speakers, but someone who I think I benefitted from and learned from the most was probably Jason Riley. He highlighted some of the current issues that I wasn’t aware we are having in society. Also, his talk followed a screening of the documentary film he narrated, “Thomas Sowell: Common Sense in a Senseless World.” With that, I learned a lot about Thomas Sowell. For the workshop, I really enjoyed Ilana Redstone’s presentation about the challenges and importance of building a climate that welcomes diverse perspectives.

How has philanthropy and your graduate assistantship helped support your studies?  

Having financial support means everything. It is the reason I can be here and go to school. It builds my confidence, knowing that people believe in me and support me. It allows me to focus on my research and education without worrying about funding. I am beyond grateful for the financial support I have received, because I truly could not be here without it.

The Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions, and human potential to identify policies and solutions that enhance economic growth and opportunity. Learn more at
Rachel Delaney
Top of page