What is your field of study and what drew you to this field?
I study political communication, mass media effects, and public opinion, especially as they relate to stereotyping and prejudice. After taking courses in sociology, political communication, and social psychology as an undergraduate, I began to wonder how the media, and political media in particular, influence social and political attitudes about minorities.
On what topic was your dissertation? Why did you select that topic?
My dissertation examined the impact of the 2008 Obama presidential campagn on white racial prejudice. I came to this topic through my interest in the effects of mass media on prejudice and my good fortune to be involved in an election-year survey.
What drew you to UMass Amherst?
I came to UMass Amherst because of the opportunities to work with social and intellectually engaging faculty, staff, and students. The environment here strongly encourages both academic freedom and direct efforts to solve social problems.
What do you see as the potential value of your work/research?
My research furthers understanding of how people form and change their views of social groups, and provides guidance for applied efforts to create more effective public communication campaigns designed to reduce minority stigma.
What honors courses do you teach?
I teach an honors course on Media, Public Opinion, and LGBT Rights and a communications course called Media and Prejudice. In the future, I will also teach an honors course: Race, Media, and Politics.
What does honors teaching mean to you and how is it different from a traditional classroom?
To me, honors teaching means placing a special emphasis on critical engagement with issues of great theoretical and practical significance.