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2011 Hellman Fellow

Amber E. Boydstun

Defining how news stories shape our perception of the world and ourselves (UCD)

Amber E. Boydstun is a professor in political science at UC Davis whose research centers on the causes, dynamics, and political effects of media attention and framing. She’s interested in how different media portrayals of the same policy issue shape public opinion and can prompt citizens and policymakers to respond differently to issues like immigration, gun control, same-sex marraige, and capital punishment. She uses lab experiments, large-scale media studies, and manual and computational text analysis in her research.

As a new Assistant Professor at UC Davis in 2011 she struggled to convince her fellow scholars that there was scientifically still a lot to learn about the interaction between media and politics. Preparing her Hellman Fellows Fund application forced her to hone in on the meaning and intent of her work and to describe why it mattered. The grant support she received gave her research agenda a crucial nudge forward that yielded two journal articles and the completion of a book. It boosted her confidence in her ability to communicate the importance of the media in our understanding of politics. Importantly, it signaled that she belonged in academia and in the UC system.

I’ve received many grants, fellowships, and awards over the years, but looking back, the Hellman Fellowship — and the motivation for its creation in the first place — is the most meaningful to me.

– Amber Boydstun, Ph.D.

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