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Fresno State's Lisa Bryant Selected as Carnegie Fellow to Study Political Polarization
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Published 2 weeks ago on
May 14, 2024

Fresno State professor Lisa Bryant is one of 28 Andrew Carnegie Fellows receiving $200,000 stipends to research political polarization. (Fresno State/Isabel Dieppa)

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Fresno State political science professor Dr. Lisa Bryant is one of 28 Andrew Carnegie Fellows who will receive stipends of $200,000 each for research related to political polarization. Bryant’s research seeks to understand how and why society has become so polarized, and how strengthened cohesion can fortify democracy.

Isabel Dieppa

Fresno State News

Her selection as part of the 2024 class was announced on May 7 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Bryant’s winning project is titled “Polarizing the Process: Partisan Effects on Election Officials and Trust in Elections.”

“I am humbled and grateful to have been selected for this fellowship,” Bryant said. “I am proud to be one of the few scholars who have had the opportunity to represent the CSUs as a Carnegie Fellow. I will work hard to highlight the important and impactful research we do in the CSUs. The other scholars in this year’s cohort are all amazing experts in their field, many of whom I know as colleagues in the election science field, and I am honored to be in their company.”

Goal: Understanding Loss of Trust in Elections

Bryant said her research will examine how partisan polarization is impacting the administration of United States elections, and how it affects career bureaucrats who serve the public as local election officials.

“When we lose faith in the processes that secure our democracy, democracy itself is threatened,” Bryant said. “I deeply respect and admire the work of election officials and the impartial way most of them perform their duties. I hope my research can help explain why trust in their profession has declined so that we can rebuild trust in election officials, administrative processes and election outcomes.”

With this focus, the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program marks the start of an effort to develop a body of research around today’s growing political polarization.

“We are immensely proud of Dr. Bryant and her ongoing leadership in the field of election studies,” said Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. “This prestigious award honors her impactful research and field work. Her work embodies the impressive impact of political scientists in maintaining and promoting our democratic system. I am so proud that with Dr. Bryant’s work, Fresno State is highlighted on a national level.”

Record 360 Applicants for Carnegie Fellows

More than 360 applicants submitted a proposal — a record high for the program. Selection criteria prioritized the originality and promise of the research, its potential impact on the field and the applicant’s plans for communicating findings to a broad audience.

“This year marks the first time the jury was asked to assess proposals addressing a single topic — the pervasive issue of political polarization as characterized by threats to free speech, the decline of civil discourse, disagreement over basic facts and a lack of mutual understanding and collaboration,” said John J. DeGioia, chair of the jury and president of Georgetown University. He noted with gratitude the contributions of long-standing juror Jared L. Cohon, president emeritus of Carnegie Mellon University, who died unexpectedly in March.

Of the 28 fellows selected, 11 are employed by state universities (including two from California State University campuses), 16 are employed by private universities and one is a journalist.

$200K Stipend Is for Two Years

The award is for a period of up to two years and the anticipated result is generally a book or major study. Congressional testimony by past fellows has addressed topics such as social media and privacy protections, transnational crime, governmental responses to pandemics and college affordability. Fellows have received honors including a Nobel Prize and a National Book Award.

Founded in 2015, the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program is among the most generous stipends of its kind provided for research in the humanities and social sciences. To date, the corporation has named more than 270 fellows, representing a philanthropic investment of more than $54 million.

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program is a continuation of the mission of Carnegie Corporation of New York, as founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911, to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.

The public may follow the conversation at #CarnegieFellows via FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and X (Twitter).

Class of 2024 Carnegie Fellows

Delia S. Baldassarri, New York University

David Broockman, University of California, Berkeley

Lisa A. Bryant, Fresno State

Joshua D. Clinton, Vanderbilt University

Johanna Dunaway, Syracuse University Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship

Bernard L. Fraga, Emory University

D. Sunshine Hillygus, Duke University

Taeku Lee, Harvard University

Brett L. M. Levy, University at Albany, State University of New York

Neil Malhotra, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Lilliana Mason, Johns Hopkins University

Angie Maxwell, University of Arkansas

Jennifer McCoy, Georgia State University

Elizabeth McKenna, Harvard Kennedy School

Neil A. O’Brian, University of Oregon

Molly Offer-Westort, University of Chicago

Julianna Pacheco, University of Iowa

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, The New School

Markus Prior, Princeton University

Brian F. Schaffner, Tufts University
Ananya Sen, Carnegie Mellon University

Seema Sohi, University of Colorado Boulder

Mara Suttmann-Lea, Connecticut College

Chris Tausanovitch, University of California, Los Angeles

Dara M. Wald, Texas A&M University

Elise Wang, California State University, Fullerton

David N. Wasserman, The Cook Political Report

Hajar Yazdiha, University of Southern California

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