Meet the 2021 research prize finalists

On April 29, the frank community will vote for the winner of the $10,000 Prize for Research in Public Interest Communications (frank prize). A select committee of researchers and practitioners narrowed down 78 entries of published peer-reviewed papers to a short list of three. Join us Thursday, April 29 from 3 – 6 p.m. ET where you’ll get a chance to hear from the finalists and pick your favorite.
The Center for Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is proud to continue its annual $10,000 Prize for Research in Public Interest Communications (frank prize). This prize celebrates peer-reviewed research from disciplines that span behavioral, cognitive and social sciences that inform the growing discipline of public interest communications.

Meet our 2021 finalists

headshot of Brooke Foucault WellesRyan Gallagher, Elizabeth Stowell, Andrea Parker and Brooke Foucault Welles address an important question in social change communications: how do individual actions create collective change? By focusing on the online narratives, public disclosures and meaningful policy changes around #MeToo, their findings challenge the dominant narratives about “slacktivism” and provide a blueprint for constructing hashtag social movements going forward. Brooke Foucault Welles will discuss their research at frank. Foucault Welles is an associate professor in the department of Communication Studies, core faculty of the Network Science Institute, and Director of the Communication Media and Marginalization (CoMM) Lab at Northeastern University and studies how online communication networks enable and constrain behavior, with particular emphasis on how these networks mitigate and enhance marginalization. See paper.
Allissa Richardson’s paper explores the new communication styles of Black women leaders of the anti-police brutality movement and their dismantling of the perceived respectable, polite African American protest model. Based on a series of interviews, the paper reveals the women’s keen textual and visual dismantling of Black respectability politics that led to a mediated hyper-visibility that their forebearers never experienced. The women share the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, and weigh in on the sustainability of their communication methods for future Black social movements. An associate professor at USC Annenberg, Richardson studies how marginalized communities use mobile and social media to produce innovative forms of journalism. See paper.
Omar Wasow’s paper asks the question: How do stigmatized minorities advance agendas when confronted with hostile majorities? Marginal groups around the world confront nearly impossible choices about how to advance interests against daunting odds. This work helps inform movement leaders about the types of tactics that can overcome these imbalances in power to challenge unjust systems, demonstrating that protests do work and violent and nonviolent actions by activists and police do influence media, elites, public opinion and voters. Wasow is an assistant professor of politics at Princeton. See paper.

About the prize

The College awards three prizes for research that provides insights that:

  1. Inform design aspects of social change campaigns to drive belief or behavior change
  2. Builds understanding of narrative as a strategy for change
  3. Can help practitioners overcome pressing communications challenges, i.e. misinformation, polarization, movement building, etc
  4. Support the work of social and environmental movements
  5. Contributes to understanding of the Public Interest Communications as a unique discipline
  6. Offers insight that can improve the effectiveness of communications practice, from how the human mind experiences and prefers information, and forms judgments and beliefs, to what motivates people to take action or change their behavior.
  7. Details a specific public interest communications campaign, including analysis of the reasons for its success or failure
  8. Explores evaluative measures
Social change requires we move beyond raising awareness, and instead design campaigns that shift minds, move hearts and inspire action. As a community we believe change happens by targeting systems and working pragmatically and strategically. The frank prize celebrates scholarship that can contribute to this vision.
The Center seeks published papers from emerging and prominent scholars, whose ideas can be put to work to build an antiracist, inclusive, equitable, just and sustainable future. We encourage entries by scholars studying aspects of how change happens (and what stops it from happening) that can be powerful when applied by practitioners on the frontlines of today’s movements. frank is an inclusive community of scholars, activists, storytellers, funders, communicators and students dedicated to using academic insight to drive social change.

Qualifying entries

The Center awards one $10,000 prize and two $1,500 prizes to research that meets one or more of these requirements. Check out a few of our past prize winners: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014
Only research that has already appeared in or has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal in the last three years may be entered for this prize. All research entered should have been completed within the past three years.
Research may come from any discipline and will be judged by its relevance for use in driving social change through communication. Work from previous entrants has come from diverse disciplines, including public health, communication, sociology, social psychology, neuroscience and political science, though future entires are by no means limited to those disciplines.

Entries are judged based on demonstration of the following:

A review board made up of academic scholars and public interest communications practitioners will review entries and vote for the top three papers based on the following criteria:
  1. Sophistication, originality and rigor of research methodology
  2. Relevance of the research findings to the study and practice of public interest communications
  3. Contribution to the understanding of public interest communications as a unique form of communications

Our past winners include:

2020: Dr. Jon Rozenbeek, Department of Slavonic Studies and Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge
2019: Dr. Jeremy Yip, assistant professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and a visiting scholar at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
2018: Dr. Chelsea Schein, postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
2017: Dr. Lisa Fazio, principal investigator at the Building Knowledge Lab and assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University
2016: Dr. Troy Campbell, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Oregon Lundquist College of Business
2015: Dr. Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University
2014: Dr. Jina Yoo, associate teaching professor of communication at University of Missouri-St. Louis