Reilly Center Research Affiliates

The Reilly Center supports a robust array of research activity. Research support is through a number of means including the Public Policy research Lab, fellows programs, faculty salaries and direct project funding. These investments result in scholarly books, research articles, reports for public policymakers and informative professional pieces for practitioners.

The Reilly Center publishes reports and papers written by affiliated faculty researchers and fellows that examines issues connected to our core focus areas: Contemporary Media & Public Affairs Issues; Civic Engagement & Leadership; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

For information on current research projects, visit our current research affiliates’ pages listed below.

Current Research Affiliates


Ruth Moon Mari headshot
Ruth Moon Mari, Ph.D (Ph.D. University of Washington) studies journalists and the constraints and incentives that shape their work, particularly in countries with restrictive governments and limited technology infrastructure. She is particularly interested in the intersection of media policy and journalism practice. She has master’s degrees in communication from UW and in political science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Moon Mari also has a background in journalism and publishing; she edited Seattle Pacific University’s alumni magazine, Response, from 2017–2019, and freelanced for several other news outlets over the past decade. Reilly Center support will fund several fieldwork trips, which are crucial to Moon Mari’s research. She is planning travel to East Africa during the next year, where she will gather data on journalists and news organizations to develop a model of journalist responses to their organizational and sociopolitical environments.n text.


Lance Porter headshot

Lance Porter, Ph.D., is the Class of 1941 Alumni Professor and the founding Director of the Social Media Analysis and Creation (SMAC) Lab. Porter has focused on digital media since 1995, when he built his first commercial website. Before coming to LSU, Porter spent four years as executive director of digital marketing for Disney’s film studio. His research focuses on emerging media and power. He holds a joint appointment with LSU’s interdisciplinary Center for Computation and Technology (CCT), where he is the area lead in the cultural computing focus area.

The Reilly Center is supporting my project involving social media and disinformation. As part of the annual Breaux Symposium, the Reilly Center funded the travel of nine experts in social media and disinformation I recruited to travel to the Manship School to serve on several panels. In addition, the Reilly Center is supporting a book on the topic, providing funding to each of these scholars to contribute a chapter to a book I am editing to be published by the LSU Press.



Sherella Cupid headshot

Sherella Cupid, Ph.D., (Ph.D., University of Maryland, Baltimore County) studies the experiences of Black women and girls in education, with a focus on (digital) sister circles, Black doctoral women and Black faculty women, and mentorship. Currently she is creating digital sister circles, via her podcasts, Lirae Journey and Sista Docs Exhale, and other emerging projects. Learn more about her via her website

Cupid's project,“Investigating Sister Circles in Medical and Health Professions During the Pandemic” focuses on  the experiences of Black women working in healthcare and whether sister circles helped them navigate the challenges they faced professionally.. Further, through an intersectional lens, this research highlights how race, gender and health impacts the professional careers and wellness of participants. Cupid employs a national survey to understand sister circle experiences, along with focus groups to mirror sister circles –support groups for and by Black women that gather as a form of socialization and sustainability. This format helps to capture the everyday experiences of often understudied groups. 




Joshua Darr headshot

Joshua Darr, Ph.D. Joshua Darr received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. He also obtained a master’s in political science with an emphasis on American Politics, political communication and methodology at Penn, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College. His research focuses on campaign strategy, political knowledge, partisan polarization, and local news.

Utilizing a Reilly Center mini-grant, Darr, continued research with partners Trusting News and several newsrooms across the country participating in a program to strengthen trust across the political spectrum. He leads a study with five newsrooms that requires them to log the headlines of wire stories they receive and make and log edits to reduce polarizing content in those headlines. The Reilly Center grant enabled access to specialized software and services contributing to an analysis where several factors about a survey item are varied simultaneously. This allows for an understanding of how much each individual factor contributes to respondents’ willingness to choose a particular headline. These survey experiments will test how American news consumers respond to the original headlines compared to the edited headlines, with the goal of providing guidance to newsrooms on wire story editing strategies.


Asha Winfield headshot

Asha S. Winfield, Ph.D. Winfield is a critical/cultural media scholar with a focus on the stories (creation, rituals and practices) of Black individuals and groups occurring in the media, culture and society. As a researcher and filmmaker, she aims to use intersectionality, counternarratives, critical race theory and Black feminist thought to frame and center the experiences of Black people as they relate to audience reception through meaning-making and identity-making. 

She earned a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 2021. Her dissertation, "I Don't See Myself": Exploring Reception To Hollywood’s Construction Of Memory Through Black Women’s Biopics, explores Black women’s silhouetted representation in Hollywood’s version of history and frames new concepts like “intersectional call and response” and the “Black living room pedagogy” where learning Black history is shaped by Black memories and storytellers. 

Winfield is also the founder and director of the research group The Storytellers Lab at LSU. This group of academic storytellers utilizes qualitative research (community-based, participatory, photovoice and video voice research) in concert with documentary filmmakers to share the cultural and historical narratives of everyday people in different contexts.

As a 2021-22 Reilly Center Research Affiliate, Winfield utilized a mini-grant from the center to complete a documentary of Black COVID stories. This is the first in a planned series of annual documentaries from The Storytellers Lab. As part of this grant, Winfield will undertake community events sharing the art of storytelling and mechanics of technology to capture those stories for generations to come. 



Past Research Affiliates


Kathleen Searles headshot

Kathleen Searles, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Political Communication  with a joint appointment in the Manship School of Mass Communication and the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University. She is affiliated faculty with the Multidisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience Discovery and the Media Effects Lab, both at Louisiana State University. Her interests include news media, campaign advertising, and political psychology. During the last presidential election she received several grants to support her research using eye-tracking technology, part of a broader agenda which influenced the advertising landscape of the 2016 presidential election.  Her work has appeared in journals such as Public Opinion Quarterly, The Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Political Research Quarterly, Political Communication, Journal of Experimental Political Science, Information Communication & Society, PLOS ONE, Journalism, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, International Journal of Communication, and Political Psychology. She is currently working on a co-authored book manuscript with Oxford University Press which investigates the effects of mobile devices on information processing. Recently she edited two special issues; one for Public Opinion Quarterly on news coverage of public opinion, and the second for Political Communication on innovations in methods and measures. She is a founding editorial board member for Women Also Know Stuff, an organization designed to amplify the voice of women political scientists in public discourse and decrease the gender imbalance in media representation of experts, where she serves as Chair of the Social Media & Promotion Committee. 

A grant from the Reilly Center provided seed money which was then leveraged to secure an external grant from the Democracy Fund ($75,000). This project, “Increasing Women Sources in News,” examines journalistic sourcing routines and tests the effectiveness of sourcing interventions. Broadly, this work recognizes that the public learns of expertise through the news, and yet news outlets around the world primarily source men. This gender imbalance not only limits women’s representation, it reduces their influence in the public sphere and diminishes the quality of our public discourse. Because of the Reilly Center’s support, the research team can take actionable steps towards better understanding why this imbalance occurs, and how to fix it. 

Featured Research

"You Can't Be What You Can't See: Investigating Gender Inequality in News Sourcing"
Despite efforts to increase representation of women throughout the ranks of journalism, women remain less sought-after as expert sources of news. In this research, Dr. Kathleen partners with the Reilly Center to explore the psychological mechanisms underpinning this phenomenon.

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David Stamps headshot

David Stamps, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor, Information Design and Corporate Communication at Bentley University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, M.A. from California State University, Northridge, and B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. His research focuses on representations of marginalized groups and the impact of imagery and interpersonal engagement on audiences’ well-being. He is an accomplished researcher with substantial academic publications and presentations, as well as a former public relations practitioner and grant writer.

As a former Reilly Center Research Affiliate, Dr. Stamps began the digital, grassroots network initiate, VOTES COUNT prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of many goals for VOTES COUNT was to raise the consciousness of citizens regarding voter registration issues, practices such as voter intimidation and confusion, as well as attentiveness toward poll closures and other actions that may deter participation in the democratic process. Political participation is of even greater importance now given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. 

Dr. Stamps led the Black & Essential consortium project, a brainchild of Dr. Stamps and the Reilly Center, which stemmed from the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community in Louisiana. Over the coming months and years, many policy decisions and programs will be created to address how communities and the nation can be better prepared for a disaster of this nature in the future. The voices of those who are deeply impacted, especially Black essential workers, will be critical to advance initiatives mitigating the systemic underpinnings contributing to the impact of this disease on communities of color. This project amplified the lived experiences of Black Louisianans through narrative. The data conveyed how Black Louisianans navigated the pandemic and what policymakers and support organizations can do to meet their expressed needs. The first phase of the project, funded by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s E Pluribus Unum organization, focused on the Black Baton Rouge community. Additional phases broadened the population of respondents to the entire state.

Featured Research

"Black & Essential: Coping Strategies and Narratives of Black Baton Rouge, Louisiana Residents during COVID-19"
LSU's Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's E Pluribus Unum organization partnered to explore the impact of COVID-19 on Black communities ahead of crucial policy decisions.

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"Black & Essential: Relational Maintenance and Coping Strategies Among Black Louisianans During COVID-19"
From physical and mental health, economic outcomes and education access to higher hospitalization and mortality rates, the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on Black communities compared to non-Black counterparts are well documented in existing research. This study—a collaboration between LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force—expands that literature by offering strategies to mitigate those effects through new media (e.g., smartphone applications, telehealth services) and new media tools, such as delivery and pick-up services, to reduce exposure and keep Black Louisianans abreast of the latest health and safety information.

Access LA Health Equity Task Force Report


"Black & Essential: Characteristics and Coping Strategies of Black Communities Amid COVID-19"

The LSU's Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs with the support of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) Foundation worked on research that underscores digital tools, cultural representation among medical professionals, proximity to medical facilities as strategies to mitigate COVID-19 disparities in Black Louisiana Communities.

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Nichole Bauer headshot
Nichole M. Bauer, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Political Communication in the Department of Political Science and the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. She conducts research on gender and politics specifically focusing on how strategic political communication affects the way voters form impressions about women in politics. Her research has been published in a variety of journals including the Journal of Politics, Political Psychology, Political Behavior, and Politics, Groups, and Identities among other outlets. She is the author of "The Qualifications Gap: Why Women Must be Better than Men to Win Political Office." She also edited "Politicking While Female: The Political Lives of Women", a collection of essays highlighting research on the challenges women face in politics. The "Politicking While Female" project came out of the Reilly Center’s 2019 Breaux Symposium.


Fanny Ramirez headshot

Fanny Ramirez, Ph.D., worked with the Reilly Center on a community-based projects about the impacts of COVID-19 on violence against women. She is an Assistant Professor of Media Law and holds a joint appointment with the Manship School of Mass Communication and LSU’s interdisciplinary Center for Computation and Technology. Her research examines the use of information communication technologies in the criminal justice system with an eye towards issues of discrimination, privacy, and surveillance. Recently, her work has focused on the use of social media evidence in domestic violence cases and in the prosecution of youth gangs. She has also done research on the adoption of body cameras in law enforcement.

Featured Research

"Leveraging technology to support women experiencing violence during the pandemic: Challenges and opportunities."
Louisiana communities faced many problems during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the state’s longstanding battle with reducing violence against women. The consistent rise of domestic abuse and sexual violence, coupled with Louisiana’s stay-at-home order, presented unique challenges for those working to combat violence against women. Rapidly changing pandemic conditions forced organizations that typically rely on in-person communications and community-based interventions to shift their outreach efforts and direct services to a mostly virtual format. This study, led by Fanny Ramirez, Ph.D., sheds light on how organizations serving women experiencing violence in Louisiana (e.g., domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking) adapted to the pandemic by leveraging technology and provides a framework for identifying and overcoming challenges in reaching this vulnerable population.

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This report inspired the Reilly Center event "Supporting Survivors: The Role of media and technology," that was held online in October 2021. 

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Sarah Carpenter headshot
Sarah Carpenter worked with the Reilly Center on a community-based projects about the impacts of COVID-19 on violence against women. She is a third-year doctoral student in the Manship School of Mass Communication. Her research interests include political communication, race and gender studies, and the use of information communication technologies to shape public opinion.