Park Fellow Kirsten Adams honored with P.E.O. Scholar Award recognizing excellence among women in Ph.D. programs

UNC Hussman doctoral student and Roy H. Park Fellow Kirsten Adams has received a prestigious P.E.O. Scholar Award.

Established in 1991, the P.E.O. Scholar Awards are one-time, competitive, merit-based awards that recognize and encourage academic excellence and achievement by women in doctoral-level programs. These awards provide partial support for study and research.

“My greatest hope is to find a way to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of American politics,” Adams said. “So I couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling type of recognition than for a diverse and interdisciplinary group to not only see the value in my research and its contribution to my field, but also recognize and encourage my passion for this work.”

“I’m so proud of what Kirsten is accomplishing in her time as a Park fellow here,” said Susan King, dean of the school. “We are able to attract top students like Kirsten through the fellowships, and they emerge as leaders around critically important issues for our school and for our nation, like a deeper understanding of America’s political discourse.”

A graduate fellow with the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life — a collaboration between UNC Hussman, the UNC School of Library and Information Science, the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy and the UNC Department of Communication — Adams studies political communication and journalism, with a focus on presidential politics. She employs a variety of methods, including semi-structured interviews, qualitative and quantitative content analyses, surveys and computational methods in her research.

The award will fund Adams’ dissertation research which will examine the moralization of political communication by political opinion media.

“By studying how moralized political talk is at work across a series of polarizing political issues and advanced through partisan media, my dissertation research will examine what it means to have moral discourse embedded in our political lives,” Adams said.

Before coming to Hussman, Adams worked as an editor at Gallup. She received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in journalism from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School for Journalism and Mass Communication.

The fact that the P.E.O. Scholar Award is designated for women has special significance for Adams. “In my own research, I’ve documented the challenges women who work in male-dominated fields face, and the lasting impact that support and guidance from other women can have on one’s career,” Adams said. “The fact that this award is designated by and for women — to celebrate women’s advancement and support their education and aspirations — makes it that much more meaningful.”

Adams’ work has been published in New Media & Society and presented at the annual conferences of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the International Communication Association and the American Political Science Association.

Learn more about Adams and her work.