Melissa Michelson, Ph.D.



Expose students to new ideas and challenge them intellectually. Reach out to them personally and show that you value what they have to say, and also that you value them as human beings.”
Melissa Michelson, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Office: 650.543.3844

Education Background

  • Ph.D., Yale University, 1994
  • M.Phil., Yale University, 1994
  • M.A., Yale University, 1991
  • B.A., Columbia University, 1990

Biography Academic Statement


Dr. Michelson enjoys writing and teaching about politics in a way that helps students connect with the political arena and make connections between their own lives and what’s happening in city hall, in Sacramento, and in Washington. Her classes follow the new “guide on the side” model, rather than the “sage on the stage” model of the past. Students who discover answers through their own participation, either through discussion with peers or through team projects, are better masters of the subject matter and more confident in that knowledge. Her classrooms are places of loud (but respectful) debate, of questioning the “truth” presented in textbooks and other readings.

Research Interests
  • Voter turnout in ethnoracial communities
  • Political attitudes and behaviors related to the same-sex marriage debate
  • Political socialization of undocumented Latino youth
  • Latino immigrant political and social incorporation

Professional Activities

Courses Taught
  • Introduction to Political Science
  • California Politics
  • Campaigns & Elections
Selected Publications
  • Sinclair, Betsy, Margaret McConnell and Melissa R. Michelson. 2013. “Local Canvassing and Social Pressure: The Efficacy of Grassroots Voter Mobilization.” Political Communication 30: 42-57.
  • Harrison, Brian F. and Melissa R. Michelson. 2012. “Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That: The Effect of Personalized Appeals on Marriage Equality Campaigns.” Political Behavior 34, 2: 325-344.
  • García Bedolla, Lisa and Melissa R. Michelson. 2012. Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate Through Get-out-the-Vote Campaigns. Yale University Press.
  • Michelson, Melissa R., Neil Malhotra, Andrew Healy, Donald P. Green, Allison Carnegie and Ali Adam Valenzuela. 2012. “The Effect of Prepaid Postage on Election Turnout: A Cautionary Tale for Election Administrators.” Election Law Journal 11, 3 (Sept.): 279-290.
  • Malhotra, Neil, Melissa R. Michelson and Ali Adam Valenzuela. 2012. “Research Note: Emails from Official Sources Can Increase Turnout.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 7, 3: 321-332.
Recent Presentations
  • Turnout, Status and Identity in Los Angeles: Mobilizing Latinos to Vote in Two Contrasting Neighborhoods (co-presenter). Midwest Political Science Association. Chicago, IL. (April, 2012)
  • It Does Matter if You’re Black or White: Race-of-Canvasser Effects on Black Support for Marriage Equality (co-presenter). Midwest Political Science Association. Chicago, IL. (April, 2012)
  • Increasing African-American Support for Marriage Equality (co-presenter). Western Political Science Association. Portland, OR. (April, 2012)
  • Mobilizing Inclusion: Redefining Citizenship Through Get-out-the-vote Campaigns (co-presenter). American Political Science Association. Seattle, WA. (September, 2011)
  • Turnout, Status and Identity in Los Angeles: Mobilizing Latinos to Vote in Two Contrasting Neighborhoods (co-presenter). Western Political Science Association. San Antonio, TX. (April, 2011)
Awards & Honors
  • 2012. Charles Redd Center Award for the best paper on the politics of the American West presented at the previous Western Political Science Association Meeting, for “Turnout, Status and Identity in Los Angeles: Mobilizing Latinos to Vote in Two Contrasting Neighborhoods.” (with Ali A. Valenzuela)
  • 2012. Menlo College Outstanding Service Award.
  • 2011. Adaljiza Sosa-Riddell Award for Exemplary Mentoring of Latino/a Junior Faculty in Political Science.
  • 2010. Outstanding Reviewer Award, Political Research Quarterly.
  • 2009. Visiting Fellow at the Research Institute for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (RICSRE) at Stanford University, Sept. 2009-June 2010