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
  • Civil Liberties
Selected Publications
  • Chávez Pringle, Maria, Jessica Lavariega Monforti and Melissa R. Michelson. Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth. Paradigm Publishers. Forthcoming, September 2014.
  • García Bedolla, Lisa and Melissa R. Michelson. 2012. Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate Through Get-out-the-Vote Campaigns. Yale University Press.
       ★ Winner, 2013 American Political Science Association Ralph Bunche Award
       ★ Winner, 2013 American Political Science Association Best Book Award in the Field of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics
  • Michelson, Melissa R. “Mobilizing Latinos in ’08.” In Rodolfo O. de la Garza, Louis DeSipio and David Leal, eds., Can You Hear Us Now? Latinos in the 2008 Election. University of Notre Dame Press. Forthcoming.
  • Lavariega Monforti, Jessica and Melissa R. Michelson. 2014. “Multiple Paths to Cynicism: Social Networks, Identity, and Linked Fate among Latinos.” In Tony Affigne, Evelyn Hu-DeHart and Marion Orr, Latino Politics en Ciencia Política, New York: New York University Press, pp. 92-112.
  • Michelson, Melissa R. and Joe Tafoya. 2013. “The Latino Politics of Proposition 19: Criminal Justice and Immigration.” In Katherine Tate, James Lance Taylor, and Mark Q. Sawyer, eds., Something’s In the Air: Race and the Legalization of Marijuana.” Routledge Press, pp. 115-125.
  • Melissa R. Michelson. 2013. “The Growth and Consolidation of Latino Political Power in Chicago.” In Sharon Navarro and Rodolfo Rosales, eds., The Roots of Latino Urban Agency. University of North Texas Press: Denton, TX, pp. 67-80.
  • Michelson, Melissa R. and Lisa García Bedolla. "Mobilization by Different Means: Nativity and GOTV." Forthcoming, International Migration Review.
  • Lavariega Monforti, Jessica, Melissa Michelson and Annie Franco. 2013. "¿Por Quién Votará? Experimental evidence about language, ethnicity and vote choice (among Republicans)" Politics, Groups, and Identities 1, 4: 475-487.
  • 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. "Emails from Official Sources Can Increase Turnout." Quarterly Journal of Political Science 7, 3: 321-332.
  • 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.
Awards & Honors
  • 2013. Dean’s Scholarship Award, Menlo College.
  • 2013. SocialSci Participant Pool Award, for field experiment on religion and same-sex marriage. (with Brian F. Harrison)
  • 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. Outstanding Service Award, Menlo College