STEM Shoutout: Dr. Jessica Feezell

Political science assistant professor promoted to associate professor

Dr. Jessica Feezell in the political science department was promoted to associate professor this summer. She said that the most important tool to have in order to achieve tenure is a strong support network she established inside and outside the department. 


“The most important thing I have found was to assemble a posse of smart, kind, helpful women who work in my area,” Feezell said. “And to befriend them, stay in touch with them, take advice and ask them to review work. It’s important to have people that you can trust and be vulnerable with — I think I owe my tenure in large part to the support network that I have.” 


Feezell said that when she heard the news of the promotion, she felt “relieved and elated,” adding that even with the department providing her with a runway to achieve tenure, it was a long road.  


“It was a stressful process trying to keep your research pipeline full and moving and to think about how to balance the research load with the teaching load,” Feezell said. “Oftentimes it’s hard to do both of these things at the same time. It’s a struggle but, I felt like I had a lot of support within the department and within my college to keep moving forward and to plan accordingly.” 


She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused her to dial-back her research in some cases, with one project she planned to complete on her upcoming sabbatical on hold. She is grateful that she will be on sabbatical this semester, which will enable her to spend more time supporting her young children with distance learning. 


“In all honesty, in order to survive, I’ve had to definitely dial back my research agenda but I did just finish one brand new paper that is a new research area for me,” Feezell said. 


Her recently completed research paper looks at the difference between people who just scroll through headlines and people who click on articles to learn more about the story in terms of their political polarization, participation, knowledge, trust in the government and trust in media. 


Next, Feezell said she dreams of returning to the research started in her dissertation, which looks at music as a form of political communication. 


“It’s a hard one and it’s not the project that you want to take on when you are untenured and fast publications are critical,” she said. “It takes more time and thought and development. It’s not as academically sexy and easy to publish because it doesn’t naturally lend itself to traditional methods of analysis.” 


Still, Feezell wants to publish a book project on the topic, using different experimental techniques as well as content analysis. 


She said that while her research is important to her she still prioritizes her teaching because it’s an aspect of her work that she significantly enjoys.


“I love a good classroom,” Feezell said. “So, I would always write my lectures and get all of that done early and out of the way, then dedicate the rest of my time to research. That said, I would also carve out time to devote to writing and to research.”