Alan Gerber named Sterling Professor of Political Science

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Alain Gerber

Alan Gerber, an innovative scholar whose research has pioneered the application of experimental methods to political behavior, has been named the Sterling Professor of Political Science effective July 1, in addition to previous appointments as director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS) and Professor of Economics and Statistics and Data Science.

A Sterling Chair is considered the highest academic honor a Yale professor can receive.

A Yale faculty member since 1993, Gerber is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) in the Department of Political Science. He is also affiliated with the Yale School of Public Health, the Department of Economics, ISPS, and the Jackson School of Global Affairs.

Gerber’s research on electoral politics and political representation in the United States has transformed the understanding of elections and voting, leading to new ideas about how democracy can flourish. Through a series of studies on voter mobilization in the late 1990s, he pioneered the modern application of experimental field methods in political science. His book on field experiments, co-authored with Donald Green, reoriented a generation of scholars and policy consultants toward measuring and adapting to real-world empirical data. More generally, the introduction of this new approach to measuring causal effects in political campaigns has prompted increased attention in political science to the challenges of measuring causal effects, resulting in research designs designed to produce more credible causal estimates.

Gerber’s interest in experimentation and the quality of evidence has led to influential work in a variety of fields. He co-authored the award-winning book “Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine” (Princeton University Press, 2017), which explored how doctors respond to evidence and how government practices have shaped health care policy . His co-edited volumes “Promoting the General Welfare” (Brookings Institution, 2006) and “Governing in a Polarized Age: Elections, Parties, and Political Representation in America” ​​(Cambridge University Press, 2016) pose new questions about the conditions under which legislatures respond or fail to respond to opportunities to improve public policy, while “Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout” (Brookings Institution, 2004) has set the standard for research on the topic of electoral participation and is now in its third edition. .

Gerber, a member of the Yale College Class of 1986, has also authored and co-authored dozens of articles and articles on political campaigning, ballot secrecy, political psychology and other topics. His current research focuses on the political economy of evidence production and use in organizations and governments. Additionally, he has contributed to the fight against COVID-19, drawing on insights from political campaigns to understand the effectiveness of public health-related messaging during the pandemic. He has received major grants from the Hewlett Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the PEW Charitable Trusts.

Gerber was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the Society for Political Methodology, and was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. His academic honors and awards include the Best Book Award from the Organized Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association and the Heinz Eulau Award for Best Paper in the American Political Science Review.

Gerber is also an outstanding leader at Yale. He was appointed FAS Division Director for Social Sciences in 2013 and became the first FAS Dean of Social Sciences in 2014. During his tenure, he ably led the scientific priorities of the division. A champion of an inclusive vision for data-intensive social sciences, he reinforced FAS’s strengths by facilitating cross-departmental partnerships, including the launch of a data science certificate and courses that opened the field to a broader segment of our undergraduates, and playing a key role in redesigning the Department of Statistics and Data Science. During his tenure, the number of statistics and data science majors grew from single digits to more than 60 each year.

Gerber has also worked to improve research infrastructure across methodological approaches, forming a task force to identify and address gaps in research support for qualitative and mixed-methods research. This working group has been instrumental in supporting workshops and summer training on qualitative methods and licensing academic research tools, including transcription and multimedia project management software. of interviews.

In FAS more broadly, he led the implementation committee for the revised Terms and Appointments Policy. He also served as chair of the provost’s committee on data-intensive social sciences, identifying challenges and opportunities across the university in this vital area. Following the recommendation of this committee, the university established the Center for Data-Intensive Social Sciences. This new center will identify current and emerging computing, legal, and data security needs of researchers, build community across the university, and support data-intensive work at the frontier of research in the social sciences.

Gerber served as Director of the Center for the Study of American Politics at ISPS before accepting an appointment as Director of ISPS in 2020. At ISPS, he directs research that aims to shape public policy, including the launch of COVID-19: ISPS and Yale Social Science, an online hub that connects faculty and facilitates collaborative research aimed at mitigating the impacts of the disease. He also launched Democratic Innovations, a program to deepen research and discussion on critical social and political challenges facing democratic representation and policy-making. His teaching includes undergraduate and graduate courses on statistical analysis, the application of game theory to politics, US elections, and more.

He obtained a doctorate. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in addition to a bachelor’s degree from Yale.

With Gerber’s appointment, there are now 39 Sterling professors representing many academic disciplines across Yale University. The chairs were originally endowed by attorney John William Sterling, Yale College Class of 1864, whose bequest, when made to Yale in 1918, was the largest gift ever received by an American university.


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