SESP Faculty Members Join IPR

SESP Faculty Members Join IPR

Bonilla, NuamahNew IPR fellows Tabitha Bonilla and Sally Nuamah

Tabitha Bonilla and Sally Nuamah have been named faculty fellows at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research, an interdisciplinary community of scholars.

Bonilla, assistant professor of human development and social policy, studies public opinion and broadly examines how elite communication influences voter opinions of candidates and political policies. Her research also focuses on the way everyday consumption of politics matters, by looking at how messaging can polarize or bridge attitudes about political issues.

Her recent work explores how the American public perceives human trafficking and the ways in which a more nuanced understanding of human trafficking can shift attitudes about immigration. Another area of her research looks at how political candidate’s campaign promises signal a greater commitment to an issue, which can affect voter behavior. 

Her work has appeared in the Journal of Public Policy and the Journal of Experimental Political Science. Bonilla received her PhD in political science from Stanford University in 2015 and worked as a postdoctoral scholar and teaching fellow at the University of Southern California. She came to Northwestern in 2016 as an IPR research assistant professor and is now an assistant professor of human development and social policy as well as an IPR fellow.

Nuamah, a political scientist and assistant professor of human development, studies race, gender, education policy, and political behavior.

One of Nuamah’s latest projects examined the racial differences in public opinion on school closures in Chicago, finding that black and Latino Chicagoans were far less supportive of school closures than white Chicagoans. She has also explored the perceptions of the quality of education in post-Katrina New Orleans and how they differ by race and by perception of who holds political power. She is currently examining how the punishment of black women and girls affects democracy, thanks to a prestigious 2019 Carnegie Fellowship.

In her newly published book, How Girls Achieve (Harvard University Press, 2019), she makes the case for why “feminist schools” would ensure a lifetime of achievement especially for black girls—and how such schools could improve education for all. Nuamah argues that most schools were never designed with girls in mind, and she calls for a new approach that will teach girls how and when to challenge society’s norms.

Her research has been published in the Journal of Urban Affairs and the American Education Research Journal, and she has written for media outlets such as the Washington Post. Her award-winning documentary, Herstory: Educate a Woman, Educate a Nation, investigates the importance of education for women and girls in Ghana. She established the TWII Foundation to help Ghanaian women complete college.

Nuamah, who was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton and Harvard, returned to Northwestern from Duke University, where she was an assistant professor. She received her PhD in political science and methodology from Northwestern in 2016.  


By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 10/2/19