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Sarah Jackson (left) and Duncan Watts (right) are the sixth and seventh Penn professors to be named Andrew Carnegie Fellows.

Two Penn professors have been named 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellows by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, receiving $200,000 each in research funding. 

Professors Sarah Jackson and Duncan Watts will receive the grant for research projects in the humanities and social sciences that focus on pertinent issues facing society. Jackson and Watts are the sixth and seventh Penn professors to receive the award in the Carnegie Fellows program's six year history. 

Over 300 scholars from across the United States submitted research proposals after receiving nominations for the award. After a first round of evaluations, a panel of 17 jurors, including Penn President Amy Gutmann, selected 27 fellowship recipients based on the potential impact of their research proposal, along with the scholar’s individual capability to communicate the findings to a wide audience. 

Jackson, a Presidential Associate Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, will investigate the role of 21st-century Black media-makers and storytellers, specifically journalists, filmmakers, podcasters, and digital influencers in her Carnegie project.  

“There is no doubt that today’s Black media-makers face a new landscape both culturally and professionally from those of past eras," Jackson told Penn Today. "The generous support of the Carnegie Foundation will allow me to detail this landscape and consider the opportunities, limitations, and influence of Black storytellers now.”

She plans to examine the legacy of Black media, the challenges media-makers face, and how their work has expanded public policy on housing segregation, criminal justice, education inequality, and voting rights.

Watts, a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with appointments at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Annenberg School for Communication, and the Wharton School, will study diverse media datasets to tackle the issue of misinformation through his Carnegie project. 

“My hope is that our work will help everyone, not just [the researchers], gain a better understanding of how the media produces information about politics, science, and other subjects relevant to our democracy, and how that influences public opinion and understanding," Watts said. 

With his collaborators from peer institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, Watts will examine the democratic implications of misinformation through interactive dashboards that allow policymakers, journalists, and the public to have conversations based upon facts and evidence. 

Jackson and Watts join Penn professors Beth Simmons, Daniel Guillon, Diana Mutz, Marwan Kraidy, and Philip Tetlock, who have received Carnegie Fellowships in previous years.

Penn, the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, and Yale University are the only universities with multiple recipients this year.