2021 Award Winners

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2020 AAPOR Awards for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement

Lawrence D. Bobo

AAPOR’s members share a “common interest in the methods and application of public opinion and social research” (A Meeting Place, p. 217).  Larry Bobo’s research commitments and agenda unite this shared interest with theory and data in a domain of critical importance — racial attitudes and race relations. The resulting deeply creative body of work dissects the structure and meaning of racial attitudes and the social processes in which they are embedded.  His work has influenced every scholar in the field for decades.

At a time when sociological social psychology has sometimes labored for relevance, Larry has used that lens to understand the conflicts between social groups and the attitudes that fuel and institutionalize those conflicts.  Larry’s contextualized and sociologically informed concept of laissez faire racism challenged previous discussions of symbolic racism.  He contested standard interpretations of attitudes toward racialized social processes and policies by insisting on a crucial role for power and conflict. This shift in thinking led by Larry has required researchers across the social sciences to grapple with his work and to incorporate the perspectives offered by a sociological social psychology.

AAPOR first recognized Larry’s gifts as a researcher with the Student Paper award in 1981.  This was followed by two book awards, in 2005 for Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretation (with Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh and Maria Krysan) and in 2018 for Prejudice in Politics: Group Position, Public Opinion, and the Wisconsin Treaty Rights Dispute (with Mia Tuan)AAPOR benefitted from Larry’s service in many forms including three terms on Executive Council.

Larry has given us exemplary studies of public opinion, the social processes from which it develops, and its consequences.  He has advanced the theory, methods, and data infrastructure of the field and promoted understanding of racial attitudes among the public, the media, and policy makers.  The contributions of Larry’s work and the honors he has received for it are too many to enumerate here.  For AAPOR, his work embodies a core tradition and core values, executed at the highest level.  With this award, AAPOR honors how Larry has increased our understanding of the social world, in an area where understanding has never been more vital.

2021 AAPOR Awards for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement

Robert L. Santos

For more than 40 years, Rob Santos has had a significant and long-lasting impact on the field of survey and opinion research, including important contributions to the scientific literature, unsurpassed service to the profession, mentorship, and advocacy on matters critical to the field.

Rob’s professional career reflects the breadth of the field, bridging academic, not-for-profit, and for-profit organizations. His work has been wide-ranging and includes executive level appointments in world-renowned research institutions and leadership roles in over 70 policy-relevant and vitally important studies. Rob’s work as a survey methodologist and sampling statistician has improved our understanding of the U.S. population in fundamental ways and has advanced our understanding of our most vulnerable populations. His focus on designing samples of underrepresented groups who otherwise would not have a voice has provided new and important insights about racial and ethnic minority groups.

Rob’s myriad contributions to the scientific literature are impressive. He has been an author of three different National Academies panel monographs and seven other panels, including the innovative panel recommending major overhauls to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. He also has been involved in over 100 reports, journal articles, and conference presentations.

Rob’s service to our profession in a wide variety of roles has also been exemplary and has improved our professional community. Rob has served AAPOR in elected roles as President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Conference Chair. His commitment to diversity in AAPOR is unwavering, and he was a key part of the group that created the Diversity Coordinating Committee, laying the groundwork for AAPOR’s Inclusion and Equity Committee. Rob has long helped to bridge AAPOR with the American Statistical Association (ASA), where he has served as President and in multiple other elected and appointed positions. His contributions to ASA have been recognized by his election as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2004 and his receipt of the Founder’s Award in 2006 for distinguished service to that organization.

Rob also has made an important contribution to our field through his tireless advocacy for a high quality, non-partisan 2020 Decennial Census. In this effort Rob testified before Congress, wrote op-eds in major newspapers, issued public statements, wrote numerous blog entries, and did over 50 media interviews with major news outlets.

Over the years, Rob has mentored a wide range of survey researchers who are part of our professional community because of him. He maintains and encourages others to have a “pay-it-forward” attitude, which he has demonstrated throughout his career. Rob’s generosity extends to public service where he has put his leadership and methodological skills to great use for more than a decade helping Feeding America improve its ability to serve the needy.

For all of his contributions to the field of survey and opinion research, the American Association for Public Opinion Research is pleased to honor Robert L. Santos with the 2021 AAPOR Award for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement.

More 2021 Awards

Margaret R. Roller and Paul J. Lavrakas
Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach

“Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach” effectively puts into practice a new sustained, systematic approach to research and theory by way of applying quality principles to qualitative research design. This may well serve to open floodgates for a substantial broad new boom and emphasis on theoretical and empirical qualitative research. In that sense, it is similar to the initial steps proposed in the development and growth of the Total Survey Error Framework, and its recognition and assessments of multiple sources of potential error in quantitative surveys which has had a significant impact on our field. It is noteworthy that the Total Quality Framework has been used to identify and assess potential sources of error within the prominent qualitative methods, thereby enhancing the standards for qualitative research which may have a role in stimulating ongoing efforts in public opinion and social research.

Feeding America for the Map the Meal Gap Project

The American Association for Public Opinion Research recognizes Feeding America for their work projecting the impact of coronavirus on food insecurity through their Map the Meal Gap (MMG) methodology. Map the Meal Gap innovated in communicating important, policy-relevant information to a variety of technical and nontechnical stakeholders and nimbly added projections of the impact of the pandemic on hunger. Combining analyses at the national, state, county, and congressional district levels, the MMG methodology showed how the number of people who were food insecure in 2020 may have risen to more than 50 million, including 17 million children. Because of Map the Meal Gap, millions of people are learning about Feeding America and the state of hunger in our country. In addition, we are seeing consistent use of the data in a variety of articles about food insecurity. Map the Meal Gap is a vital resource in building relationships between legislative staff and members of the Feeding America network. The study’s up-to-date and in-depth data help shape conversations and convey the realities of hunger within congressional districts, enabling policymakers to make informed decisions.

For example, the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty joined the fight against childhood hunger during the pandemic with the Emergency Meals-To-You program. This Program uses MMG data to help identify eligible school districts that led to the delivery of over 28 million meals to around 270,000 children in rural communities in 43 states around the country.

Feeding America has also developed a suite of data-driven tools for network members to use in their advocacy efforts to protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is the first line of defense against hunger for many families.  These include executive summaries of key findings and policy implications, a list of the top 10% of counties with the largest gaps between SNAP benefits and the actual cost of a meal among low-income households, and sample tweets and other pre-prepared social media content.

Dawn V. Nelson, U.S. Census Bureau

Dawn Nelson has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to public service and dedication to maintaining AAPOR standards and consistently contributing to the quality of government surveys during her career. She has tirelessly worked to ensure data quality and high methodological standards in various roles, primarily in her two decades of service at the Census Bureau, and also through her steadfast support of the survey research field.

Dawn Nelson has worked at the Census Bureau in three different stages of her career, cumulatively making varied and consequential contributions. Her first role was a methodologist in what was then known as the Center for Survey Methods Research. In this position, she contributed to the development and evaluation of numerous surveys, including managing research on a CATI/CAPI redesign of the American Housing Survey, as well as redesign research on various components of the National Health Interview Survey. She also collaborated with Dr. Eleanor Singer on research to assess the impact of confidentiality assurances on survey response, which she co-authored in Public Opinion Quarterly.

Following several years in the private sector at PricewaterhouseCoopers, she returned to Census in a very different role, managing production aspects of major surveys such as the American Time Use Survey, and several waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Women. In this position she was responsible for weighing cost and quality tradeoffs across all aspects of survey implementation, including sampling, instrument design, data collection, and processing. She also served in other roles including interim director of the innovative Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) program, and branch chief in the Demographic Survey Division, with continued oversight of numerous national surveys, and managerial oversight of budgets, contracts, and personnel.

Dawn explored the private sector again for a few years, both at AARP and Mathematica Policy Research, before accepting another call to service at Census. Her initial role was a charter member of the Center for Adaptive Design, which was charged with integrating this rapidly evolving methodology into various Census surveys. Soon after, she joined the senior leadership of the Center for Survey Measurement, and played an integral role in its transformation into the Center for Behavioral Science Methods, which is responsible for applying established and emerging methods from the statistical and social sciences to improve instruments for both data collection and dissemination. She served as Assistant Center Chief, with responsibility for oversight of half of the Center’s large and rapidly changing project roster. Ideas that she has brought from the private sector on budget and portfolio management have proven extraordinarily useful in supporting a highly dynamic work environment.

There are few federal employees who have provided as much direct service to AAPOR. Dawn has served three terms on its Executive Council, including as Conference Chair, in addition to serving as President of the DC-AAPOR chapter, and most recently co-leading efforts to commemorate the association’s 75th anniversary. She has not only inspired and mentored other federal employees to provide similar services for AAPOR, but has also used AAPOR service as an opportunity to foster ongoing dialogue on best practices in survey methods research.

This award is presented to Dawn Nelson to recognize her distinguished accomplishments across many roles in public service and dedication to protecting, improving, and maintaining survey research standards in the public sector.

Family and Community Health Study and European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police in May 2020 cast a spotlight on brutality against African American and other BIPOC peoples and served as a catalyst for a national reckoning about racial and ethnic inequality in the U.S. People took to the streets, the newspapers, the classrooms, the boardrooms, social media, and many other spaces to demand an end to the brutality and a more racially just and equitable society. These demands did not stop at the U.S. borders because racial and ethnic inequality and injustice is not isolated to a single country; rather, it is a global concern. The global pandemic of 2020 has also shifted public opinion around the world. Unfavorable views of China are at historic highs, with majorities of the advanced nations saying China handled the coronavirus outbreak poorly. The coronavirus outbreak also sparked an increase of discrimination and violence against people of Asian descent in the U.S. and around the world. Protests for racial justice also occurred throughout Europe and Latin America and in many other countries across the globe. And in many places, demands for racial and ethnic equity were met with physical, intellectual, and political resistance, including countries where prominent politicians and intellectuals have asserted that ideas about racial and gender equality are a threat to national identities and to nations themselves.

These events in the U.S. and around the globe have highlighted and reaffirmed for us the importance and value of sound data that can be used to study, better understand, and give voice to the reality and experiences of underrepresented groups. It is against this historic backdrop and as we approach the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd that AAPOR is proud to honor two studies as joint winners of the 2021 Inclusive Voices Award. These two studies – one in the U.S. and one in Europe — bring into focus issues that impact our world as a whole and underscore the need for continued focus on amplifying underrepresented voices and their unique stories.

Family and Community Health Study

Since 1996, the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) has provided a rare and substantive research program aimed at providing deeper knowledge of the effect of family processes, neighborhood characteristics, and other contextual factors on African American parents and their children. This ongoing multi-site, longitudinal investigation of 800 families began in 1996 and has used observational, survey, GIS and, more recently, biomarkers to better understand a host of behavioral and social phenomena. In over 200 publications to date, the project has increased our understanding of numerous dimensions of African American family life including parenting practices, romantic relationships, school success, discrimination, coping resources, and mental health. The recent addition of biomarkers to assess cardiometabolic processes, gene expression, and epigenetic aging is critically important to our understanding of the way that social conditions and experiences exert a major effect on multiple chronic health conditions and why African Americans may be at higher risk for so many adverse health outcomes. We applaud the research team for their innovative thinking that gave life to the work and successful implementation of this long-standing program of research. For its role in forging new and important avenues for discovery and advancement in an understudied population, we are proud to honor this initiative as a winner of the 2021 AAPOR Inclusive Voices Award.

European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey

As the first European Union-wide survey focusing on immigrants and minority ethnic groups, the European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) is a striking example of inclusion of marginalized voices to inform public knowledge and policy. In many EU states, race/ethnicity information is not collected in a systematic way and the EU-MIDIS has filled a critical gap by providing country-level and cross-national data about experiences of discrimination, victimization and harassment, civil rights awareness, and political participation. By conducting interviews in over 20 languages in 2008 (n~23,500) and 2015 (n~25,500) with persons of immigrant or ethnic minority backgrounds (including Roma) across the EU, this effort has provided core indicators for measuring progress in the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies and other key indicators of immigrant integration. Beyond the anticipated serious methodological and implementation challenges of targeting hard-to-reach populations across political geographies, the EU-MIDIS surveys also faced numerous other formidable obstacles including terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, and in Brussels and Nice in 2016, which created serious barriers to data collection in its second administration. For its success in surmounting these and many other challenges and for providing the most extensive findings to date on discrimination and victimization faced by ethnic minorities and immigrants in the EU, we are proud to honor these surveys as a winner of the 2021 AAPOR Inclusive Voices Award.

Edith de Leeuw, Utrecht University

The Monroe G. Sirken Award in Interdisciplinary Survey Research Methods Research was established in 2014 and is given annually to a distinguished survey researcher for contributions to interdisciplinary survey research that improve the theory and methods of collecting, verifying, processing, presenting, or analyzing survey data. This year’s winner is a distinguished scholar in the field of survey methodology, Dr. Edith de Leeuw. Dr. de Leeuw is recognized for exemplary interdisciplinary contributions to survey research which illuminate the relationship between data quality and data collection methods, enhance understanding of the causes and consequences of nonresponse, and advance cross-cultural and cross-national measurement.

Big Data Meets Survey Science (BigSurv) Conference Series

On behalf of the BigSurv18 and BigSurv20 Conference Scientific Committees, this award goes to the following founding committee members:

Paul Biemer, RTI International
Craig A. Hill, RTI International
Lilli Japec, Statistics Sweden
Antje Kirchner, RTI International
Lars Lyberg, Demoskop (in memoriam)

Since its launch in 2018, the Big Data Meets Survey Science (BigSurv) Conference Series has held true to its aim of “Exploring New Statistical Frontiers at the Intersection of Survey Science and Big Data.” By creating a dedicated platform for the international exchange of ideas between the two larger fields, this ongoing conference series has created a point of synergy that benefits survey, data and computer sciences. The impact of this effort has been evidenced in the numerous publications, monographs and a book, thus far. As we face the challenges of growing inefficiencies and increasing costs of traditional survey methods, it is increasingly important to seek out new technologies and effective alternatives for survey design and administration. Moreover, the conference series has created a space where new collaborations and professional connections can be launched and nurtured. We applaud the organizing team for their innovative thinking that gave life to the idea and successfully implemented the series. Now well-established, this important forum brings together practitioners from various parts of the “data industry” – survey researchers, data scientists, computer scientists, and end users of data – to ask important questions and to share knowledge and techniques. For its role in forging new and important avenues for discovery and advancement in survey science, we are proud to honor this initiative with the 2021 Warren J. Mitofsky Innovators Award.

Winner: Rachel Stenger and Angelica Phillips, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The Effect of Burdensome Survey Questions on Data Quality in an Omnibus Survey

Honorable Mention: Joseph Phillips, Pennsylvania State University
“Affective Polarization: Over Time, Through the Generations, and During the Lifespan”

  • Ka Ming Chan, Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science
  • Zeming Chen, University of Manchester
  • Lauren Ellis, Rutgers University
  • Nicole James, University of Essex
  • Rongbo Jin, University of Arizona
  • Yingling Liu, Baylor University
  • Melike Saraç, Hacettepe University
  • Justin Tseng, Harvard University
  • Isabel Williams, University of Arizona
  • Tugba Adali, Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies
  • Nathan Browning, Kiaer Research
  • Beyza Buyuker, University of Illinois Chicago
  • Lello Guluma, Mathematica Policy Research
  • Jan Höhne, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Mark Owens, University of Texas at Tyler
  • Dixi M. Paglinawan-Modoc, Independent Survey Statistician
  • Alexandra Saunders, Mathematica Policy Research
  • Alexander Wenz, University of Mannheim
  • Xinyue Zhang, SurveyMonkey
  • Tylir Fowler and Nyron Crawford, Temple University
  • Leslie Garza and Sean Roche, Texas State University
  • Aliyah Mcilwain and Sarah Reckhow, Michigan State University
  • Alexandria Williams and Alian Kasabian, University of Nebraska-Lincoln