Examining how uncertainty affects people’s attitudes toward science with LSC’s newest Assistant Professor Sedona Chinn

Picture of Sedona Chinn
LSC Assistant Professor Sedona Chinn

We are excited to welcome Sedona Chinn to the department as an Assistant Professor in science communication starting Fall 2020. Chinn will be joining us from Ann Arbor, MI where she recently received her Ph.D. in Communication and Media from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation work focused on the prevalence and effects of scientific agreement, disagreement, and denial in news.

“I am excited to join a department of excellent scholars working in the field of science communication,” said Chinn. “The focus on interdisciplinary work was a real draw [to LSC]. On top of that, the climate is friendly, welcoming, and collaborative.”

When asked about her research Chinn says her work is driven by questions of when and why people question science. She is particularly interested in how uncertainty in all its forms affects people’s attitudes toward science.

To examine these topics, Chinn employs large-scale content analyses to understand what scientific messages people see (in news and on social media) and pair that with experimental work to understand how these messages affect people’s attitudes. Since her work focuses on uncertainty and scientific disagreement, it often intersects with questions about misinformation and disinformation, trust in experts, selective exposure, and politicization.

In the spirit of collaboration, Chinn has already started conducting research with LSC’s Kaiping Chen. This duo has been looking at how science information differs across different social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. “I feel very lucky to be joining a university with so many great colleagues to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with,” said Chinn.

Chinn completed her undergraduate degree at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she majored in International Relations and minored in French and Asian Studies. During college, she spent a year studying in New Delhi, India at Lady Sri Ram College for Women. After college, she taught English for English First in Beijing, China, before returning to the United States for graduate school.

Outside of work, you will find Chinn spending time with anything involving plants and animals. You can find her “puttering with the garden, visiting the arboretum, or going to the zoo,” said Chinn.

Join us in giving Professor Sedona Chinn a warm welcome to campus!