Dean of Arts & Sciences, Professor of Political Science
Dr. Melissa R. Michelson is a nationally recognized expert on Latino politics, voter mobilization experiments, and LGBTQ rights. She is the award-winning author of six books, including Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns (2012) and, most recently, Transforming Prejudice: Identity, Fear, and Transgender Rights (2020). In her spare time, she knits and runs marathons.
Dr. Michelson is Dean of Arts & Sciences and Professor of Political Science at Menlo College. Her academic work is solidly based in activist scholarship. Whether the focus is on members of the Latino, LGBTQ, or other marginalized groups, she uses her research to motivate greater equality and justice for all. Dr. Michelson went to graduate school to become a teacher and delights in leading classroom discussions, but also to write books that might make a difference, inspired by her undergraduate professor at Columbia University, Dr. Charles V. Hamilton. She has since written six books and dozens of journal articles and book chapters and is a nationally recognized expert in Latinx voter mobilization and LGBTQ politics.
Dr. Michelson’s current projects include ongoing research on how best to motivate Latinx citizens to vote, how to reduce prejudice against members of the LGBTQ community and against people living with HIV/AIDS, how best to motivate members of hard-to-count populations to participate in the 2020 Census, how best to motivate poll workers on new and developing vote technology, and many other smaller projects. More than a quarter century after completing her PhD, she is still excited by new research ideas and eager to dive into new literatures to learn more.
Dr. Michelson frequently speaks at public events and to the media, including a Menlo TedX talk in 2019 and as the long-time election night analyst at Peninsula Television. She is a frequent source for news stories about Latinx politics, LGBTQ politics, and California politics, including national outlets like the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as international media. She enjoys speaking to students outside of the classroom, including as a guest speaker in political science classes and to student audiences at the high school and college levels interested in how to be allies to the LGBTQ community.