Sharon Dunwoody Early Career Award

Inaugural Sharon Dunwoody Early Career Award Winners Announced

Throughout her time in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Prof. Sharon Dunwoody has been known for her commitment to helping graduate students develop – as scholars, as teachers and as people committed to the Wisconsin Idea that the university should be of service beyond the borders of the campus. In recognition of her contributions, the School has created the Sharon Dunwoody Early Career Award to honor graduates of our Ph.D. program who are demonstrating these same qualities in the first five to 10 years of their academic careers.

“Sharon’s mentorship has meant a great deal to legions of graduate students, and we are proud to recognize that through establishing this award in her name,” said Hemant Shah, director of the School.

Dunwoody, a former director of the School and past UW-Madison associate dean for social sciences, is an internationally recognized scholar focused on science communication. She exemplified excellence in both teaching and research during the three decades she spent as a faculty member in the School. She has remained a sought-after speaker and mentor in the years since her retirement in 2013.

The inaugural winners of the Dunwoody Award are Stephanie Edgerly, Ph.D. ’12, of Northwestern University, and Jason Shepard, Ph.D. ’09, of California State University, Fullerton. Both are well-deserving of this recognition, which honors excellence in both teaching and scholarly work, including a promising program of published research and demonstrated success in teaching or advising undergraduate and master’s students. Edgerly and Shepard will be recognized at our annual alumni awards event in April.

Stephanie Edgerly

Edgerly is an associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communication at Northwestern University. Edgerly’s research explores how various aspects and features of news media affect the way audiences consume news and engage in politics. Of particular interest to Edgerly is the impact of the increasingly blurry line between news and entertainment on young adults, the ways individuals and groups create and share news on social media and the process of selective news consumption among audiences. Edgerly has published more than 24 journal articles in the field’s top journals along with a half-dozen book chapters. She has presented her research at a number of major scholarly conferences, where three of her papers have been chosen for top faculty paper honors.

“Stephanie is an incisive and prolific scholar, a generous collaborator, and highly visible presence within the fields of journalism and political communication,” said Edgerly’s adviser, Prof. Dhavan Shah. “Her research has deep theoretical and normative implications for the practice of the press and citizens’ informed participation.”

At Medill, Edgerly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on media effects, consumer insight, research methods and journalism innovation. In 2018, she was part of a U.S. State Department delegation on International Information Programs that took her to Belgium, China and the Philippines to talk about her work on news exposure, fake news and other journalism topics.

Edgerly completed her MA in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and her BA at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Jason Shepard

Shepard is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communications at California State University, Fullerton, where he specializes in media law and ethics. Shepard leads a program with more than 2,000 student majors, 70 full and part-time faculty and concentrations in journalism, advertising, public relations, entertainment and tourism communications.

Shepard’s research examines the role of the First Amendment in American journalism, democracy and culture. He traces the evolution of American speech and press freedom and examines the influence of new technologies on modern First Amendment doctrine and theory. His widely regarded first book, “Privileging the Press: Confidential Sources, Journalism Ethics and the First Amendment,” was cited in the New York Times and called “required reading” by Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. He is currently at work on a second book examining free expression and the U.S. Supreme Court’s first gay rights case.

“I am thrilled Jason has earned the Dunwoody Award because he embodies the very things that made Sharon such an outstanding mentor and colleague,” said Kathleen Bartzen Culver, the School’s James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics. “He’s deeply committed to students and to advancing our understanding of communication and law. He’s tireless in his teaching and research, always seeking to innovate and improve. I’ve known Jason as a student, as a teaching assistant and now as a co-author on research into free expression on campus. He has never ceased to impress and inspire me.”