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 About Kristin Lunz Trujillo

Hello! My name is Kristin ("Krissy") Lunz Trujillo and I'm currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at Harvard University and Northeastern University where I work on the COVID States Project. Previously I was a Visiting Instructor of Political Science at Carleton College. In August 2021 I received my PhD in Political Science, with a minor in Political Psychology, at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.

I grew up on a family farm in rural Minnesota, where my family planted corn and soybeans, as well as raised some chickens and cattle. The experience of growing up in a rural area profoundly influenced how I view politics and political division in the U.S. and globally. This is the motivation for my research.

For instance, in my dissertation I investigate why rural areas tend to support right-wing populism by looking at the psychology behind rural social identification, or a psychological attachment to rural areas. I argue that rural identifiers occupy a middling position in terms of group status in society. This middling position maps well onto right-wing populism, which can be thought of as group-based: a corrupt elite and their unduly favored lower status group at the expense of the morally correct “people.” Rural residents see elites as an out-group, including experts and intellectuals, as well as immigrants, who are seen as being unfairly favored by experts ahead of themselves. Elites and intellectuals, as well as immigrants, are both seen as urban-affiliated but not urban per se. Further, negative feelings toward the out-groups are driven by symbolic or status-based concerns, rather than material or economic ones. This tendency explains why rural identifiers tend to support right-wing outsider candidates among rural identifiers, while their relationship with partisanship or operational ideology is more tenuous. Related research has been published at Political Behavior and Political Geography.

In addition, I have a line of research on health and vaccine misinformation endorsement and correction. This work has been published in various outlets such as Political Research Quarterly, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. One of these papers, "How Internet Access Drives Global Vaccine Skepticism" (with Matt Motta), won the Leonard S. Robins Award for Best Paper on Health Politics and Policy presented to the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Another won the Best Paper in 2021 for the Journal of Rural Health. Further, I have interviewed on both lines of research for outlets such as Newsweek, FiveThirtyEight, Times Radio UK, and The Star Tribune . I have also co-written news pieces on vaccine hesitancy that have been picked up in various media sources such as Time, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes.

Finally, I enjoy teaching and have designed and taught multiple courses at different types of institutions, including at Carleton College (ranked 1st in undergraduate teaching according to U.S. News), the University of Minnesota, and la Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago, Chile. My teaching philosophy focuses on getting students to evaluate and understand information critically, with particular focus on examining how students' own personal and psychological biases can impact information reception.