Meet the Team: Joelle Gross

Today, get to know another member of our powerhouse research team!

Today we're getting to know Joelle Gross!

Joelle is another fantastic member of our research team. Here she is to tell you more about who she is and what she does:

How long have you been at the Lab? What do you do?

I started with the lab in July 2021. As a Research Support Associate, I analyze, collect, and clean data for our various projects as well as write blogs, papers, and reports on many of our findings. My main research focus with the lab is the Election Performance Index. In addition to the EPI, I also study the effects of automatic voter registration in Massachusetts, and I am currently working on projects related to simulating election results under alternative electoral systems.

Recently, I started working on another project focusing on collecting and understanding tweets that make threats against election officials—there's lots of really exciting and interesting projects in the works here at the lab!

What were you working on before you joined MEDSL?

Before working at MEDSL, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where I studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics and minored in Survey Research and Data Analytics. During my undergrad, I was involved in extracurricular performing arts. I was the business manager for a musical sketch comedy troupe and produced, acted in, and stage managed plays and musicals with a student run theater company. 

How did you become interested in elections?

During my undergrad, I worked at the Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies, also known as PORES. At PORES, I became familiar with elections by cleaning precinct-level data and assisting with election-related research projects. My most memorable experience with the program was when I assisted Penn professors while they worked on the NBC decision desk to call election races; I helped monitor election night returns as they came in at real time for two key battleground states. It was thrilling to take a small part in communicating election results to Americans nationwide for one of the most consequential and high-turnout elections in recent history.

In addition to my work with PORES, I completed a senior thesis where I studied the effects of changes to the Electoral College. Thanks to PORES, the NBC decision desk, and my undergraduate research, my passion for elections has flourished, bringing me to today at the lab, where I can further deepen these interests with MEDSL.

What's your favorite fun fact?

While I am a Cantabridgian today (yes, believe it or not, that is how those residing in Cambridge, MA are referred to), I was born and raised in New Jersey. I recently learned that New Jersey was the first state where women were legally enfranchised to vote in 1790. The state legislature in New Jersey reformed the state constitution on election law to include the words “he or she,” which not only changed election outcomes statewide but significantly contributed to the growing national movement to expand women’s rights. Well done, Garden State!

What MEDSL project are you most excited about?

I am on the edge of my seat awaiting the release of our Election Performance Index!  After months of scrutinizing the data with a close eye, I am excited to discuss what we found on election administration in 2020. To me, this year’s EPI tells a fascinating, necessary, and especially hopeful story regarding the performance of the 2020 election and how it was administered.

Beyond the release of the EPI, however, I am looking forward to continuing work on a new project which analyzes threats made against election officials through Twitter data. I am excited and honored to contribute to the work MEDSL is doing to combat violence and misinformation about elections with cutting-edge and factual academic research.

Joelle Gross is a Senior Research Support Associate at the MIT Election Data + Science Lab. Joelle joined the Lab in July 2021 after graduating with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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