Research faculty

Mara Ostfeld

Research Director, Center for Racial Justice; Associate Research Scientist, Ford School; Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies; Faculty Associate, Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy

Dr. Mara Cecilia Ostfeld is the research director at the Center for Racial Justice, and an associate research scientist in the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. In addition, Mara is a faculty lead at the Detroit Metro Area Communities Study—an ongoing representative survey of Detroit households that asks residents about their expectations, perceptions, priorities and aspirations. She is an expert in survey research and the analysis of public opinion, with a particular focus on the relationship between race, gender, media and political attitudes. Her work has been published in journals that include Social Forces, Political Behavior, Political Psychology and Political Communication, and been funded by places including the National Science Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation. Mara is the primary investigator of the Puerto Rico Public Opinion Lab (with colleagues Mayra Vélez Serrano and Luis Cámara Fuertes at the University of Puerto Rico) in which the research team is implementing the first representative study of political attitudes in Puerto Rico. During national elections, Mara also works as an analyst at NBC and Telemundo.

Educational background

  • PhD in political science, University of Pennsylvania
  • MA in political science, University of Pennsylvania
  • MPP, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • BA in social work, Rutgers University

Professional affiliations

  • American Political Science Association
  • Midwest Political Science Association

Recent publications

  • “When Protests Become Violent: The Racialization of News Media Coverage of Protest Activity.” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. 2023. (With LaGina Gause and Steven Moore)
  • "Measuring Color: The Role of Physics, History, Identity and Politics in How We Understand Our Skin Color." In The Oxford Handbook of Methodological Pluralism in Political Science. Oxford University Press. 2023. (with Nicole Yadon)
  • Skin Color, Power and Politics in America. Russell Sage Foundation Press. 2022. (with Nicole Yadon)
  • “¿Mejorando La Raza?: Skin Color and Latinx Political Preferences.” Social Forces. 2021. (with Nicole Yadon)
  • “The Face of American Government: Effects of Minorities in High Office on Minority Trust in Government.” Political Behavior. 2021. (with Diana Mutz)
  • “Shades of Privilege: The Relationship Between Skin Color and Political Attitudes Among White Americans.” Political Behavior. 2020. (with Nicoel Yadon)
  • “The New White Flight: Democratic Appeals to Latinos and White Support for the Democratic Party.” Political Behavior. 2019.