Sarah Shugars


Assistant Professor of Communication


DW 303

Sarah Shugars (they/them/theirs) studies how everyday people talk about, engage with, and collectively shape the modern world around them. Bringing together computational communication and the principles of deliberative democracy, they develop new text and network methods in order to examine the relational nature of public life, the linguistic modes through which people express themselves, and the technological affordances which shape digital discourse. They are a first-generation to college student and are deeply committed to increasing access and equity in higher education.


Northeastern University
Ph.D., Network Science

Emerson College
MA, Integrated Marketing Communication

Clark University
BA, Physics (major) Asian Studies (minor)


Shugars’ research focuses on political communication, social media, and computational communication. The platforms, data, and methods of our modern computational world have fundamentally reshaped not only the ways in which citizens engage with their societies, but also the ways in which researchers can study such political behavior. Their work blends methodological approaches to richly examine political life in the digital world. Motivating questions of their research include:

  • What are the dynamics, effects, and implications of online political conversations?
  • What factors shape individual’s media and information environments?
  • How can we better measure the ways in which people articulate their political beliefs and justify their conflicting beliefs to others?

Centers, Labs, Working Groups, and Clusters

Selected Publications

Shugars, S., Gitomer, A., McCabe, S., Gallagher, R. J., Joseph, K., Grinberg, N., Doroshenko, L., Foucault Welles, B., and Lazer, D. “Pandemics, Protests, and Publics: Demographic Activity and Engagement on Twitter in 2020”. Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media, vol. 1, Apr. 2021.

Gallagher, R.J., Doroshenko, L., Shugars, S., Lazer, D., Foucault Welles, B. "Sustained online amplification of COVID-19 elites in the United States." Social Media+ Society 7.2, 2021.

Joseph, K., Shugars, S., Gallagher, R.J., Green, J., Quintana Mathé, A., An, Z., and Lazer, D. "(Mis) alignment Between Stance Expressed in Social Media Data and Public Opinion Surveys." In Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, 2021.

Shugars, Sarah and González-Bailón, Sandra. “Semantic and Cultural Networks.” The Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis (Second Edition). Edited by John McLevey, Peter J. Carrington, and John Scott, Forthcoming.

Shugars, Sarah. “A Matter of Perspective: Computational Social Science and Researcher Choice.” Oxford Handbook of Methodological Pluralism, Forthcoming.

Additional Resources

Research Keywords