Ellie BodkeriSchool undergraduate and Renee Crown Honors student Ellie Bodker received Honorable Mention for Best Thesis in the Professional category for the 2021 Renee Crown Honors Thesis prize.

Bodker’s thesis, titled “Measuring Public Opinion Using Social Media Engagement and Polls,” analyzed the accuracy and effects of using social media to convey public opinion. Her paper states that social media has emerged as an alternative to polls to collect public opinion data since it is publicly available and has instantaneous qualities. Journalists are increasingly using this method to report public opinion by quoting individual posts and finding trending topics. Bodker’s research aimed to discover whether social media is an accurate measure of public opinion and whether it can produce comparable measures to the traditional method of public opinion polls. 

Bodker got the idea for her thesis after working as a research assistant for Dr. Jennier Stromer-Galley, analyzing political ads on social media. Using Twitter and Facebook data from Bodker’s Dr. Stromer-Galley’s Illuminating 2020 Project along with public opinion polls collected by Monmouth University throughout the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, Bodker’s paper ultimately suggested social media data is not a representative or accurate way of capturing public opinion with potential consequences of swaying voters with misinformation.

“I was honored to find out I received an honorable mention for my thesis,” says Bodker. “I worked hard to complete my thesis in only a few months since I graduated a semester early, and this recognition made me feel proud of the work I produced. My thesis was the culmination of the research I started with Dr. Stromer-Galley junior year, and it captured my passion for my concentration in Data Analytics and minor in Political Science.”

The Honors Thesis Project highlights scholarly work by Syracuse students, and the threshold for receiving the Honors Thesis Prize is extraordinarily high. Faculty select winners in five categories: creative, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and professional. 

About Ellie Bodker

Bodker’s interest in technology and political science started in high school. Bodker came to the iSchool because it allowed her to study technology while still exploring business and communication. During her time at the iSchool, Bodker joined a social sorority, became a peer advisor, participated in professor research, and was part of the Women’s Network. Bodker also worked part-time for SIDEARM Sports, a technology platform that powers websites and live streams for collegiate sports.

While at the iSchool, Bodker interned with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a Sales Intern where she identified customers’ long-term goals and shared how they could utilize AWS. On the last day of her internship, Bodker earned a full-time position. She now works as an Associate Account Executive with AWS selling cloud computing infrastructure.