Frank R. Baumgartner, the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at UNC-Chapel Hill, received his undergraduate and graduate training at The University of Michigan (PhD, 1986), and held full-time academic appointments at The University of Iowa, Texas A&M, and Penn State before coming to Carolina in 2009. Author of 11 books and editor of four others, he created (with Bryan D. Jones of the University of Texas) the Comparative Agendas Project. With Jones, he developed the "punctuated equilibrium" approach to the study of public policy, explaining how public policies often go through long periods of relative stability alternating with occasional dramatic adjustments. This work is now recognized as one of the main perspectives in the field of public policy worldwide. He has also done significant work in the field of interest groups and lobbying studies. This work has led him to focus on how lobbyists make arguments, or frame public policy issues. He is therefore recognized as a leader in the study of framing, lobbying, public policy, and policy change. In recent years, he has focused much of his attention on racial dynamics in the criminal justice system, in particular the study of capital punishment and that of routine traffic stops. He specializes in large-scale statistical studies in most of his work.
He has published scores of articles in the major political science journals, serves on numerous editorial boards, has held various offices in the Midwest Political Science Association and the American Political Science Association (including Vice President (2015-16) and and has been active with the National Science Foundation. He regularly teaches classes at all levels ranging from large lectures to small graduate and undergraduate seminars and contributes to UNC in various service capacities, with a particular focus on faculty diversity. His most recent books include Deadly Justice: A Statistical Portrait of the Death Penalty (Oxford, 2018, co-authored with four UNC undergraduate students), Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us about Policing and Race (Cambridge, 2018, co-authored with two UNC graduate students), and Comparative Policy Agendas: Theory, Data, Tools (Oxford, 2019, co-edited with Christian Breunig and Emiliano Grossman, representing the current state of the Comparative Policy Agendas project), and The Dynamics of Public Opinion(Cambridge Elements, 2021, with UNC colleague Jim Stimson and former graduate students K. Elizabeth Coggins and Mary Layton Atkinson). He has won numerous awards and in 2017 was inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2019 he was recognized with the C. Herman Pritchett Best Book Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Assocation (for Suspect Citizens), and with the
Lijphart / Przeworski / Verba Dataset Award from the APSA Section on Comparative Politics (for the Comparative Agendas Project).