picture of Baumgartner

Frank R. Baumgartner

Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
313 Hamilton Hall
Campus Box 3265
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3265, USA
Phone 919 962 3041

Google Scholar Profile * Scholars Strategy Network Profile


This is the UNC web page for Prof. Frank R. Baumgartner. This page contains biographical information; please use the links to the left to find his CV, teaching materials, published books and articles, conference papers, and links to web sites and research projects in which he is involved.


Biographical statement


Frank R. Baumgartner holds the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professorship in the Department of Political Science at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is one of the country's leading scholars of the policy process and, with Bryan Jones, developed the punctuated equilibrium theory of policy change, a widely used concept in the field. His work has mostly focused on the US but many publications have used comparative perspectives. In recent years, he has focused on statistical studies of criminal justice issues, including the death penalty, racial disparities in traffic stop outcomes, and other issues. His most recent book is The Dynamics of Public Opinion, co-authored with UNC colleague Jim Stimson and former UNC graduate students (now tenured professsors) Mary Layton Atkinson and K. Elizabeth Coggins (Cambridge Elements, 2021). His most recent book on race and criminal justice is Suspect Citizens (Cambridge, 2018, co-authored with former UNC graduate students Derek A. Epp and Kelsey Shoub), focusing on racial differences in the outcomes of routine traffic stops; this book was recognized with the Best Book Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association in 2019. He is currently working on a number of projects relating to race and criminal justice outcomes. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017 and named a Guggenheim Fellow for the 2023-24 academic year.


Prof. Baumgartner lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his spouse, Jennifer E. Thompson, co-author of the New York Times best-seller Picking Cotton and advocate for judicial reform, the rights and needs of crime victims and surviving family members, increasing awareness about sexual violence, and the elimination of the death penalty. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Healing Justice, an organization Jennifer created in 2015. Healing Justice promotes restorative justice principles in wrongful conviction cases, assists with the provision of services to individuals harmed by wrongful convictions, and creates opportunities to unify the diverse voices of those harmed in order to prevent future wrongful convictions. (Jennifer's book was recently listed #3 in a list of the best books of all time on the topic of miscarriages of justice, one ahead of The Count of Monte Cristo.)



Prof. Baumgartner has a bajillion nephews and a brilliant and inspiring wife.

fb-picture2 Jennifer-Thompson



updated: July 12, 2024.

2-page CV




Conference Papers

Policy Agendas


Death Penalty


Traffic Stops

Student Research

Tips and Pointers