IDPP Student Spotlight: Marissa Zuckerman

Marissa Zuckerman is a Research Associate at the American University Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP).

She is a graduate student in the 10-month Strategic Communication program at American University’s School of Communication, with a concentration in Digital Communication Strategy and Analytics. She is a graduate research assistant for IDPP Deputy Director, Dr. Filippo Trevisan.

Through her experiences at the ARC of Essex County and Chemung County Habitat for Humanity, Marissa developed a life-changing passion for supporting marginalized communities. She is passionate about using her studies and work experience for social good.

How would you summarize the focus of your work at IDPP? 

I am assisting Dr. Trevisan with his on-going research in disability media and digital advocacy. Right now, I’m conducting a literature review on how social and digital media has impacted marginalized communities and their social circles and relationships. I’m looking to document these impacts on social capital and translate them to persons with disabilities.   

I also manage IDPP’s social media accounts, email marketing, and website. I am proud to say I helped to relaunched their IDPP re-launch their Access e-newsletter this past fall. Needless to say, I’m very busy!

What inspired you to pursue work with IDPP?

When I was researching SOC faculty that I wanted to work for through my graduate assistantship, I knew immediately that I wanted to work with Dr. Trevisan. I was (and still am) incredibly interested in his research in online advocacy, and his focus on disability was the icing on the cake.

When I was finally assigned to Dr. Trevisan, he invited me to attend their first meeting of the fall semester to gauge my interest. Needless to say, I joined that week as a Research Associate. It was meant to be!

What do you find most rewarding about your work for IDPP?

I personally feel that disability is often overlooked compared to other social movements. I like to think that my work at IDPP helps to fix this. Knowing that I am supporting a team that is so passionate about improving the lives of persons with disabilities makes my work that much more rewarding.  

What do you hope to pursue after your time at AU/IDPP?

My passions are all over the map. I’m passionate about climate change and the environment, science, immigrants, people of color, persons with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ will be hard to choose what career to go into! My goal is to do social media and digital communication management for a non-profit organization that tackles any one of these topics. I look forward to seeing where life after IDPP this summer takes me.

Learn more about Marissa at