Public opinion and communications research

Principal Staff

Ann Stouffer Bisconti, PhD


Ann Bisconti is an internationally known expert on public opinion and communications research on nuclear energy and advises many companies and organizations on communications strategies. She is a frequent public speaker.

Before starting Bisconti Research in 1996, Dr. Bisconti was Vice President for Research and Program Evaluation with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), where she established a major program of public opinion and communications research on nuclear energy. Bisconti Research continues to direct that research for NEI under contract and also provides surveys, focus groups, executive interviews, case studies, and consultation for electric utilities, other industry organizations, national laboratories, and the government.

Dr. Bisconti received the 2019 Walter H. Zinn Medal at the American Nuclear Society Winter meeting for her "demonstrated leadership in public opinion and communication issues and her commitment to mentoring of future leaders, Dr. Bisconti has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of nuclear energy in the U.S. and around the world."

Dr. Bisconti’s earlier research included:

  • Academic research on higher education issues such as the student protest movement in the 1970s, programs for disadvantaged students, career paths, and predictors of success, with the American Council on Education. Also, studies on allied health professions careers and health promotion for the National Commission on Allied Health Education.
  • Studies for General Electric and IBM on how to recruit the top engineering and business graduates from key universities with UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute.
  • Advertising and new product research for clients such as Coca Cola, Nestle, Buick, Exxon, and Anheuser-Busch, with the research affiliate of McCann Erickson in New York.

Among her many publications, Dr. Bisconti authored or co-authored five books: Higher Education and the Disadvantaged Student, The Power of Protest, College as a Training Ground for Jobs, College and Other Stepping Stones, and The Future of Allied Health Education.

Dr. Bisconti teaches about communicating on nuclear issues at Fundamentals of Nuclear Communications, a course sponsored by NEI. She also teaches about ongoing and crisis communications at World Nuclear University, a summer institute for future leaders sponsored by the World Nuclear Association.

Dr. Bisconti is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research. She was elected for two terms on the Board of Directors of the American Nuclear Society. She has provided consultation on risk communication projects to the American Medical Association, the Electric Power Research Institute, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She served on review committees for the Chicago Academy of Sciences, the Edison Electric Institute, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Dr. Bisconti attended Harvard University, McGill University, and The Union Institute, from which she received her PhD in Social Science Research in 1978. She is listed in Who’s Who in America.

Alessandra (Sandy) Wilkes

Senior Research Associate and Lead Executive Interviewer

Sandy Wilkes brings a strong background in communications research and extensive knowledge of public and policy issues. She has an extraordinary gift for qualitative research, especially in-depth interviews with hard-to-reach audiences. Her studies include in-depth executive interviews and focus group research for U.S. clients, as well as many case study projects for international clients.

Ms. Wilkes was co-owner of a publishing business, Support Group Inc. Products included, The WordPerfectionist, a newsletter with more than 40,000 subscribers, and TAPCIS, a communications program for CompuServe. She was also part owner of Flightmaster, Inc. which sold a hand-held flight management system for small planes. She was responsible for writing, marketing, and public relations for all components of the businesses.

Ms. Wilkes received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Frostburg State University.

Ms. Wilkes is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research.

Cherith Avery

Executive Associate

Cherith Avery leads important aspects of the quantitative research including data quality assessment and data presentation design. She has worked in the public opinion research field for 15 years, consulting to research firms requiring outsourced support. Cherith has also trained and mentored research assistants. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.