Commitment to Research

Communication faculty are heavily involved in research and creative activity in their field of study. For example, faculty are presenting research studies and publishing research manuscripts on such topics as journalism law, online technology and instruction, international communication, health communication and crisis communication. Faculty members are continually engaged with local, national and international associations and publications to expand and extend knowledge in communication-related areas


Kelsey Harr–Lagin has a chapter, co-authored with Catherine Helen Palczewski, that is expected to be published by University of Alabama Press for the fall 2016 semester. Their chapter, “Pledge-a-Picketer, Power, Protest and Publicity: Explaining Protest when the State is not the Opposition,” examines theories of social protest as social movement and counter-publicity. The chapter will be published in “Social Movements and Counterpublics: Connections, Contradictions, and Possibilities for understanding Rhetorics of Social Change” edited by Christina Foust, Katherine Zittlow Rogness and Amy Pason.

“The Anatomy of Information: Bio-Data and Wearable Technology Under Examination” by Dr. Amber Hutchins and Dr. Jake McNeill was published in Phi Kappa Phi’s Forum magazine. The article was based on their research, presented at the 2015 International Conference on Mobile Learning in Madeira, Portugal.

Dr. Kristin Heflin published two articles and presented at two national conferences in 2015. Her first article titled “The internet is not the antidote: A cultural-historical analysis of journalism’s crisis of credibility and the internet as a remedy,” is featured in the fall issue of Journalism History. Her second article, “Finding, listening and participating in social media conversations – for free,” is featured in The Book of Social Media Strategies & Tactics, Vol. 1, a professional guidebook published by PR News Press. In August, she presented a paper titled “Digital mobilities as dispersed agencies: An analysis of Google Glass, Microsoft Kinect and Siri,” at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication National Conference in San Francisco. She also gave a presentation at the PRSA Educators Academy ‘Super Saturday’ Research Conference (part of the 2015 Public Relations Society of America International Conference) on a new approach she developed to teaching public relations campaigns.

Dr. May Gao and MAIGC graduate student Ngozi Maduoma (from Nigeria) were invited to present at 6th World Forum on China Studies, Nov. 20-21, 2015, in Shanghai China. The Chinese government covered all of Dr. Gao’s travel expense because she has been identified as an Eminent Scholar on China Studies in the U.S. The title of the paper: Comparing Chinese Companies in the U.S. and Nigeria: Opportunities, Challenges, and Communication Strategies

Dr. Kami Anderson released a book in May 2015 entitled, Language, Identity and Choice: Raising Bilingual Children in a Global Society. It provides scholarly insight into how foreign language acquisition influences an individual’s understanding of identity within the African American family. Rooted in sociolinguistic, communication, and bilingual theoretical perspectives, it describes how foreign language acquisition, development, and use shape how Africans and African Americans describe and proscribe their identity and, in turn, the identity of the family. (edited from publisher's website). At the 101st Annual NCA Convention on November 21, 2015, Dr. Anderson presented: "Beyond Hip Hop and Ebonics: The justification for centric-focused cross-cultural training programs for African American youth."

Dr. Laura Beth Daws, this fall, presented a short course with Dr. Rosalie Aldrich and Dr. Nicole Blau at the National Communication Association conference in Las Vegas, Nevada over how to create effective online course videos. She also chaired a panel on the realities of celebrity culture and participated in a panel discussion about gender roles and salary negotiation.

Dr. Polly Howes presented a paper, "Does Media Coverage Matter? Perspectives of Public Relations Practitioners and Business Professionals on the Value of News Coverage," at the PRSA 2015 International Conference in Atlanta on Nov. 8. The paper was chosen for the session, "The Best of PRSA's Public Relations Journal 2014-2015," and appeared in the publication in 2014.

Justin E. Pettigrew, Ph.D., Abigail R. Jensen, and Bryan H. Reber, Ph.D.
Published in Public Relations Journal, Vol. 9, No.3, November 2015
The Payoff of Pro-Bono: Conversations with Agency Principals

This study looks at whether strategic cohesive decision making and “smart” pro bono client selection and retention are considered in public relations firms. Through a series of research questions we considered pro bono work through then lens of institutional theory to explore some possibilities for agencies to improve their legitimacy. Can agencies enhance their professional status and enhance workplace satisfaction through careful selection of pro bono clients that match an agency’s core practices? Should there be institutional guidelines for pro bono practices? These are just two of the questions that spurred us to begin this line of research. Interviews have shown that while principals do not see the need for suggested professional guidelines for pro-bono work, most agree that engaging in their community helps to enhance their “trust barometer,” future reputation, and societal impact. At present, firms do not necessarily follow a set process in selection and retention of pro-bono clients. Most agencies see their pro-bono clients as relational partners.

Dr. Philip Aust recent research publications:

  • Aust, P., Thomas, G., Powell, T., Randall, C.K., Slinger-Friedman, V., Terantino, J., & Reardon, T. (2015, in press). Advanced Faculty Professional Development for Online Course Building: An Action Research Project. Internet Learning Journal, 4(2),
  • Slinger-Friedman, V., Terantino, J. Randall, C., Aust, P., & Powell, T. (2014). Refining Advanced Development for Online Teaching and Course Building: An Evaluation from the Faculty Perspective. The International Journal on Advances in Life Sciences.
  • Terantino, J., Slinger-Friedman, V., Thomas, G., Randall, C., Aust, P., & Powell, T. (2014). Faculty perceptions of “The Project”: An advanced faculty professional development for online course building. Proceedings of The Sixth Conference on Mobile, Hybrid, and On-line Learning, eLmL, 2014, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Aust, P.J., (2013). The use of blogs on D2L to enhance online course structure and delivery of content. Talon Tips, 4(2), p. 3. Retrieved January 10, 2014 from


Dr. Philip Aust recent conference presentations:

  • Terantino, J., Slinger-Friedman, V., Thomas, G., Randall, C., Aust, P., & Powell, T. (2014). Faculty perceptions of “The Project”: An advanced faculty professional development for online course building. Paper presented at The Sixth Conference on Mobile, Hybrid, and On-line Learning, eLmL, 2014, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Brett, N., & Aust, P.J. (2013). I’ve majored in Organizational Communication. Now what? An occupational catalog of jobs available for Communication Majors with expertise in Organizational Communication. Paper accepted to the 11th Annual Hawaiian International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, HI.
  • Aust, P.J., (2013). What’s in a name? A search for the phrase that best characterizes Organizational Communication content for its majors. Paper accepted to the 11th Annual Hawaiian International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, HI.


Dr. Faroog Kperogi’s recent publications:

  • Kperogi, Farooq A. Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World. New York: Peter Lang, 2015.
  • Kperogi, Farooq A. “Networked Social Journalism: Media, Citizen Participation, and Democracy in Nigeria.” In Perspectives on Participatory Politics and Citizen Journalism in a Networked Africa: A Connected Continent, edited by Bruce Mutsvairo, 19-33. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
  • Kperogi, Farooq A. “Habermas in the African e-Village: Deliberative Practices of Diasporan Nigerians on the Internet.” In Debates for the Digital Age: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of our Online World, edited by Danielle Coombs and Simon Collister, 287-304. Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2016.
  • Kperogi, Farooq A. “Marxist Theory of the Media or Theory of the Media by Marxists? Reconciling Adorno with other Marxist Media Theorists.” Journal of Communications Media Studies (2015).


Dr. Erin Ryan presented four scholarly papers at the 2015 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference in August in San Francisco, including the Top Faculty Paper award-winning, "But First, Let Me Take a #selfie: An Examination of Self-Objectification and Face-ism on Instagram." She also presented two papers at the 65th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in May 2015 in Puerto Rico about her research into the use of Thomas the Tank Engine as a tool for assisting children on the Autism spectrum as they develop emotion recognition. She had two manuscripts published in 2015 based on her research on adolescents, Twitter, and the proliferation of eating disorders: "The Intersection of the Disney Princess Mythology and Eating Disorders: A Case Study of @BunnieJuice on Twitter" in Response: The Digital Journal of Popular Culture Scholarship, and "Collaborative Starvation and the Invisible Podium: Using Twitter as a "How To" Guide to Eating Disorders" in the Journal of Entertainment and Media Studies.

Dr. Chuck Aust presented a paper at the annual conference of the Religious Communication Association on Nov. 18. The title is "How religious rhetoric of a self-help support group manifests themes of positive psychology." At the annual conference of the Georgia Communication Association in Statesboro on Feb. 20 Dr. Aust served on a panel that discussed techniques and strategies about the topic "The show must go on! How to prevent incivility from ruining your face-to-face and online classes."


Chuck F. Aust, 2013, "Communication in Self-Help Support Groups: Positive Communication and Al-Anon Experience." In M.J.Pitts & T. Socha (Eds.), Positive Communication in Health and Wellness. New York: Peter Lang.


Chuck F. Aust, 2012, “Face-to-face Communication Outside the Digital Realm to Foster Student Growth and Develpoment.” In Sharmila Pixy Ferris (Ed.), Teaching, Learning, and the Net Generation: Concepts and Tools for reaching Digital Learners, pp. 74-88. Hershey, PA: IGI-Global.


Karmini Pillay and Joshua Azriel , 2012, “Banning Hate Speech From Public Discourse in Canada and South Africa: A Legal Analysis of the Roles of Both Countries’ Constitutional Courts and Human Rights Institutions,” South African Journal of Public Law, Vol. 12 , #2.


Joshua Azriel, 2012, “The Supreme Court’s 2010 U.S. v. Stevens Decision Striking Down 18 USC’s 48’s Ban on Depictions of Animal Cruelty: First Amendment Impact on Internet-Based Video Sales,” Journal of Internet Law, Vol. 15, #9.


Carolyn Carlson, Philip Aust, Barbara Gainey, Jake McNeil, Tamara Powell, Leonard Witt, 2013,”Which technology do I use to teach online? Online technology and Communication course instruction,” Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 334-347.


Barbara S. Gainey, 2012, “What’s Your Status? A Study of New Media Communication by the Public Sector in Crisis Response.” In Sandra C. Duhe (Ed.), New Media and Public Relations, second edition, pp. 287-292. New York: Peter Lang.


May Gao, 2013, “Culture Determines Business Models: Analyzing Home Depot’s Failure Case in China for International Retailers from a Communication Perspective,” Thunderbird International Business Review, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 173-191.


May Gao and Deanna Womack, 2013, “How Caucasian parents communicate identity to adopted Chinese daughters.” In Gonzalez, A., & Harris, T.M. (Eds.), Mediating Cultures: Parent Communication in Intercultural Contexts (pp.45-48), New York: Lexington Books.


Farooq A. Kperogi , 2013, “News with Views: Post -objectivism and Emergent Alternative Journalistic Practices in America’s Corporate News Media,” The Review of Communication, Vol. 13. No. 1, pp. 48-65.


Farooq A. Kperogi , 2012, ”The Evolution and Challenges of Online Journalism in Nigeria.” In Eugenia Siapera and Andreas Veglis (Eds.), Handbook of Global Online Journalism, pp. 445-461. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.


Stephen McNeil, 2013, “New Media and Marshall McLuhan.” In Proceedings of “McLuhan’s Philosophy of Media”- Centennial Conference/Contact Forum, Yoni Van Den Eede, Joke Bauwens, Joke Beyl, Marc Van den Bossche, and Karl Verstrynge, (Eds.) (in press), 26-28, October 2011, Brussels: Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for the Science and Arts.

L.M. Johnston and Deanna Womack, 2013, “Positive organizations for older adults in community settings.” In M. Pitts & T. Socha (Eds.), Positive Communication in Health and Wellness, pp. 266-284. New York: Peter Lang.