Spotlight: Ph.D. 2011 Graduates
The College of Communication and Information Sciences has seen several recent and upcoming Ph.D. graduates hired to positions at various universities across the United States.
"I think the recent Ph.D. graduates have represented the college very well in the research and teaching they have done for the College, and I am confident they will all go on to do very impressive things in their scholarship," said Dr. Kimberly Bissell, associate dean for research and director of the Institute for Communication and Information Research. "Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Dr. Shuhua Zhou has done tremendous things with the doctoral students, and it is because of his mentorship and leadership and that of his predecessor, Dr. Jennings Bryant, that our current cohort of graduates is so strong."
May 2011 Graduates
Mary Katherine Alsip
Mary Katherine Alsip has accepted the position of post-doctoral research associate with the Institution for Communication and Information Research at the University of Alabama. She previously served as a graduate research assistant with the ICIR.
Her Ph.D. research studied how college students diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) process video messages versus a control group of non-diagnosed students.
"Essentially what I found was when ADHD participants without medication are given glucose, they actually outperformed the control group," Alsip said. "I'd like to take that research and expand on it to develop education videos and games to help individuals with ADHD."
Alsip's post-doctoral research also will include looking at media portrayal of individuals with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders and how that affects treatment they receive from medical professionals.
"MK is bound to break a lot of records," said Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Dr. Shuhua Zhou. "She was the youngest to enter into our Ph.D. program at the age of 20, as a fast-track Ph.D. student, when most of her peers did not know what to do after finishing their undergraduate studies. She earned her Ph.D. degree at the age of 24, which means that she could get tenure, if she stays in the academe, before she turns 30. Now that is job security. But I prefer to call it over-achieving."
One of Alsip's studies, pertaining to the body shapes of heroes and villains in Disney movies, was presented at the 2010 International Communication Association convention in Singapore. In addition to her Ph.D. in mass communication, Alsip holds a B.A. and M.A. in telecommunication and film from the University of Alabama. She said she chose to pursue graduate degrees at the University thanks to the encouragement of TCF professor and then-Reagan Chair Dr. Jennings Bryant.
"He was enthusiastic about me joining this program and very supportive," Alsip said. "The faculty is very supportive. They encourage us to do our own research and not just theirs. They're great at constructive criticism instead of picking apart everything."
Mississippi State University has hired alumnus Skye Cooley as an assistant professor, teaching research methods and case problems in public relations.
Cooley’s dissertation research at the University of Alabama focused on agenda-building theory, examining how previous news coverage of a subject influences future news coverage of the same subject.
“Alabama taught me how to become of a producer of knowledge rather than just a consumer of it,” Cooley said. “I’d always had the drive to succeed, but the University taught me how to achieve the things I want to achieve professionally.”
Cooley said the graduate studies faculty at the University is unmatched in reputation. “Dr. Gary Copeland was a great mentor,” he said. “From the very first day I met him, he cared about my career and wanted me to succeed. Also, Dr. Gower, Dr. Bissell, Dr. Zhou – I don’t think you could have a better faculty than the University of Alabama has. They’re all great, and they’re industry leaders. They’re all respected in this field.”
Copeland said Cooley was “among the top five PhD students who I have had the honor of serving as their dissertation chair. Skye is a data crunching machine. He had the largest data set of anyone on whose PhD committee I have served. Bigger is not necessarily better but it does illustrate Skye’s ability to hurl himself into a task. I have never seen anyone throw himself into a research task as Skye has done.”
Cooley also holds a B.S. in international political communication and an M.A. in mass communication from Louisiana State University. He has presented approximately 25 conference papers and published (with Dr. Copeland) an additional five papers.
Amy Jones will continue in her position as an assistant professor of journalism and speech at the University of West Alabama, where she previously held the position of lecturer. She was promoted while pursuing her Ph.D.
Jones' dissertation topic was visual and verbal gender stereotypes in the televised broadcasts of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Her research while at the University primarily focused on gender stereotypes and sport media.
"I think Amy has laid the groundwork for an incredible research agenda for years to come," said Dr. Jennifer Greer, chair of Jones' dissertation committee. "She combined interests in gender, sports, media content and attitudes to conduct a multi-method study of 2010 Winter Olympic televised coverage. One of the groundbreaking aspects to her work is that she looked at content and attitudes toward sports that virtually no one has studied in the past. She combined a national survey and a thorough in-depth content analysis to answer questions about how we think about athletes participating in various sports and why we might hold those views. She's already had some work from the study accepted for presentation at conferences, and I know she will be publishing several articles based on her data. Amy is poised to make valuable contributions to research in this area."
Jones said her work with Greer and other members of the University's faculty made her Ph.D. experience an invaluable one.
"Dr. Greer really took me under her wing, and she was my mentor through the whole process," Jones said. "She and I did a lot of research together outside of class, and that kind of one-on-one mentorship is key in being successful in a program like that."
In addition to her Ph.D., Jones has a B.A. in film, theatre and communication arts from the University of New Orleans and an M.S. from the University of Louisville in sport administration. She has published two papers and currently has another under revision, and she has made nine conference presentations. She also intends to publish and present information from her dissertation in the future.
August 2011 graduates
Joshua Dickhaus has been hired as an assistant professor of Communication at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., where he will teach Mass Communication and Sports Communication courses.
The focus of Dickhaus's Ph.D. research was sports communication. He analyzed public opinion of athletes of different races, partially based on what is known as the Q Score list, which names the six most hated athletes in the United States. All six athletes on the September 2010 list were black, and Dickhaus researched why these six were chosen rather than athletes of other races who had similar qualities and issues.
Dickhaus said his time at UA provided him with valuable experience for his current position. "We have a really good faculty base here, very supportive," he said. "I was fortunate while I've been here to teach many different courses. That was something I benefited from very much."
Dr. Karla Gower, associate professor of Advertising and Public Relations, said she found Dickhaus to be a very knowledgeable Ph.D. candidate and graduate assistant. "Josh and I share a common interest in sports and politics," she said. "I always looked forward to our meetings because we ended up spending our time talking about one or the other, usually along the lines of 'What were they thinking?' Josh is like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to U.S. presidents. His knowledge about each one made for fascinating comparisons with present political figures."
Dickhaus also holds a B.A. in Mass Communication and an M.A. in Speech Communication from Miami (Ohio) University. He currently has two sports-related papers submitted for publication, has a paper accepted at the 2011 National Communication Association conference and presented a paper at the 2010 North American Society for Sports Management conference.
Jung Kyu Kim
Jung Kyu Kim will receive his Ph.D. in Mass Communication in August and currently is weighing several options for his post-doctoral work and research.
Jung's dissertation studied the effectiveness of ad messages with a narrative manner, focusing on plot type and message sensation value as variables.
Dr. Shuhua Zhou said he expects Kim to experience great success in his post-doctoral ventures. "JK is versatile in multiple areas of research and teaching," Zhou said. "I know his intellectual ability is stellar. He always goes the extra mile in pursuit of a thorough understanding of the phenomenon at hand. I am most impressed with his mastery of statistics and video- and web-editing skills. When you need something done, he gets it done."
Kim also holds an M.A. in Telecommunications (with an emphasis on Digital Storytelling) from Ball State University and an M.A. and B.A. in Mass Communication from KyungHee University in Seoul, Korea. He has published five journal articles and made 12 conference presentations, including one selected as a top-three student paper at the Broadcasting Education Association 2008 conference.
August graduate Mia Long has accepted a position as Assistant Professor at the University of Tampa, where she will begin this fall teaching an introduction to advertising and public relations class, as well as a writing for advertising course.
Long's dissertation at the University focused on an all-African-American magazine called SEPIA Magazine. She compared it to Ebony magazine and looked at reasons why it may have failed. She concluded that SEPIA lacked a clear identity and strong editorial leadership and staff
"The dissertation explores the content of SEPIA Magazine, a magazine for the African-American community, and compares it to its more successful magazine, Ebony," said Dr. Caryl Cooper, chair of Long's dissertation committee. "This excellent study makes a significant contribution to what we know about the history of African-American magazines."
Long said she chose the University of Alabama for her Ph.D. program because she "wanted to stay in the South, and it had a highly ranked doctoral program in Communication."
She said the support of the faculty while she was here helped her succeed in the program. "I definitely enjoyed having Dr. Jennings Bryant to offer advice to me, guide me along the way and share different opportunities with me," she said. "Dr. Cooper was also a great mentor for me here."
Long has made approximately 16 conference presentations and currently has a book chapter under review for publication. She said she plans to continue research related to Sepia and African-American images in advertising and hopes to eventually turn her dissertation into a book.
Creshema Murray, recipient of a Ph.D. in Organizational Communication from the University of Alabama, will begin work at the University of Georgia in August as a lecturer in Interpersonal Communication.
Murray's research focus at the University was on African-American female executive leaders. She studied their manner of communication with members of the dominant culture within their organizations, social support they received and the correlation between mentoring relationships and their success.
Retired Communication Studies Chair Dr. Marsha Houston was elemental in Murray's decision to pursue her Ph.D. in Communication rather than a juris doctorate, which was her original planned course of study. "Dr. Houston is somebody I consider to be my mentor," Murray said. "It was an honor to get a chance to work with her. Her desire, her drive and her work opened doors for so many younger scholars. That was one of my driving motivations."
Murray has published a book chapter ("Sister-Friends: Reflections on Black Women's Communication in Intra- & Intercultural Friendships" in Our Voices, 4th edition) and has another in the works. She also has presented approximately 20 conference papers and currently has three more under review for journal publication.
"Creshema has done important work on a population that has been understudied – African American executive women," said Dr. Mary Meares, UA communication studies graduate program director and chair of Murray's dissertation committee. "Her work is a great example of doctoral students extending our understanding of organizational life and this important group, and has implications for employees, organizations and society in general."
In addition to her Ph.D., Murray holds a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Interpersonal/Intercultural Communication from the University of Alabama.