Category: Research

Dr. Hayes receiving the award

A+PR professors honored in France for Article of the Year award

By Caleb Aguayo

Dr. Hayes receiving the award from journal editor Dr. Charles Taylor.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.Two professors in the Department of Advertising & Public Relations (A+PR), Drs. Steven Holiday and Jameson Hayes, were recognized this summer for their research in corporate responsibility and strategic planning. In June, the two attended the International Conference on Research in Advertising (ICORIA) in Bordeaux, France, where they won the gala’s “Article of the Year.”

Published as part of the top-ranked International Journal of Advertising, their article, “Corporate social responsibility & the advertising strategic planning process: a literature review and research agenda,” re-imagines current research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in advertising and provides a research agenda to continue the study in the future.

Corporate social responsibility is the idea that a business must be responsible to, and a positive influence for, the society around it, integrating concerns in public conversation into the business’s operations. It is currently understudied from the advertising perspective, according to Hayes, as most of the research centers around public relations or marketing. But due to pressure from young consumers, brands and companies are beginning to focus their advertising plans around CSR principles to “win points.” Hayes said that research in CSR initiatives will explore how these companies promote their efforts and determine how they can contribute to social causes without taking advantage of the causes for commercial gain.

“This summer, Bud Light and Target were both significantly damaged by miscalculations in CSR initiatives, leading to substantial revenue loss,” said Hayes. “Backlash over LGBTQ+ marketing resulted in a 27 percent year-over-year stock drop for Target. Meanwhile, Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney sponsorship cost Anheuser-Busch $395 million in revenue in North America, forcing the company to sell off several of their brands to compensate. So, now the decision-making process has become more complex for advertisers. This is why research on advertising CSR is becoming more and more needed.”

The professors’ study on CSR received “Article of the Year” due to its quality and number of downloads and citations. All articles submitted to the journal in 2022 were considered for this year’s award.

“This project was an opportunity to be a leader in the discipline, helping expand its scope and give structure to a ‘hot’ topic of conversation within the research community,” said Hayes. He added that he and Holiday hope that their article directs the conversation to more specific, advertising-related aspects of the subject.

In addition, Holiday and co-author Dr. Nancy Brinson also received an “Article of the Year” nomination for another study. Their research was a runner-up for the American Academy of Advertising.

Hayes’ other recognitions include a Best Paper award from ICORIA in 2022, a 2021 Feature Article for the Journal of Interactive Marketing, runner-up for Article of the Year in 2014 by the Journal of Advertising and the Broadcast Education Association’s Best Debut Paper award from 2010.

Holiday is an assistant professor in A+PR at The University of Alabama. Hayes is an associate professor in A+PR, where he also serves as the PhD program lead.

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WVUA 23 sales team

WVUA 23 partners with NOAA to promote emergency flood awareness

By Leah Myers and Jacob Crawford 

WVUA 23 sales team

Tuscaloosa, Ala.— WVUA 23 has created a public service campaign that will be seen across the country, thanks to a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the College of Communication & Information Sciences (C&IS). The national campaign will promote NOAA’s flood inundation mapping (FIM) system, which can help save lives during flood events. 

The National Water Center, located on The University of Alabama’s (UA) campus, originally partnered with WVUA 23 for news coverage on FIM development, but as conversations evolved, WVUA 23’s general sales manager Kassandra Horton realized the studio could help the Water Center deliver their message to a wider audience. As a result, the studio worked with them to build a complete marketing campaign to help NOAA spread awareness. 

“In partnering with NOAA’s FIM campaign, we are helping drive meaningful impact within the community, especially those in underserved areas,” said Horton. “With this information, we are letting the public know where to go and what to do in the event of a severe weather situation by utilizing our digital platforms.”  

According to NOAA’s website, 61 people died in the U.S. from floods in the previous five years. As of July, 22 people have died from floods this year alone, highlighting the need for this campaign. FIM is designed to help people be more aware of flood-prone areas, especially during severe weather. The technology will inform people across the country of what to do in a water emergency and create public awareness of flood areas.  

The first phase of WVUA 23’s public service campaign will launch in October and cover 10 percent of the United States, including Texas, Louisiana, New York and Pennsylvania. The other three phases will begin shortly thereafter and conclude in the summer of 2026. 

“As a college, we have so much to offer this campus and our community,” said Amy Martin, director of creative services and programming at WVUA 23. “Each department in C&IS involved in the project will play a critical role in its success throughout its four-year lifespan.” 

WVUA 23 is partnering with the Institute for Communication and Information Research to test messaging and identify audiences for each region of the country. Capstone Agency, C&IS’s student-led advertising and public relations firm, will develop campaigns for each audience, and the Center for Public Television will provide video production services. WVUA 23 will design graphics and implement the digital campaign, as well as provide local news coverage about the technology. 

 NOAA works on a wide range of scientific support, from daily weather forecasts and severe storm warnings to coastal restoration and climate monitoring. 

WVUA 23 is a local news station and full-service marketing agency owned by UA, providing essential news, weather and sports coverage, as well as creative services and advertising for West Alabama.  

C&IS faculty join national cohort supporting public engagement in research

By Leah Myers

Tuscaloosa, Ala. — The University of Alabama (UA) will be participating in The Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society’s (ARIS) Program to Enhance Organizational Research Impact Capacity (ORIC), strengthening the university’s position as a national research leader.

The ORIC is funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF), who developed the program to help institutions grow their capacity for facilitating broader research impacts. “Broader impacts” (BI) refers to the ways in which research benefits society and is key for evaluating NSF proposals and funded projects.

“The College of Communication & Information Sciences supports authentic, reciprocal and meaningful impact activities informed by effective and ethical public engagement,” said Dr. Matthew VanDyke, faculty lead of the Alabama Science Communication Initiative and associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations (A+PR). “[These activities] add to a better science communication ecosystem and propel The University of Alabama’s multidisciplinary research efforts, creating meaningful social impacts.”

Understanding broader impacts is important because it allows institutions to improve STEM education and educator development at all levels; develop a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce and increase partnerships between academia and industry.

This year’s ORIC cohort consists of seven institutions, with each cohort training period lasting one year. During that year, BI professionals participate in an intensive training series designed and led by ARIS, followed by nine additional months of application and practice, which are overseen and mentored by the ARIS team. Joining the cohort positions UA to receive resources, mentoring and community-building, as well as an intensive training and professional development series on topics such as developing their institution’s BI identity, evaluating BI activities, using the ARIS BI toolkit, conducting BI consultations and building effective BI partnerships.

VanDyke will join the program as UA’s BI professional, and Dr. Brian Butler, dean of C&IS, will serve as the cohort’s administrative partner. Administrative partners champion the work of BI professionals and advocate for necessary administrative changes within an institution.

Dr. George Daniels to give 50th Honors Lecture at AEJMC

Tuscaloosa, Ala.— Associate Professor Dr. George Daniels will give the Honors Lecture at this year’s Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference, held in Washington, D.C. Daniels will deliver his lecture on Tuesday, August 8. 

“It is an honor to be in the same circle as those who have led scholastic journalism for years,” said Daniels. “As one who came into media because of high school journalism, I am thrilled to be considered one of the current leading educators in the field.” 

Each year, the Scholastic Journalism Division of AEJMC selects one of its members to present an Honors Lecture as a means of recognizing their career and research. Since this year marks the 50th Honors Lecture at the AEJMC conference, the lecture holds greater significance for Daniels.  

“I plan to…take [this selection] as an endorsement to keep doing what I do with our Alabama Scholastic Press Association and our Multicultural Journalism Workshop here at UA,” said Daniels. “I also plan to remain involved with the national organization, the Journalism Education Association and move forward in our elementary school outreach here in Tuscaloosa and West Alabama.” 

Beyond the conference, the lecture will feature in the division’s publications, broadening the reach of Daniels’ work within scholastic journalism. 

AEJMC is a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals. The Scholastic Journalism Division provides support to high school, middle school and elementary teachers in the areas of media and communication.  

Daniels was recently featured in the College of Communication & Information Sciences’ alumni magazine Communicator, which delves into his lifelong passion for scholarship and service.

UA Hosts International Association for Relationship Research Mini Conference

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Last weekend, The University of Alabama hosted the 2023 International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) Mini Conference. The conference ran from Thursday, June 8, through Saturday, June 10, and featured presentations from international scholars and leaders. 

An interdisciplinary team from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) and College of Human Environmental Sciences (CHES) hosted the event. Dr. Leah LeFebvre, Dr. Josh Pederson, Dr. Robert Laird and Dr. Casey Totenhagen were its lead organizers.  

The planning team initially scheduled the IARR Mini Conference in 2018, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conference schedules shifted, and it was pushed to this summer. As a result, the conference garnered widespread attention, resulting in 100 participants from more than 60 universities and 10 countries, spanning undergraduate and graduate students, professors and practitioners.  

The event began with a preconference in Reese Phifer that encouraged attendees to reflect and discuss inclusivity and diversity and asked them to think critically through research design. 

On Friday and Saturday, the conference featured sessions devoted to research initiatives. Keynotes by Dr. Susan Boon, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary, and Dr. Brian Spitzberg, senate distinguished professor of communication at San Diego State University, captivated participants’ attention with their scholarship, experience and perspectives on the dark sides of relationships.  

Additionally, conference participants were invited to experience Tuscaloosa through a number of activities, such as expanding their knowledge of local history through civil rights tours, tasting the local and regional cuisine and singing karaoke. 

The conference was made possible through the support of IARR leadership, Dr. Stanley Gaines, and UA leadership, including C&IS’s former dean, Dr. Mark Nelson, and Dean Brian Butler. CHES Dean Stuart Usdan, Dr. Beth Bennett and Dr. Darrin Griffin were also key to the conference’s success. Additionally, hosts were grateful to the University and community, including UA Graduate School, Supe Store and City of Tuscaloosa for offering sponsorship with the Tuscaloosa Tourism Grant who helped make the conference successful. 

IARR offers the ability for multidisciplinary and international representation from a diverse network of scholars. 

SLIS to move to McLure building, renovations underway

McLure building
1705080, Campus

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – McLure Library will become the new home for the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS). The move gives SLIS and its programs more visibility on campus, spotlighting creative scholarship and allowing students to see Book Art creative scholarship and work in action, engage with youth literacy and community action LIS research, observe archiving and digital preservation practices and participate in information science research. 

“One of C&IS’s strategic priorities is to cultivate high-quality academic programs,” said Dr. Jaime Naidoo, Interim Director of the School of Library and Information Studies. “The acquisition of McLure will do just that for SLIS. It will offer expanded studio space for the Book Arts Program, increasing opportunities for them to grow undergraduate course offerings as well as attract additional graduate students. McLure will also provide a dedicated space for students in the EBSCO Scholars audio-visual (AV) archiving program to study and learn critical techniques for preserving information in a digital format.”  

SLIS’s relocation from Gorgas Library’s seventh floor to the McLure building is part of the Gorgas Library Master Plan, resulting from years-long discussions between the College of Education, University Libraries and the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS). McLure closed its doors earlier this month and demolition inside will begin this summer.  

Upon reopening, SLIS will use almost the entire building. The first floor will house the MFA in Book Arts program, as well as a materials center for the Archives Program and Book Arts. The second floor will house the SLIS administration suite, an exhibition area, a classroom, faculty offices and a flexible lab space for EBSCO Digital Preservation activities and information science research. The third floor will house an additional classroom, conference room and faculty offices, as well as the Blackshear Reading Room, which will be home to SLIS’s review collection of children’s and young adult books.   

As SLIS introduces a proposed undergraduate degree in informatics in the next few years, the move to McLure will provide spaces for incoming undergraduate students to study and engage with top researchers in information science. And with the proximity to the College of Education and growing programs in school library media and youth services, there are unique opportunities for collaborations and programmatic growth at the master’s level, feeding into future research and community-engagement initiatives in these areas. 

Degree programs in SLIS prepare students to critically examine and mediate the production, utilization, dissemination, preservation and implications (social impacts) of information on our ever-changing world to address real-world challenges such as health disparities and cybersecurity. The School was first accredited in 1972 and began offering its MFA in Book Arts in 1985. Since, it has become one of the nation’s leading institutions for library and information studies, committed to intellectual freedom, universal knowledge and the tenets of social justice. 

Dr. Rebecca Britt Receives Alabama Water Institute Grant

Dr. Rebecca Britt, associate professor of journalism and creative media, was recently awarded the Alabama Water Institute (AWI) Innovation Grant for her project titled “Addressing water contamination threats using entropy and network theory via capacity building: Utilizing big data to develop an architecture for engineering and the social sciences.” The grant is a collaboration between the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) and the College of Engineering and is funded by AWI.

Britt and her team will use social entropy and network analysis to examine discussions on social media about health hazards related to water contamination. They will focus on conversations involving citizens and various organizations, including those related to health, citizen engagement and politics. The goal is to identify key global discussion points on this issue.

“Organizations, local citizens, scientists and the mainstream media all contribute to the conversation of the risks associated with water contamination,” Britt said. “This has an impact on informal learning. It’s a global conversation that happens in many ways, from the use of slang to more scientific conversation.”

Information from Britt’s research will be used to create a Big Data repository that includes a social graph and predictive techniques for tracking the progression of discussions on social media regarding water contamination. This valuable resource will cater to the needs of both engineers and social scientists, providing comprehensive data sets that can be utilized and leveraged by researchers from various fields.

The study lays the groundwork for how environmental health risks are understood, including the perceived severity and their scope. Britt and the research team aim to identify the sources of communication for these events, particularly by examining the role of opinion leaders, and track how they evolve over time. This comprehensive research will span a period of five years, analyzing contributions from global social media platforms to assess the risks associated with these issues.

“We hope other scholars will benefit from the data sets produced,” Britt said. “We anticipate scholars from many epistemological and methodological traditions will be able to use this data and invite them to converse with us.”

UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences faculty and students conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit

To learn more about research at the Alabama Water Institute, click here.

Dr. Chris Roberts Hosts First Office of Research in Media Integrity Event

The Office of Research in Media Integrity (ORMI) in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) hosted its debut event earlier this year.

Dr. Chris Roberts, associate professor in journalism and creative media, is director of ORMI and invited three experts in media ethics to join him for a discussion titled “My, how your growing! How young adults mature morally, from college to their media work lives.”

The speakers were Dr. David Craig, a presidential professor in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma; Dr. Katie Place, a professor in the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University and senior research fellow at The Arthur W. Page Center for integrity in public communication; and Dr. Patrick Plaisance, editor of the Journal of Media Ethics and the Don W. Davis professor in Ethics at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State.

The professors are part of a long-running research project following the moral development of 100-plus students who graduated nationwide with media-focused degrees in 2018 and 2019.

Their work centers around theories of emerging adulthood, a distinct phase of life where young adults begin making long-term commitments in relationships and their occupation. Scholars argue that emerging adulthood is a relatively new phenomenon as young adults are often waiting longer than people in previous generations to marry and make long-term job commitments.

Through administering multiple personality tests and interviewing each graduate four times since 2018, the professors have gained much insight into the characteristics that recent graduates value most during their moral development.

“The findings are fascinating and instructive for our students as they begin to consider their post-college lives,” Roberts said. “For example, ‘love of learning’ was the key character strength our participants listed just after finishing college. By year three, ‘kindness’ topped the list.”

ORMI welcomed faculty, staff, students and community members to join their debut event. Later that week, they spoke to C&IS graduate students and faculty at the Institute for Communication and Information Research’s “Broader Impacts” event.

The Office of Research in Media Integrity seeks to be the home for systematic, innovative and important research into media integrity and ethics. It reaches across media platforms, academic disciplines, methodologies and ideologies to create a new understanding of media integrity and communicate it effectively across academic and public platforms. The office was formed in anticipation of the Janet Hall O’Neil and Frank O’Neil endowed faculty position in journalistic integrity.

For more information about ORMI, visit

Dr. Robin Boylorn Receives NCA Mid-Career Award

Dr. Robin Boylorn, professor of interpersonal and intercultural communication in the department of communication studies, received the Mid-Career Scholar Award from the National Communication Association (NCA) Ethnography Division. The award is one of the inaugural career-oriented awards of the Ethnography Division.

Established in 2022, recipients of the Mid-Career Scholar Award from the Ethnography Division of the NCA are selected based on outstanding contributions to ethnographic scholarship and artistry, with a consideration of teaching, mentoring and service related to ethnography. Mid-Career scholars are those who received their most recent degree in 2001 or later.

Boylorn received the award at the NCA Annual Convention in New Orleans in November. She said the award was especially significant because she received it exactly 20 years after attending her first NCA convention in 2002.

“I didn’t realize at that time that 20 years later I would have carved out a space for myself, my stories, and my career in the academy, or that the impact of my work would be so far-reaching,” Boylorn said. “This award is meaningful because it reminds me of where I come from, but it also reminds me that I have more work to do. The middle of my career is not the end.”

Boylorn’s main research areas include diversity and identity studies and representation, focusing primarily on the lived experiences of Black women in the U.S. American south. Ethnography aims to fully understand a social or cultural group, and autoethnography is a form of ethnographic research seeking to connect personal experiences to wider cultural, political and social meanings and understandings.

“I am proud to have work in the world that helps Black women feel seen,” Boylorn said. “I am proud of my book, Sweetwater, and the way it humanizes rural Black women through their stories. I am also proud of the ways I have established a scholarly, critical and creative voice that is recognizable, credible and accessible within and without the academy.”

Moving forward, Boylorn said she is excited for the next chapter of her career as Holle Endowed Chair of Communication Arts and director of the Holle Center for Communication Arts.

“My new roles will allow me to continue and expand my cultural studies research, imagine and influence the future of storytelling, and initiate and participate in important conversations in the field – bridging communication and the larger community,” Boylorn said.

UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences faculty and students conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit

Dr. Leah LeFebvre Ranked as Prolific Scholar in Communication Studies

Dr. Leah LeFebvre, associate professor in communication studies, was recently named one of the most prolific scholars in communication studies based on a study published this month in Communication Education.

The study measured the publication rates of authors from a sample of 24 journals published between 2017 and 2021. LeFebvre published 11 articles within the time frame, ranking her as the 10th most published communication studies scholar.

LeFebvre’s exemplary publication rate demonstrates her commitment to research, and her focus on studying romantic relationships fills a gap in contemporary scholarship.

“Dr. LeFebvre’s studies of relationship formation in dissolution in the age of social media provide insight into an important aspect of everyone’s life,” said Dr. Brian Butler, dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. “Her impressive collection of work exemplifies our mission to provide ground-breaking communication research that enhances health and well-being.”

LeFebvre and the 39 researchers included in the list represent the top 1 percent of prolific communication studies scholars, making this an even more impressive feat.

As the study mentions, research output is an important measurement of academic productivity and scholarly effectiveness. A prolific scholar’s individual accolades can support their ability to teach students and promote the institution they represent.

LeFebvre’s accomplishment makes a significant impact on positioning C&IS as a leader in communication and information research.

Her work, and the work of all C&IS faculty, lead the College toward its goal of providing life changing education, transformative partnerships and ground-breaking research, scholarship and creative work.

To view the research article, click here.

Communication Education is a peer-reviewed publication of the National Communication Association. Communication Education publishes original scholarship that advances understanding of the role of communication in the teaching and learning process in diverse spaces, structure, and interactions, within and outside of academia.

UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences faculty and students conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit