Category: Research

SLIS Faculty Receive Over $1.2 Million in IMLS Grants

Drs. Bharat Mehra and Robert Riter

The School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) and its partners recently received three grants totaling more than $1.2 million. The grants were each awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and come as part of a $21 million investment in library and archive initiatives by IMLS.

Each grant was made possible by the collaborative efforts of SLIS faculty, archives-related agencies, libraries and higher education institutions across the nation.

“The University of Alabama SLIS has a history of community engaged scholarship to the state and beyond,” said Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, interim director of SLIS. “I’m excited to see our faculty embarking on newly funded projects with community partners that focus on closing achievement gaps in young children and training current and future diverse library and information studies professionals to engage in critical work that creates environments to foster important cross-cultural conversations between these individuals and the pluralistic communities they serve.”

SLIS professor and EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice, Dr. Bharat Mehra is a leading collaborator in the three grants and believes collaboration is vital to the success of the projects and the advancement of social justice within library and archival studies.

“To make an impact on everyday lives in their external communities, institutions have to find creative ways to collaborate and partner across boundaries of all sorts, whether it is across institutions, organizations, private-public sectors, community groups, individuals, etc.,” Mehra said. “Collaboration is important in the various projects because it allows us to tap into the synergies across diverse settings and bring different entities together to apply complementary strengths and further social justice and social equity.”

Training of Community-Embedded Social Justice Archivists (SJ4a)

Mehra and Dr. Robert Riter, Marie Drolet Bristol-EBSCO endowed professor, were awarded a grant entitled “Training of Community-Embedded Social Justice Archivists.” The SLIS faculty members will recruit and train 12 Black, Indigenous and people of color paraprofessionals working in community‐based archives settings to earn library science master’s degrees from The University of Alabama Online. The curriculum will combine social justice and inclusivity with archival studies. The cohort of students will begin the program in January 2023, and Mehra, who serves as the principal investigator, believes the program will further the cohort’s impact in professional settings.

“There is an urgency in the 21st century to dismantle the resistance among archivists to expand the impact and relevance of their work by adopting social justice actions and diversifying the profession,” Mehra said. “Hence, the focus on recruiting and training paraprofessionals who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color with social justice and archival studies skills to further their impact in local and regional settings as well as in the profession and workforce.”

This grant will also support the creation of curricular and mentoring frameworks specifically tailored to the goals and objectives of individuals dedicating themselves to professional practice at the intersection of archives, social justice and advocacy.

“This cohort will be positioned to serve as change agents within their institutions, localities of practice, and the archives and records professions,” said Riter, the Co-PI of the project.

SLIS faculty will collaborate with the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Alabama Public Library Service, Multnomah County Archives, New Mexico State Library, Society of American Archivists and Special Collections and Archives at the California State University among others through various aspects of grant implementation.

Civic Engagement for Racial Justice in Public Libraries (RJ@PL)

Mehra received a grant entitled “Civic Engagement for Racial Justice in Public Libraries” in collaboration with Dr. Kimberly Black of Chicago State University and multiple state and public libraries. The project’s goal is to study and build the capabilities of public librarians and selected communities to lead civic engagement and promote positive social change by advancing racial justice. Mehra and his colleagues plan to spotlight positive initiatives of civic engagement that libraries in the southern regions are adopting to promote racial justice.

“Racial justice is a hot topic, but this project hopes to break down the stereotypes and barriers that people might have about the topic through the concept of civic engagement. We are asking ourselves how we can engage and interact in discussion and mutual understanding, and how libraries are doing that,” Mehra said.

Mehra and Black will be joined by the Alabama Public Library Service, Athens Regional Library System, Austin Public Library, Birmingham Public Library, Georgia Public Library Service, Howard County Library System, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Library of Virginia, Louisville Free Public Library, Maryland State Library Agency, Northwestern Library System, Richland Library, Richmond Public Library and Suffolk Public Library and Tennessee State Library and Archives to implement the project.

Libraries Count

SLIS will also join Dr. Alissa Lange, Director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education and the Early Childhood Education STEM Lab at East Tennessee State University, to create and evaluate an online professional learning program, Libraries Count. Mehra will serve as the co-PI of the project which aims to support library staff to integrate math into programming for young children and their families. The program will first be implemented in Alabama and Tennessee libraries, and will ultimately support children and families living in diverse underserved communities across 10 states. Mehra notes that math skills are essential to students upon entry to kindergarten, and that there is a misconception that students only learn math in the classroom. This project aims to better-prepare librarians to integrate math into lessons with young children and families of diverse backgrounds, and to help these children in becoming more interested in math at a young age.

“Knowledge of math and math skills pre-kindergarten greatly shape young children’s educational journeys and future career paths. This learning emerges way before math is introduced in classrooms within schools because making sense of the world through math is ubiquitous and all-immersive, starting right at birth and developing all the time, everywhere,” Mehra said. “Professional learning and development for librarians could address misconceptions and help librarians to better extend themselves in their reach towards underserved populations for mathematics education.”

Webjunction, an online learning network, will help launch and evaluate the program impacts and publish the final webinars for libraries nationwide to access for free.


The School of Library and Information Studies is a top-ranked program for library, information and book arts education. SLIS aims to develop creative and critical thinkers and leaders for the information world through a supportive teaching and learning environment, collaborative research and community engagement. To learn more, click here.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. IMLS advances, supports and empowers America’s museums, libraries and related organizations through grant making, research and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov.

Doctoral Student’s Research is Recognized as a Top Paper at ICA Conference

Dr. Tyana Ellis, a recent graduate of the doctoral program within the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS), recently completed a research proposal that was recognized as a top paper at the International Communication Association (ICA) conference in Paris, France.

As a former public speaking instructor and a graduate assistant within the Institute for Communication and Information Research, Ellis saw a connection between public speaking and the innovative technology in the College’s new Health Communication and Biometrics laboratory. Her proposal merged the research conducted within the lab with the public speaking program in C&IS by analyzing students’ facial expressions during public speaking presentations.

“Facial expressions are so important in public speaking because they can enhance the effectiveness of a presented message or actually lessen the effectiveness,” Ellis said. “Therefore, it made sense to utilize the software that we have in the Biometrics Lab to help improve presentation effectiveness in a new and innovative way.”

Ellis hopes that all research she does can have a positive impact on the lives of others, and she was especially happy that this research led students to become more confident in their public speaking capabilities.

“Through the research that was done for this project, students became more aware of the emotions that they convey while presenting, and it resulted in students being able to make changes to their presentation styles in order to become more confident and competent presenters,” Ellis said.

Because her innovative research was named a top paper, Ellis had the opportunity to present her research in Paris at the ICA conference.

“I personally loved the session I presented during the conference because it was so fun to share the work that we’re doing at UA while hearing about the ways that others are engaging students at their institutions across the globe,” Ellis said.

Ellis also noted that she is thankful for the collaborative effort of C&IS faculty and doctoral students who worked to make the project successful.

“This was most certainly a collaborative project and I’m very thankful for my co-authors Suyu Chou, Emily Dirks, Dr. Kim Bissell, Angela Billings, Dr. Anneliese Bolland and Dr. Ben Pyle,” Ellis 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 cis.ua.edu/research.

The International Communication Association (ICA) aims to advance the scholarly study of communication by encouraging and facilitating excellence in academic research worldwide. Click here to learn more.

C&IS Researchers Study Gulf Coast Severe Weather Communication

A new study by a team of professors from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) will examine the effectiveness of public risk messaging to help residents along the Gulf Coast stay safe during hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

Drs. Cory Armstrong, professor of journalism and creative media, Matthew VanDyke, associate professor of advertising and public relations, and Brian Britt, associate professor of advertising and public relations, are supported by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium for the project.

They will analyze social media discussions and conduct interviews and surveys to understand the information channels, tools and resources that coastal emergency managers, community leaders and residents use for short-term and long-term decision-making when preparing and going through severe weather.

“We’re not weather experts, but we’re communication experts,” Armstrong said. “What we can bring to this project, and what’s appealing to the Sea Grant folks, is that we can understand communication and distribution of these messages and how to measure that, how to understand it and how to then give recommendations for how these experts get their messages out.”

Understanding how the public receives and acts upon severe weather alerts and warnings can help emergency managers craft the most effective messages to save lives. The team will focus on the three southern-most emergency management areas of Mississippi and the two southern-most areas in Alabama.

The study will take place during three phases over the course of two years. The first phase will consist of analyzing conversation patterns on social media. By searching keywords, hashtags and specific date ranges on those platforms, the team can evaluate how people seek and relay information and concerns before, during and after extreme weather events.

“Before these tools were available, you’d have to rely on survey data and retrospective-type stuff that would be harder to get a full and perhaps accurate picture of how things played out,” said VanDyke. “This is an exciting new application for the theory, but to also get a more valid snapshot of what public discussion looks like in these areas.”

The second phase has an engagement plan where the team will interview decision-makers, such as emergency managers and city officials, to understand when they decide to start preparing before a storm arrives, what tools they use in making those decisions and how they process risk factors to their areas.

“Decision-makers may or may not have the technical background and understanding to be able to decipher the meaning of uncertainty,” VanDyke said. “What scientists mean by uncertainty might be different than how we in the general public interpret uncertainty, so being able to marry both public and decision-maker needs is really important.”

Focus groups will also be conducted with community members and public opinion leaders to see how they evaluate official messages and how they’re going to make choices during these storms.

“Comprehension and terminology are the big issues,” said Armstrong. “I can see the need for training and awareness of what watches, warnings and these types of terms mean, or maybe coming up with some more uniform terms to talk about coastal issues.”

The third phase will use large-scale sample surveys to determine the differences in information processing and tools, with a specific focus on comparing underserved, urban and rural populations.

“People who live in urban areas have this belief that it’s not going to happen to them or not going to be that big of a deal,” Armstrong said. “Then there’s the people in rural areas that live in flood plains. Every time a huge storm comes in, they’re getting flooded, and it may be that they’re more prepared than others because it happens so frequently.”

Armstrong said taking all this information and coming up with a mitigation plan, especially in underserved areas, is one of the key goals of this study.

“We’re talking about people with limited resources who don’t have ways to evacuate,” she said. “Hurricane Katrina proved sometimes you just can’t leave. What kind of plans can we make for these people who can’t or won’t evacuate? I’m always concerned about that.”

The team will be providing their findings after each phase so decision-makers can continuously analyze and update their plans as the project progresses. A summary of the entire study will be made available to the academic and practitioner communities at the end of the two-year period.

“Here at Alabama, there’s a big push to get more resources built, more information pooled, more accurate forecasts, and it’s just marrying that with where people actually are,” said VanDyke. “In a lot of cases, it’s not an information problem as much as it is an infrastructure problem, or as much as it is values or personal experience or whatever that barrier is that prevents people from using that information.”

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 cis.ua.edu/research.


This story originally appeared on UA News Center.

C&IS Professors Receive NSF Grant Totaling more than $400,000

Drs. Steven Holiday and Matthew VanDyke

Drs. Steven Holiday and Matthew VanDyke, assistant professors in advertising and public relations, recently received a grant totaling more than $400,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant will allow Dr. Holiday and Dr. VanDyke to begin research on their project, titled “Developing surfmer structure-property relationships for high internal phase emulsion foams.” The study aims to address water quality issues, and the access to and availability of effective, efficient and affordable solutions, particularly in rural Alabama communities.

“One of the aims is to specifically examine resources, empowerment and advocacy in rural Alabama communities that are adversely affected by poor water quality,” Holiday said. “These communities disproportionately include citizens who are underrepresented economically, educationally and racially.”

Holiday and VanDyke will conduct community outreach to understand community members’ perceptions of their water, the awareness of resources available to improve water quality, and the perceived behavioral control in advocating for effective, efficient and affordable technology for water treatment. Using the information gathered, they will then work with advertising and public relations students in undergraduate campaign courses to develop strategic communication campaigns that increase community literacy and advocacy.

“A primary goal of this project is to produce work that will not only advance our knowledge about what people know, feel and how they behave regarding water quality issues and technologies, but also to inform effective and ethical communication practices that can help communities who will benefit most from better water quality technologies,” Dr. VanDyke said.

The work is the result of an interdisciplinary partnership with chemical and biological engineering assistant professor Dr. Amanda Koh. Koh wanted to better understand communities in rural Alabama and help increase their knowledge of water issues, technology for resolving those issues, and the role they can play in advocating for the use of those technologies.

Holiday said the project utilizes Koh’s expertise in chemical engineering, VanDyke’s public relations expertise in environmental communication, and Holiday’s advertising expertise with family and community engagement and communication.

“I was (and am) very excited to pair the theoretical and practical communication work we do daily with actual, novel, engineering-based solutions to pressing environmental issues,” Dr. Holiday said. “The work will bring together disciplines to give advertising and public relations students a real opportunity to use their strategic communication experience to influence meaningful, lasting environmental change in communities that really need their knowledge and expertise.”

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 cis.ua.edu/research.

Research Spotlight: C&IS Professors Collaborate with Alumnus on Beach Happiness Research

Planning a beach vacation is the perfect way to welcome the warm spring and summer weather, and according to the research of C&IS faculty, it will improve your overall happiness too.

Associate professor Dr. Jameson Hayes and instructor Jay Waters recently completed a research study in collaboration with The 30A Company, a beach media and lifestyle brand in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The study will be featured in the Spring edition of 30A’s Beach Happy magazine and showcases the importance of travel to a person’s overall happiness.

Hayes, who is the director of The University of Alabama’s Public Opinion Lab, conducts research with several corporate and governmental partners. After seeing the real-world impact this study could have on people’s happiness and quality of life, he was especially eager to collaborate with 30A.

“The Public Opinion Lab regularly works with industry partners on projects, and when Mike Ragsdale and the 30A team approached us about this project, it was a no-brainer,” Hayes said. “It was a fun, positive topic with a great goal of helping us understand the link between travel, the beach lifestyle and happiness.”

As a C&IS alumnus and former student researcher in the College’s Institute for Communication and Information Research (ICIR), 30A founder and CEO Mike Ragsdale shares the professors’ passion for research and the value it can bring to his community and beyond. Ragsdale’s desire to use this research to better understand his customers made the study even more significant for the C&IS professors.

“I think anytime we can work with real clients and bring them information that can help them understand their customers better, it’s rewarding. It’s doubly so when you have a company like 30A that seeks out the information and sees the value in it,” Waters said.

The study’s feature in Beach Happy magazine not only provided C&IS and the Public Opinion Lab the opportunity to conduct industry research, but it helped the 30A company to visualize the benefits of travel for a person’s quality of life, and it helped to put this information into numbers. The data gathered by Hayes and Waters suggests that looking forward to a future vacation makes people happier and is essential to mental well-being.

“Travel makes us better people and happier people. And it is easy to do. I hope that people will look at this information, decide to make travel a priority, and see travel not as an expense but as an investment in their quality of life,” Waters said.

This collaboration also gave both Hayes and Waters opportunities to work with C&IS students and put into practice the work they teach students in their advertising and public relations courses.

“Working with industry partners on projects requires a ton of skills that we teach in class every day,” Hayes said.

Through this research study, C&IS faculty and students gained experience in a variety of skills including account management, research design, data analytics and communication design. According to Waters, this study related directly to the topics he teaches in his consumer research course.

“The three primary tools that I tell students they need in research are curiosity, skepticism and humility,” Waters said. “When I do a project like this, it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all and that there’s nothing new to learn, but to be effective, you have to bring those three mental tools to every project.”

Hayes explained that in addition to looking at the information in Beach Happy magazine, he hopes people will be encouraged to plan future trips to scenic destinations such as Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A.

“The results have a clear and refreshing message. Looking forward to your next trip to your happy place actually makes you a happier person overall.  So, always have a trip on the horizon; you will be happier for it,” Hayes said.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama 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 cis.ua.edu/research.

C&IS Grant Writing Institute Positions 2022 Cohort for Success

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) Grant Writing Institute is returning in 2022 with a new cohort. This year’s participants are focusing their research on areas impacting a variety of fields.

The Grant Writing Institute provides participants with the tools necessary to complete an application for research funding and submit the application to a federal or state agency or a foundation within 12 months of the start of the program.

This year’s participants are seeking to advance research regarding health and social media, the healthcare environment, and preserving minority voices.

The 2022 C&IS Grant Writing Institute participants are:

Dr. Shaheen Kanthawala

Kanthawala, assistant professor in journalism and creative media, will submit her proposal to the science division of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Kanthawala seeks to advance her research regarding TikTok and health, and is developing a conceptual model related to conspiracy theories and how platforms like TikTok utilize algorithms to better understand their users. Kanthawala contends that viewers are more likely to believe health misinformation on platforms like TikTok due to the algorithm’s ability to understand users so thoroughly.

Dr. Heather Carmack

Carmack, associate professor in communication studies, plans to submit two proposals, both to subdivisions within the National Science Foundation (NSF). One project aims to focus on stress and burnout in healthcare workers in healthcare settings, and how tele-work and working from home contributes to mental health issues. Carmack’s second proposal also focuses on healthcare and seeks to better understand bullying within healthcare environments, whether in the contexts of provider to provider or patient to provider interactions. Carmack argues that bullying within healthcare settings has risen exponentially, and her proposal seeks to study this rise in greater depth.

Dr. Dimitrios Latsis

Latsis, assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences, focuses on the digital preservation of minority voices within the state of Alabama. He will submit two proposals to the National Archives for specific funding opportunities related to Hidden Collections. One of his proposals will focus on historically Black colleges and universities within the state of Alabama. Latsis plans to digitize recordings of individuals or groups from the state so their voices are preserved.

Led by Dr. Kim Bissell and Dr. Anneliese Bolland, the Grant Writing Institute is a partnership between the Institute for Communication and Information Research, the Dean’s Office and departments within C&IS. C&IS 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 cis.ua.edu/research.

C&IS Research Spotlight: 2021 Grant Writing Institute

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) Grant Writing Institute is back, and this year, participants have set their sights high, hoping to secure large grants to make their submissions a reality. Additionally, all three participants are focusing their research on areas that impact public health.

While grant details are still being finalized, at least two of the three participants this year are considering submissions for the NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01). The Research Project Grant is the oldest grant mechanism used by NIH and provides support for health-related research and development based on its mission.

“An R01 grant is the biggest funding mechanism that NIH has,” said Dr. Kim Bissell, Associate Dean for Research at C&IS. “R01 is the big one. These are full research proposals typically in excess of $1 million and can be up to $5 million at times.”

Grant Writing Institute participants are partnering with additional project investigators to build interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams for their grant submissions. As these grants are very expensive, the review process is very selective, and the more experience their team has among its collaborative members, the more likely they are to be approved.

“Ultimately, the goal is to secure funding but especially when you are applying for substantial amounts of money, you rarely get awarded on your first try,” said Bissell. “What you hope is that you get well reviewed so that you can use the comments you receive to tweak your submission and reapply.”

Now in its third year, the C&IS Grant Writing Institute provides faculty participants with the tools necessary to complete a submission for research funding and apply to a federal or state agency or a foundation within 12 months of the start of the program. Led by Dr. Kim Bissell and Dr. Anneliese Bolland, the program works through a partnership between the Institute for Communication Research (ICIR) and the departments within C&IS to provide each of the participants a semester-long course release to complete their grant submission.

The 2021 C&IS Grant Writing Institute participants are:

Dr. Sim Butler

Dr. Sim Butler (Department of Communication Studies) is proposing an intervention-development project help medical professionals better communicate information when providing care for transgender patients.

Dr. Eyun-jung Ki

Dr. Eyun-jung Ki (Department of Advertising and Public Relations) is requesting $250,000 from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to test the feasibility and effect of a conversational artificial intelligence application as a daily emotional wellbeing sustainability tool.

Dr. Jiyoung Lee

Dr. Jiyoung Lee (Department of Journalism and Creative Media) is working on a proposal about designing artificial-intelligence-based interventions to correct vaccine-related misperceptions and reduce vaccine hesitancy, particularly focusing on rural populations which are lacking medical information accessibility.

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 cis.ua.edu/research.

Research Spotlight: Dr. A.J. Bauer

United States history is home to a diverse and ever-shifting spectrum of political ideas. As political parties rise and fall, and power narrowly swings from one majority opinion to the other, we seek understanding for how and why these things occur. By engaging with past newspapers, speeches, television reels and other historical archives, scholars are able to examine how different ideologies emerged, how influential political figures gained momentum and what key moments marked their ascension to (or fall from) political power.

Dr. A. J. Bauer is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative media. As a faculty researcher, Bauer studies the modern conservative movement by examining conservative news, right-wing media, political communication and American studies. According to Bauer, many historians see the conservative movement as several distinct ideologies that fused together after the Second World War. Different political ideals would rise and fall within this movement for decades, but one issue sticks out as a common denominator—a criticism of national media.

“A lot of times scholars will focus on a particular idea as being the basis of the conservatism: opposition to Roe vs. Wade, the support of gun rights or the support of various interventions overseas to spread democracy,” said Bauer. “My research points to the fact that from the very beginning, the key issue uniting all these ideals was a critique of the media.”

To Bauer, a key undercurrent that helps bind together various conservative political efforts is a distrust of and experienced opposition to the mainstream media. This opposition unites voters and activists from various causes—even causes that seem to contradict one another—because they are able to co-identify as part of the same resistance to a common perceived enemy, the press.

Much of Bauer’s research is ethnographic, meaning that he examines right-wing and conservative media from the perspective of the movement itself. This involves him consuming and analyzing large amounts of conservative media on the air, at annual gatherings such as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and interviewing conservative journalists as a basis for his research. And, because understanding the historical context of conservatism is vital to understanding the contemporary conservative movement (and vice versa), the other major component to Bauer’s research is historical—examining archives, ranging from those of conservative journalists like Fulton Lewis, Jr. to the records of the Federal Communications Commission.

“I toggle back and forth between my historical work and contemporary work, always trying to keep one foot in the contemporary because it’s so rapidly evolving,” said Bauer. “We have hindsight so we can look at seemingly obscure figures who no one cared about and map through history how their ideas gained steam and turned into something really big later on.”

Regardless of the cultural moment, Bauer’s research casts light on and brings greater understanding of a continually developing cultural perspective and its media. But it’s easy to see how the news cycle from the past several years makes his research all that more relevant and vital to understanding conservative news.

“I read conservative news all the time, and I learn things from it even though it is biased in a particular way. You can have reading strategies that overcome the question of bias,” said Bauer. “But the question is, ‘What are the values we use to assess partisan media on the right, on the left—both?’ How do we create a way of talking about it that isn’t just reduceable to bias?”

Bauer believes the key is nurturing an active and critical reading strategy, because the argument that media is biased assumes that people consume their media uncritically. He says readers who expect the news to be the arbiter of unquestionable and certain truth at all times are expecting it to do something its incapable of doing. Instead, the answer is to create a more politically aware culture by engaging openly in thoughtful conversations—even with people we don’t know.

“The idea that politics is a touchy subject we can’t talk about reinforces the notion of echo chambers and the siloing off that happens,” said Bauer. “By expecting the media to do something that fixes the problem, we overlook the fact that the only solution to the problem is more actual engagement between citizens, even citizens who disagree with one another.”

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama 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 cis.ua.edu/research.

‘Revise and Resubmit’ Podcast Talks C&IS Research

Dr. Anneliese Bolland (left) and Dr. Kim Bissell record an episode of Revise and Resubmit

It used to be that faculty members in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) could routinely walk to their departmental mailboxes and find a printed bulletin, titled the “ICIR Scholar Spotlight,” a regular publication put out by the Institute for Communication and Information Research (ICIR). The publication featured a different C&IS faculty member discussing their research each month.

In Fall 2020, Drs. Kim Bissell and Anneliese Bolland brought the Scholar Spotlight into the 21st century by releasing their podcast, Revise and Resubmit. Each episode is a conversation with a C&IS faculty researcher about their research interests, ongoing projects and how their field of study relates to everyday people.

“At the end of the day, we want to know about their research and make it accessible for everyone. Even if we’re talking about something really technical, we break it down so that anyone can understand it,” said Bissell. “The coolest thing about the research in our College is all of the practical implications. Of course, we contribute to the research culture methodologically and theoretically, but what we’re focusing on is how we contribute to the betterment of society, even if it’s in a small niche area.”

Not only is the podcast informative, it’s entertaining; there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Episode titles include “George Bush Did Not Kill Harambe, The Internet is Just Weird and Other Conversations about Social Media” and “When Dolly Parton Steps in During Times of Crisis and Other Conversations about Crisis Communication.”

One additional hope for Bissell is that listeners across campus and beyond would hear the exciting research that C&IS faculty are a part of and see the numerous and varied opportunities for creativity and collaboration.

“Researchers across campus who tune in and listen will hear how interdisciplinary our work is,” said Bissell. “There is obvious potential for partnerships campus wide where our research can connect to every single academic unit on campus. We’ve identified and developed a lot of those opportunities, but not all of them. I think there’s more we can do.”

Season 1 launched in Fall 2020 and includes 13 episodes. Now well into the second season Revise and Resubmit can be found on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. During the season, new episodes release every Monday at 11 a.m.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about research at C&IS, visit https://cis.ua.edu/research

C&IS’ Martha Glen Sease Speaks Out on Women’s Sports at Tide Talks

C&IS Junior and News Media Major, Martha Glen Sease

We’re watching women’s sports wrong. This was the main point of C&IS junior news media major Martha Glen Sease in the latest installment of Tide Talks, a presentation series in which students at The University of Alabama share their experiences, trials and successes during their time at school.

According to Sease, women’s sports don’t get a fair shake because there are assumptions made by sports fans about what sports are supposed to be. The presence of the male hormone testosterone means that men’s sports involve athletes that, as a general rule, are faster and stronger than their female counterparts. It’s the assumption that “faster and stronger means better” that frames the whole conversation surrounding men’s sports versus women’s sports.

“People assume that women’s sports are boring because they have more estrogen,” said Sease. “Now, what fails to be taken into account is that the presence of extra estrogen means that there are other advantages women have such as increased flexibility and endurance.”

Sease says that we don’t enjoy women’s sports as we could because we’re watching it through a lens that is biased toward speed and strength. Furthermore, when discussing women’s sports, the conversation often centers around the athlete’s personal life or sense of fashion. When athletic ability is praised, it typically fits back into those two categories—speed and strength.

Citing research conducted by C&IS professor Andy Billings (Journalism and Creative Media), Sease notes that the conversation in the sports booth is part of the issue. Commentators for men’s sports use more direct language when announcing the game and women’s sports commentators use more indirect language, which reinforces the “faster and stronger is better” viewpoint.

“Think about this, if you turn on ESPN and it’s a sport you’re unfamiliar with, who do you rely on? The commentator,” said Sease. “If you’re a casual fan of women’s sports and you turn on the TV and the commentators aren’t talking about the technicality, the grace, the physicality in a different way than they do men’s sports… you have no shot at fully enjoying these games.”

So, how do we fix the problem? Sease suggests three ways that sports fan can learn to better appreciate women’s sports. Have conversations about women’s sports, watch women’s sports through the different lens she describes—appreciating grace, technicality and endurance—and follow people who report on women’s sports.

A good place to start might be following Martha Glen Sease on Twitter (@mgsease) and listening to her host the “Student Section” on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. for WVUA 90.7FM.

You can view Sease’s Tide Talk here.

Founded by UA students in 2013, Tide Talks is a student organization at The University of Alabama that showcases student triumphs and experiences through engaging speaker series. It’s real talk, real life, and real students. To learn more about Tide Talks, visit their website at tidetalks.org or visit their YouTube page here.