Published: July 10, 2017

Updates from our all-star professors, researchers and innovators for summer/fall 2017.

Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design | Communication | Critical Media Practices | Information Science
Intermedia Arts, Writing and Performance PhD Program | Journalism | Media Studies

Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design

  • Professor of Practice Mindy Cheval is the interim director of CMCI’s CommRAP program and recently developed and taught a semesterlong course on sexual assault communication.

  • Professor of Practice Jennifer Colman joined the faculty this fall, having spent the previous six months teaching at CU Boulder and working as a freelance brand strategist for ad agencies in New York and San Francisco.

  • Professor of Practice Jeff Curry joined the faculty this fall and is driving an initiative to broaden contemporary art in Boulder to include design, technology and creativity from industry and academia.  

  • Professor of Practice Dawn Doty is the faculty adviser for CU’s PRSSA student chapter and helped the chapter raise money to attend its first national conference this fall in Boston.  

  • Assistant Professor Jolene Fisher published three articles exploring issues of digital games, gender and international development. 

  • Chair and Associate Professor Harsha Ganga was elected vice president of the American Academy of Advertising (AAA) for 2017–18.

  • Associate Professor Glenn Griffin joined the faculty this fall after leading the undergraduate advertising creative program for six years at the University of Alabama.

  • Assistant Professor Toby Hopp published several research articles examining the factors influencing online political incivility.

  • Associate Professor Seow Ting Lee published a paper on health information seeking in Health Communication and presented three papers at the 2017 International Communication Association’s annual conference.

  • Professor of Practice Dan Ligon, an awarded-winning, 25-year veteran of the advertising industry, joined the faculty in 2016. 

  • Associate Professor Kelty Logan published research regarding the phenomenon of social media fatigue and the implications for advertisers.

  • Assistant Professor Erin Schauster conducted research on emerging trends in advertising and public relations (in press) and published an article on the ethical implications of these practices. 

  • Associate Professor David Slayden launched the strategic communication design master’s degree program and serves as the executive director. 

  • Professor of Practice David Smail accompanied the college’s Young Ones competition finalists to New York and orchestrated the Dairy Show’s return to the Dairy Arts Center.

  • Assistant Professor Chris Vargo published articles in five top-tier communication journals using computational social science and big-data analytics.

  • Assistant Professor Erin Willis presented two papers on health communication at this year’s Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication conference in Chicago.


Every aspect of the new studio space supporting the Strategic Communication Design master’s program was designed to be adaptable.

Located in the heart of downtown Boulder, the space can be turned from a classroom into a photography studio, event space or even a walk-in art installation, with images projected across vast, blank walls. In courses like Design Sprints, students create products, services and experiences for clients including Uber, Allstate Insurance, Microsoft and ESRI, among others.

From the tools students use to the lessons they learn working with industry leaders, SCD is a graduate program designed to evolve at the pace of the globally connected creative economy.

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  • Associate Professor John Ackerman wrote, revised and now has in-press three chapters in collections devoted to ecological and rhetorical justice.
  • Professor Karen Ashcraft had a productive sabbatical year during which she completed a collaborative book, drafted several articles and delivered international talks, all around themes of work, power and affect in the contemporary economy.

  • Associate Professor David Boromisza-Habashi became a tenured associate professor and vice chair of the Language and Social Interaction Division of the International Communication Association.

  • Assistant Professor Joelle Cruz joined the department and published her findings on social movements and indigenous organizing in postconflict Liberia.

  • Associate Professor Lisa Flores completed her term as director of graduate studies and received the Rose B. Johnson Article of the Year award, with co-author Christy-Dale L. Sims, from Southern Communication Journal.

  • Professor Larry Frey became the co-editor of a new book series on communication for social justice activism for the University of California Press.

  • Assistant Professor Laurie Gries gave a number of invited talks based on her award-winning book Still Life with Rhetoric and completed a forthcoming co-edited collection titled Circulation, Rhetoric, and Writing.

  • Instructor Ruth Hickerson delivered the keynote address, “Raising Awareness and Removing Barriers: Communication Practices That Foster Inclusion and Engagement,” at the Rockwell Automation on the Move technology and trade expo in Denver.

  • Assistant Professor Jody Jahn began work on her $346,000 research grant, received an Article of the Year award from Management Communication Quarterly, had top papers at both the National and International Communication Association conventions, and successfully passed fourth-year review.

  • Associate Professor Matthew Koschmann received a Fulbright Scholars Award to be a visiting scholar at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines for the spring 2018 semester.  

  • Professor Tim Kuhn served as associate chair for the department’s undergraduate program, published a book on working and organizing (with CU’s Karen Ashcraft and University of Montreal’s Francois Cooren), and was an associate editor at Human Relations, an international and interdisciplinary academic journal devoted to the study of social relations at and around work. 

  • Instructor Jeff Motter was part of a team at the Kettering Foundation that developed a National Issues Forum discussion guide on food access. 

  • Assistant Professor Tiara Na’puti joined the department and received the Constance Rourke Prize Finalist Mention for the best article published in American Quarterly.   

  • Associate Professor Phaedra Pezzullo published the fourth edition of Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere, became director of BoulderTalks and gave multiple talks on climate justice.

  • Assistant Professor Natasha Shrikant joined the communication faculty in August 2016 and is submitting research findings about communication and race in institutional contexts for publication.

  • Chair and Professor Peter Simonson was promoted to full professor, became chair of the department, and received CMCI’s Payden Award for excellence in teaching, research and service.

  • Senior Instructor Jamie Skerski led her Persuasion & Society students in pitching communication strategies to local and global brands, including Microsoft and Skratch Labs.

  • Assistant Professor Leah Sprain co-organized a symposium on energy democracy co-sponsored by BoulderTalks, the National Science Foundation, the National Communication Association and the University of Utah’s Communication Institute.

  • Associate Professor Ted Striphas became co-editor of the journal Cultural Studies, the flagship publication in that field, and delivered the keynote address at UCLA’s eighth annual Transforming Hollywood conference.

  • Professor Bryan Taylor published two essays on communication and security in the Annals of the International Communication Association, taught a new graduate seminar on rhetorical field methods and completed the new edition of Qualitative Communication Research Methods (forthcoming, Sage).

  • Professor Karen Tracy completed her term as chair of communication and finished her third and last year serving on the VCAC, the committee that makes decisions about promotion and tenure.

  • Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Curriculum and Programs Cindy White completed her second year as associate dean and participated in the national first-year college experience conference. 

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Critical Media Practices

  • Assistant Professor Reece Auguiste’s Stillness Spirit is an experimental essay film about the largest private collection of African art in Colorado and possibly the third largest in the nation. The film is structured so that viewers may experience the collection as if walking through a gallery of African art.
  • Assistant Professor Betsey Biggs is collaborating on a long, minimalist, multimedia musical performance and film using time-lapse footage of glaciers, choral composition, field recordings and interspersed texts regarding the cultural changes wrought by global warming. Florida State University recently commissioned Biggs to create an installation about women and noise.

  • Professor Emeritus Daniel Boord’s film Contigo is included in the Faculty Exhibition: 2017 at the CU Art Museum. 

  • Instructor Eric Coombs Esmail premiered his latest media work at Anthology Film Archives in New York and expanded the educational, curatorial and fundraising activities of the nonprofit media organization Process Reversal, which he co-founded in 2012. 

  • Assistant Professor Erin Espelie has completed two short films, A Net to Catch the Light, which had its West Coast premiere in June at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Automorphic, which premiered last summer at the Mediamatic gallery in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is co-principal investigator for a new initiative, the Nature, Environment, Science and Technology (NEST) Studio for the Arts.

  • Instructor Christian Hammons produced, directed and performed in Tripod: Mead, Bateson, Bali, a live, mixed-media documentary about the anthropologist Margaret Mead, her husband, Gregory Bateson, and their collaboration in Bali in the 1930s.

  • Associate Professor Tara Knight received a CU Boulder Innovative Seed Grant for a sound planetarium project and is co-principal investigator for a new initiative, the Nature, Environment, Science and Technology (NEST) Studio for the Arts.

  • Assistant Professor Stephanie Spray is in postproduction for her feature-length experimental documentary, The Immortals, which she shot aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a scientific drilling ship funded by the International Ocean Discovery Program with National Science Foundation funding, over the course of 10 weeks at sea in the Indian and Pacific oceans. 

  • Instructor Andrew Young wrote and edited an article in Critical Studies in Television on representing counterculture in Peter Gunn (to be published shortly) and developed a new PhD history course.

hands holding a tablet

Students in the Critical Media Practices degree program develop their personal style as they explore the expressive potential of media. They make media in order to connect to and know the world. And they create and think about media in new ways while learning critical perspectives that place media practices within a broad cultural and historical continuum of innovation. Last year, students in the department created projects covering a wide array of topics and media, including a soundscape of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, an interview-driven social media campaign across multiple channels and a short film about three Syrian children in the Zaatari refugee camp.

Students can focus in three concentration areas (or they can build their own): documentary media, performance media and sound practices. Within these areas, students work with digital photography, videography, location sound, electronic music, web design, virtual reality and media installation.

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Information Science

  • Professor William Aspray is writing a book about the history of urban legends (especially 9/11 legends), alternative political facts and mercantile rumors that harm businesses.
  • Associate Professor Lecia Barker is conducting research on beliefs about privacy of student data in learning management systems as well as teaching practices of computer science content.

  • Assistant Professor Jed Brubaker is examining how people share their lives through social media, collaborating with social media companies to make the internet a more compassionate place, and exploring what comes after the “user” in user experience. 

  • Assistant Professor Laura Devendorf joined the faculty in January 2017 and spoke on the subject of “Design Futures” at the European Forum Alpbach in August. 

  • Assistant Professor Casey Fiesler has been conducting empirical studies of internet research ethics and gave a TEDxCU talk in April on the subject of copyright and remix.

  • Assistant Professor Brian Keegan is a computational social scientist examining the structure and dynamics of emergent leadership within a Fortune 50 enterprise social media platform, as well as cross-cultural team formation processes in multiplayer online battle arenas.

  • Chair and Professor Leysia Palen is examining the generation of information infrastructures and the use of social media in extreme weather hazard events in projects that are funded by the National Science Foundation.

  • Assistant Professor Michael Paul recently published a book about how data science and social media can solve new problems in public health.

  • Professor of Practice Rick Robinson is working on a series of talks on how ethnographic research has been adopted, adapted and applied in corporate and industrial settings to design and develop new products and services.   

  • Assistant Professor Ricarose Roque is collaborating with public libraries and community centers to design and study experiences that meaningfully engage children and their families to imagine, invent and learn with new technologies.

  • Assistant Professor Danielle Albers Szafir is modeling how people interpret visual information to create more effective visualizations and augmented reality applications. She is constructing an interactive analytics system with aerospace engineering researchers to explore large image collections, which is funded by the U.S. Air Force.

  • Assistant Professor Amy Voida is studying how the demands of big data are affecting the clients and service provision of human service organizations.

  • Assistant Professor Stephen Voida is conducting a pilot study in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington to learn how people with bipolar disorder and the members of their extended care networks use data together to track mood changes, identify triggers, and reflect on the effectiveness of medications and long-term clinical treatments.

The human side of data

Jed and post-it notes

A few years ago, a group of interdisciplinary computing visionaries set out to design an innovative information science department from the ground up. The result is one of the few programs nationally that offers a four-year degree in the discipline to undergraduates, and one with forward-thinking faculty with connections to Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and many more.

Information Science blends computing with social science and the humanities for a hands-on, interdisciplinary education that investigates all aspects of human-data interaction. Students research how people and organizations interact with technology and information. They design apps, algorithms and user interfaces. They learn to collect, analyze and interpret data. Then they apply that knowledge to their secondary area of concentration to produce a project in, for example, bioinformatics, music informatics or wherever their interests take them. 

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Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance PhD Program

  • Director Mark Amerika’s work was featured in international exhibits, including GlitchMix, not an error in Havana, Cuba, and Beyond GRAMMATRON: 20 Years into the Future in London, England.

  • Associate Professor Lori Emerson serves as founding director of the Media Archaeology Lab, which houses North America’s largest collection of still-functioning media artifacts from the early 20th century through the 21st century. She recently discussed the MAL at Ignite Boulder.

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Media Studies

CMRC graphic

In an age when a confession app can be downloaded and people increasingly share their faith through Instagram, podcasts and YouTube, the study of religion is also changing. CMCI’s Center for Media, Religion and Culture (CMRC) recently received a $500,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support an investigation of the evolving nature of religious scholarship in the digital age.

Stewart Hoover, director of the CMRC, is leading the research effort that brings together scholars, researchers and practitioners to develop new and innovative tools for research and communication. Alongside their research, the project’s team will develop a new web platform designed for academic collaboration, idea development and multiplatform communication, including interactive media.

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