B.A., English, B.A., Communication, University of Kentucky
M.A., Communication, University of Arizona; M.A., Communication, Stanford University
Ph.D., Communication, Stanford University
The majority of my research examines the effects and implications of technologies, including social media, virtual reality, video games, mobile applications, podcasts, conversational agents, algorithms, and robots. I am particularly interested in how our engagement with and through technology influences our identities, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. As a mixed methodologist, I employ whatever tool is needed for the job, including experiments, surveys, content analyses, interviews, focus groups, observational studies. I apply a user experience framework to my research and also consult other researchers on UX issues. I collaborate with several graduate students in my lab, VECTOR (Virtual Environment, Communication Technology, and Online Research).
My research interests are driven by my curiosity and my graduate students’ interests. I have published papers in several subareas of communication, including computer-mediated communication, human-computer interaction, interpersonal communication, intergroup communication, mass communication, media psychology, health communication, environmental communication, science communication, and risk communication. I enjoy deep diving into the communication literature and take an interdisciplinary approach informed by psychology, computer science, sociology, criminology, education, gender studies, biology, zoology, and whatever other -ology catches my fancy.
Some topics that have caught my fancy include relationship initiation, development, maintenance, repair, and dissolution (with humans and agents); online harassment and discrimination; social identity-related experiences and processes; parasocial relationships; effects of technology on relationships; objectification and self-objectification; prosocial virtual environments; crime; social and technological affordances; avatar identification and embodiment; and research ethics, particularly inequities in scientific research.
Teaching about technologies is exciting because of the applicability of the material to our everyday lives. Learning to analyze, critique, and understand these technologies is crucial so that students can maximize their effectiveness in practice and make informed decisions regarding their use. My goal is to help students become more critical, informed, and media literate citizens.
When I’m not reading, writing, or researching, I enjoy listening to music, playing sports, learning trivial crafts and skills, frolicking in the outdoors, road tripping, cooking, detecting, and--my favorite hobby of all--eating. I proudly hail from Kentucky and love rolling hills, fried food, and all things bluegrass. Most of all, I love Derby (of the Kentucky, roller, and Hall varieties) and plan my calendar around the first Saturday in May.