ComArtSci Celebrates New Faculty Promotions

This year, nine faculty members in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences were promoted to associate professors with tenure and full professors for their hard work and dedication to their research, students, and the university. These faculty members have contributed outstanding work to their respective fields and look forward to continuing their teachings and studies in their departments.

See each of these faculty members’ key research areas and what they hope to achieve in their new roles.

Associate Professors

Young Anna Argyris — Associate Professor, Department of Media and Information

Young Anna Argyris’ research focuses on the diffusion of information to aid in users’ decision-making and create social influence. She applies this thematic area to the contexts of health misinformation and social media influencers. She has collaborated with the computer science departments at multiple universities to develop deep learning models for classifying multimodal health misinformation promulgated on social media. Her work has appeared in dozens of renowned journals, such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of Information Technology and IEEE Biomedical and Health Informatics, among many others. She is the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health grant project and a co-PI of a National Science Foundation grant project.  

Next Steps:  

“I will continue to seek to identify how technologies are used to diffuse information and knowledge through connections of entities, producing positive and negative influences on decision-making. With this generalizable scientific knowledge, I aim to develop sociotechnical solutions to facilitate the propagation of socially beneficial content that will impact individual and collective decision-making, improving equity and quality of life in our society. Finally, my long-term goal is to build a theoretical and methodological infrastructure to foster multidisciplinary research to solve multifaceted social problems.”

Dustin Carnahan — Associate Professor, Department of Communication

Dustin Carnahan is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and an affiliated faculty member of both the Health and Risk Communication Center and the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at MSU. His research focuses on how citizens engage with the political information environment and how these practices influence their beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. More recently, his research has centered around how communication processes can contribute to the formation of misperceptions and effectiveness of fact-checking messages in combatting misinformation. His work has been featured in the Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Political Communication and Political Behavior.  

Next Steps: 

“I am looking forward to continuing my work into understanding how communication processes shape how people understand and engage with the political world. Specifically, my future work seeks to explore how constraints on access to high-quality information — especially at the local level — have influenced outcomes such as misperceptions, political polarization, and civic engagement.”

Elizabeth Dorrance Hall — Associate Professor, Department of Communication

Elizabeth Dorrance Hall is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and director of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab. Her research centers around communication processes in close relationships, especially in family contexts. More specifically, Dorrance Hall explores difficult conversations and how close relationships evolve over time. She recently completed a Fulbright Scholar award to study communication in multigenerational families in Slovenia. Her work has been published in academic journals such as Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 

Next Steps: 

“My next steps include working on a new-NSF funded project to understand the various ways parents from diverse racial/ethnic groups communicate (to support, pressure, and/or dissuade) with young girls about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning and career opportunities. I also plan to dig deeper into my research on difficult family conversations including engaging with scholars and therapists about the communication process of relational repair. I look forward to mentoring and collaborating with up and coming undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral researchers as I engage in this work.”

Dar Meshi — Associate Professor, Department of Advertising and Public Relations

Dar Meshi is an associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and director of the Social and Media Neuroscience Lab. His research examines how information conveyed through social media motivates individuals and influences their decisions. In addition, he is interested in maladaptive, problematic social media use, conceptualizing it as a potential behavioral addictive disorder. To address his research questions, Meshi conducts behavioral experiments both in the lab and online, in addition to neuroimaging experiments with an MRI scanner. 

Next Steps:  

“I’m elated to receive tenure so I can keep moving my research program forward. For example, my collaborators and I are currently working with the genetics company 23andMe to conduct a genome-wide association study. This collaboration was delayed due to the pandemic, but it’s now back on track, and we’ve currently assessed problematic social media use in over 50,000 people. The next step is to examine their genes and look for associations with problematic social media use. Overall, I look forward to continuing this type of research as a tenured associate professor.”

Courtney Venker — Associate Professor, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders

Courtney Venker is an associate professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist and director of MSU’s Lingo Lab. Her research focuses on language development in children with autism spectrum disorder — specifically, on how these children integrate auditory and visual information to learn the meanings of words. Her other research interests center on parent language input, word processing and word learning. Venker is also an Early Career Research Award recipient from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health. 

Next Steps:

“One thing I am looking forward to as a tenured faculty member is expanding the team of graduate students and post-docs conducting mentored research in my lab, The Lingo Lab. My team and I will also be continuing our five-year, NIH-funded project on language processing and word learning in young children on the autism spectrum. In addition to this research project, we are investigating the messages that children’s books about autism send about neurodiversity. I’m also developing plans for a new line of research focused on how augmentative and alternative modes of communication (AAC) can support receptive language development in young children with autism.”

Full Professors

Saleem Alhabash — Professor, Department of Advertising and Public Relations

Saleem Alhabash is a professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and a co-director of the  Media and Advertising Psychology (MAP) Lab. His research centers on the processes and effects of new and social media within the context of persuasion. More specifically, he investigates the cognitive and emotional responses, and psychological effects associated with using new and social media. His research is also geared toward understanding how new communication technologies can be used as persuasive tools, most recently in relation to marketing of alcohol as well as digital aggression across the lifespan. 

Next Steps: 

“I’m thrilled to be promoted to full professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at MSU. In the upcoming years, I plan to continue my service to the department by mentoring students and engaging in advancing our department internally and externally. I also am looking forward to exploring new areas in impactful research that serves to enhance the well-being of individuals and communities. One recent project that I am currently leading entails conducting a global consumer survey of 17 different countries to examine predictors of counterfeit purchase intentions and behaviors. I hope to expand this research to other areas that directly impact the lives of individuals, especially in relation to the widespread of counterfeit medications online and on social media platforms.”

Tai-Quan “Winson” Peng — Professor, Department of Communication

Winson Peng is a professor in the Department of Communication and an associate editor of the Journal of Communication. His research interests include computational social science, health communication, audience analysis, and political communication. His research has been featured in top-ranked journals of communication science, information science, public health and computer science, such as Communication Methods and Measures, Communication Research, JASIST, Journal of Informetrics, ACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, amongst many others.  

Next Steps: 

“I shall unwaveringly pursue both theory-driven and solution-oriented research. Through the seamless integration of innovative theorization and cutting-edge computational methods, my aspiration is to expand the frontiers of knowledge in the realms of health communication, audience analysis, and political communication. Simultaneously, my unwavering commitment lies in elevating computational thinking and expertise among the students of MSU. To fulfill this dedication, I shall actively immerse myself in teaching and fostering collaborative endeavors, cultivating an environment that nurtures and empowers their talents to flourish.”

Nancy Rhodes — Professor, Department of Advertising and Public Relations

Nancy Rhodes is a professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations who worked in pharmaceutical marketing research and other applied contexts for a number of years before returning to academia full time. Her research interests are broadly focused on persuasion and social influence — particularly how they affect health and safety behaviors. More recently, she has been exploring how normative influences contribute to substance use, and how norms might contribute to resistance toward health-related messages. Her work has appeared in journals such as Communication Research, Communication Monographs and Media Psychology, as well as in specialty health and safety journals. 

Next Steps: 

“I’m thrilled to have been promoted to full professor, and I am looking forward to continuing to mentor my graduate students in the Social Cognition and Media Psychology (SCAMP) Lab. We are studying the social cognitive processes through which new and traditional media influence the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of individuals. Ongoing projects are examining the effectiveness of safe drinking messages targeting college students. We are looking to see how existing norm beliefs, such as that ‘everyone at MSU drinks’ affect students’ thoughts about messages that give more realistic information about the prevalence of drinking among MSU students. I look forward to continuing this work and other projects.”

Bruno Takahashi — Professor, School of Journalism

Bruno Takahashi is a Brandt Endowed Professor of Environmental Communication with a joint appointment in the School of Journalism and AgBioResearch, as well as the research director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. He is also an affiliated faculty member of the Health and Risk Communication Center, the Environmental Science and Policy Program, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at MSU. His research interests include media coverage of environmental affairs, environmental journalism practices, risk communication and the links between media and policy with a particular interest in the coverage of environmental issues in Latin America media and U.S. Latino media. He has published articles in research journals such as Environmental Communication, Science Communication, Health Communication and more. He is currently conducting research as part of a research project funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Next Steps: 

“I will continue to work for the next three to four years on this project I am co-leading, which focuses on identity in science communication research, practice, and training. I will continue to research Spanish-language news coverage of environmental issues in the U.S., and how Hispanic audiences perceive those issues.”

By Casey Halas