The Health and Risk Communication Center (HRCC) is in the fifth year of its new Fellowship award, the Sandi Smith Research Fellowship. This year’s recipients include Ph.D. candidate Sanguk Lee, Department of Communication, Ph.D. student Kaitlin Lewin, Department of Advertising & Public Relations, and Ph.D student Emily Shuo Zhan, Department of Media & Information. Funds awarded from this fellowship are in recognition of each student’s exceptional scholarly efforts and will aid these students’ in their research initiatives.
Lee will use the award in research that centers around how cancer patients and caregivers often engage in a prolonged information search process by asking a series of questions about online information-seeking. The research aims to address sequential nature of the process. Sanguk’s research will employ computational methods to uncover patterns of sequential seeking by looking at posts updated in an online cancer community. Lee’s advisor on this project is Tai-quan “Winson” Peng, Ph.D.
Lewin’s project will use EEG (or electroencephalography) to investigate the risk for changes in brain activity during various tasks that are part of executive functioning (e.g., attention, working memory, and cognitive flexibility).
Specifically, she will examine how users' brains may work differently when they're separated from their smartphones. Lewin’s advisor on this project is Dar Meshi, Ph.D.
Zhan’s research seeks to explore how women in online health communities offer each other information and help that is rarely seen in offline interactions. In this process, the nature of the technology and online disinhibition play critical roles. To study this, she will combine interviews and surveys with women in these groups. Zhan’s advisors for this project are María Molina, Ph.D. and Esther Thorson, Ph.D.
The Sandi Smith Research Fellowship was founded in 2017 to celebrate Dr. Smith’s dedication to health and risk communication scholarship in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences; she is the former director of the Health and Risk Communication Center. A prolific scholar and International Communication Association Fellow, Dr. Smith’s passion for communication research, teaching, and health communication have been an inspiration for students and faculty.