Lee Wins Annie Lang Dissertation Award

This year, Communication Ph.D. graduate Joomi Lee was recognized with the Annie Lang Dissertation Award, an important recognition given by the Information Systems Division at the International Communication Association.

Lee was nominated by Dr. Allison Eden, associate professor in the Department of Communication.

Each year, the award honors the best dissertation that concerns a topic relevant to the Information Systems Division.

Lee’s dissertation, titled “Adaptive Behavior in Sandbox Games: How Motivation Shapes Use of Affordances in Virtual Worlds,” worked toward understanding the reasons behind people using different patterns of behavior while playing games.

“I am very honored and humbled to receive this award,” Lee said. “Dr. Annie Lang pioneered communication scholarship and media research by introducing influential theories including the Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing (LC4MP) and Dynamic Human-centered Communication Systems Theory (DHCCST) to the field.”

This award had a special connection to Lee – Lang was her master's thesis advisor at Indiana University.

After Indiana, Lee decided to attend Michigan State University’s Department of Communication to pursue her Ph.D.

Lee said she was drawn to the multidisciplinary and diverse research backgrounds of the scholars who were at MSU. While there, Lee said she learned a great deal from Dr. Eden, Dr. Gary Bente, Dr. Ralf Schmälzle and Dr. Dave Ewoldsen, as well as former assistant professor, Dr. Taiwoo Park.

“Her work has implications not just for understanding how games affect players, but also broadly how we understand human behavior in virtual environments," Dr. Eden said. "From start to finish, it was incredibly impressive."

Lee said the support and networking provided at MSU and after graduation has helped in her career.

“Many scholars I met after my graduation seem to have trust in my abilities as a teacher/scholar from my MSU background,” Lee said, about the impact of her Ph.D.

Lee, who is currently a postdoctoral research associate of the Games and Virtual Environments Lab at University of Georgia, met her current PI, Dr. Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, while working on a collaborative project between MSU and Georgia.

For Lee, her hope is to continue to find ways to “bridge communication scholarship and media industry” through her research.

“I hope my research can capture changing user behavior and experiences along with technologies of future, focusing on how users discover and develop new motivations to pursue meaningful behaviors in the virtual environments,” Lee said.

By Jennifer Trenkamp