Ph.D. Students are an integral part of our research and legacy as a leading college of journalism and mass communication.
Below are highlights of the research topics and experiences from some current students and alumni of our program.
Current Ph.D. students
Through her research, Rhoda Olaleye seeks to spur increased awareness and better targeted advertising of sunscreen products to people of color. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Research Interests: The use and purchase of sunscreens by people of color.
Why Grady: “The program as well as the testimonial of current students. The University of Georgia is known for its high educational quality, and Grady College can be identified as one of the contributors to its prestige. Based on my online research, Grady College was described as a place where career preparation and student involvement were taken seriously. As my goals were career driven, my application was a no brainer.”
What do you want to do with your degree?: “I hope to work in the advertising industry once I get my degree. My interests have been deeply entrenched in strategic communications as well as brand management, and I believe that my enrollment in this program has provided me with the advanced capability to synthesize complex problems while delivering visible solutions, which is an asset in the industry.”
Research Interests: The intersection of media law and scholastic journalism.
Why Grady: “When I was applying for my Ph.D., Dean Earnest Perry at the University of Missouri (where I got my master’s) recommended I add UGA to my list of potential schools because of the strong connections between the two programs. I ultimately chose Grady because I wanted the chance to work with my now-adviser Dr. Jon Peters, who is an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to communications law (and a great guy)!”
What do you want to do with your degree?: “I think of myself as a teacher first and researcher second, so I hope to find a position as a professor at a teaching institution after I graduate. I would also love to go back to advising because there’s something so special about the work that happens in a student newsroom. So fingers crossed there will be a college newspaper out there somewhere that’s looking for a new adviser when I’m on the job market!”
Klein spent four years working as a high school teacher before deciding to pursue her Ph.D. (Photo: Sarah Freeman).
To those thinking about pursuing a Ph.D., Farrah Youn-Heil says, “Take advantage of your curiosity, and go for it!" (Photo: Sarah Freeman)
Research Interests: Interracial communication and how it relates to media.
Why Grady: “While receiving my masters at UGA in interpersonal communication, I knew that Grady was the perfect program to dive deeper into media communication research that would complement my knowledge in interpersonal communication. I am so grateful to be here because I continue to learn from and work with the top scholars dedicated to this research.”
Advise for students considering pursuing a Ph.D.: “Take advantage of your curiosity, and go for it! I never felt like a school person. But, as a doctoral student, I think of it less as school and more as a time to be an explorer.”
Research Interests: Political and international communication with an emphasis on race, culture and social movements.
Why Grady: “As a native Georgian I was aware that Grady College ranked among the best schools of communication in the country. I thought it offered a friendly and collaborative environment that isn’t present at some places I looked at. I also wanted to live in a city that was affordable and closer to my family.”
Fun Fact: While a student, Howard wrote a book about media literacy in partnership with the Georgia Humanities Council and Atlanta Press Club.
Marcus Howard is expected to graduate in May 2021. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Andrea Briscoe is earning her doctorate degree in journalism, but appreciates the opportunity to meet many faculty outside the department. (Photos: Sarah E. Freeman)
Research Interests: Women who are freelance photojournalists. “I feel honored to have the opportunity to learn from them, and I hope to share what I have learned in a way that provides meaningful, positive change for women in photojournalism.”
Why Grady: “The biggest reason I decided to return to UGA for graduate school was the support I felt from faculty. I felt like I would have people cheering for my success if I decided to go here.”
Advice: “When considering pursuing a Ph.D. or deciding on what specific program you would like to attend, make yourself aware of the environment you’ll be in as well as the resources available to you.”
Research Interests: how media context affects processing and evaluation of digital ads. “I’m grateful to my collaborators from the Digital Media, Attention, & Cognition Lab. It is their support and hard work that make this award more meaningful.”
Why Grady: “I learned that it’s home of the renowned Peabody Award, offers different concentrations to suit student interests, and enjoys a good reputation nationwide. In addition, it’s in a southern state of subtropical climate with mild winters.”
Fun Fact: Last Fall, Sun was the lead author on a paper that earned recognition at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication virtual conference.
Shuoya Sun returned to Grady College to pursue her Ph.D. Her research focuses on how media context affects the processing and evaluation of digital ads. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)
Solyee Kim is expected to graduate with her doctoral degree in 2022.
Research Interests: experiences of marginalized communities including immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities in the public relations and media industries. “It takes a whole village to get a Ph.D. In my case, the village might be a global one.”
Why Grady: “The college has one of the most respected journalism and mass communication programs for graduate students.”
After graduation: “I would love to work in academia researching DEI in PR and media practices and empowering students. Ultimately, I am open to positions that serve public interests.”
Professor of Public Relations, University of Georgia
Recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award
Research Interests: Dr. Acosta-Alzuru specializes in critical and cultural studies, international communication and women’s studies.
What lessons learned at Grady have helped you the most?: “Everything I needed to learn to become a professor and scholar I learned in our College. I learned how to turn my intellectual curiosity into rigorous research because I was taught by great researchers. I learned how to be a better teacher because I had fulfilling classroom experiences that challenged and nurtured me.”
What about your field appeals to you the most?: “Understanding and unraveling the links between media, culture and society is what I do and what appeals the most to me.”
Carolina Acosta-Alzuru will be honored on April 29 with the the 2022 John Holliman, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award. "I learned in our College that having faith in the person you are teaching and mentoring is essential for their professional and personal development," Acosta-Alzuru said.
Dr. Nicholas Browning (MA '10, PhD '15)
Associate Professor of Public Relations, Indiana University
Research Interests: Browning’s research focuses on organization-public relationships (OPRs); more specifically, the impacts organizational ethics and actions have on these relationships within business and political contexts.
Why Grady?: “I knew I wanted to study public relations and that Grady was basically an Ivy League program for that. The diversity of perspectives was evident to me even in my early campus visits. On top of that, the faculty and graduate students were incredibly welcoming, and I felt I could build a home at Grady, both intellectually and personally.”
What is Athens like?: “Awesome. Just flat out awesome. Sure, UGA is a major part of the culture, but there’s so much more going on. The music scene is stellar. The restaurants are amazing. The big events are awesome.”
Dr. Patricia Curtin
Professor and endowed chair of public relations, University of Oregon
Recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award
Research Interests: Dr. Curtin’s research encompasses cross-cultural public relations, public relations history, and development of critical/postmodern approaches to public relations theory.
What are your memories of your time at Grady College?: “When I think back to my time at Grady, it’s the people who stand out. My professors, across the board, exposed me to a rich variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, and my own research is so much better and stronger for that.”
Best advice for someone considering a Ph.D. program?: “Pick a program not for the one professor you want to study with simply because they study just the precise area you think you want to. Instead, be open to having your intellectual horizons widened to include areas you never considered before.”
Patricia Curtin will be honored on April 29 with the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Scholar Award. "Grady set me on a path to be successful in what was of interest to me, which has served me well throughout the years," Curtin said. (Photo: courtesy of Pat Curtin)
Dr. Ezequiel Korin
Assistant Professor of Spanish-language Media, University of Nevada, Reno
Research Interests: His research explores the relation of digital technologies and societies from the theoretical approach of critical and cultural studies.
What are the program strengths?: “There are many strengths to this program, from amazing faculty to challenging courses, from an inclusive environment to a rich alumni network. UGA’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication is truly a unique place where you are invited to grow intellectually and personally.”
Best advice?: “Pursuing a Ph.D. is hard and time consuming. You need to approach it as an educational journey that will allow you to delve deeply into topics that fascinate you. As such, make sure you choose well the companions for your journey and enjoy the entire process.”
Dr. Yen-I Lee (PhD '19)
Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication, Washington State University
Research Interests: Her primary research is in the areas of health communication and strategic public relations, focusing on the role of messaging content, technology use, visual attention, emotions, and cultural psychology
What are the program strengths?: “There are several strengths of our program. First, our program is a diverse and tailored program. Graduate students can receive very good, solid training in these fields. More importantly, graduate students can also tailor this training to build their own research agenda and expertise.
Second, our program provides a diverse and strong lab resource, such as DMAC eye-tracking lab, BBAM psychophysiology lab, SeeSuite social media analytics lab, and virtual reality lab.
Third, Grady College is an international student friendly program among faculties, students, and staffs. People respect each other and treat each other equally.”
Dr. Camila Young
Social Research Scientist, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Research Interests: Her research interests focus on digital media as well as the role of the internet and social media affordances on audience perceptions, attention and behavior.
Why Grady?: “Grady College’s Mass Communication Ph.D. program is renown for its rigor and quality. But ultimately, my decision to come to Grady College was based on the school’s and the University of Georgia’s commitment to fostering excellence and diversity.”
Favorite Memory?: “My favorite memory as a Ph.D. student was working as a senior researcher at Grady College’s Digital Media Attention and Cognition (DMAC) Lab. The team would pitch study ideas and work collaboratively to bring those projects to fruition. It was honestly so cool to conduct eye-tracking studies, meet over Jittery Joe’s coffee, and then apply our individual strengths to share our work with others in the field. The experience fostered camaraderie between cohorts, teamwork, and opportunities for graduate students to explore different research interests.”
Where other alumni are working
Below is a sampling of what some of our other doctoral alumni are doing:
Dane Claussen (Ph.D. ’99), Lecturer of Communications, University of Idaho
Pat Curtin (MA ’91, PhD ’96), professor and endowed chair of public relations at University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication
George L. Daniels (MA ’99, PhD ’02) Assistant Dean for Administration and chief diversity officer, University of Alabama, College of Communication and Information Sciences
Denise DeLorme (ABJ ’89, MA ’91, PhD ’95), Professor, Environmental Communication, Louisiana State University
Eric Haley (ABJ ’87, MA ’89, PhD ’92), Professor, University of Tennessee
Marie Hardin (PhD ’98), Dean of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and a professor of journalism, Penn State
Heidi Hennink-Kaminski (Ph.D. ’06), Assoc. Dean of Graduate Studies, UNC Chapel Hill
Jisu Huh (MA’00, PhD’03), Professor and Raymond O. Mithun Endowed Chair in Advertising in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication University of Minnesota
Amie Marsh Jones (MMC ’03, PhD ’19), Assistant Director of Student Services, UGA Graduate School
Jack Lule (PhD ’87), Iacocca Professor and Chair of the Department of Journalism & Communication and Professor of Global Studies Lehigh University
Carol Pardun (PhD ’92), University of South Carolina, retired
Lisa Pecot-Hebert (PhD ’07), Director of Graduate Journalism program, University of Southern California
Kathy Richardson (MA’83, PhD ’92), President, Westminster College
Steve Thomsen (PhD ’94), professor and the international media studies coordinator, School of Communications, Brigham Young University
Ph.D. Profile: Rhoda Olaleye
Rhoda Olaleye is a third-year Ph.D. student focusing on advertising methods in emerging and existing communication spaces, more specifically social media. Her research explores the impact of social media advertising […] learn more
Ph.D. Profile: Leslie Klein
Leslie Klein is a current Grady College Ph.D. student concentrating in Journalism. Formerly a high school English, yearbook and journalism teacher, Klein is researching the intersection of media law and scholastic […] learn more
Ph.D. Profile: Farrah Youn-Heil
Growing up with immigrant parents, Aarum (Farrah) Youn-Heil said she feels like television and movies helped raise her. From a young age, it stuck out to Youn-Heil that not everyone she saw […] learn more
Ph.D. Profile: Marcus Howard
Marcus Howard is reaching the final stretch of his doctoral degree and he can look back knowing he packed a lot into his time at UGA. While at Grady College, […] learn more
Ph.D. student profile: Andrea Briscoe
Many Ph.D. students return to school to study a subject they experienced first in the work world. Such is the case for Andrea Briscoe (ABJ ’12) who returned to study […] learn more
Ph.D. student profile: Shuoya Sun
Shuoya Sun (MA ‘16) found that Grady College with its Digital Media Attention and Cognition (DMAC) Lab was the best place to pursue her research interests: how media context affects […] learn more
Ph.D. student profile: Solyee Kim
Solyee Kim (MA ’16) is a Ph.D. student interested in diversity, equity and inclusion in public relations and media practices. Her research focuses on the experiences of marginalized communities including […] learn more
Grady College faculty and graduate students participate in the AEJMC 2020 Virtual Conference
Faculty and graduate students from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will present research findings, participating in panels and receiving awards at the 103rd annual Association for Education in […] learn more
Scholarships help doctoral students with summer research
While many Grady College students were enjoying summer internships or travel, others were continuing the work they do throughout the school year—researching communications topics that often contribute to dissertation proposals. […] learn more
Grady doctoral student’s fake news research becomes book
Marcus E. Howard, journalist and Grady doctoral student, recently wrote a media literacy book in partnership with the Georgia Humanities Council and Atlanta Press Club. “How Journalists and the Public […] learn more
GRADY IS READY FOR YOU
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