Ph.D. Profile: Grace Adams

Third-year Ph.D. student Grace Adams is passionate about pop culture and communications. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

Ph.D. Profile: Grace Adams

October 03, 2023

After completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Grady College, Grace Adams returns to pursue her Ph.D. In addition to her studies, she teaches a research course and is involved with graduate student organizations.

What made you decide to pursue your Ph.D.?

I have always been interested in art, but I did not know what about art I found so interesting. After exploring a variety of career paths while completing my undergraduate degrees and master’s, I discovered that what I really love is understanding how visual works can communicate something that words cannot. I decided to dive into visual communications research in my Ph.D. program and immediately fell in love with my work on memes. I ultimately decided to get my Ph.D. because I love learning, and this program has allowed me to discover new ways of learning and research what I am passionate about.

Please provide a brief explanation of your dissertation topic and why it’s important to you.

My dissertation is about the uses, gratifications and influence of interpersonal meme sharing. To me, memes are a form of modern art. They are created by, consumed by, and shared among so many people, and their fun, easy-to-use structures allow for the democratization of voices. I will be employing qualitative methods to understand how and why people share memes interpersonally. As researchers, we can see what memes people post online, but I want to know the contexts surrounding the memes people do not post online. I want to better understand people’s relationships with each other and society through the memes they share with each other.

What other projects (research, teaching or otherwise) have you been involved with as a doctoral student?

I aid Dr. Evans in his research on social media advertising. I teach Insights and Analytics, an introductory undergraduate research course. I am also a Grady Graduate Caucus Co-President and a member of the Graduate Student Association. I love the research I do for Dr. Evans, especially the work pertaining to visual communication advertisements. I absolutely adore teaching and fostering a fun, engaging, and helpful environment for my students to apply research to their personal interests. I also love being able to help my fellow graduate students connect with each other. We all come from so many different backgrounds, so being able to help address their individual needs and connect us as a whole from group messages to fun activities has been an incredible experience.

What has been the highlight of your doctoral education?

Adams presents her work on isolating qualities of user-generated and AI-generated memes to determine influences on engagement. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

I think having a dissertation committee full of amazing professors who want to help me be the best I can be has been the highlight of my doctoral education. It’s such an incredible feeling having so many professors believe in me and my interests. Their constant support and guidance have not only helped me create professional and meaningful work but also given me the confidence and direction to pursue my passions.

What is a fun fact about yourself, your research field or other related fields?

I love trying new things: I love traveling, trying new foods, going to concerts, trying out different artistic media, scuba diving, snowboarding, gardening and trying anything I haven’t done before. Life is short, so I want to experience as much as I can!

What advice would you offer to someone considering a Ph.D. program?

My advice for anyone considering getting their Ph.D. is to pursue their passion. Working on a dissertation is challenging and requires lots of hard work, but when you’re working on what truly interests you, it doesn’t feel like work. Also, talk to professors! Not only have I received invaluable insight and guidance from Grady faculty members, but I have also learned so much from UGA professors outside of Grady and professors at other institutions. I would not be where I am today without the support of amazing faculty members.

What has been your most memorable experience at Grady College?

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at Grady is hearing some of the incredible feedback I’ve received from some of my students. I really strive to be a helpful, supportive, and fun professor, so hearing so many of my students express how much they enjoyed my class and how they’ve been able to apply what they learned to their own lives made me so happy.