New podcast spotlights Grady College’s research and expertise

As podcasts continue to grow as a popular form of media, it is only fitting that the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication would turn to audio storytelling to help highlight its research and expertise.

The new Grady Research Radio podcast, which debuted on Sept. 7, 2022, and is recorded in the podcast studio Studio Not Found, features concise conversations with faculty members at Grady College and shines a light on their research and proficiencies, as well as the College’s labs. 

Four students and two faculty pose for a picture in Utah in front of a grove of trees with a mountain in the background.
Kyser Lough and Ralitsa Vassileva (second from right) took a small group of students to the Journalism Solutions Summit in Utah.

The podcast’s debut episode covered the news of Grady being named one of the nation’s inaugural solutions journalism hubs by the Solutions Journalism Network. It features interviews with Grady faculty and solutions journalism experts Dr. Amanda Bright, Dr. Kyser Lough and Ralitsa Vassileva, who explained what Grady College is currently doing in research, instruction and outreach to advance solutions journalism, what the new designation means, and how students, educators and professionals in the region can get involved.

“There’s so much happening on campus that we never hear about,” said Vassileva. “A podcast that spreads the word across silos could advance solutions journalism beyond what we can achieve on our own. It could spark new ideas for collaboration.”

The solutions journalism episode was soon followed by one on Grady’s Brain, Body and Media (BBAM) Lab, a lab directed by assistant professor of advertising Dr. Glenna Read used to research psychophysiological reactions to different forms of media and messages. In the lab, researchers can attach sensors to subjects to track how they respond to audio and visual stimuli. Many of the studies conducted in the lab monitor participants by using electrodes that measure activity in the heart, movement of facial muscles on the forehead or around the eyes, and electrodermal activity, or sweat glands, on the hands. The lab also uses electroencephalography (EEG) that measures brain wave activity.

Photo of participant having wires put on his head to detect his responses to media and messages in the BBAM Lab.
The BBAM Lab supports research investigating cognitive and emotional processing of audio and visual media. (Photo: Submitted)

Similarly, the podcast’s third episode sheds light on the new Qualitative Research Lab at Grady College, where graduate and undergraduate students can pursue research focusing on qualitative, non-numerical data. It features a conversation with Dr. Karin Assmann, an assistant professor in the Journalism Department at Grady College and the director of the Qualitative Research Lab. In the episode, Dr. Assmann explains what goes on in her lab, speaks about recent studies conducted in the lab, and offers insight into how those interested can get involved.

The fourth and fifth episodes zero in on the 2022 general elections in the state of Georgia. The fourth episode features a conversation with Dr. David Clementson, an assistant professor in Public Relations at Grady College and a political communication researcher, about the state of political debates. The fifth includes a discussion with Joseph Watson, Jr., the Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Grady College, about political advertisements.

 “Grady College has many tremendous researchers who work really hard to run studies and collect data answering tough questions and addressing huge phenomena that affect our lives,” said Clementson. “The Grady Research Radio podcast is a great way for professors’ studies to translate to the general public in a fun, conversational and approachable way. I love listening to the podcast and learning more about my own colleagues who are working hard on impactful research.” 

Shira Chess holding up a cake designed to look like her book Ready Player 2.
Shira Chess cutting the cake during a celebration for the release of “Ready Player Two: Women Gamers and Designed Identity” in 2017. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

The sixth and most recent episode focuses on the field of game studies and features an interview with Dr. Shira Chess, an associate professor in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies (EMST), a game studies researcher, and the author of books including “Play Like a Feminist” and “Ready Player Two: Women Gamers and Designed Identity.” Dr. Chess discusses her research, why video games may not get the attention they deserve, and what the future may hold for the field. 

Grady Research Radio is hosted and produced by Jackson Schroeder, the public relations specialist at Grady College. It is generally released biweekly, and a complete list of episodes can be found here.

Podcast: Exploring Grady College’s Brain, Body and Media (BBAM) Lab

Listen to Grady Research Radio
Apple Podcasts/Spotify/Stitcher

Photo of participant having wires put on his head to detect his responses to media and messages in the BBAM Lab.
The BBAM Lab supports research investigating cognitive and emotional processing of audio and visual media. (Photo: Submitted)

Founded in 2020 and located on the fifth floor of Grady College, the Brain, Body and Media (BBAM) Lab supports research that examines psychophysiological responses to media and messages. In the lab, researchers can attach sensors to subjects to track how they respond to audio and visual stimuli. 

Many of the studies conducted in the lab monitor participants by using electrodes that measure activity in the heart, movement of facial muscles on the forehead or around the eyes, and electrodermal activity, or sweat glands, on the hands. The lab also uses electroencephalography (EEG) that measures brain wave activity. 

To further explore what happens in Grady’s BBAM Lab, check in on some of the recent projects, and inquire about how others can get involved, the Grady Research Radio podcast interviewed Dr. Glenna Read, an assistant professor in Advertising and the director of the BBAM Lab. 

Below is a transcription of the podcast, edited for clarity and brevity.

Grady College: What goes on in the BBAM Lab? 

A quote graphic that reads "We look at how the brain and body respond to mediated messages. That can be ads. That can be video games, news stories, etc." Glenna Read: A lot goes on in here. We conduct research, mainly using psychophysiological and neuroscientific measures. So, like the name of the lab implies, we look at how the brain and the body respond to mediated messages. That can be ads. That can be video games, news stories, etc.

Grady College: The lab has been used to answer a lot of questions — too many for Dr. Read to list off. Recently, the lab was used to evaluate how people respond to the correction of misinformation, corporate advocacy advertising, and different forms of COVID-19 vaccine appeals. 

Glenna Read: One of our most recent projects is looking at COVID-19 vaccine appeals and their impact on college students. This was a collaboration with Dr. Bartosz Wojdynski, Dr. Hye Jin Yoon and the graduate and undergraduate students working in the BBAM Lab. 

We were looking at three different types of message appeals, including appeals that describe societal benefits of vaccination, individual benefits of getting vaccinated, and humorous appeals, which are funny appeals about vaccinations. We found that societal benefits and humorous appeals were most successful with college students in terms of self report. So, they said, “We like these appeals. We find them more positive. We find them less negative.”

But, I think the really interesting finding was revealed by the psychophysiological measures. We looked at attention over time to each of these messages, and we found that, of the three appeal types, our participants paid the most attention to the humorous appeals. So, taken together, societal benefits and humorous appeals are both going to be effective in terms of how much people like them. But, our college students will pay more attention to the humorous appeals and then the other two. 

Grady College: What is all of this equipment? What exactly is it used for?

Glenna Read: So, it really varies. We have a bunch of different tools in the lab. But, the ones that we use the most are what we call our peripheral psychophysiological measures, and these are the measures that assess what’s happening in the body. 

There are three primary measures that we use. Our electrodermal activity measure is our sweat response, and it measures arousal. So, if somebody gets emotionally excited, they’ll start sweating, or the properties of their skin will change and that indicates to us arousal. 

We also look at electrocardiography, which we turn to heart rate. So, this is the activity of the heart. It’s kind of counterintuitive, but when you’re watching a mediated message, when you’re looking at a video or something like that, a lower heart rate is actually associated with more attention to that message because this is indicating to us that our participant can relax and take in external information.

Finally, we use facial electromyography. This is a measure of the activity of the muscles in the face that are associated with emotion. So, for example, if I furrow my brow in anger or frustration, I activate a muscle called the corrugator supercilii, and this muscle is indicative of negative affect. 

So, we can tap into these three emotional and cognitive processes: attention, or cognitive resource allocation, arousal, or emotional intensity, and emotional valence, which is positive or negative feelings.

Grady College: How did the BBAM Lab start? 

Glenna Read: I started this lab when I came to UGA. I was very lucky to have support from the College, from the AdPR Department and from UGA to be able to establish this lab. 

This, this is what I do. This is my passion. I’ve worked in a lot of different labs. I’ve set up labs. This is the first time that I’ve been able to build a lab from the ground up. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do and was really fortunate to be able to do at UGA.

Grady College: Who can get involved and how can they go about doing that?

Glenna Read: Well, we currently have both graduate students and undergraduate students working in the lab. I would encourage anybody who is interested in research or is interested in psychophysiology in particular to ask about getting involved with the lab. 

We welcome researchers with different experience levels. We welcome researchers with different interests. We have folks who are interested in going into research. We have folks who are interested in transitioning their skills to the industry. These skills that you pick up in the BBAM lab can be helpful in both ways, in terms of the networks that we’ve built within academia and beyond. 

We’re looking in particular for students who are conscientious, pay attention to detail and are good working with teams, because we’re a big team. We have 12 of us, including myself, in the BBAM Lab right now, and we all work and collaborate on each other’s projects.

If you are interested in joining the lab as an undergraduate or graduate research assistant, email Dr. Read to set up an appointment to discuss becoming involved in the BBAM Lab.

Glenna Read, AdPR faculty and alumni recognized at American Academy of Advertising conference

Glenna Read, assistant professor of advertising, was awarded the Mary Alice Shaver Promising Professor Award for junior faculty excellence at the American Academy of Advertising annual conference March 25-27, 2022.

The Award honors a junior faculty member who has demonstrated excellence and innovation in advertising teaching and research. The honor is not bestowed every year.

Students recognize Dr. Read as a dedicated teacher who uses in-class activities to demonstrate concepts and engage students,” said Karen King, professor emerita, in her letter nominating Read for this award.

Since joining the AdPR faculty in fall 2018, Read has taught three different undergraduate classes (Media Strategy and Activation, Advertising and Society and Insights and Analytics), as well as four different graduate classes. She has developed two new graduate courses, Consumer Neuroscience and Media Psychophysiology. She is the founder and director of the Brain, Body and Mind lab at Grady College, which uses psychology, psychophysiology and neuroscience to study how people process advertising.

Read has published thirteen articles in leading journals included Journal of Advertising, Journal of Communication and Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising. She has made 30 peer-reviewed conference presentations.

Read’s award was among several honors by Department of Advertising and Public Relations faculty and alumni at the AAA conference.

Grace Ahn trying out Snap Spectacles at the AAA conference.
Grace Ahn trying out Snap Spectacles at the AAA conference. (Photo: courtesy of Grace Ahn)

Other honors included:

    • Nate Evans, associate professor of advertising, Jay Lim (MA ’16, Ph.D. ‘21) and Ph.D. student Marilyn Primovic (AB ’18, MA ’18) received runner-up for the Best Article Award in the Journal of Interactive Advertising for their paper Exploring how disclosure works for listicle-style native advertising: the role of persuasion knowledge, persuasion appropriateness and supplementary disclosure effect of brand social media.”
    • Alex Pfeuffer, assistant professor of advertising, and Joe Phua, associate professor of advertising, were awarded a AAA Research Fellowship Award for a three-year research project studying video blogs and trust cues about COVID information.
    • Jisu Huh (MA ’00, Ph.D. ’03), of the University of Minnesota, was named the editor of the Journal of Advertising.

Additionally, Sun Joo “Grace” Ahn, associate professor of advertising, organized and moderated successful half-day pre-conference session titled “Advertising in the Metaverse.”

Eric Haley (ABJ ’87, MA ’89, PhD ’92), of the University of Tennessee, received best paper awards from several AAA journals.

Jooyoung Kim served as the AAA secretary and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Interactive Advertising.

Consistent cell phone service has direct link to health and well-being

A causal relationship has been demonstrated linking the reliability of cell phone service with an individual’s health and well-being, according to a University of Georgia researcher.

Glenna Read, an assistant professor of advertising at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, worked on the seven-month longitudinal study investigating how stable cellphone access impacts health and quality of life of people experiencing poverty.

The paper, “Making stability dependable: Stable cellphone access leads to better health outcomes for those experiencing poverty,” was recently published in the journal Information, Communication and Society.

“Consistent cellphone access was associated with improved health and well-being outcomes over time,” said Read, the lead author on the paper. “Furthermore, while all participants benefitted from consistent cellphone access, those who benefitted the most were those who reported having low social support.”

The increasing reliance on cellphone technology ignores the fact that many individuals are unable to maintain consistent, reliable access to cellphones. Previous research finds that devices are often lost or broken, are expensive to replace, and that low-income users often run out of minutes.

In this study, participants in the treatment group received phone cards providing unlimited talk, text, and data and participants in the control group were given grocery store gift cards of the equivalent amount. Over the course of the experiment, participants were asked about their overall health; quality of life measures such as psychological quality of life or self-esteem, social support and environmental factors such as safety and financial resources; and cellphone access.

 Participants in the treatment group reported better health and quality of life compared to those in the control group. Emotional social support moderated this relationship in such a way that those with the least social support benefited the most from stable cellphone access.

“We know that social support is critical for health and well-being and not having access to that support, especially when it’s limited, can have a negative impact on quality of life,” Read said. “These findings highlight the importance of ensuring consistent and reliable cellphone access for all Americans.”

An increasing number of healthcare and social service industries rely on cellphone-enabled technology, such as apps, text-messaging and voice communication as a primary means of connecting with employees and customers. The pandemic only accelerated this reliance on remote communication tools. The results of this research, which was conducted prior to the pandemic, proved that those with reliable, consistent cell phone service have better health outcomes and sense of safety and emotional support.

“I hope the results of this survey will be helpful in forming policy,” said Read, who also directs Grady College’s Brain, Body, and Media (BBAM) Lab. “Something I thought about a lot about during COVID is that if you have interrupted cell phone or internet service,­ you lose everything in a world that has gone digital. One basic way to ensure such an infrastructure is to subsidize both cellphone and internet service.”

This study was conducted by a team of researchers from University of Georgia, Indiana University and University of California – Santa Barbara.

Cullen, Johnston, Miller, Read selected as Teachers of the Year

Grady College is pleased to recognize its Teachers of the Year for the 2020-2021 academic year:

The Teachers of the Year are selected by their peers, based on excellence in the classroom and student feedback.

“All of us are so thankful for these award-winning teachers,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “Few outside the classroom realize the incredible investment in time required to reach this level of teaching excellence. In a college renowned for great teaching, the bar is set rather high, and these outstanding teachers went above and beyond, especially over the last year.”

Tom Cullen teaches during the first day of class for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Cullen (MA ’18) is familiar with the classroom from both perspectives: as a graduate of the public relations master’s program and as a professor of public relations communications. He is currently enrolled in the MFA program in Narrative Media Writing and helps advise the Crisis Communication Coalition.

“Tom Cullen is a beloved public relations writing teacher,” said Bryan Reber, the C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership and head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations.  “He’s part drill sergeant, part coach and part counselor.  He makes teaching intensive writing to 80 public relations students each semester look easy. It’s not.”

Cullen is known among his students for challenging them with high expectations and drawing out their talents so they can accomplish future success.

Johnston (ABJ ’95, MFA ’17), who started teaching part time and moved to a full time role two years ago, has had a significant impact on students in a short time.

Lori Johnston teaches Reporting and Writing Across Platforms and Features Writing courses.

“Lori’s course pushed me to the limit,” said one of her students. “She pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to do things that I didn’t even think I was capable of.”

Johnston is a former Associated Press journalist and still manages Fast Copy, a freelance writing business she owns with her husband, Andy. She frequently incorporates new multi-media elements and technologies into her assignments. Johnston recently led a group of students in redesigning the Covering Poverty website thanks to a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Janice Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism and head of the Department of Journalism, recognizes the collaboration Johnston brings to her work.

“Lori Johnston provides our journalism students such a strong foundation in reporting and writing,” Hume said. “She has become a leader in our department in terms of sharing ideas and resources so that students in multiple sections of the same course, even though they have different instructors, enjoy a consistent and exceptional experience.”

Miller shares his enthusiasm and knowledge of entertainment, and especially with syndicated television, with his students. An expert of all-things from “The Golden Girls,” Miller researches issues of gender and sexuality within various media forms.

“Dr. Miller’s teaching puts together two very important topic areas: television studies and diversity,” said James Hamilton, a Jim Kennedy New Media Professor and head of the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies. “It’s apparent from student comments just how successfully he does this.”

This semester, Miller teaches Television Histories and Representation in Entertainment, and his role as Peabody Media Center Academic Director has provided experiences teaching from the vast Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection.

Taylor Cole Miller in the vault that houses The Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection.

His students praise his care and understanding for not just their education, but also their state of mind.

“This course challenged me to think more about why and how entertainment media is created and provided me with tools to analyze my findings,” said one of his students. “It shows that the professor cares a great deal about his students, their well-being, and their futures. He made this course engaging not just through lectures but also through the assignments and activities that helped students better understand the concepts.”

When Read is not teaching media strategy and planning, she is working on message effectiveness research in the Body, Brain and Media Lab, which she directs. There, she investigates cognitive and affective, or emotional processing studies of audio and visual media…in other words, what’s happening in the body that helps to understand psychological processes in response to audio and visual stimuli.

Prior to joining the College faculty in 2018, Read taught at Indiana University and was the recipient of the competitive Annie Lang Dissertation Award from the International Communication Association.

Sierra Brown and Glenna Read discuss Brown’s CURO project in April 2019. (Photo: Dayne Young)

She is known for spending extra time with students pursuing research interests outside the classroom, too, through the CURO program.

“Glenna Read makes an impact on both the graduate and undergraduate level, particularly through her Body, Brain, and Media Lab,” said Reber. “She is creative in her teaching methods and has developed at least three new courses in her time at Georgia.”