The graduate faculty in the Department of Communication Studies produces theoretically driven, insightful research and/or creative scholarship within the areas of Rhetoric and Political Discourse, Interpersonal Communication, Organizational Leadership, and Communication and Culture.  Our work provides social value for communities within and outside of academia.  We mentor and train master and doctoral students in the arts and science of communication as to encourage and prepare students for productive social, professional, and civic lives.

Members of the Departmental Graduate Faculty

  • Rhetoric and Political Discourse

Meredith M. Bagley (Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin).  Associate Professor.  Her research uses rhetorical theory and critical methods to investigate the power of public texts (spoken, written, or symbolic) to shape identities, relationships, and power dynamics.  She also does research in the area of sport communication.

Beth S. Bennett (Ph.D., University of Iowa).   Professor and Senior Associate Dean. Her research interests include the history rhetoric, especially classical and medieval rhetoric, and rhetorical analysis and study of electronic texts and critical literacy. 

Adam Sharples Brooks (Ph.D., University of Alabama).  Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of Public Speaking.  His research centers on the rhetorical construction and cultural representation of public identities, as well as in the development of effective public speaking techniques to cultivate leadership and impression management.

W. Sim Butler (Ph.D., University of Alabama).   Assistant Professor.

Peter R. Jensen (Ph.D., University of Missouri).  Assistant Professor.   His research centers on how the ways that we talk about social problems changes how we organize around them and alternatives to normal ways of organizing.

Robert N. Gaines (Ph.D., University of Iowa).  Professor.  His research interests chiefly are concerned with the history of rhetoric, especially the ways in which dispute between philosophy and rhetoric shaped rhetorical theory during ancient times.

Jessy J. Ohl (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln). Assistant Professor. His research focuses on political communication, democratic deliberation, and the rhetoric of war. He is especially interested in the ways verbal and visual texts engage public sensation to legitimate contemporary violence.

Cynthia Peacock (Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin).  Assistant Professor.  Her research interests  are political communication and news and social media use.  Her most recent project investigated the contexts in which people express and avoid expressing their political opinions, and the ways in which opinion diversity and disagreement take place in online and offline discussions.  She is interested in deliberation, media use and effects, and civic engagement and is currently researching how people form, change, and express their political opinions.

  • Interpersonal Communication

Jennifer A. H. Becker (PhD, University of Oklahoma). Assistant Professor. Her research centers on conflict, defensive communication, and resiliency in romantic relationships and friendships. She also studies problematic interpersonal communication in organizational contexts.

Heather J. Carmack (PhD, Ohio University).  Associate Professor. Her research centers on the communicative processes related to healthcare organizing, specifically on communication issues related to patient safety, mobile health clinics, and dying and death.  She also studies organizational culture and socialization.

Darrin J. Griffin (Ph.D., University at Buffalo, SUNY).  Associate Professor.   His research focuses on interpersonal communication contexts, especially deception, emotions, and nonverbal communication.

Leah E. LeFebvre (PhD, University of Texas, Austin). Assistant Professor. Her research focuses on romantic relationships and emerging technologies, or the interplay of communication, interpersonal relationships, and technology. She investigates the proliferation of online, recordable relational communication technologies that influence past, current, and future relationship communication, archival, and memorialization processes. She also studies mean-making through narration and how stories inform, reinforce, and influence relationships.

Joshua R. Pederson (Ph.D., University of Iowa).  Associate Professor.  His research interests mostly involve topics of conflict, relational transgression and repair, and social support.

  • Organizational Leadership

Alexa Stough Chilcutt (Ph.D, University of Alabama).  Associate Professor and Director of Public Speaking.  Her research focuses on organizational impression management, leadership and team dynamics, and she provides staff development programs for UA’s Human Resource department, as well as various external constituencies.

Nikita Y. Harris (Ph.D., Howard University).  Assistant Professor.  Coordinator for the Organizational Leadership emphasis.  Her research focuses on organizational socialization and leadership:  focusing on culture and diversity across organizational settings.

Mark D. Nelson (Ph.D., University of Alabama).  Professor and Dean, College of Communication & Information Sciences. His research interests included instructional communication, leadership, interpersonal competence, and diversity.

Caroline S. Parsons (Ph.D., University of Alabama).  Assistant Professor.  Her research interests are organizational and interpersonal communication and instructional communication as it relates to student development.

  • Communication and Culture

Robin M. Boylorn (Ph.D., University of South Florida).   Associate Professor.  Her research areas include the intersection of race, class, and gender/sex; the lived and storied experiences of black women in the south; and critical auto/ethnography. She is also interested in public perceptions and representations of black women.

Margaret U. D’Silva (Ph.D., University of Kentucky).  Professor and Chair.  Her research interests include intercultural communication; culture, social movements, and social justice.

Mary M. Meares (Ph.D., University of New Mexico).  Associate Professor.  Her research interests lie in the areas of organizational and intercultural communication, focusing on intercultural interaction and diversity in a variety of organizational settings.