Our lab houses researchers with advocacy and public interest communication expertise in areas such as: risk, crisis and disaster communication; public relations and public affairs; public communication ethics; nonprofit communication; media effects; mass communication theory; journalism; health communication; emerging technology and social, digital and mobile media; and advertising.
We are social scientists for social change, and we work to train leading undergraduate and graduate students to continue the legacy of pursuing science-based communication in the public interest.
DR. JULIA DAISY FRAUSTINO
Ph.D., University of Maryland
Fraustino is an assistant professor in the Advertising & Public Relations Program in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. She specializes in risk, emergency, crisis and disaster communication science from a public relations and public interest perspective emphasizing community resilience and ethics. She has won numerous research awards and has worked on risk and crisis communication grants and contracts for the CDC, DARPA, DHS and NSF, among others.
DR. SAMMY (SANG) LEE
Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Lee is an associate professor in the Advertising & Public Relations Program in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. His research interests include crisis communication and corporate social responsibility.
FOUNDING FACULTY RESEARCH AFFILIATE:
DR. GEAH PRESSGROVE
Ph.D., University of South Carolina
Pressgrove is an associate professor of advertising & public relations and chair of the Advertising & Public Relations Program in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. Her published and in-progress research examines the ways in which key communications variables influence relationship quality, behavioral outcomes and loyalty. She explores stakeholder engagement primarily in the nonprofit, corporate social responsibility, community and political contexts. She is particularly interested in the ways in which communicators can more effectively measure the effectiveness of relationship cultivation and maintenance strategies.
FACULTY RESEARCH AFFILIATES:
DR. RITA COLISTRA
Ph.D., The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Colistra is an associate professor in the Advertising & Public Relations Program in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. Her research primarily focuses on media sociology and theory from a public-interest perspective as well as community and audience engagement. She has focused on exploring various influences on news media content and coverage decisions; building and testing media theory, including the emerging area of agenda cutting; and measuring and increasing community and audience engagement across various platforms. Colistra is also founder and director of BrandJRNY, a grant-funded community branding initiative aimed at revitalizing West Virginia communities through research-based, integrated branding campaigns that are unique to each place.
DR. JASPER FESSMAN
Ph.D., University of Florida
Fessmann is a visiting assistant professor in the Advertising & Public Relations Program in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. His primary research focuses on developing the theoretical foundation of public interest communications (PIC). With Dr. Linda Hon, he organized the first PIC research conference “frank (scholar, 2016),” and they were instrumental in creating the PIC flagship Journal of Public Interest Communications (JPIC). He served as the Associate Editor of its inaugural issue (2017) and is now a member on the editorial board.
DR. JENNIFER HARKER
Ph.D., The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Harker is an assistant professor in the Advertising & Public Relations Program in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. Her research branches in two directions that endlessly intertwine: sports and media. She researches sport communication and media economies by examining topical foci such as reputation, crisis communication, and stakeholder perceptions involving sport-related controversies; and she researches the business of journalism, including economic uncertainty and market-orientation strategies concerning local daily newspapers and newspaper conglomerates.
DR. DANIEL TOTZKAY
Ph.D., Michigan State University
Totzkay is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University. His research focuses on communication to change health and risk behavior, the design and evaluation of health and risk communication interventions, improving healthcare access and delivery, and addressing matters of health equity with strategic communication activities. He has been awarded and has worked on numerous health and risk communication grants and contracts from entities such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and others.
Hillman is the WVU PIC Research Laboratory Coordinator. She holds a B.S.J. from WVU with a focus in strategic communication and minors in political science and entertainment media.
COLLABORATING RESEARCH AFFILIATES:
- DR. HONGMIN AHN, Dongguk University-Seoul (former founding faculty research affiliate)
- DR. AMANDA K. KENNEDY, St. Mary’s University
- DR. JI YOUNG LEE, WVU PIC Research Laboratory