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News & Events

Graduate Students receive 2020-21 Sparks Fellowship
Department of Communication Arts and Sciences Annual Awards Celebration
Assistant Professor Kennerly awarded a McCourtney Institute Research Grant
Alumni News
PhD candidate awarded Superior Teaching and Research Award
PhD candidate receives Graduate Fellowship in Ethical Inquiry
PhD candidate receives Outstanding Graduate Research Award
A CAS Shoutout to the CAS Undergraduate Showcase team
A CAS Shoutout: Penn State Altoona
A CAS Shoutout: Professors making a difference
2020 CAS Student Marshall
CAS Shoutout for Associate Professor
NCA features CAS Professor on podcast
The National Communication Association (NCA) featured one of our faculty, John Gastil, in its most recent episode of its "Communication Matters" podcast. Gastil was joined by his co-author, Katherine Knobloch, who gave a colloquium talk with John earlier this semester on the same subject, their new book, Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics. In the introduction of the podcast, host Trevor Parry-Giles notes that in 2014, NCA invited Gastil and Knobloch to come to DC to present their research at an event on Capitol Hill organized by The Coalition for National Science Funding. At the event, they discussed research funded by the National Science Foundation on an innovative electoral reform in Oregon. The podcast looks back on a full decade of research on that subject and on democracy more generally and touches on what their research says about the state of political communication during the present pandemic.
CAS Shoutout to the CAS 100 Leadership Team
A CAS ShoutOut to the CAS 100 Leadership Team: Two days into what should have been a restorative spring break, the CAS 100 leadership dove into the challenging task of rethinking the suite of CAS 100 classes for remote delivery. CAS 100 Director Michael Steudeman produced a detailed document to guide CAS 100A instructors, and he also helped our team of CAS 100 course supervisors to do the same: Ben Henderson (100B), Dave Dzikowski (100C), Mary High (100D), and Marcy Milhomme (100A for Engineers). Phd student Caroline Koons, as the CAS 100 Assistant Director, played an important role supporting these efforts, while Katya Haskins and Jessica O’Hara attended to CAS 138. No program at Penn State was challenged to do what this team did. Within days, they pivoted approximately 120 classes – affecting nearly 3,000 students – to achieve remote delivery of a class that uniquely relies on student presence and engagement. Well done, team! And thank you, Michael, for all you did to make this happen.
PhD candidates and CAS Professor featured in Penn State News
GRADS@WORK Research by PhD Candidate XiXi Tian and PhD alumna Kellie Brisini, along with Professor Denise Solomon, was featured in Penn State News. Their paper, published earlier this year, was also featured as the keystone article in a recent Journal of Communication virtual special issue. To learn more, see: https://news.psu.edu/story/612979/2020/03/25/research/validation-may-be-best-way-support-stressed-out-friends-and-family?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_term=613231_HTML&utm_content=03-26-2020-22-29&utm_campaign=Penn%20State%20Today https://academic.oup.com/joc/pages/virtual_issues
CAS ShoutOut to the Welcome Weekend Planning Team
A CAS ShoutOut to the Welcome Weekend Planning Team An annual event that we all look forward to is the extended weekend when we host prospective grad students. We step away from the business of spring semester to meet potential new members of our community and to show them what makes our program special. Every year, we also enjoy spending time together, whether at our opening dinner, the bowling alley, or the extra long table at Pho 11. Our disappointment at cancelling our in-person Welcome Weekend has been replaced by awe at the remote event that Director of Graduate Studies Andy High, PhD students J. J. De La Cruz and Claire Strutzenberg, and Graduate Program Assistant Robin Chakravorty have put together. Welcome Weekend starts, as always, at 5pm today (Thursday). It won’t be business as usual, but it will once again show what makes our program special. Well done, Andy, J. J., Claire, and Robin, and thank you for all your efforts to make the days ahead possible!
CAS Shoutout
A CAS ShoutOut… This is a new recurring feature on the CAS Department social media to recognize the applaud the contributions members of our community are making during these unprecedented times. The challenges are great, and so is our fortitude. A CAS ShoutOut to our Graduate Students: The impact of COVID-19 on the academic community has been substantial. Students are navigating a major shift in the classes they are taking, with everything from how to attend class to how to complete research papers subject to uncertainty and unfamiliarity. Instructors are working double-time to learn new and creative ways to reach, teach, and support their students. Researchers are confronting the reality of closed labs and libraries, a moratorium on research-related travel, and a lack of time to devote to scholarly work. Staff are scrambling to do the essential work of the department without the equipment and resources that are in their campus offices. For parents of young children, these tasks now compete with home schooling and child care. While each of these challenges touch someone in our community, virtually all of them affect graduate students. As students taking classes, as instructors teaching classes, as scholars working on theses and dissertation, as teaching or research assistants supporting faculty, and – for some – as parents, our graduate students are shouldering a considerable burden these days. And they are doing so with grace. Among many other successes, our graduate classes have made the pivot to remote delivery, largely because the students have shown up for class ready to go. Their attention to teaching and care for others in the community is palpable. Thus, this first CAS ShoutOut is to all of our graduate students: We see the challenges you are surmounting, we see what you are doing, and we are inspired by you. Depicted here is a screenshot from the first remote meeting of Rosa Eberly's graduate seminar on rhetoric, character, and sound -- #CAS597SoundXrs -- using the platform Discord, developed for online gamers, as suggested by CAS graduate student Michael Delayo.
Graduate seminar on computer-mediated communication
GRADS@WORK Recent changes cause by COVID-19 have forced classes online at many institutions, including Penn State. Nevertheless, class discussion moves forward in the CAS department. Here is a picture of a graduate seminar on computer-mediated communication happening over computer-mediated communication. This class generally focuses on whether and how the features and affordances of technology shape aspects of interactions, relationships, and well-being. This session focused on how technology influences users’ health and featured a presentation by CAS PhD student Yuwei Li. Topics ranged from how people seek health information, how expertise is signaled, how robots can assist with health communication, and how people utilize the health information they find online. Students were dispersed throughout the community but came together to discuss research in thoughtful ways, while also taking advantage of some unique features of the platform.
CAS Alumna named Editor-in-Cheif
ALUMNI NEWS: PSU CAS Alumna and Schreyer's Honor graduate Briana Adams-Seaton has been named the new Editor-in-Chief of the 64th Volume of the Howard Law Journal. She is one of the first Virgin Islander's to hold this prestigious title. Congratulations, Briana!
2020 Staff Scholarship Award
Nicole Rannie is the 2020 recipient of the Staff Scholarship Award, conferred by the College of the Liberal Arts. This scholarship award was created to support staff in the college who are enrolled in a degree program at Penn State. Nicole, who received her BS from Penn State in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management is currently pursuing a masters degree in Management in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the Smeal College of Business. All this, on top of working as an Undergraduate Program Assistant for the staff team that serves the Departments of Philosophy, Applied Linguistics, and Communication Arts & Sciences. Congratulations, Nicole!
CAS graduate student creates welcoming classroom by using preferred pronouns
GRADS@WORK The first day of class can be anxiety producing, perhaps especially in a class focused on public speaking. CAS graduate student Rachael Bishop works to make students feel valued and comfortable in her classroom by learning and respecting their preferred pronouns. For this work, Rachael was recently featured in an article in The Daily Collegian. In the article, Rachael states, “I ask students for their preferred pronouns and preferred name so that I can talk with them, and their classmates can talk with them, in a way that validates their identity.” We thank Rachael for making students feel welcome in her sections of public speaking. Read more of the article here. Outside of teaching CAS 100a, Rachael studies interpersonal communication, and her research focuses on communication surrounding stigma and how to support people who feel various stigmas.
Robin Haynes to receive Outstanding Customer Service Award from College of Liberal Arts
CELEBRATIONS!!! On Tuesday, February 18th, Robin Haynes will receive the Outstanding Customer Service Award from the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State. This award recognizes employees who provide exemplary service to “customers.” To anyone who has worked with Robin, the criteria (reproduced below) read like her biography. As the first person who communicates with most new faculty, as the person who helps us all navigate the requirements of employment (including preparing dossiers for annual review, promotion, and tenure), and as the person so many of us in CAS turn to for the “out-of-the-box” “what-do-I-do-about-this” sort of problems, many of in CAS have benefitted from Robin’s care for our well-being. The Department is delighted that the college has joined us in celebrating her outstanding qualities! Criteria for the Outstanding Customer Service Award: o Creates a welcoming environment for our customers o Consistently displays a positive attitude both in overall ability and communication as well as maintains a high level of professionalism at all times o Extremely conscientious in ensuring customers receive the guidance and answers they need in a timely and courteous manner o Continuously exceeds expectations when providing assistance to customers o Displays initiative and resourcefulness when troubleshooting problems and/or complaints o Takes ownership of problems and follows through until completion and/or resolution
CAS professor and department head travels to University of Minnesota
FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Denise Solomon CAS professor and department head Denise Solomon traveled recently to the University of Minnesota to meet with collaborators on her NSF-funded project investigating the dyadic dynamics of supportive conversation. The impetus for the meeting was an invitation to present research findings to Minnesota’s program in Interpersonal Relationships Research. Presenting at the session was Miriam Brinberg, PhD student in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at Penn State. Also in attendance were Penn State collaborator Nilam Ram, Professor of HDFS, Graham Bodie, Professor of Integrated Marketing Communication at the University of Mississippi, and Suzanne Jones, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota.
PhD Student's articles published in Communication 42 and QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking
GRADS@WORK PhD student Jeff Nagel has represented his research and our department well in recent weeks. He published “Intersectionality-as-Metaphor and Theories of Flesh” in Women’s Studies in Communication 42 (2019), which develops a theory of intersectionality, identity, and embodied experience suited to research in rhetorical studies. And his article “(Be)Longing in the Archives: Family, Affect, and Loss in the Jack Nichols Papers”--a meditation on the work and legacy of the gay rights activist named in its title--appears in the most recent issue of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking (6 [2019]). These articles reflect Jeff's exciting contributions to both longstanding and growing areas of specialty in our graduate program: public memory, social movements, and LGBTQ rhetoric. Each journal, moreover, offers an ideal disciplinary venue for their subject matter.
Undergraduate Student author of blog for CIVCM project
Camryn Wilson, who is completing the minor in Civic and Community Engagement (CIVCM) that is administered by the CAS Department, is the author of a blog post featured by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. Camryn writes about her capstone project for CIVCM, which was directed by CAS Associate Professor and CIVCM Director Rosa Eberly. Her vision of a civic ambassador program for Pennsylvania, energized by the Penn State community, is a worthy read. https://democracy.psu.edu/outreach/blog/the-future-of-civic-engagement
CAS and Political Science Professor named Distinguished Professor
John Gastil, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science, has been named a Distinguished Professor by Penn State. Through his research, Professor Gastil has made significant contributions to our understanding of political deliberation and democracy. Through his service as Department Head from 2011-16 and as inaugural Director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, he has had a lasting impact on our academic community. Professor Gastil is also an accomplished and devoted educator, whether teaching courses on democratic deliberation or the core course on quantitative research methods required for CAS majors. A prolific scholar, his latest books include Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics, and Legislature for Lot: Transformative Designs for Deliberative Governance. Congratulations, John, on this well-deserved honor!
CAS Lecturer elected to seat in Henry County Council
On January 6, CAS Lecturer Betsy Mills was elected to an at-large seat on the Henry County Council in New Castle, Indiana. After the seat was vacated at the end of 2019, local officials held a caucus between two candidates, and Betsy won in a 20-11 vote. With this victory, Betsy is among the youngest officials ever to serve on the Council and one of three simultaneously serving female Council members, an all-time high. Betsy is excited to demonstrate in her work for the Council the same skills that she teaches her CAS100 students every day -- especially problem solving, deliberation, and effective teamwork. One of the greatest challenges Betsy’s county now faces is the threat of multiple federal lawsuits for overcrowding in the county jail. As a citizen representative, Betsy has served for the past year and a half on various committees related to this issue, and her first official action as a Council member after being sworn in on January 7 was to attend jail tours in neighboring counties with her colleagues and ultimately to select an architect to build the county’s new jail. This is important work, and we applaud Betsy’s service to her community!
PhD candidate selected to 2020-21 Predoctoral Fellow
PhD candidate Nikki Orth has been selected to be a 2020-21 Predoctoral Fellow in the Center for Humanities and Information (CHI). This fellowship includes research funding and a yearlong teaching release to support her dissertation research. As a fellow, Nikki will have access to a range of resources provided by CHI, and she will participate in the intellectual life of the Center. Nikki is part of a select group of six fellows, who were competitively selected from applicants across the humanities.
First graduate from Organizational and Professional Communication through World Campus
The Department graduated its first student earning the BA in Organizational and Professional Communication through World Campus. Barbara Van’s journey exemplifies how World Campus can help people achieve their educational goals: https://news.psu.edu/story/603267/2020/01/08/student-success/world-campus-student-earns-degree-first-communication Armed with insights about communication in the workplace, Barbara’s next goal is to work in the nonprofit sector. Good luck, Barbara, on the next phase of your journey!
PhD Student recognized by STAR
PhD student Kasey Foley was awarded the Superior Teaching and Research (STAR) Award from the College of Liberal Arts. Kasey’s research examines interpersonal communication in health contexts, with a focus on strategic messaging to educate, motivate, and support public engagement in health issues. Funding provided by the award will be used in the development and testing of training modules that support primary care providers in their efforts to promote antibiotic stewardship. These will include theory-based modules on: (a) explaining a viral diagnosis, (b) conveying the risks of antibiotics, (c) advising on symptom relief, (d) providing emotional support, and (e) communicating about health with emerging adult patient populations. Congratulations, Kasey!