cantor-smallJoanne Cantor (Emeritus) is an internationally recognized expert on the psychology of media and communications. Her innovative Evaluation Research helps organizations develop programs that demonstrably achieve their educational goals and change attitudes in positive directions. Her Academic Research on cognitive and affective responses to media (especially among children) advances theory, while having immediate practical applications as well. Her Presentations to help people get more done, boost their creativity, and reduce stress and burnout.


mares-smallMarie-Louise Mares is Director of the Center for Communication Research, a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts,and a member of the Wisconsin Initiative for Media and the Developing Mind (WIMDM). Her research interests focus on life-span developmental changes in media preferences, interpretations, and learning.  Her current work on older adults examines changes in affective preferences; her work with children examines responses to educational and prosocial media content.


zhongdong-smallZhondang Pan is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts.  His research is on news framing, media effects on public opinion, media representations and civic engagement, with a particular attention to China.  He is currently working on several projects, including one on perceiving others’ biases as a biasing factor in anticipating deliberative engagement and two surveys on media consumption and mediated public engagement in China.


vanswol-smallLyn M. Van Swol is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts. Her research examines the interplay between communication and influence.  One line of research examines how advisors can communicate to increase the utilization of their advice.  Other research examines how group members with extreme opinions communicate and what types of information and discussion may moderate or exacerbate extremity.  Finally, I am studying deception, especially factors related to the decision to deceive another person and how to communicate that deception.



Catalina Toma is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts. Her research examines how people understand and relate to another when interacting via new communication technologies (e.g., online dating, social network sites, email). She focuses on relational processes such as impression management and formation, deception, trust, interpersonal attraction, and emotional well-being.


xenos-smallMichael Xenos is a Professor of Communication Science and Chair of the Department of Communication Arts. He is also a member of UW-Madison’s Science, Media, and the
Public (SCIMEP)
research group. His current research projects explore the impact of digital media on a variety of democratic processes, with an emphasis on how these developments affect citizen engagement and participation.



bonusJames Alex Bonus studies children’s use and interpretation of educational media. In the summer of 2013, he interned as a research assistant at Sesame Workshop in New York City. While there, he gathered data for his Master’s thesis, which examines how children decide what’s real and pretend in an episode about Hispanic culture, and how their decisions influence their use of that information later.  His thesis was defended in May 2014 and was published in Communication Research in October 2015. In the summer of 2015, he published a paper as first author in Computers and Human Behavior about how video games can be used to manage negative emotions. He and graduate student Alanna Peebles currently have a fellowship through the Fred Rogers’ Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, which is funding a study exploring how touch screens can be used to aid children’s socio-emotional learning from animated cartoons. In Fall 2017, he will begin a faculty position in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University.

minaMina Choi is a PhD student with an M.A. from University of Wisconsin – Madison. The title of her Master’s thesis was “The patterns and effects of social sharing on media and Facebook.” She is leading a paper about the relationships between Narcissism and online self-presentational behaviors, especially on Facebook and online dating sites. Additionally, she is currently working on the project with her advisor, Catalina Toma, regarding the patterns and effects of media use between romantic partners. She has taught CA 368, Theory and practice of Persuasion, and CA 260, Communication and human behavior.

dangelo-small-blurJon D’Angelo is interested in the psychological impact of new communication technology, with an eye towards impression management and social influence in health contexts. He is lead author on “The Formation of Credibility Impressions of Physicians on Facebook and WebMD: Positivity, Negativity, and Non-normativity effects” which was recently published in Communication Research, and he was 2nd or 3rd author on papers published in Computers in Human Behavior, Psycho-Oncology, and Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. Additionally, he was 1 of 12 graduate students selected and funded from an international pool of over 100 to attend the Doctoral Workshop Developing Best Practices for Using Digital Tools to Study Human Behavior in Online Environments at Northwestern University.


Larisa Doroshenko is a Ph.D. student with a minor in political science and Master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Mid Sweden University. Her research encompasses areas of polarization and political participation with a special emphasis on comparative analysis across countries. She is currently working on two projects examining influence of online media on proliferation of extreme right parties in Western Europe and in Ukraine. Larisa presented her papers at the ICA conferences, as well as at international political communication workshops. She is an active member of the UW SCIMEP lab (Science, media, and public laboratory and has received grants from the Open Society Foundation and the Swedish Institute.

Miranda Kolb is a PhD student in the Department of Communication Arts under the mentorship of Professor Lyn Van Swol. She received her MA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2015. She is interested in small group communication, specifically interventions that help to improve discussion and decision making. Recent projects have been on topics such as information sharing, minority influence, and mindfulness. She is investigating how mindfulness interventions may help groups better pool and discuss information.

Yang Liu received his master degree in journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia in 2010. His theoretical interest focuses on the tension and relationships between the journalistic field as a terrain of power reproduction and journalism as a democratic instrument. On the empirical level, he is intrigued by citizen journalism, photojournalism and journalism ethics. His research has been published in the Chinese Journal of Communication, and presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conferences.

sangwonSangwon (相沅) Lee is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Arts, with a M.A. degree in communication from the Michigan State University, and a B.A. degree in communication from Korea University.  He is intrigued by the intersection of political communication and social media, more specifically, how social media changes the meaning of citizenship and the public sphere. His previous research focuses on the question of what motivates people to seek political information online, using the method of an online survey in Michigan.

Jihyun Esther Paik received her master’s degree in Communication at Michigan State University. Her main research interests lie in the field of interpersonal communication, which includes deception, advice seeking and upward feedback seeking.


peebles-smallAlanna Peebles is a graduate student under the mentorship of Marie-Louise Mares. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Highest Honors at the University of California, Santa Barbara in June 2013 with a bachelor’s in psychology. Her main interest revolves around children and media: what that means; what the associated good, bad, and complex consequences are; and how we can move forward from where we are today. In June 2014, she and James Bonus became the first researchers to be awarded The Fred Rogers Center Early Career Fellowship.

Andrew Prahlprahl-small asks the question: just how much do we trust computers? Specifically, how do we react when a computer gives us advice as opposed to a human? Andrew’s research primarily applies this research question to operational decision-making and human-computer relationships in organizations. His projects, with his advisor Lyn Van Swol, includes advice scenarios in sales forecasting, hospital operations, and automated workplaces.

ireneIrene Sarmiento is a graduate student under the mentorship of Catalina L. Toma, PhD.
She received her bachelor’s with honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in June 2014. While at UCSB, she completed a psychology honors thesis entitled ‘The Effects of Positive Emotions in Relation to Adaptive Coping Styles and Stressors.’ Her research interests are in interpersonal communication, specifically computer-mediated communication and romantic relationships.

stephenson-smallLaura Stephenson is a PhD candidate at UW-Madison with an M.A. from University of
Pennsylvania, Annenberg School. Her research focuses on the role of television in the home, specifically understanding parental mediation and the impact of family life stage. Her driving question is: how do parents use media within the home at different stages of their child(ren)’s development to strengthen the parent-child relationship. Currently, she is working on a project with Marie-Louise Mares, Amy Nathanson (The Ohio State University), and Nicole Martins (Indiana University) on parental conflict surrounding children’s media use. She continues to hold an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, given by the Graduate School. This competitive, merit-based fellowship is intended to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the graduate student population at UW-Madison.

Fangjing Tu is a PhD student under the mentorship of Professor Zhongdang Pan. She received her B.A. in journalism at Tsinghua University, China and holds an M.A in media studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research is broadly focused on the social influence of media in the digital age, such as the role of technological innovation in social change and in the transformation of the public sphere. While at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she plans to focus on environmental communication. She has a considerable interest in the following questions: how do social actors (e.g., NGO’s, media organizations. governments) form perceptions of China’s environmental issues? How do the interactions between various social actors shape their perceptions and actions towards the environment?