Recent Graduates

Michael T. Braun is a research specialist at the Children and Family Research Center, part of the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on child and family welfare through the lens of family communication and communication technology use. He has three degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison: a BA in English literature, an MA in Communication Arts, and a PhD in Communication Arts with a minor in Education Psychology (statistical methods). Dr. Braun’s specific research considers the role digital literacy plays in online child welfare; with his advisor Lyn Van Swol, he has also published extensively in the field of deception and hopes to continue this line of inquiry in a social work context.

Cassandra Carlson is currently a faculty member the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. She graduated from UW Madison with her Ph.D. in Communication Arts and a minor in Education Psychology Statistical Methods. She received her M.A. from CSU-Fullerton where her research in pedagogical practices led to consultant-reviewing and the development of the online companion site materials for O’Hair and Wiemann’s (2012) basic course textbook Real Communication. Her research examines communication approaches to perception, decision-making, and empathic perspective-taking, particularly in the interpersonal persuasion processes of parental advice-giving, group deliberation, and online social networking.

Alexander Harwood completed his M.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His master’s thesis,”Do people defend their worldview when there will be no world left to defend?”, explored terror management theory in the context of an apocalypse.

Gang Jing received his M.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research explored the potential discursive nature of and expression pluralism on Sina Weibo. His work was published in the Asian Journal of Communication, and he was the recipient of the 2012 Summer UW-Madison Chancellor’s Fellowship.

Valerie Kretz is an Assistant Professor at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin. She is interested in the socializing effects of entertainment media and the advertisements that accompany it. She particularly focuses on media’s role in the cultural construction of gender, race, and relationships.

Gayathri Sivakumar is an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University. Her dissertation examined the effects of exposure to online health information on people’s beliefs, compliance, and trustsivakumar-small in their doctors. She was involved in a study with Marie-Louise Mares and Laura Stephenson on children’s understandings of race and ethnicity. Additionally, she worked with Wenjie Yan at identifying the factors that influence the quality of political discussions in online sports forums.

Wenjie Yan  is an assistant professor at Washington State University. Generally interested in the interplay between media effects, psychological impact and citizen yan-smallparticipation, she was actively involved in a number of CCR research projects on civic engagement in the contexts of both the U.S. and Chinese societies. Her dissertation investigated how the differences in public opinions and ideologies affect deliberative engagement via individuals’ egocentric attributions of bias to others.

Jiawen Zheng received her PhD from the Department of Communication Arts with an Master degree in Communication Studies from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Her research interests center on two lines of issues. The first line is along such subjects as deliberative democracy, information processing and people’s epistemic motivation, while the other line of interests deal with new media technology and its potential impacts on participation, in a broad sense, especially in the Chinese context.