Graduate Alumni Profiles - 2016-2020


Jacob T. Fisher

Assistant Professor, College of Media, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Jacob Fisher received his Ph.D. from the Department of Communication in 2020 (M.A. Texas Tech University). He is currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Media at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research leverages brain imaging, computational methods, and behavioral experiments to investigate how the design of digital technologies influences our attention and self-control. Jacob’s research has appeared in Journal of Communication, Communication Monographs, Behavior Research Methods, and other top journals in communication, media, and psychology research.

Avigail McClelland-Cohen

Social Science & Humanities Teacher, The Buckley School - Los Angeles, California

Avi McClelland-Cohen’s research focused on organizational communication in the realm of grassroots political organizing. Specific topics included the communicative constitution of constituent-based civic organizations and the negotiation of shared identities among networked groups of social movement activists. While at UCSB she taught a range of classes in Communication and Writing and mentored a team of undergraduate research assistants. Her research team presented multiple conference papers and won a Top Student Paper Award at the National Communication Association in 2019 for a student-led project. Avi is now pursuing her passion for teaching as a Social Science and Humanities teacher at The Buckley School, a college preparatory school in Los Angeles.

Spencer Nicholls

Content Producer (Technology), LinkedIn Learning - Carpinteria, California

Spencer Nicholls currently works as a Content Producer in the technology library at LinkedIn Learning ( He works with instructors and subject matter experts to help take their expertise and translate it into high-quality, instructionally sound, and engaging videos that allow individuals build their understanding of technology, data science, security, and other systems through LinkedIn’s online learning platform.

Rachyl Pines

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biomedical Innovation for the Transplant Education and Resource Center - Los Angeles, California

Rachyl Pines is a Research Scientist at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. After completing her PhD in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation and University of California, Los Angeles under the direction of Dr. Amy Waterman. Rachyl conducts research in behavioral health, population health, pediatrics, and communication topic areas to improve patient education and care. Rachyl serves as an executive officer for the Intergroup Communication Interest Group for the International Communication Association, and for the International Association of Language and Social Psychology. 

Jiyoung Suh




Quinten Bernhold

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Quinten Bernhold received his Ph.D. from UCSB's Department of Communication in 2019. Broadly, his research focuses on family communication, intergenerational communication, and health communication. More specifically, he is interested in the ways in which older adults might optimize their successful aging through their interactions with a variety of relational partners, including romantic partners, children, and grandchildren.

Kathryn Harrison

User Experience Researcher, Blizzard Entertainment

Kathryn Harrison is a User Experience Researcher for the Corporate Applications team at Blizzard Entertainment. She works with a variety of teams to ensure that the company's internal tools work well for employees so that they can continue to create the amazing products that Blizzard is so well known for. Her team leads company-wide initiatives, aims to be a force for positive change, and directly impacts all employees by supporting them in the quest to deliver epic games. 

David Stamps

Assistant Professor, Manship School of Mass Communication Louisiana State University

David Stamps received his Ph.D. in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018 and his M.A. from California State University, Northridge in 2016. His research focuses on representations of marginalized groups in mass media and the impact of mass media imagery on audience members. David’s research appears in the Howard Journal of Communications, Communication Quarterly, and The Kentucky Journal of Communication. David has presented at several conferences including the National Communication Association, Broadcast Education Association, and Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture conference. David's published work includes, "The social construction of the African American family on broadcast television: A comparative content analysis of The Cosby Show and Blackish," in Howard Journal of Communication and multiple book chapters on race in media including the forthcoming book chapter titled "My Brother from Another Mother: Black Brotherhood in Martin, The Wayans Bros., and Malcolm & Eddie" in Representations of African American Professionals on TV Series Since the 1990s (McFarland Press). A former public relations/media practitioner and grant writer, he also holds a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. You can find him on Twitter at @dlsdanz2.

Nicole Zamanzadeh

Nicole Zamanzadeh (she/her/hers) is a User Experience (UX) Survey Methodologist at Facebook. Today, Nicole serves as a survey expert, working with various teams to help Facebook understand people's attitudes, perceptions and sentiment through developing methodologically robust survey instruments. She received both her MA (2016) and PhD (2019) in Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, focusing at the intersection of stress, family dynamics, and media use and earning an emphasis in Quantitative Methods & Social Sciences (QMSS) for her interests in measure development and validation. Her dissertation funded by the Arthur Rupe Foundation validated an ecological momentary assessment instrument, the Media Multitasking Intensity Questionnaire (MMTIQ), among parents and teenagers, which won ICA's Dordick Dissertation Award in 2020.


Andrea Figueroa Caballero

Assistant Professor, University of Missouri


Abel Gustafson

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Yale University

Abel received his PhD in Communication from UCSB (2018), his MA from the University of Hawaii (2013), and his BA from the University of Minnesota-Duluth (2011). During his time as a graduate student, his research focused on science communication, environmental communication, persuasion, social influence, cognitive psychology, and public opinion. His dissertation, under the guidance of Dr. Ron Rice, developed a new conceptual structure of distinct types of uncertainty frames in science communication and tested their effects on attitudes and behaviors in topics like climate change and GMO foods. He continues to study how, in many topics, the norms of public science communication and inherent elements of cognitive psychology combine to create persistent barriers between science and the public.

Ben H. Smith

California State University, East Bay



Aubrie Adams

Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Aubrie Adams (Brie) received her PhD from UCSB (2017) and M.A. from Sacramento State University (2013). Brie’s research focuses on the intersection of New Media and Interpersonal Communication with an emphasis in the influence of technology on society.  Her thesis examined student perceptions of teachers utilizing emoticons and her dissertation assessed a digital learning game, VERITAS, which was designed to teach law enforcement officers deception detection skills.  Brie was the recipient of the UCSB GSA Excellence in Teaching Award (2016) and the Dean’s Mentoring Award (2017).  Her research has been featured on 4 separate top-paper panels at regional and national communication conferences.  She has worked as a co-editor for two edited book collections published by Rowman & Littlefield Education: 100 Greatest Video Games Franchises and 100 Greatest Video Game Characters. These collections explore the ways that video game franchises/characters influence how people live and play.  Brie also served as the Chair of the Communication and the Future Division of the National Communication Association.  At Cal Poly, she teaches courses in areas such as Communication Theory and Media Effects.
Becky Robinson Ford

Becky is a research project manager at the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute, the research arm of the county hospital in Minneapolis, MN.  She works with a team researching team working on projects related to equity in access health care, particularly in the context of housing stability and criminal justice involvement. Becky is interested in cross-sector data analysis that can be used inform evidence-based practice in health care and public policy.

Kristin Hocevar

Lecturer in Public Health, University of California at Merced

Kristin Hocevar received her PhD and MA in Communication from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and her BA (magna cum laude) from Connecticut College. She has worked in television, documentary film, and web production for multiple Public Broadcasting Service stations and affiliated organizations, and has also worked in institutional advancement and strategic communication research for the United States Department of Defense. Her current research focuses on online health information sharing, selection, and evaluation, and the social and health implications of the interactions, communities, and pooled information facilitated by the Internet. Kristin teaches classes on the topics of persuasion/behavior change, health communication, health promotion, and digital media/communication technology.

Lauren Keblusek

Lauren is interested in the intersection of evolutionary theory and human communication, with a focus on indirect or social forms of aggression, including gossip. Her dissertation examines conditions under which the perceived juiciness and maliciousness of gossip--along with one's memory for gossip and their likelihood of sharing it with others--might be heightened or reduced. Lauren received a B.A. in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (with an emphasis in language and cognition) at Washington University in St. Louis and an M.A. in Communication from UCSB. She currently lives in Seattle, WA. 
Samantha Rae Powers
Assistant Professor, Strategic, Legal and Management Communication, Cathy Hughes School of Communications, Howard University
Samantha earned her B.S., M.A., and J.D. at University of Florida and is a licensed attorney in Florida, where she practiced employment law and consumer financial services litigation for seven years prior to her doctoral studies at UCSB.  Her scholarship is interdisciplinary, drawing upon research in organizational, health, and interpersonal communication, as well as organizational psychology and management.  Her research interests include occupational stress and well-being, work-related emotional communication, vocational and organizational socialization, and workplace discrimination in professional institutions and occupations, as well as gender differences in conflict transformation and negotiation.

DaJung "DJ" Woo

Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Studies, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville 

DJ received her PhD in Communication from UCSB, MA from Kansas State University, and BA from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. Broadly, DJ's research interests focus on how people from different groups and organizations can learn to work together successfully despite their differences. Her dissertation examined the ways in which organizations from diverse fields and sectors initiate, maintain, and end collaborative relationships through communication in regional planning processes. At The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, she teaches courses in areas such as Communication Theory and Organizational Communication. 


Kimberly Walsh McDermott

Research Leader, Truven Health Analytics, an IBM Company, Santa Barbara, CA

Kim received her PhD from UCSB (2016) and her MA from UMass Amherst (2012). Broadly, Kim's research interests surround children, adolescents, and the media. During her graduate school career, she studied representations of school bullying in entertainment and news media; implemented and evaluated K-12 media literacy interventions; and conducted experiments related to the effects of stereotypical media depictions. Her dissertation focused on television depictions of illicit drug use. Specifically, the study assessed the role of audience interpretations in predicting attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions related to cocaine. Now, as a health services researcher, Kim applies her background and experience to large-scale research studies for the Federal Government and State agencies.

Richard Huskey

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of California Davis

Richard's research lies at the intersection of media psychology and cognitive neuroscience with a particular focus on understanding how media content influence human cognition and behavior. This emerging research area is known as Media Neuroscience. As a media neuroscientist, Richard adopts a multi-level perspective that understands the mind (and the communication phenomena it enables) as a physical property of the brain. Accordingly, Richard's use of neuroscientific research techniques complements existing measures by providing an additional level of explanation for communication processing and behavior (e.g., sociocultural, individual, biological, chemical, physical). It is from this perspective that Richard's research investigates three core topics: motivation and media engagement, attitude and behavior change, and the influence of moral narratives.