Research and Community Outreach

Support cutting edge research and programs that bring together research and application. Here are some examples of faculty research projects. 

Research and Programs on Health, Communication, and Emotion. Robin Nabi, Ph.D. seeks to bring together scholars from across campus to address the critical role communication plays in the context of pressing health issues (e.g., obesity, autism, cancer, heart disease). This interdisciplinary initiative would examine a range of communication contexts, including new media and health, doctor-patient communication, and familial dynamics with a specific emphasis on the emotional issues fundamental to these health dynamics with the ultimate goal of contributing to the public dialogue on generating a healthier society.  The research group seeks initial funding of $50,000. Research would probe how emotions can affect health; for example:

  • How does emotional news coverage of health issues (unrealistically hopeful or unnecessarily fearful) influence people’s health knowledge, attitudes, and behavior as well as public perception of science?
  • In what ways do people use social networking sites to solicit emotional support, and how does such support influence users’ psychological well-being?
  • How can positive emotions (hope, amusement, gratitude) be used in health communication campaigns to both motivate healthy behaviors and encourage people to share health messages with others?

Research and Programs on Children and Contemporary Media.  René Weber, Ph.D. and his Cognitive Communication Science Research Lab, are seeking funds for research on Children and 

Contemporary Media. They seek funding for studies that unite state-of-the-art media-research in children and young adults with modern brain science. The research group seeks initial funding of $300,000 for the initial two years. Research questions they would like to pursue include:

  • Does the world of Facebook, Google, and Twitter change how children and young adults´ brains process information?
  • Is video game addiction real? Does it lead to changes in brain chemistry (as other addictions)?
  • How can findings from media-research and brain science help parents and policy-makers in their decisions?

Research and Programs on Aging in Society. Howard Giles, Ph.D., and several others researchers seek to form a research group focused on Aging. Globally, the number of elders is increasing exponentially and in ways the World Economic Forum recently underscored (February 2012) needs to be elevated to a social policy priority.  Past U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan, when recognizing this same international unpreparedness in 1999 and talking to the implications for people of ever-increasing (and oftentimes unanticipated) longevity, wrote that “life is becoming less of a sprint…and more like a marathon!”  Anan designated that year as the International Year of the Elderly and set up an interdisciplinary Taskforce to comprehensively investigate the social impact of these demographic trends.  While other social sciences were brought into this fold, the relevance of Communication has received virtually no attention.  As researchers in this area, our premise is that “successful aging is not so much about age being in the mind or how old you feel as it is about how you communicate and are communicated to.” The research group seeks initial funding of $50,000. The research group intends to study these and other concerns:

  • How do individuals adjust their communication when they speak to “elderly” adults? How is that communication influenced by the elderly individual’s gender, ethnicity, class, social network and appearance of health?
  • At what point in life do individuals begin to receive communication that has been adjusted to accommodate their relative elderly status? Does it begin as early as middle age?
  • How can elderly individuals adjust their communication to attenuate potentially negative communication and its effects?

Research and Engagement in Organizational Social Responsibility. Cynthia Stohl, Ph.D. and Michael Stohl, Ph.D. Partnerships and dialogue among governmental and nongovernmental/non-profit organizations, corporations, and local businesses are the cornerstone of community efforts to address social problems. Our goal is to enhance a program that 1) identifies the communication factors of partnership success, 2) develops communicative indicators of organizational social responsibility and 3) provides support to local organizations in planning and carrying out collaborations. The program seeks funding of $100,000 to support graduate students for site travel and summer support.

Communication, Technology, and Organization Speaker Series.  Become the named sponsor of a distinguished speaker series on Communication, Technology and Organizations that would bring together world class scholars from multiple disciplines and CEOs/CIOs of global technology organizations.  Organized by David Seibold, Ph.D. these talks will be at the intersection of communication, technological advances, and organizational science, and would bring in stunning speakers that anyone from San Diego to Silicon Valley would come to hear—including alumni who are in tech firms. The program seeks $30,000 in annual funding for five years.