Department News and Research

Meet Our Newest Faculty Member: Gabriela Morales

Gabriela Morales will be joining the Department of Communication Studies at New Mexico State University this Fall 2020 semester. Gabriela’s research focuses on addressing health disparities and social determinants of health, intersectionality of health, underrepresented narratives, and health promotion. Courses taught by Gabriela include Principles of Human Communication and Communication and Culture. Welcome Gabriela!


Meet Our Newest Faculty Member: Sangwon Lee

Sangwon Lee will be joining the Department of Communication Studies at New Mexico State University this Fall 2020 semester. Sangwon’s research focuses include Digital/Social Media and Political Communication. Courses taught by Sangwon include Persuasion, Research Methods, Group Discussion, Communication Theory and Discovery, and Political Communication. Outside of academia, Sangwon loves to play tennis and is a father of a three-year-old girl. Welcome Sangwon!


Five Graduating Communication Studies Students Receive Outstanding Achievement Awards

Tiana Roebuck received the Communication Studies Excellence in Graduate Study Award. Tiana received this award because of her outstanding academic achievements and contributions in research and course work within the Department of Communication Studies.
Lanie O’Hea received the Communication Studies Outstanding Graduate Student Award. Lanie earned this award because of her outstanding academic success, accomplishments, service, and hard work in the Department of Communication Studies.
Caroline Rodriguez received the Communication Studies Excellence in Graduate Study Award. Caroline earned this award because of her outstanding academic achievements and contributions in research and course work within the Department of Communication Studies.
Claudia DeJesus received the Blaine Goss Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Graduate Award. Claudia earned these awards because of her outstanding academic success, contributions to the Department of Communication Studies, and dedication as a Teaching Assistant in the course Communication 265G.
Fallon Murpy received the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Student Service Award. Fallon earned this award because of her outstanding service to the betterment of the university community and for her efforts beyond the classroom. Fallon has demonstrated unique contributions and sustained service that will leave a lasting impact on the university community.


Guilty Pleasure? Communicating Sexually Explicit Content on Dating Apps and Disillusionment with App Usage

Sylvia Niehuis, Alan Reifman, Dana A Weiser, Narissra M Punyanunt-Carter, Jeanne Flora, Vladimir S Arias, C Rebecca Oldham

Human Communication Research, Volume 46, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 55–85,

Dr. Jeanne Flora, along with colleagues, published a research paper on communicating sexually explicit content on dating apps and disillusionment with app usage in the 46th volume of Human Communication Research. The study looks at how some people send or receive sexually explicit images or messages when using dating apps. Seeing unwanted content may produce adverse effects and disillusion among some users. 



Communication Studies Alum Jennifer Cervantes is a New York Times Best-Selling Author 

Jennifer Cervantes (BA Communication Studies) is the author of the New York Times Best-Selling book The Storm Runner, a middle age children’s book highlighting the adventures of a young New Mexican boy named Zane and his dog, Rosie. Read more about Jennifer Cervantes and her accomplishments here.




Dr. Anne Hubbell’s book chapter on Organizational Deception recently published in The Palgrave Handbook of Deceptive Communication.

The Palgrave Handbook of Deceptive Communication (2019) brings together more than 100 scholars from an array of fields to unravel the topic of lying and deception in human interaction. This interdisciplinary handbook explores historical and theoretical perspectives on deception, cultural and ethical dimensions of deceptive communication, and strategies for detecting and deterring deceit. Truth-telling, lies, and the many gray areas in-between are examined in the contexts of identity formation, interpersonal relationships, groups and organizations, social and mass media, marketing, advertising, law enforcement interrogations, court, politics, and propaganda.The Palgrave Handbook of Deceptive Communication is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, academics, researchers, practitioners, and anyone interested in the pervasive nature of truth, deception, and ethics in the modern world. To learn more about the text, click here.





Dr. Jeanne Flora, along with Dr. Chris Segrin (University of Arizona), recently published Family Communication (3rd ed.) 

Family Communication carefully examines state-of-the art research and theories of family communication and family relationships. In this edition, Dr. Flora and Dr. Segrin address long standing questions regarding marriage, stepfamilies, and parent-child relationships while also exploring new research on romantic relationship pathways, same-sex marriage and divorce, parenting trends, as well as military families, adoptive families, and families with a transgender member. This text will be useful for students and teachers of family communication, as well as for professionals who work with families and seek an evidence-based understanding of functional and dysfunctional family processes. To learn more about the text, click here.





Communication Studies Alum Farzaneh Karimkhan Will Present Thesis Research at International Communication Conference in May

Congratulations to Farzaneh Karimkhan, an alum of the Communication Studies program who graduated with her Master’s Degree in 2018. Her master’s thesis “Correlation between Exposure to Cosmetic Related Content on Instagram and Young Female’s Self-Esteem Level” was accepted into ICA (International Communication Association conference) and she will be presenting it in Washington D.C in May 2019. Dr. Kenneth Hacker was her advisor and mentor for this project.





Dr. Jeanne Flora’s research on Tinder (conducted with colleagues from Texas Tech University) earned Top Paper Award at Western States Communication Association conference in February.

Dr. Flora’s research paper with colleagues from Texas Tech entitled “Guilty pleasure? Communicating sexually explicit content on dating apps and attitudes toward the self, other people, and marriage” was named as a Top 4 Paper in the Interpersonal Communication division at the upcoming Western States Communication Association conference.  The team will present their research at the conference, which will be held February 23-25 in Seattle, WA.




Dr. Hacker Served as Mentor in 2018 Domenici Institute Student Scholars Program

In Fall 2018, Dr. Hacker was a mentor in the Domenici Institute Student Scholars program. He was a policy mentor to Government major Samantha Garza (to his right in the photo). Samantha’s policy paper concerns disinformation spread through social media networks. The scholars and their mentors were recognized at the Board of Regents meeting on Friday, December 7, 2018.





Dr. Eric Morgan Receives Outstanding Faculty Award for his Faculty-Led International Program  

In April, NMSU’s Office of Education Abroad participated in the Portland State University Symposium on International Faculty-Led Programs (FLIP). At the Symposium, Dr. Eric Morgan and Dr. Dan Dugas (Department of Geography) were honored as Outstanding Faculty for their Culture, Place, & Communication in Ireland FLIP program. 






Department of Communication Studies Hosted Screening of Tickling Giants.  

On April 25th, the Communication Studies Graduate Student Association (CSGSA) and Undergraduate Communication Club (Lambda Pi Eta) hosted a screening of the 2017 documentary Ticking Giants. The documentary tells the story of Dr. Bassem Youssef, known as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart,” who decides to abandon his career as a heart surgeon and become a late-night comedian. Tickling Giants covers Youssef’s journey from surgeon to renowned political satirist, and shows how he uses creative, non-violent ways to protect free speech and fight a president who abuses his power. Learn more about this powerful and timely documentary here.





Communication Studies Alumni Are Published Authors 

Check out these published works written by our talented Communication Studies alumni! 
Merj Hemp (MA, 2009): Beyond the Shadow of 3,000 Pairs of Shoes: A Story of Hopelessness, Persistence, and Survival 
Valerie Day-Sánchez (BA, 2008; MA, 2010): Harlow Whittaker and the Soothsayers 
Blessed Ngoe (MA, Fall 2018): The Sinking Ship: A Critical Analysis of Multiculturalism in Postcolonial Cameroon




Dr. Ken Hacker’s New Book Internet and Democracy in the Network Society Released in June 2018 

In their latest collaboration, authors Dr. Ken Hacker and Dr. Jan A.G.M. van Dijk discuss the political importance of new technologies for the promotion of democracy over the last two decades. Designed to encourage critical thinking regarding the relationship between digital media and politics, Internet and Democracy in the Network Society is a helpful resource for students and scholars of communication studies, political science, sociology, political communication, and international relations. Read more about the book here.






Dr. Eric Morgan Co-Edited Recently Published Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice

Dr. Eric Morgan, along with colleagues Dr. Tema Milstein and Dr. Mairi Pileggi, recently co-edited a volume of Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice, an important resource for helping educators, practitioners, and students effectively navigate and consciously contribute to the communication shaping our environmental present and future. Read the editors’ interview with Routledge here and learn more about the book here.








NMSU Research Shows That Technology May Speed Political Polarization

A recent study led by former NMSU Communication Studies Assistant Professor Ivan Dylko (left) and NMSU Psychology Associate Professor Dr. Igor Doglov discovered that customization technology may be increasing political selective exposure. Read more. 




Research Explores How Adult Siblings Use Stories to Cope with the Challenges of Caring for Aging Parents

Research by Dr. Danielle Halliwell and colleagues shows that creating positive caregiving narratives can help adult children better adapt to the demands of caring for an aging parent and improve their sibling relationships. Read More.




Communication Studies MA Student Blessed E. Ngoe Presented on Political Unrest in Cameroon

Blessed E. Ngoe is the author of The Sinking Ship: A Critical Analysis of Multiculturalism in Postcolonial Cameroon and is currently pursuing his MA in Communication Studies and National Security at NMSU. In March 2018, he discussed what has become known as the Anglophone Cameroon Problem, and offered suggestions for the containment of a growing humanitarian and political malaise that is detrimental to Cameroon and its neighbors.




New Year, New Name: The “Speech” Building is Now the “Communication Sciences” Building

Dr. Hacker is pleased to announce that by working with some really great people on campus, he was able to move forward with getting the “Speech” Building renamed as the “Communication Sciences” Building. Many thanks go the university architect Heather Watenpaugh, Dean Enrico Pontelli (Arts and Sciences), Dean Don Pope-Davis (Education), Dr. Victoria White (Communication Disorders department), and the university Naming Committee. This gives the two departments in the building (Communication Studies; Special Education and Communication Disorders) more accurate and up-to-date signage. 



S.P.A.C.E. Project Hosts Forum on Controversial Statues in the US

Department of Communication Studies

In November 2017, the S.P.A.C.E. (Spreading Peace and Countering Extremism) Project, developed by Dr. Hacker and his Political Communication students, sponsored a forum on controversial statues in America. The purpose of the forum, which included a panel consisting of NMSU professors, was to promote an open and peaceful discussion about this current issue.

The S.P.A.C.E. project was also featured on KRWG radio in May 2017 and in the Las Cruces Sun-News in June 2017. Learn more about the S.P.A.C.E. Movement here!


Comm Studies Alum Shared her Insights from the CDC

Michelle Johns (BA, 97; MA, 99) is as a health communication specialist for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s office in Atlanta, GA. On September 21st, 2017, she discussed her expertise related to health communication and persuasion, as well as her work on the successful National Tobacco Education Campaign entitled Tips From Former Smokers. Michelle credits much of her professional success to the lessons she learned in the Department of Communication Studies at NMSU.



Comm Studies Establishes Undergraduate Honor Society

Lambda Pi Eta 

The Department of Communication Studies established the Alpha Chi Rho Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta during the Fall 2017 semester.  Learn more about the organization here




Helping the Community through Experiential Learning

Department of Communication Studies

Mike Halliwell’s Spring 2017 Persuasion Theory class developed persuasive campaigns to raise money for local charities. Read more about their experiential learning projects here.  


Ahmed Dadzie wins Dean’s Graduate Award for Excellence

College of Arts and Sciences 

Communication Studies MA student Ahmed Dadzie received the Spring 2017 Dean’s Graduate Award for Excellence. The award is presented to a graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences who exemplifies exceptional academic achievement, integrity, leadership, and service to the NMSU community. Ahmed is a Spring 2017 graduate of the Communication Studies MA program.  


Merj Hemp is Passionate about Making a Difference

Communication Studies Alumna is successful author, motivational speaker, and community engagement specialist

After graduating from NMSU, Merj created the Complicated Conversations Post-9/11 Project, a self-funded program in which she engages members of different communities in difficult conversations about the most pressing issues facing Americans and people around the world today. Among her most notable accomplishments are her Let’s Talk (It’s Time America) podcast and her #jump4thevets skydiving events.


In Fall 2016, NMSU hosted HARVEST: An evening of song, dance, and ceremony with Robert Mirabal.

Mirabal, a Pueblo musician from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, is a two-time Grammy winner and a world-renowned Native American flute player. The event was sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the Department of Communication Studies, the Department of Music, and the Military and Veterans Program. Video by Michael Vigil


Community Service in the Communication Studies Department