Collaborating to Influence Communication Research Worldwide

Posted on: February 25, 2014

Maria-WPGuest Blog by Maria Lapinski, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research

CAS faculty work collaboratively with researchers and communities across Michigan State University and the world to research key questions in communication. Through these efforts, often supported by public and private funders, our faculty accomplish life-changing work and lead the field in innovation. Recent successes include Rick Wash, Serena Carpenter, Jim Dearing and Johannes Bauer who have received awards to support their research endeavors.

The grants awarded include:

  • Rick Wash, National Science Foundation CAREER grant to examine "Mental Models and Critical Mass: Shaping the Success of Online Communities."
  • Serena Carpenter, Arthur W. Page Center Award Grant to examine "Professional Social Media Communicator Roles: An Examination of Perceptions, Conflict and Identity."
  • Jim Dearing continues his work with the National Cancer Institute and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado.
  • Johannes Bauer was awarded a subcontract to work with the Department of Defense Analytic Services Inc.

Already this year, CAS faculty have published important works encompassing a variety of research topics - all poised to change the way that we think about communication. For example, CAS faculty have collaborated with researchers at MSU and around the world to publish the following:

  • Shelia Cotten, Science Direct, "Does technology empower urban youth? The relationship of technology use to self-efficacy."
  • Elizabeth Quilliam and Nora Rifon, Internet Research, "Characteristics of food advergames that reach children and the nutrient quality of the foods they advertise."
  • Rabindra "Robby" Ratan, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, "Why We Distort in Self-Report: Predictors of Self-Report Errors in Video Game Play."
  • Robert LaRose, New Media & Society, "Youth collective activism through social media: The role of collective efficacy."
  • Amanda Holmstrom, Human Communication Research, "Problem-Focused Content in the Job Search: Two Tests of the Cognitive-Emotional Theory of Esteem Support Messages."
  • Rick Wash, CSCW '14, "Coordinating Donors on Crowdfunding Websites."
  • Bruno Takahashi, Environment & Behavior, "Predictors of Pro-Environmental Behavior in Rural American Communities."

Another active venue for collaboration on our campus is an initiative called Trifecta. Trifecta fosters cutting-edge interdisciplinary research by building relationships between world-renowned experts across colleges at MSU. The initiative facilitates connections among researchers in the MSU Colleges of CAS, Engineering, and Nursing. Through these connections, Trifecta convenes innovative research on communication, engineering and nursing to collaboratively advance the delivery of health services for underserved populations.

This year, nine Trifecta Intellectual Leaders (TIL) are leading their colleges toward maximizing the full potential for interdisciplinary research at MSU. The inaugural group of Trifecta Intellectual Leaders includes: CAS faculty Shelia Cotten, Jina Huh and Wei Peng; Engineering faculty Evangelyn Alocilja, Subir Biswas and Karim Oweiss; and Nursing faculty Kelly Brittain, Mildred Horodynski and Amber Vermeesch.

These faculty are working on many exciting research projects that embody the collaborative spirit of Trifecta. One example is "Using Technology to Enhance Quality of Life," a project lead by Dr. Shelia Cotten. This project showcases the connectivity of Trifecta as it engages researchers in CAS, Engineering and Nursing to study the way older adults use the Internet. The project teaches older adults who live in an assisted living care facility computer basics, as well as how to utilize Internet applications. The goal is to create a new way for seniors to monitor their health within their residential environments.

On the other end of the age spectrum, TIL Wei Peng is working on a gamified approach to promoting physical activity among children and their families. One aim of the project is to deliver information about healthy eating and physical activity through: sensor data from Fitbit, team competitions, social networking and social support. The project is a unique approach to delivering health-related information via innovations in technology and communications.

Trifecta is hosting monthly events to help faculty learn more about interdisciplinary research and to identify people with whom they might partner on projects. The March Trifecta event will be a brownbag lunch on Friday, March 14, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. in Room 207 of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences Building. The March topic will be writing grant proposals and understanding the skills specific to writing proposals for interdisciplinary research. To learn more about this topic and the Trifecta initiative, please email or visit our website at All faculty and grad students are encouraged to attend.

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