Studies in Interpersonal Communication Result in Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award

Posted on: May 8, 2017

The interest to pursue a career in interpersonal communication started at a young age for Samantha Shebib, whose ultimate goal was to be accepted into MSU’s Ph.D. Communication Program. Tracing back to personal experiences, Shebib connected immensely to the field of communication because it is relatable to every demographic.

Unknown“It has always been my dream to be a Spartan,” said Shebib. “I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with the impeccable faculty and students in the Department of Communication. It’s crazy to look back on all those years I put into it and to see my hard work pay off. It’s an extremely rewarding feeling.”

Shebib identifies herself as a post-positivist researcher who studies interpersonal/family communication, nonverbal communication, physiological responses, social support and most importantly, quantitative research methods. She has bounced around several different regions of the world to endure rigorous academic success, beginning with her Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University in May 2014, followed by her Master of Science in Communication Studies from Illinois State University in May 2016.

Most recently, Shebib received the Outstanding Master's Thesis award from the School of Communication at Illinois State University on April 17, 2017. The award is given each year to one student only and was designed to promote a high-quality master’s thesis. Shebib’s thesis was titled "Financial Conflict Messages and Marital Satisfaction: The Mediating Role of Financial Communication Satisfaction."

“At Illinois State, my advisor was Dr. William R. Cupach and my former committee member was Dr. Kevin Meyer, both who nominated me for this award,” explained Shebib. “My thesis was interested in examining the proposed mechanisms through which different financial conflict messages influence marital satisfaction, specifically through the mediating variable of financial communication satisfaction. This empirical work, and the work I continue to do at MSU, is aimed at constructing a theory in marital conflict.”

Shebib believes that marital conflict is an important area to study because of its impact on children that become exposed to it.

“Since conflict is inevitable in all relationships, a theoretical framework to understand why people engage in destructive and dysfunctional strategies when conflict occurs would be extremely beneficial and would add important insight when trying to make sense out of marital discord,” explained Shebib. “Not only do children exposed to marital conflict have a greater risk for a host of behavioral and emotional problems, but it also socializes children to handle conflict the way their parents handle conflict. If I can disentangle and make sense out of marital conflict, well, then I think I can tackle conflict in other relationships, too. Fingers crossed.”

By Emmy Virkus

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Speaking of Water: Celebrating World Water Day

Posted on: March 17, 2017

Senior Photographer

Join us in celebrating World Water Day at ComArtSci and WKAR with leading experts Joan Rose, Xiaobo Tan and Bruno Basso. Through a short speed talk and Q&A with the audience, each will share their research on water, from its effect on your health to how drones and robofish are helping make positive changes.

Following the talks, a distinguished lecture will be held by Menachem Elimelech, Roberto Goizueta Professor of Environmental and Chemical Engineering from Yale University. 

The afternoon session is moderated by Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

When: Wednesday, March 22 from 3-5 p.m.

Where: WKAR Studio A, Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Enter at the south lobby of ComArtSci Building, 404 Wilson Rd.

Parking is available in adjacent Trowbridge Ramp #5 1149 Red Cedar Road 48824

World Water Day is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.

At MSU, experts in water are tackling the biggest issues of our century: water and health, water and food, water and energy; addressing infrastructure, new technologies and data for better decision making to manage our water resources.

Can’t make the event in-person? We’ll be streaming live below and at

If the player does not connect, set your browser to allow the flash plug-in


Meet the Speakers

Joan Rose, College of Natural Resources, Fisheries & Wildlife

Joan Rose, Ph.D.
Toilet Talk
What happens to the flow when you go? Learn about the importance of water and its quality to our Earth. Rose will also discuss the lack of sanitation and the global stresses on the bio-health of our planet, as well as solutions to combat these issues.

Joan Rose is the 2016 recipient of the Stockholm Water Prize, the world's most prestigious water award. She is also the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research, Dept. of  Fisheries and Wildlife.

MSU College of Engineering. August, 20156

Xiaobo Tan, Ph.D.
Robofish: Make “Sense” of Water
MSU researchers are exploring the use of sensor-rich robofish for observing natural waters: feel the temperature, map harmful algae and even stalk invasive species. See the technology in-person, learn the challenges and hear Tan’s perspective on how robotics will shape our understanding of water in the future.

Xiaobo Tan is MSU Foundation Professor, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering

thumbnail 3.26.37 PMBruno Basso, Ph.D.
How are the plants doing? Ask the drone
Learn how researchers are using drones to measure plant health, nutrition, and water use by plants. The detection of water or nitrogen stress by drones can help improve food production and enhance the efficiency of water in agriculture.

Bruno Basso is University Foundation Professor, Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences.  His research focuses on integrating remote sensing technologies with crop simulation systems to enhance water and nutrient efficiency, and the sustainability of agricultural systems.

Presented by Water Moves MSU

Water Moves MSU is a campus-wide initiative to empower community action, inspire creativity, and instill a sense of urgency to respect and appreciate the most prevalent and precious resource on our planet.

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Senior obtains internship with Jackson National Life Insurance after working in student role

Posted on: March 10, 2017

After working for two and a half years at the Jackson Zone on Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, advertising senior Mitch Marier is now the corporate social responsibility intern at the Jackson National Life Insurance headquarters in Lansing.

“Shortly after I started working at thePicture1 Jackson Zone, I was assigned more responsibilities,” Marier said. “I started with entering data into their systems and the more comfortable I became, I started doing customer service calls. It was cool to get my hands on a variety of tasks and growing my skills in an area I never thought I would.”

Marier said while he worked at the Zone, he took advantage of their programs such as resume building and networking 101. They would often have leadership chats, where the executives from Jackson would come in and talk more about future career opportunities with their company.

“I definitely think Jackson’s career prep for students helped me tremendously in getting my first internship at the State of Michigan,” Marier said. “I gained experience at this first internship in writing and event planning, which I knew would translate well to the internship I have now with Jackson.”

“Jackson in Action” is Jackson’s internal volunteer team and it has its own email inbox. When people want to sign up for service projects, Marier is their point of contact. He also updates the internal website with content and writes recap stories, then shares them with the rest of the company to share all of the good work Jackson is doing.

Another part of the internship is promoting the volunteer events themselves. Marier’s last project was organizing Jackson volunteers for Impression 5 Science Center’s LEGOPalooza. Marier set up the schedule and was the main contact for Impression 5. Along with large events with local nonprofits, Marier also facilitates volunteering events such as cooking dinners at the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan or the Mother Theresa House in Lansing.

“I love going to these community events and seeing the people Jackson helps,” Marier said. “It’s amazing to actually see the tangible effects Jackson has on the Lansing community.”

Marier said seeing the financial impact that Jackson has on the community is one of his favorite parts of the internship.

“Seeing smiles on people's faces is so worth the work I do every day,” Marier said. “It’s great to be a part of a company that really cares about its community. Being from the area especially, it’s great to see how committed Jackson is to the Lansing region.”

Every two weeks Jackson also does a ‘jeans day.’ Everyone pays $5 each to wear jeans and each day it goes to a different charity. Marier always helps put together the promotional material for this and he also helps promote internal communications such as making posters of calendars with upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Currently, Marier is working on a story about the Jackson Zone. It’s about what the Zone does and how employees can work part-time and gain valuable business experience. The stories he writes go out to Jackson’s business partners, in the quarterly newsletter and Jackson’s website.

With a minor in public relations, Marier became heavily involved with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) his junior year. He was also on the media relations team of MSU’s student-run PR firm, Hubbell Connections. Marier learned of the internship with Jackson through the PRSSA weekly email blast.

“I definitely wouldn’t have gotten either of my internships without PRSSA,” Marier said. “Hubbell Connections is what I talked about in my interviews. These groups at MSU introduce you to what potential employers want from you and the portfolio you should have. They have definitely prepared me for interviews, internships and given me valuable writing samples for the future.”

By Meg Dedyne

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What's Your Social Media Strategy?

Posted on: February 7, 2017

Usage limited to World Wide Web and CMYK offset printing- NO photographic prints- Please email:AK@KesslerPhoto.Net to obtain archival prints: 4x6-     $2.50 5x7-     $12.00 8x10-   $22.00 11x14- $35.00 16x20- $60.00 20x24- $80.00 24x36-$100.00

Go beyond just using social. Help your company or organization thrive.

What is the most compelling piece of social media content you’ve shared this week? Was it a video? A picture? What about ads? What’s the most compelling advertisement that motivated you enough to either click or buy?

Social media, mobile and digital are no longer stand-alone tactics and have evolved quickly beyond their descriptive names to be integrated strategically into advertising, PR, media and the communication industries. Social media strategy has quickly become one of the most important ways to communicate.

Facts Don’t Lie
A recent study of social media research shows that there are two key factors driving the social web:

  • Mobile – people accessing the internet via mobile increased by 60.3% to 818.4 million between 2012 and 2014.
  • Older user adoption – on Twitter the 55-64 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic with 79% growth rate since 2012, while the fastest growing demographic on Facebook and Google+ is the 45-54 year age bracket.

Social Media Engagement


Photo Credit: Invesp

Social Media Trends That will take over in 2017

Knowing this, how would you say you’re leveraging mobile in your workplace? How about social adoption? How are you successfully leveraging social media and user data to help your company or organization thrive?

We understand social media is important. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn. But many companies use their corporate social channels in the same fashion that they use it personally. This doesn’t work.

No Clear Strategy
A recent study conducted by the Altimeter Group found that marketers from companies of all sizes, experience levels and positions shared the same struggle in accurately measuring the ROI for social media marketing. As a result, nearly half of the surveyed marketers are not purposefully measuring their social efforts. They also found the vast majority of brands don’t have a thoughtful social media measurement system in place.

If everyone is online and social, how can we effectively connect to them in ways that matter for our companies and organizations?

Dr. Saleem Alhabash has some ideas. One is to call out the elephant in the room. He says that some people are “excellent users, but poor strategic communicators using social media.” There has to be a way with resources and experience to move the needle towards taking what we naturally do on social media and making it matter for our intended audiences.

"The StratCom M.A. program really helps you conceptualize your work. You can still do okay with trial and error, but here you have excellent faculty that have already gone through this and also learned about it from a theoretical and methodological basis so they can really compile this into a number of courses you can take in a small packet and can use that to advance your professional career." - Dr. Saleem Alhabash

Learn More About Digital Media Strategy

Time to Practice
Part of the fabric of the StratCom M.A. program is the marriage of theoretical to practical. The program and faculty partner with students who are practicing to find a “sweet spot” of learning and practice. As you learn in the program, you can immediately practice what you’re learning in your workplace. It’s no longer theoretical. It’s both an on-demand learning and practice together.

 “There is no digital strategy, only strategy in a digital world.” - Bud Caddell

Learn how to apply a wide variety of strategic communication functions including digital and non-digital fundamental elements such as digital advertising, crisis communications, media relations, branding, corporate communications, employee communications, influencer targeting, content creation, curation, data analytics, ethics and more.

Take Action
Visit to learn more about the program including a weekly 30-minute informational webinar for details and additional resources.




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Information Regarding Immigration Executive Order

Posted on:

MSU Communications

MSU Resources

Additional Information


Ann M. Hoffman
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
(517) 432-4063

Kari Schueller Lopez
Director of Academic and Student Affairs
(517) 355-1794

Lauren Gaines McKenzie
Coordinator of Diversity & Multicultural Student Affairs
(517) 355-7499

Geri Alumit Zeldes, Ph.D.
Faculty Excellence Advocate (FEA)
(517) 432-1413

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Mid-Michigan Families stop by ComArtSci to help launch WKAR PBS Kids

Posted on: January 17, 2017

Photo Credit: Amanda Pinckney/WKAR-MSU

Roughly 1,500 people visited the WKAR Public Media studios at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences on Saturday, January 14 to celebrate the launch of a new, free, localized 24-hour kids channel and multiplatform services from WKAR Public Media. The channel, called WKAR PBS Kids, broadcasts PBS KIDS shows 24/7 with a particular focus on kids aged two through eight. The channel is now available for free over the air on channel 23.4 and through Comcast in the capital region, as well as live streaming through and on the PBS KIDS Video App.

Susi Elkins, interim director of Broadcasting and general manager of WKAR Public Media, spoke with MSU Today about the impact she hopes the channel will have.

“Research shows kids learn more when they’re co-viewing the content with an adult who takes them through the material. And most viewers are watching in the evening after work and sometimes even late at night. The viewing there is double what it is in the morning so we want to have the most impact where the viewers are,” said Elkins.

15995121_10158078246365501_1357942141831278310_oAt the kick-off event, children and families got their photo taken with Cat in the Hat, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Sparty. Many also explored and played science games at the Curious Crew station, touched real sheepskin and wool at the MSU Extension Science Work Group station, held snakes and saw an owl up close at the Potter Park Zoo station and did a science experiment at the Impression 5 station. Early Childhood Education experts and the Michigan Digital Library were also in attendance to answer questions and provide assistance to local families.

When it came time to introduce the channel and flip the switch, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon noted how important the new channel is to the mid-Michigan community and what viewers can expect, stating, “you’ll see content… built just for kids, at your disposal, any time of the day. We know your schedules are not all the same. It’s an encouragement for people to sit down together and learn together. The way we build a stronger community is for all of us (to work) together… and to make Lansing one of the best communities in the world for children.”

Jennifer English from PBS Kids spoke to the crowd about the partnership between PBS, MSU and WKAR. "At the core of what we do is research-based content that is designed to engage kids, not just through video, but also through digital learning. And that's also one of the reasons why we're excited to be part of this project with WKAR and with Michigan State."

16112719_10158078247210501_6423438802935513517_oKids from the WKAR original series Curious Crew helped Sparty flip the switch and officially turn on the channel. Now airing on channel 23.4 and Comcast, WKAR PBS Kids is available 24/7 for mid-Michigan families and anyone with access to a smartphone, tablet or computer.

In addition to the new channel, WKAR also launched WKAR Family, an initiative which brings together the resources of PBS Kids and MSU to provide free programming, technology and learning tools to kids and dedicate resources to researching early childhood development. Included in this effort is a new outreach and research effort that will put a PBS Kids tablet in the hands of every kindergartner in the Lansing School District.

“We believe it’s important for us to be on the cutting edge because our kids deserve it,” said Yvonne Caamal Canul, superintendent of the Lansing School District. “I’m on my 42nd year as an educator… and this is absolutely the most exciting year for me ever.”

Ultimately, it was made clear to the crowd that the biggest driving force for both WKAR Family and the WKAR PBS Kids channel was to help build strong families in mid-Michigan. Prabu David, dean of ComArtSci, told the audience, “We want to do something fun for kids, and parents and grandparents. Empowering kids to empower others.”

Joining the launch ceremony were April Clobes, President and CEO of MSU Federal Credit Union and Dr. Heather Adams of McLaren Greater Lansing. The new WKAR PBS Kids services are supported in part by MSFCU and McLaren.

Many partners and supporters were also in the crowd, including Rachel T.A. Croson, Dean, College of Social Science, Jeff Dwyer, Director, MSU Extension, Ann Austin,  Associate Dean for Research, College of Education, Dr. Joan Rose, Director, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Molecular Microbiology Laboratory, and State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr.

Watch the Sparty and the Curious Crew throw the switch on WKAR PBS Kids here: Celebrate! WKAR PBS Kids Launch

By Nikki W. O'Meara

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ComArtSci raises $5K with support of alumni and friends on Giving Tuesday 2016

Posted on: December 9, 2016


In the early morning hours of Nov. 29, the annual global day of giving began. For 24 hours, donations around the world poured in to support the causes that people care about, including support for academics and athletics at Michigan State University.

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, colleges across MSU’s campus combined efforts to collectively raise $100,000, with each college having their own personal goal to reach.

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences set out to raise $5,000 for the field experience courses offered to students. These courses and the trips that follow are a unique opportunity that allow students to travel to major U.S. cities including Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago for exclusive tours of world-renowned advertising agencies and corporate companies, networking events with professional mentors and Spartan alumni, and to explore the idea of making a move after graduation.

In June, Cheyenne Yost, a 2015 communication and public relations alumna, said her field experience in Los Angeles made her realize that L.A. was where she needed to be.

“The connections and experiences I established here (in Los Angeles) greatly influenced my decision to move out. I made some great friends on the trip that are also living out here now and I like to think of us as a Spartan family,” said Yost.

Thanks to the participation and kind donations of ComArtSci staff, faculty, alumni and friends, the college successfully reached its goal just before the close of the donation period.

“Experiential learning is integral to the student experience in our college,” said Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. “I was so pleased to see our alumni support our students on Giving Tuesday. Their support has opened the door for field experiences at cutting-edge media operations.”

WKAR was also a part of the action on Nov. 29 as they attempted to raise $4,000 to help fund student work experiences for ComArtSci students through various positions in their studios. These workers assist, and sometimes take the lead, with the station’s radio programs and television broadcasts, like Current Sports with Al Martin and Backstage Pass, doing camera work or writing scripts for the segments.

Journalism senior Isaac Constans called his internship at WKAR “the greatest working experience of my life.”  

Susi Elkins, WKAR’s interim director of broadcasting and general manager, recalled her own experience as a student working up the ladder in the broadcast industry.

I was one of those students who had an amazing opportunity that sent me on a path from student employee to station manager,” Elkins said. “As I celebrate 20 years with WKAR, I know today, more than ever, how important it is that we offer hands-on training for the storytellers of tomorrow. I’m grateful to those who have given financially to help us do that.”

While Giving Tuesday only comes around once a year, donations to the field experience fund and other resources, like study abroad, at ComArtSci or WKAR are graciously accepted all year round.

By Savannah Swix

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MSU Advertising alum holds a sweet and savory position with Frito-Lay

Posted on: November 28, 2016

Chris Kuechenmeister graduated from the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences in 1995 with a bachelor’s in advertising and a specialization in public relations. After spending his early career in agencies working with clients on corporate reputation and brand building projects, Kuechenmeister found his place with Frito-Lay, a sector of PepsiCo. Stationed in Dallas, he has been with Frito-Lay for 8 years, serving as the vice president of communications for the last two and a half years.

Before his current position, Kuechenmeister worked in Detroit in agencies that served the auto industry. He spent a few years in North and South Carolina agencies, as well as in a corporate communications role with Michelin. His last stop before Dallas was Los Angeles, where he spent six years working on the agency side of the industry.

“I feel the diversity of roles, responsibilities and work settings I’ve had helped prepare me for my current role,” said Kuechenmeister. “Having a multi-disciplined background provides a helpful foundation for the various twists and turns this career brings.”

Kuechenmeister says he has always been very open to new opportunities – a mindset that has helped advance his career. He says he aims to grow with each challenge.kuechenmeister-1

“When there are bumps in the road–which always come–I do my best to learn from each situation and apply it to my future,” said Kuechenmeister.

As the VP of Communications for Frito-Lay North America, he leads a team that manages all internal and external communications for the company, including external media relations for 30-plus brands, internal communications with 55,000 associates, community relations and more.

His fast-paced job also includes day-to-day tasks that vary from managing new product launches to generating media coverage.

“The variety keeps things interesting and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Kuechenmeister.

Since PepsiCo is a globally recognized organization, Kuechenmeister says, “the possibilities from a communications standpoint are endless.”

He works his hardest to remain thoughtful and structured while immersed in a leadership position that continually presents unforgettable opportunities.

Kuechenmeister says he has had many memorable experiences, but the best are those when he and his team can have a positive impact on the lives of consumers. One of these memorable experiences was during the Tostitos sponsored Fiesta Bowl.

“The brand‘s positioning was all around bringing people together to share memorable experiences, and we created a surprise reunion for some members of the military stationed in Iraq with their families back in the states,” said Kuechenmeister. “These families had been apart for several months and being involved with them reuniting was pretty special.”

Kuechenmeister continues to be inspired by his organization and all the people in it. And as a consumer, Kuechenmeister says his favorite Frito-Lay product is Wasabi Ginger Lay’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.

“The people at Frito-Lay and PepsiCo are committed to doing the best work they can - providing great products for our consumers and supporting our fellow associates all along the way,” he said. “It creates a high-performance atmosphere and the feeling that you can achieve your true potential.”

By Lily Clark

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Interdisciplinary team led by ComArtSci receives USDA grant to study retail purchase decisions

Posted on: November 14, 2016

vlcsnap-2016-11-11-13h26m20s268The answers behind purchase decisions may lie in the eye of the beholder according to a recently funded interdisciplinary study involving the Michigan State University departments of Advertising and Public Relations and Horticulture.

Beginning early 2017, Professor of Retailing Patricia Huddleston will join Professor of Horticulture Marketing Bridget Behe in leading a student research team that will use eye-tracking technology to investigate how people make product choices—in this case, plants. The two-year project recently received a Federal State Marketing and Improvement Program grant for $136,000 through the United States Departmehuddleston-pat-09132016-3032-2nt of Agriculture.

"I've always been interested in what happens at the moment of truth," Huddleston says. "It's fascinating to looked at what consumers do when they are actually picking a product off a shelf or a rack. The context here are plants, but you can apply this research to any type of product."

Huddleston explains that much of the success of retailing depends on getting things right—or the science of finding the right mix of product assortment, pricing and merchandising that attracts and entices consumers. The recently funded study, she says, will look at how merchandise—specifically selections of herbs or flowering annuals—ispresented at the point of purchase, and how information in displays affects consumer behavior.

The study will be conducted on campus the first year, then migrate to retail settings in mid-Michigan in 2018. Huddleston and Behe will construct displays that vary in product volume and complexity, and then enlist subjects to pick a particular plant for purchase. Participants will wear second-generation Tobii eye-tracking glasses during their retail experience, which enables researchers to gather and analyze data about what shoppers look at, for how long, and in what sequence before making their purchase decision. Participants will also complete a questionnaire to further assess cues and previous product involvement that may influence their decision.behe-bridget

Huddleston says it's exciting to capture physical evidence through the eye-tracking technology, and to translate the results for retailers. Both she and Behe
also say the research charts new territory since previous research involving visual gaze path analysis has typically examined highly-packaged products in boxes and bottles—and not minimally packaged products like plants, apparel, furniture and art.

"This project will push us a bit more in our learning because we will capture, manage and relate visual data in a more realistic retail setting," says Behe. "And what better products to explore the shopping process than plants? Besides, if we all planted more plants, the world would be a better place."


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