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Admissions Ambassadors

Graduate students in the Department of Communication come from a variety of backgrounds and pursue diverse research agendas.

The profiles below provide a sense of the scholarly interests and recent achievements of the students in our program. Each student on this page serves as ambassador for the Department of Communication and is willing to answer questions. Feel free to email these students with any questions you might have about the UMD Department of Communication graduate program.

Meet the Admissions Ambassadors

Drew Ashby-King

Ashby King

Drew Ashby-King is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication on the Public Relations & Strategic Communication track. He earned his B.A. in Communication at Bowling Green State University, his M.S. in College Student Personnel at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his M.A. in Communication at the University of Maryland. Drew researches communication in higher education contexts from institutional and organizational perspectives. Specifically, he is interested in topics related to critical communication pedagogy, the influence of societal and institutional discourses on students’ classroom and campus experiences, and how neoliberal and whiteness ideologies function and are (re)produced in higher education settings. Drew has recently published work in Communication Education, Communication Teacher, Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, and Journal of Communication Pedagogy. Drew is currently teaching COMM 353: New Media Writing for Public Relations at the University of Maryland. Advisor: Dr. Lindsey Anderson.

Email: dashbyk@umd.edu

Darrian Carroll

Photo of Darrian Carroll

Darrian Carroll is a fourth-year doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland. Darrian is on the Rhetoric & Political Culture track at Maryland. He graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with an M.A. in Communication Studies and from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in Political Science. His work focuses on race, rhetoric and world-making. Darrian has recently received a Summer Fellowship from the UMD Graduate School to aid in the completion of his dissertation prospectus on the Universal Negro Improvement Association from 1914-1925. Darrian has also recently published in the Journal of Information Communication Ethics and Society. Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles.

Email: dcarrol5@umd.edu

Junhan Chen

Headshot of Junhan Chen

Junhan Chen is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Communication Science & Social Cognition track. She received her B.A. in Journalism from Peking University and M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from University of Wisconsin Madison. Her research centers on understanding how persuasive messages and new media technologies (e.g., social media, VR, and AR) promote risk perceptions and motivate behavior change in health and risk contexts. She would be glad to answer any questions related to graduate school applications and would love to provide suggestions on how international students transit to graduate studies in the US. Advisor: Dr. Kang Namkoong.

Email: jchen134@umd.edu

Emily Dawson

Headshot of graduate student Emily Dawson

Emily Dawson is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Communication with a focus on Communication Science & Social Cognition. She earned her B.S. in Communication from Cornell University. Emily’s research interests are very interdisciplinary, drawing on communication, information science, family psychology, and education. For example, she is interested in understanding how emerging technologies impact communication between generations. After my Ph.D., Emily hopes to become a full-time researcher and professor. She is an avid equestrian of 15+ years, riding, competing, and more recently coaching. Emily works out at the campus gym often and likes to study in the main library and graduate student offices. She loves spending time on UMD’s beautiful campus! Advisor: to be determined.

Email: etdawson@umd.edu

Alisa Hardy

Headshot of Alisa Hardy

Alisa Hardy is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Rhetoric & Political Culture area. She received a B.A. degree from the Western Illinois University and M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Alisa’s research interests include digital media, race/ethnicity, and Black feminist scholarship. Advisor: to be determined.

Email: adhardy@umd.edu

Taylor Hourigan

Hourigan

Taylor Hourigan is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland. She specializes in Rhetoric & Political Culture. Taylor earned her B.A. in communication studies from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she was a member of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation and CSU Marching Band. Her research interests revolve around political protest and activism, specifically as carried out by young and minor-aged activists. Taylor is interested in the ways in which power, age, gender and race intersect in the discourses of and about these activists. Taylor is the graduate assistant for the Graduate Program during the 2021-2022 year and is excited to talk to interested students and answer any questions they might have. She could also offer specific insight to students who are considering entering the program with their bachelor’s degree, or students who would be making a big move to the east coast. Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles.

Email: hourigan@umd.edu

Meg Itoh

Itoh

Meg Itoh (she/her) is a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. She is on the Rhetoric & Political Culture track. She graduated from The College of Wooster with a B.A. in Communication Studies and Chinese. Her research focuses on intercultural and transnational communication. She studies the mobility and materiality of rhetoric, with specific interests in varied manifestations of intergenerational war trauma and resistance. These interests are fueled by her own experiences and identity. Meg was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan then moved to the U.S. for college (and now graduate school). She is currently teaching COMM230: Argumentation and Debate, and has previously taught COMM107 and served as a teaching assistant for COMM401. She'd love to answer any questions you have, but would especially be happy to offer guidance on navigating graduate school and academia as a first-generation international student and as a B.A. to Ph.D. student! Advisor: Dr. Carly Woods.

Email: mitoh@umd.edu

Victoria McDermott

Mcdermott

Victoria McDermott is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Public Relations & Strategic Communication track. She completed her B.A. at Coastal Carolina University in public relations with a minor in marketing in 2016. Victoria completed her master’s in professional communication at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2019. Her research interests explore the communication of power in traditionally masculine environments, specifically within STEM and the military. She also researches teaching pedagogy for the online realm. Victoria currently teaches COMM107 and COMM488i: Strategic Interviewing for the Career You Want at the University of Maryland. Advisor: Dr. Lindsey Anderson.

Email: vmcdermo@umd.edu

Fielding Montgomery

Montgomery

Fielding Montgomery is a third-year communication Ph.D. student in Rhetoric & Political Culture at the University of Maryland. He is currently the editorial assistant for Feminist Studies. Fielding received his M.A. in communication at Baylor University, where he was the editorial assistant for Rhetoric & Public Affairs. He also received his university scholars B.A. with concentrations in communication and political science at Baylor. Fielding's research primarily focuses on the intersection of political rhetoric and popular culture. He has published in these areas in a number of academic journals, including the Journal of Popular Film & Television, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and the International Political Science Review. In particular, his articles have covered presidential advertising, horror framing, political messaging in popular film, freedom of the press and government corruption. His book, Horror Framing and the General Election: Ghosts and Ghouls in Twenty-First-Century Presidential Campaign Advertisements, was published in September 2021. Fielding is currently a COMM 304: Communication Research Literacy graduate teaching assistant and has taught COMM107, 230, and 250 in the past. In his free time, Fielding has a passion for movies, video and board games and college athletics. He works a side gig as a paid blogger for Baylor's SBNation website. Fielding is happy to answer any questions prospective students might have! Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles.

Email: fmontgom@umd.edu

Carolyn Robbins

Photo of Carolyn Robbins

Carolyn Robbins is a second year Ph.D. students in the Rhetoric & Political Culture track. She has a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy from Baylor University (2018) and a M.A. in Communication with a focus on Rhetorical Studies and dual fellowship from the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core from Baylor University (2020). Carolyn’s research interests include mass incarceration, rhetorics of violence and care, and prison riots/uprisings. Advisor: Dr. Carly Woods.

Email: robbinsc@umd.edu

Olivia Truban

Headshot of Olivia Truban

Olivia Truban is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Public Relations & Strategic Communication track. She received her B.A. in Communication Studies from James Madison University and her M.A. in Communication with concentrations in Health Communication and Public Relations from Johns Hopkins University. Olivia studies risk and crisis communication, specifically in the context of disaster communication. Olivia teaches COMM 107 at the University of Maryland. Advisor: Dr. Brooke Fisher Liu.

Email: otruban@umd.edu

Yuan Wang

Photo of Yuan Wang

Yuan Wang is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Communication Science & Social Cognition track. She received a B.A. in Journalism, a B.A. in Law from Renmin University of China, and an M.Phil. in Communication from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Yuan studies health and risk communication. She is particularly interested in designing interventions to mitigate the negative impact of misinformation and exploring how publics seek, process, and share information about contentious issues in the emerging media environment. Yuan has taught COMM107, served as TA for COMM400 and COMM402, and she is currently an assistant for the Center for Health and Risk Communication (CHRC). Yuan is happy to chat about research, teaching, and graduate school life as an international student! Advisor: Dr. Xiaoli Nan.

Email: yuanwang@umd.edu

Jiawen Zhang

Photo of Jiawen Zhang

Jiawen Zhang is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication with an emphasis on Communication Science & Social Cognition. She graduated from Penn State University with a master’s degree in higher education (student affairs) and a bachelor’s degree in media studies (media effects). Her research interest is health and risk communication and its intersections with emerging media technologies. Specifically, she is interested in examining the impact of media technologies on health and safety outcomes, as well as the impact of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos on people’s mental health and well-being. Jiawen is currently teaching COMM107 at the University of Maryland. During her free time, she loves playing the piano and swimming. She’s happy to chat about transitions to the graduate program, course selection, and scholarly interests. Advisor: Dr. Jiyoun Kim.

Email: jzhang52@umd.edu