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 that cannot be found on the website.  Feel free to email these students with any questions you might have about the UM Department of Communication graduate program.

Luke Capizzo

  • Year in the Program:  Third year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Public Relations & Strategic Communication
  • Advisor: Dr. Erich Sommefeldt
  • Email: capizzo@umd.edu

Luke Capizzo (B.A., Michigan State University) is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication  on the public relations track. Luke’s research interests include financial public relations and the role of public relations in civil society. He currently teaches COMM 107: Oral Communication: Principles and Practices and serves as the co-coach of the Bateman competitive PR campaign team. For fall 2016, he is teaching a special section of COMM 107 in conjunction with the UMD Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a focus on group problem solving and creativity. Before coming to the University of Maryland, Luke practiced public relations with a focus on media relations in the financial services, commercial real estate, manufacturing, retail and technology industries, serving in both agency and in-house roles. He earned the APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) designation through the Public Relations Society of America in 2014 and is a 2007 graduate of Michigan State University with degrees in Professional Writing and Political Theory.


Yiwen Dai

  • Year in the Program: Fifth year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Communication Science & Social Cognition
  • Advisor: Dr. Dale Hample
  • Email: dyw@umd.edu

Yiwen Dai received her B.A. in Communication from Southwest Jiaotong University and M.A. in Communication from University of Maryland. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Communication with an emphasis on interpersonal communication. She is primarily interested in exploring how people initiate, maintain, and end romantic relationships through interpersonal communication. She will be happy to answer any questions regarding interpersonal communication, quantitative research methods, life as an international student, etc.


Alyson Farzad

  • Year in Program: Second year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Rhetoric & Political Culture
  • Advisor: Dr. Kristy Maddux
  • Email: abfarzad@umd.edu

Alyson is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication specializing in the Rhetoric and Political Culture track. Additionally, she is pursuing a graduate certificate in Women's Studies. Prior to attending UMD, Alyson received undergraduate degrees in both Communication (BA) and Public Relations (BA in Journalism) at the University of Georgia; she then received her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt University, where she studied Higher Education Administration. Currently, her Ph.D. research explores the rhetoric of social change by analyzing the ways in which space and rhetoric are strategically utilized during social movement organizing. Her most recent scholarship on the spatial rhetoric of the Women's March Huddles campaign has granted her membership into the AADHum Initiative's "Scholars" grant program, headed by Catherine Knight Steele. Additionally, Alyson teaches COMM 107 and is currently developing a service-learning section of COMM 107 through a grant with the Do Good Institute. She is pleased to talk to any interested students, and would particularly enjoy discussing interdisciplinary elements and opportunities on campus, as well as teaching and service.


Randall Fowler

  • Year in Program: First year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Rhetoric & Political Culture
  • Advisor: Dr. Shawn J. Parry-Giles
  • Email: rfowler1@umd.edu

Randall Fowler earned his M.A. in Communication Studies in 2016 and his B.A. with majors in Communication Studies and Religion and a minor in Arabic in 2012. He is also a former Fulbright award grantee to Jordan and an AmeriCorps VISTA alumnus. Randall's research explores the intersections of presidential rhetoric, American Middle East policy, the Cold War, Islam, and terrorism. He is the author of the upcoming More Than a Doctrine: The Eisenhower Era in the Middle East (to be released in 2018). Randall's work has also appeared in the academic journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs and Christ & Pop Culture magazine. Randall is currently an instructor for COMM 107 - Oral Communication: Principles and Practices.  Randall is a native of Abilene, Texas. Randall is happy to answer any questions from prospective students, especially surrounding interdisciplinary scholarship, political rhetoric, adapting to Washington, and surviving in DC as a rural Texan.


Kim Hannah-Prater

  • Year in Program: Sixth year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Rhetoric & Political Culture
  • Advisor: Dr. Shawn J. Parry-Giles
  • Email: khannah@umd.edu

Kim Hannah-Prater earned her B.A. in Mass Media from Henderson State University and her M.A. in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Communication with an emphasis of Rhetoric and Political Culture. Her research interests include political rhetoric, media studies, gender and critical theory, and political satire. Kim is currently teaching COMM324: Communication and Gender.


Neha Kamran

  • Year in Program: First year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Communication Science & Social Cognition
  • Advisor: Dr. Anita Atwell-Seate
  • Email: nkamran@umd.edu

Neha Kamran graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. After gaining practical experience in the world of media and marketing, she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Communications with a focus on Communication Science & Social Cognition. Her research aims to explore undergraduate student welfare and safe spaces for controversial conversations within organizations such as universities. In addition to her research and teaching interests, she has had many of her short stories published and win awards. Feel free to direct any questions about the program her way!


Naette Lee

  • Year in Program: First year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Rhetoric & Political Culture
  • Advisor: Dr. Damien Pfister
  • Email: naette@umd.edu

Naette is a first year doctoral student at the University of Maryland where she studies rhetoric and teaches Oral Communication: Principles and Practices. She is concerned with race, power, citizenship and decolonisation. Her current research program focuses on how language is used to constitute racial identities in different countries. Naette graduated from Villanova University’s Strategic Communication Program in June 2017. Before that she attended the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, where she earned a B.A. in History. Her M.A. thesis explored the rhetorical constitution of Colin Kaepernick’s racial identity and the impact of that formulation on his protest. Naette is a national of Trinidad and Tobago, where she lived and worked before beginning graduate school. She spent most of her career in media and advertising before deciding to pursue a career in academia.


Victoria Ledford

  • Year in Program: First year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Communication Science & Social Cognition
  • Advisor: Dr. Xiaoli Nan
  • Email: vledford@umd.edu

Victoria is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Communication after receiving both her B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies from Marshall University. Victoria’s interests are in health communication, and her primary research centers on understanding the antecedents and effects of stigma on behavioral health outcomes. She’d love to answer any of your questions, but would be especially happy to provide guidance on the transition from a small town to a big city and her experience navigating the academic world. As a former debater, she also remains very involved in the world of competitive forensics and loves meeting new forensics folks.


Jung Kyu (Rhys) Lim

  • Year in Program: Third year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Public Relations & Strategic Communication
  • Advisor: Dr. Brooke Fisher Liu
  • Email: jk.rhys.lim@gmail.com

Jung Kyu (Rhys) Lim is pursuing his Ph.D. in Communication, with a focus on strategic communication and public relations. His research interests include issues/ risk/ crisis management and traditional and new media. His research also utilizes mixed methods including quantitative, qualitative, and computational methods. He earned his B.A. degree in Advertising and Public Relations, with minors in Business Administration and Theatre Design, from Chung-Ang University, South Korea. Prior to joining the department, he had work experience at the advertising agency HS Ad as well as the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.


http://www.comm.umd.edu/sites/comm.umd.edu/files/MaR.jpgRong Ma

  • Year in Program: Fifth year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Communication Science & Social Cognition
  • Advisor: Drs. Anita Atwell Seate & Edward L. Fink
  • Email: rmah@umd.edu
Rong Ma is a fifth year Ph.D. student who studies intergroup/intercultural communication. She uses quantitative methods to study the effects of social identities on interpersonal and mediated communication. Her research projects have covered topics such as gender differences in language use, intercultural communication apprehension, and social identity construction in media sport. Her dissertation examines people’s responses to group-directed criticism. She has been a TA for COMM400 (Research Methods) and COMM402 (Communication Theory). She has also been an instructor for COMM107 (Oral Communication) and COMM382 (Intercultural Communication).

Duli Shi

  • Year in Program: Second year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Public Relations & Strategic Communication
  • Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Toth
  • Email: shiduli@umd.edu

Duli Shi is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication with a focus on strategic public relations management and corporate social responsibility. Duli achieved her B.A. degree in Human Resource Management at Anhui University (China) and M.A. degree in Business Administration at South China University of Technology (China). Her research interests focus on the effective communication of corporate social responsibility, as well as the strategic role of public relations in an organization. Duli currently serves as a TA for COMM250 – Introduction to Communication Inquiry.


Samantha Stanley

  • Year in Program: Second year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Communication Science & Social Cognition
  • Advisor: Dr. Linda Aldoory
  • Email: sjstan@umd.edu

Samantha Stanley earned her B.A. and M.A. in Communication at the University of Arizona. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Communication Science. Her program of research centers on the shaping and enactment of identity through communication in health contexts (such as e-cigarette and cigarette use, vaccination against HPV, and pregnancy). Recently her work has focused on the role of intergroup communication in health behaviors. Samantha is a research assistant to Dr. Linda Aldoory. She teaches Comm 107 Oral Communication: Principles and Practices and is a TA for Comm 250 Communication Inquiry. Samantha is happy to answer questions about living in D.C., research and funding opportunities available through UMD, and her Pekingese Tucker.


Alex Jazz Thomas

  • Year in Program: First year Ph.D.
  • Research Emphasis: Public Relations & Strategic Communication
  • Advisor: TBD
  • Email: adt224@umd.edu

Alex Thomas earned their B.A, from Cornell University with a degree in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a minor in Biological Sciences. Alex's research interests include diversity, media representation, digital media, and the role they play in public relations using qualitative and critical methods. They currently teach COMM 107: Oral Communication: Principles and Practices.