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 UM Department of Communication graduate program.

Drew Ashby-King is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication specializing in Public Relations & Strategic Communication. He earned his B.A. in Communication from Bowling Green State University and his M.S. in College Student Personnel from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Broadly, Drew’s research interests center on communication in higher education settings with specific foci on student-institutional relationships, instructional communication, critical communication pedagogy, and college students’ intellectual and ethical development. Drew currently teaches COMM 107 at the University of Maryland. Advisor: Dr. Lindsey Anderson

Email: dashbyk@umd.edu

Darrian Carroll is a second year Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. Darrian is on the Rhetoric and Political Culture track at Maryland. He graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a 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 the political economy. Darrian is slated to receive a top student paper award from the African American Communication and Culture Division at this years National Communication Association conference. 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 is currently a second-year doctoral student in communication science track with a focus on health communication. She's interested in social media and new technologies such as AR and VR. Prior to her study in UMD, she earned her M.A. in communication from UW-Madison and her B.A. in journalism from Peking University in China. Junhan taught COMM 107 during the first year and she is currently a TA for COMM 250: Introduction to Communication Inquiry. Advisor: Dr. Kang Namkoong

Email: jchen134@umd.edu

Aya Farhat is a second-year Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Political Culture. She earned both her B.A. as a University Scholar in 2016 and her M.A. in Communication from Baylor University in 2018. At Baylor, Aya was awarded a Graduate Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Rhetorical Studies where she gained experience teaching courses in rhetoric and feminism in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. She has served as an Editorial Intern for Rhetoric and Public Affairs and has a forthcoming book chapter in the edited volume Yoga and Culture. Aya’s research interests include discourses of citizenship, abortion, motherhood, and the rhetoric of law. Aya is currently a TA for COMM 250: Introduction to Communication Inquiry. In her free time, Aya enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, indoor cycling, cooking, and traveling as much as possible. Aya is happy to chat about the program, research, teaching, moving, and general work-life balance concerns. Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles

Email: afarhat@umd.edu

Alyson Farzad-Phillips is a fourth-year 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. Advisor: Dr. Kristy Maddux

Email: abfarzad@umd.edu

Randall Fowler is a third-year Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Political Culture; he 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. Advisor: Dr. Shawn Parry-Giles

Email: rfowler1@umd.edu

Neha Kamran is a third-year Ph.D. student specializing in Communication Science & Social Cognition; she 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! Advisor: Dr. Anita Atwell Seate

Email: nkamran@umd.edu

Victoria Ledford 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. Advisor: Dr. Xiaoli Nan

Email: vledford@umd.edu

Naette Lee is a second 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. Advisor: Dr. Damien Pfister

Email: naette@umd.edu

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. Advisor: Dr. Brooke Fisher Liu

Email: jk.rhys.lim@gmail.com

Fielding Montgomery is a Communication Ph.D. student in Rhetoric & Political Culture at the University of Maryland. 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 presidential 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. Fielding is currently an instructor for COMM 107 and is developing coursework that motivates civic engagement within that course through the Do Good Institute. 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.

Email: fmontgom@umd.edu

Brooke Phipps is a first year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication in the Rhetoric and Political Culture track. She earned her B.A. at Wheaton College (IL) and her M.A. at Colorado State University. Her research interests center around digital rhetorics, online communities, and social movements. Her thesis addressed consciousness raising and digital platforms for the 2017 Women's March movement. Additionally, Brooke teaches COMM 107: Oral Communication: Principles and Practices. She is pleased to talk to any interested students, whether it is about scholarly interests, adjusting to graduate school life, teaching, or finding the best/cheapest places to eat in the D.C. area.

Email: ebphipps@umd.edu

Matthew Salzano advocates for and examines the role of intellectuals in public culture. As a scholar, Matthew studies rhetorical theory, digital humanities, and deliberation. He is a second-year Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Political Culture. He has taught courses in public speaking (COMM107) and rhetorical criticism (COMM401). He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degrees in communication studies and women’s and gender studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Matthew currently investigates how feminist intellectuals intervene in public culture. He has written about protestors at the Women’s March, bell hooks’s criticism of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and YouTuber ContraPoints’s video essays about the alt-right. When crafting his own interventions, Matthew has worked as a Twitter bot-creator, video producer, and journalist. You can check out some of his work at his website, matthewsalzano.com, or follow his musings via his Twitter, @matthew_paul. Matthew is serving as the Graduate Assistant for the Graduate Program in the 2019–20 academic year, so he’s happy to talk with students about any application questions and issues. He especially loves talking about graduate student community, work-life balance, and transitioning to grad school after a bachelor’s degree. Advisor: Dr. Damien Pfister

Email: salzano@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. Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Toth

Email: shiduli@umd.edu

Alex Jazz 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. Advisor: Dr. Catherine Knight Steele

Email: adt224@umd.edu

Jeannette Viens is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Relations in the Department of Communication. Her research emphasizes how immigration discourse overlaps with global and intercultural public relations. Her scholarship revolves around questions of how governments, media, and organizations represent refugees, immigrants, and immigration policy, especially transnationally. By depicting the interpretations of these representations on the milieu of migrants, her research aims to understand how to strategize better intercultural intergroup dynamics. Jeannette obtained a Master of Arts (Honours) in International Relations from the University of St Andrews in 2015.  She has acted as the Director of Public Relations for Grassroot Diplomat since May 2016, which has included co-authoring The Brexit Handbook, a book encompassing the diplomatic consequences and strategies in face of the UK withdrawal from the EU. Additionally, Jeannette has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Campus Compact of Southern New England, acting as a liaison between the Western Massachusetts refugee population, including K-12 students and their families, service providers, and community organizations. Advisor: Dr. Erich Sommerfeldt