The College of Media & Communication's Center for Communication Research hired a new associate director in January, whose research in media and psychophysiology spans more than two decades.
Paul Bolls, also an associate public relations professor, arrived at Texas Tech after teaching at Washington State University and then the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
“My research is on how the human mind processes and responds to media,” Bolls said. “In my capacity as associate director of the center, my role is to continue the great scientific research that is going on in that facility and to increase industry collaborations.”
Bolls said he chose CoMC because he saw an opportunity to work with a team of inspiring colleagues in an intellectually exciting environment. He said that when it comes to research facilities, the CCR is the best he has seen at a university.
“This capability is unparalleled in any form of communication program I have ever seen,” Bolls said. “For a researcher like me, this is my nerdy version of Disney Land. We are going to be producing what I think is going to be the most cutting edge, exciting research.”
Glenn Cummins, associate dean for research and director of the CCR, described Bolls as an individual who “wrote the book on psychophysiology” and said that he has brought new energy and excitement to the center for both faculty and students.
“Dr. Bolls is also going to help us grow in terms of the types of partnerships we can undertake,” Cummins said. “Communication is a universal phenomenon, and he does a great job of helping people understand why it's so important to take a scientific approach to studying communication behavior. That expertise is going to be a crucial part of helping the center spread its wings and have an impact beyond the academic space.”
Bolls also works as a neuromarketing and media consultant, where he helps clients design and test “brain friendly” media content. He most recently served as chief play scientist for PlayScience, a media research and development company based in New York.
Bolls said he launched a psychophysiology lab at PlayScience where he worked on research designed to optimize digital advertising. He has also conducted neuromarketing tests for clients including Disney, Visa, and Weber Shandwick Public Relations.
Bolls said he is also passionate about training the next generation of researchers, and he sees undergraduate research as the perfect experience because he believes the hands-on environment is where students learn the most.
“I'm a strong believer in the fact that the classroom environment is a very valuable environment for providing the basic foundation of knowledge,” Bolls said. “But where I see students truly grow and develop into sharp, intelligent professionals is outside of the classroom in their chosen field.”
Trent Seltzer, assistant dean for graduate studies, described Bolls as a “transformational hire,” both for the Department of Public Relations and for the entire college.
“We're fortunate to be able to tap into his wealth of experience and knowledge,” Seltzer said. “Our junior faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates have an amazing opportunity to grow and achieve great things under his mentorship. Beyond all of that, Dr. Bolls has already proven to be a thoughtful, collegial and supportive addition to the CoMC community.”