Texas Tech University

CoMC Welcomes New Faculty for 2019 School Year

College of Media & Communication

September 1, 2019

College of Media & Communication Logo

Jaime Banks, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor, Advertising & Brand Strategy

Jaime Banks, Ph.D.  Jaime Banks (Ph.D., Colorado State University) studies how people have relationships with technologies, a growing and important area of research. After spending many years researching player-avatar relations in video games, she focuses her current work on human-robot communication. Supported by a 3.5-year grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, her work focuses on whether and how people may see social robots as being similar to themselves and what that may mean for how humans and robots might work together. 

Banks has published more than 30 articles and delivered more than 70 research presentations nationally and abroad. She joins Texas Tech University after holding assistant professor positions at the University of Toronto and West Virginia University. 

Banks is the founding chair of the Game Studies Division in the National Communication Association and serves on the editorial boards of the following journals: Human-Machine Communication, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, and Communication Research Reports. 

Nick Bowman, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor, Journalism & Creative Media Industries

Nick Bowman, Ph.D.  Nick Bowman (Ph.D., Michigan State University) has been studying the uses and effects of interactive media for nearly 15 years. Video games and VR are popular forms of entertainment but the underlying psychology of both is not well understood. Bowman's research examines how technologies influence how we feel, what we think, how we behave, and how we interact with each other and his work has been published in more than 80 peer-reviewed journals. 

Bowman is the current chair of the Game Studies Division of the National Communication Association. He has contributed to more than 200 presentations, both in the U.S. and abroad, and was awarded a J. William Fulbright grant to research persuasive uses of VR in Taiwan. Additionally, he has active research partnerships in Taiwan and Germany. 

Bowman comes from West Virginia University where he founded and conducted research in the Interaction Lab.

Cyndie Buckle, M.A.

Instructor, Advertising & Brand Strategy

Cyndie Buckle, M.A. Cyndie Buckle joins the College of Media & Communication from the Texas Tech University Hospitality Services where she was a Marketing Multimedia Journalist juggling print, web and social media content design and management. 

Buckle has more than 12 years of experience in advertising, public relations and marketing, along with more than 25 years of creative experience, including copywriting, copy editing and publication design. 

For the past three years, Buckle has been an adjunct professor in CoMC teaching advertising design and layout and public relations graphics and production. 

Haoran “Chris” Chu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Public Relations

Haoran “Chris” Chu, Ph.D. Haoran “Chris” Chu (Ph.D., University at Buffalo, State University of New York) investigates the role of emotion and psychological distance in strategic communication as related to various risk topics. Funded by the National Science Foundation, his current research examines people's cognitive and affective responses to messages promoting climate change mitigation, as well as individuals' reactions to climate-change-induced disasters. 

Chu is also interested in studying the influence of technology in building community resilience against various natural disasters, and plans to expand his research to investigate other local and global issues critical to the well-being of communities and the individuals living within them. 

James Doran, M.A.

Instructor, Communication Studies

James Doran, M.A. James Doran is from Atlanta, Georgia, and received a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Georgia in 2010. He moved to Texas in 2011 and received his M.A. in Communication Studies from Texas State University in 2015. 

Doran's experience at various community colleges in Georgia and Texas meant that he has primarily taught non-traditional students and, as a former community college attendee, he has a marked passion for teaching students with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. 

Teaching is his first love and he has a particular passion for teaching rhetoric and public speaking. Doran not only enjoys guiding students toward becoming more competent orators, but also strives to help students manage their communication apprehension in order to become more empowered communicators. 

Lucinda Holt, M.A.

Instructor, Journalism & Creative Media Industries

Lucinda Holt, M.A. Lucinda Holt graduated from the Texas Tech College of Media & Communication with a B.A. in journalism and a minor in anthropology in 2014. 

While at Texas Tech, Holt was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists' Mark of Excellence Award for her story on immigration, “American Dream, Mexican Nightmare,” which led to her interest in Mexican media and crime reporting. 

Post-graduation, Holt worked as a freelance journalist for several years with work published in The New York Times and Reuters. She later returned to TTU to earn an M.A. in mass communication where she served as director for The Hub@TTU, an award-winning online publication, and became involved in the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic & International Communication. 

Holt joined the College of Media & Communication as a part-time adjunct instructor in Spring 2019. 

Kerk Kee, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Professional Communication

Kerk Kee, Ph.D. Kerk F. Kee (Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin) is a communication researcher and an interdisciplinary social scientist who investigates the development, adoption, implementation and ultimate diffusion of big data technologies in scientific organizations. Additionally, Kee studies the dissemination of health information in cultural communities and the spread of pro-environmental attitudes in modern societies. 

Kee has been awarded a prestigious 5-year NSF CAREER grant (2015-2020) from the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure under the NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate. Other projects include funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to Google Scholar Citations in January 2019, Kee's research has been cited more than 4,000 times.   

Maggie Matella, M.S.

Instructor, Journalism & Creative Media Industries

Maggie Matella, M.S. Maggie Matella earned a B.S. in Media Communications and Political Science from Florida State University and went on to earn an M.S. in Sports Management from West Virginia University in 2018. During her time at WVU, she worked as the Digital Media Graduate Assistant for the WVU Athletic Department where she created content for social and digital media use. 

Matella has also worked for Instagram and the NCAA covering the 2018 Men's Basketball Final Four and the 2018 Women's College World Series. 

Samer Melhem, Ph.D.

Instructor, Communication Studies

Samer Melhem, Ph.D. Samer Melhem earned his doctoral degree in 2019 from the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech University and his research interests include cultural influences on organizational communication, minority groups' representation in media, millennials, cross-cultural couples, online teaching and mindfulness, and communication apprehension. 

Melham's dissertation employed a mixed-method approach to compare the influence of cultural background (i.e., individualism and collectivism) on communication apprehension in an employment interview setting in the United Arab Emirates and the United States. 

He also researched American college students' perceptions of minority groups in the U.S. media (i.e., Hispanics, Arabs, and Asians). 

Kelsey Moore, Ph.D.

Instructor, Professional Communication

Kelsey Moore, Ph.D. Kelsey Moore completed her master's degree at Texas Christian University and went on to earn her Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Kentucky. 

Moore's academic focus is on instructional communication, persuasion, teaching effectiveness and faculty support, and her work was recently recognized with two co-awards of Top Paper at the National Communication Association's 104th Annual Convention last November. 

Moore's dissertation developed a scale to measure effective communication for training adults in contexts such as organizational training and public health interventions. 

At the University of Kentucky during her doctoral studies, Moore served as a director of speaker development for students and faculty, as an assessment consultant for student programs, and in the role of an instructional designer/faculty instructional consultant for the Provost's Office of Teaching, Learning, and Academic Innovation. 

Katharine Schoonover, M.A.

Instructor, Communication Studies

Katharine Schoonover, M.A.Katie Schoonover is originally from Illinois where she received her B.A. (2007) in Communication from Northern Illinois University and an M.A. (2012) in Communication from Western Illinois University.  

Schoonover has taught at Clemson University, Western Illinois University, Ashford University and Lone Star College, and she will continue her teaching career in the College of Media & Communication.  

Schoonover teaches public speaking, introduction to communication, and interpersonal communication classes. Her research is in cross-sex friendships. 

Christa Ward, Ph.D.

Instructor, Media & Communication

Christa Ward, Ph.D.Christa Ward joins the College of Media & Communication as an online instructor. She previously held a position as an online instructor at Texas State University and assistant professor positions at the University of Georgia and University of Oklahoma. 

Ward holds a B.A. in Telecommunication, Russian Language and Area Studies, an M.A. in Mass Communication from Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Iowa. 

Prior to her academic career, Ward was an award-winning news anchor/reporter for television stations in Texas and Georgia, and an award-winning teacher who was in charge of student-run television newscasts. She has taught writing for broadcast, writing and producing, mass communication theory, social media and marketing classes in both traditional and online environments and served on numerous theses, doctoral and service committees.

Shan Xu, Ph.D. 

Assistant Professor, Public Relations

Shan Xu, Ph.D.Shan Xu uses real-time and longitudinal data (in conjunction with mathematical and computational models) to study the dynamics of media choice and media effects. She is interested in how people make media choices and how that influences their physical health and psychological well-being to better understand how media multitasking during eating influences people's choices of junk food and healthy food. 

Xu also is interested in investigating how multitasking in daily life impacts adolescents' psychological well-being over time. She has been published in journals including Health Communication, Computers in Human Behavior and has won research awards and grants. 


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