Department of Communication
Current Grad Students (2013-2014) CGSA Officers

Scott Anderson headshotScott Anderson

Justin Jaggers headshotJustin Jaggers

Reginald Bell headshotReginald Bell, Jr.

Eddie Kruger headshotEddie Kruger

Carolyn Block bio picturesCarolyn Block

Malvin Massey headshotMalvin Massey, Jr.

JR Briscoe headshotJ.R. Briscoe

Stephen McKellips headshotStephen McKellips

no image for bioJon-Paul Bushnell

Timothy Miller headshotTimothy Miller

Crystal Daugherty bio pictureCrystal Daugherty

no image for bioMaggie Parrish

Merci Decker headshotMerci Decker

April Phillips headshotApril Phillips

no image for bioBrian Duffy

Bradley Scott Pierce headshotBradley Scott Pierce

no image for bioSteven Edscorn

Christine Platt headshotChristine M. Platt

Andre Favors headshotAndre Favors

Lindsey Randall headshotLindsey Randall

no image for bioMeagan Fertig

Caroline Sawyer headshotCaroline E. Sawyer

Kevin Gallagher headshotKevin Gallagher

no image for bioTracy Schaffer

Brandon Goldsmith headshotBrandon Chase Goldsmith

William Schraufnagel headshotWilliam Schraufnagel

no image for bioBrenda Green

Heidi Segona headshotHeidi Segona

Marcus Hassell headshotMarcus K. Hassell

no image for bioTrevor Stack

Jesse Hearn headshotJesse Hearn

Lori Stallings headshotLori Stallings

Brian HeslopBrian Heslop

Joel Stamey headshotJoel Stamey

Scarlett Hester headshotScarlett L. Hester

Melissa Thompson headshotMelissa M. Thompson

Kristen Hungerford headshotKristen Hungerford

Sean Upshaw headshotSean J. Upshaw

Annie Hunter headshotAnnie Laurie Hunter

Jonathan Woodall headshotJonathan F. Woodall

Scott Anderson headshot

Scott Anderson, PhD 

Scott Anderson’s academic interests include contemporary political rhetoric and American public address.  With rhetorical theory and criticism, he has engaged texts in their contexts through metaphor, identification, and close textual analysis.  His work with metaphor has examined rhetoric in a variety of contexts that range from the discourse of Barack Obama to the nineteenth century literature of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Using the theoretical constructs of Kenneth Burke, he has also examined the rhetoric of Steve Jobs through identification and the dramatistic process.  Anderson is currently working on the idea of post-racism and media in the age of Obama.  

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Reginald Bell headshot

Reginald Bell, Ph.D. Student    

Reginald Bell, Jr., graduated from Emory University with a Master of Divinity. He is currently a PhD student specializing in rhetoric. His research interests focus on religious discourse. In particular, he is interested in the artistry and craft of televangelist Joel Osteen’s discourse, and how that artistry and craft can be analyzed as a site for the ethical criticism of his rhetoric. Upon earning his PhD from University of Memphis, he hopes to further his career as an educator at the collegiate level.

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Carolyn Block bio pictures Carolyn Block

Carolyn Block’s research focuses on critical theory, media and cultural studies, and the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in constructions of humans and animals. Currently she is examining how media texts construct wildness as an affect and how they represent owning wildness. Carolyn’s teaching experience includes public speaking, introduction to human communication, and television and culture. She is a self-proclaimed dog lover and has done extensive work examining the relationship between people and their pets. In her free time, Carolyn enjoys running and playing with her two dogs Cocoa and DeeBowe.

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JR Briscoe headshot

J.R. Briscoe, Ph.D. Student

J.R.’s primary research interests examine rhetoric within the realm of political discourse image repair. His most recent research was an examination of President Obama’s speeches that lead to the publication of Apologia, Antapologia and Barack Obama’s “Global Apology Tour” in the Iowa Journal of Communication. J.R. is a recent graduate of Southern Utah University and of Brigham Young University Idaho where he was awarded the Newell K. Whitney Award, given only to distinguished graduates in communication.

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Jon-Paul Bushnell, Ph.D. Student 

Jon-Paul Bushnell’s current research interests include studying the intersections and tensions between rhetoric and ethics within the context of new media technology, examining how technologies of anonymity, coupled with the decentralization and profusion of information and power in the twenty-first century, challenge conventional formulations of political responsibility and the identity of the citizen, and the writings of James Joyce.  

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Crystal Daugherty bio picture Crystal DaughertyPh.D. Student  

Crystal Daugherty ‘s main research focus is health communication. Specifically, spirituality and international health. The goal of her dissertation research is to explore the relationship between spirituality (as a coping mechanism) and individuals living in Liberia who have been diagnosed with malaria. Her professional goals include working with international health organizations and/or teaching.

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Merci Decker headshot

Merci Decker, Ph.D. Student  

Merci Decker is PhD candidate in Communication with an emphasis in rhetoric at University of Memphis. Her research focuses on understanding how underrepresented groups use rhetorical and argumentative strategies in order obtain a voice in the political sphere. Her dissertation examines how the 1930’s anarchist organization “Vanguard Group” used definitional strategies to negotiate the meaning of the term “anarchism” in a changing political and economic climate.  Other areas of interest include: Argumentation Theory, Definitional Strategies, Anarchist Rhetoric, Radical Rhetoric, Labor Rhetoric, Social Movements, and Persuasion Theory. Merci is also a Lecturer at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where she teaches courses in persuasion, social movements, argumentation, and gender.  In 2006 she received an MA in Speech Communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  She is an active member of the National Communication Association and in 2010 she served as chair and program planner for the Peace and Conflict Division. 

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Andre Favors headshot

André Favors, Ph.D. Student

André Favors has broad interests in communication and culture. He studies phenomena related to place and space, technology and new media, and LGBT studies. Currently the assistant editor for Technoculture: An Online Journal of Technology in Society, he has also published book reviews in that journal and in The Critical Lede.


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Kevin Gallagher headshot

Kevin Gallagher, Ph.D. Student

After several years as a professional political consultant, including serving as Director of Public Affairs for Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, Jr., Kevin returned to the University of Memphis to study the intersection of communication and social cognition, specifically in the area of public and political discourse.  His research examines the way beliefs and assumptions are expressed in, and shaped by public discourse.


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Brandon Goldsmith headshot

Brandon Chase Goldsmith, Ph.D.     

Brandon Chase Goldsmith is a PhD candidate whose research focuses on the rhetoric of contemporary United States’ citizenship and the performance of America’s form of democracy. He has made 13 national, regional, and/or local conference presentations and performances based on his studies. Goldsmith’s solo show “A 12 Step Program for Recovering White Caucasians” was a Top Performance at the 2012 Southern States Communication Association Conference. As part of his engaged scholarship, Goldsmith has transposed his work for popular mediums such as newspaper editorials and opinion letters, and has even discussed his findings as a guest on local political radio shows. His dissertation topic, Contemporary American Citizenship: A Genre Study of Citizen (ship)/Civic Engagement Centers, combines his interests in deliberative dialogues, civic participation and political performance. Goldsmith’s goals are to merge his theoretical scholarship with practical applications that encourage partnerships between higher education institutions and the communities they serve. Most recently he is a recipient of the University of Memphis’ Presidential Tuition Service Scholarship and is acting as the College of Communication and Fine Arts’ representative on the Engaged Scholarship Committee.

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Marcus Hassell headshot

Marcus K. Hassell, Ph.D. Student

Marcus Hassell’s research focuses on critical theory, critical pedagogy and the anthropology of race. Currently he is examining media framing of human rights issues in Uganda and South Africa, specifically how activism and policy are influenced by media narratives.



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Jesse Hearn headshot

Jesse Hearn, M.A. Student, specializing in Film & Video Production

Jesse Hearn is a returning University of Memphis student aspiring to turn his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications into a Master of Arts degree with a concentration on film and video production. Films and his theatrical background have given him a fondness for visual narrative storytelling and the acting method. Jesse and his crew won the Audience Choice Award for their video short "San Diego" at the 2011 Indie Memphis Student Film Showcase. He hopes to expand his knowledge and grow as an artist in order to produce valuable work during his time with the department.

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Brian Heslop Brian Heslop, Ph.D. Student

Brian graduated from Weber State University with a B.A. in English. He earned his MA in Professional Communication from Southern Utah University. For his capstone, he interned as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil, researching for and contributing to the Department of State's Trafficking in Person's Report and the International Religious Freedom Report. As a part of his capstone, Brian wrote a thesis on a speech by Ambassador Sobel, exploring the way Sobel used metaphors to construct the power dynamic between the U.S. and Brazil. His current research examines religious and political rhetoric, and he gives particular attention to the presence of civil religion and controversy in public discourse. His plan is to graduate in 2015 and work in higher education, focusing on teaching while publishing in the field of communication. His goal as a professor is to enable students to become better citizens, to think critically, and to participate effectively in society.

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Scarlett Hester headshot

Scarlett L. Hester, Ph.D. Student

Scarlett just graduated from Ball State University with her Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies.  She is a current first year PhD student studying rhetoric.  Her research interests include rhetoric of popular culture from a feminist perspective.  In particular, she is interested in gender and the concepts of masculinity and female masculinity.  She has served as a peer reviewer and panel chair for both CSCA and NCA. Upon earning her PhD from the University of Memphis, she hopes to further pursue her career as an educator at the collegiate level. 

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Kristen Hungerford headshot

Kristen Hungerford, Ph.D. Student                                          

Kristen Hungerford is a doctoral candidate specializing in rhetoric and media studies. Kristen's research interests include rhetoric of popular culture with an emphasis on feminist and queer theories/criticisms and social movement rhetoric, including the rhetoric of marginalized voices and representations of marginalization in discourse. Currently, she is working on a dissertation that examines performances of difference on Saturday Night Live (SNL). It explores the ethics of comedic performances and how identity groups are marginalized for the purposes of laughter. Kristen has published research on the topic of gender in presidential film portrayals in the Ohio Communication Journal (2010), which was also honored as a top paper by the rhetorical theory and criticism division at the annual Central States Communication Association (CSCA) conference in 2010. She is also the recipient of the 2012 Samuel L. Becker Top Graduate Student Paper award honored by the media studies division at the CSCA conference for her case study on portrayals of difference in an SNL episode. Kristen's teaching experience includes public speaking, introduction to human communication, communication theory, freedom of speech, and rhetoric of popular culture.

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Annie Hunter headshot

Annie Laurie Hunter, M.A. Student, specializing in Film & Video Production

Annie joins the University of Memphis in pursuit her Masters of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Film and Video Production.  With a background in print journalism, she is seguing into documentaries.  Annie is combining her passion for storytelling and her interest in media studies, religious studies, and gender studies.  She is driven to highlight disparity and social justice issues, as raising awareness is the first step to change.  While working on her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies at Young Harris College, Annie coauthored “Suited for Gangsterism: Popular Fashion and Criminality in the New York Times” which was presented at the Popular Culture Association of Canada 2013 conference. Annie is also a member of the National Communication Association’s honor society, Lambda Pi Eta.

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Justin Jaggers headshot

Justin Jaggers, M.A. Student, specializing in Film & Video Production 

Justin Jaggers has been a Memphian all his life.  In 2007, he made the best decision of his life and decided to go back to school.  In 2009, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southwest Tennesee Community College with an Associate of Sciences Degree in Music. From there, he continued on to the University of Memphis.  In the Spring of 2012, he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music Degree with a dual concentration in Recording Technology and Music Business.  In 2013, he returned to the University of Memphis to study Film and Video Production with an emphasis on Documentary Filmmaking.  Jaggers hopes to be able to tell more about the music and vibe of the city of Memphis.  When not in class, he’s working in his home recording studio or playing bass around town or in the casinos in Tunica. 

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Eddie Kruger headshot

Eddie Kruger, M.A. Student, specializing in Film & Video Production 

Eddie Kruger is an aspiring film maker and musician with a flair for pop art and American humor. A graduate from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Kruger works as a documentarian often focusing on music and religion. He is a founding member of The Heroes and Circuit Tree, and currently produces big-beat electronic music under the moniker, "Sporez". Combining a passion for entertainment with a deep respect for understanding, he works toward the ongoing goal of putting art back into information.

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Malvin Massey headshot

Malvin Massey, Jr., M.A. Student

Malvin Massey, Jr. is a 2009 graduate of the Communication Department’s Broadcast Communication undergraduate program. A life-long Memphian, United States Air Force veteran, and 1969 graduate of Hamilton High School, he started as a musician and was a member of the Memphis State University Jazz Band in the mid 70’s. Later Massey enrolled in Columbia School of Broadcasting and, after earning a Broadcasting certificate from that school; he obtained an FCC license and became a volunteer dj at WUMR – then WSMS – University of Memphis Radio. That was in 1988. In 2009 Massey was named General Manager of WUMR where he still serves today. In earning this MA, his ability to perform as a teacher and mentor to broadcasting and journalism students will be significantly enhanced.

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Stephen McKellips headshot

Stephen McKellips, Ph.D. Student

Stephen McKellips is interested in the bi-directional communication involved in the college selection process, particularly focusing on the needs and wants of the triumvirate of key players: prospective students, their families, and the University Administration.  He hopes to decipher ways in which communication can be improved to increase access to the information people want, the information people need, and to predict the impact of  persuasion whereby students may select a University at a higher rate of frequency. He has worked in University admissions since 1996 and continues to be amazed that the industry seems a hotbed for communication study with practical, real-world applications starved for answers.

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Timothy Miller headshot

Timothy Miller, M.A. Student in Communication

Timothy Miller is a part-time Comm MA student with an organizational comm emphasis. He has been with FedEx in the Corporate Communications department for two years. Prior to that, he worked in a similar role at AutoZone for four years.




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April Phillips headshot

April Phillips, M.A. Student, specializing in Film & Video Production

April R. Phillips, Communication MA student (film/video production), is currently interested in the intersection of art and faith -- especially in film content. She holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and is a former newspaper reporter who specialized in human-interest feature stories.



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Bradley Scott Pierce headshot

Bradley Scott Pierce, Ph.D. Student

Bradley Scott Pierce currently teaches English full-time at the College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, Arkansas. He also teaches film classes at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and online at Pulaski Technical College.  He is interested specifically in the way horror movies resonate and/or mirror issues in the current and past American culture. He has been privileged to have some of his film reviews published in Central Arkansas's entertainment magazine Sync Weekly.  Pierce hopes to use his PhD to start a Film/Theatre program, which is already currently in the works, for his current post at COTO.

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Christine Platt headshot

Christine M. Platt, Ph.D. Student

Christine Platt is doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis where she studies Health Communication. Christine completed her MBA at Baylor University and her bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Arkansas, both with a Marketing and Finance concentration. Her research interests include health literacy, global health prevention and promotion (particularly in the Haitian Central Plateau), and health messaging using mass media channels. In recent years, she has focused on applying communication theory and twenty-plus years of corporate marketing experience to develop better techniques for communicating about health. Christine was awarded the 2013 University of Memphis Graduate Research Award for Liberal and Fine Arts.  She has presented her research at the National Communication Association National Conference and the Health Communication Conference at George Mason University.  She hosts the WUMR radio series, “Let’s Talk Health” on the campus of the University of Memphis. And in early 2013, Christine joined the Food Advisory Council for the city of Memphis whose mission is to help area residents make healthy food choices.  

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Lindsey Randall headshot

Lindsey Randall, M.A. Student in Communication 

Lindsey is a first-year Masters student in Communication. A long-time Memphian, she received her B.A. in English/Literature from the University of Memphis. While an undergraduate, Lindsey was the recipient of the following awards: 3rd Place, Joseph and June Riley Essay Contest, 2012; 2nd Place, Civility Campaign Essay Contest, 2012. Her interests in the field of Communication are varied, but include public relations, media, and health communication. Outside of academic endeavors, she enjoys creating art, writing, and exploring Memphis like a tourist. 


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Caroline Sawyer headshot

Caroline E. Sawyer, Ph.D. Student 

Caroline E. Sawyer is currently a  doctoral candidate working on her PhD in applied communication with an emphasis in gendered sports communication, discourse studies, media studies, and computer-mediated communication.  Her dissertation is titled “From Cheerleader to Quarterback Princess: Narratives of Gender in Online Fantasy Football.”  She earned her Masters of Arts from Austin Peay State University and her Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University.


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William Schraufnagel headshot William Schraufnagel, Ph.D. Student 

William Schraufnagel holds a BA in English from Yale and an MA in Rhetoric and Writing Studies from San Diego State Unversity, where he completed a thesis titled "The Influence of Kenneth Burke on Harold Bloom" under the direction of Ellen Quandahl. He has an abiding interest in Kenneth Burke and hopes to write a dissertation on Burke's relationship to his nineteenth-century precursors. As a graduate assistant, he has taught courses in Written Composition and Oral Communication. 


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Heidi Segona headshot Heidi Segona, M.A. Student

Heidi Segona is a master student in the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis where she studies Health Communication. Heidi completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Memphis in Communication. Heidi’s research has focused on food sustainability in urban and rural areas with a focus on community gardens and food deserts. Heidi was accepted to present a poster at the 2013 Health Communication Conference at George Mason University. She volunteers for the Food Advisory Council for the city of Memphis and works as an assistant in the Dean’s office for the College of Communication and Fine Arts. 

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Lori Stallings headshot Lori Stallings, Ph.D. Student             

Lori Stallings is in the final stages of coursework for the PhD  Her research interests include feminist rhetoric and media representations of gender.  Her dissertation will focus on the media representations and rhetoric surrounding the candidacy for sainthood of Dorothy Day.  She has been teaching at the college level for 25 years, with particular emphasis on introductory and undergraduate courses in Communication.  She serves as the Basic Course Director for the Department at the University of Memphis.

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Joel Stamey headshot Joel Stamey, M.A. Student in Communication 

Joel Stamey works as an IT strategist, devising solutions for an agency that manages advertising research and promotional programs for Fortune-500 companies. His overall professional and research focus is on how commercial messages are negotiated and managed in digital spaces. Academic interests include research via and about the internet, the discourse surrounding the adoption of new technology and commercial speech-- mercantile discourse like advertising, promotional messaging and product placement. Joel is also interested in the ethical issues arising from the use, overuse and misuse of digital communication. Specific projects include an exploration of the reviews of the Apple® iPad™, analysis of President Obama’s Trayvon Martin comments as a situational response within a Rhetorical Network and the study of how/why/how much consumers share online commercial messages.

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Melissa Thompson headshot Melissa M. Thompson, Ph.D. Student 

Melissa Thompson’s graduate work is focused in health communication. Her professional experience is in marketing and communications, event coordinating, and undergraduate teaching.  Research interests include: female and adolescent health communication, health literacy, patient- and family-centered care, patient and provider relationships, and vaccine compliance in pediatric medicine.  Her dissertation examines the communication barriers and strategies between parents and pediatric providers about HPV vaccine compliance in a rural, Southern community.  She is currently working for Communication across the Curriculum (CxC), a division of Academic Affairs at Louisiana State University.  As the first program of its kind in the nation, CxC works with LSU faculty to train, guide and recognize students who demonstrate exceptional communication skills across four communication modes: written, spoken, visual presentation and technological.  She is also on the team that plans and executes the annual TEDxLSU event in Baton Rouge.  In her free time, Thompson enjoys attending LSU football and baseball games, photography, cycling, teaching spin classes, reading anything written by Richard K. Massie, and volunteering for her sorority, Delta Gamma, and the Junior League of Baton Rouge.  For more information, visit my online portfolio

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Sean Upshaw headshot Sean J. Upshaw, 
Ph.D. Student

Sean J. Upshaw’s research interests include palliative care/end-of-life-care,patient-provider communication and healthcare promotion. He is a recipient of The Graduate Scholarship Award from his fraternity, Iota Phi Theta and he recently published an article within the fraternity national publication, The Centaur Magazine entitled, " "Make the Appointment"- tips for effective communication between patient and provider for doctor appointments. His professional goals are to become a Health Communication specialist for the US Government and to teach in higher education. 

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Jonathan Woodall headshot Jonathan F. Woodall, Ph.D. Student 

Jonathan holds degrees from Rochester College in Rochester, MI and Harding School of Theology in Memphis, TN. He has an interest in the rhetoric of social movements, particularly grass roots religious movements.  His research explores rhetoric at an intersection that brings together biblical hermeneutics, the human condition, and powerful voices of leadership.  Jonathan serves as a minister in Memphis, and has taught Oral Communication and Critical Themes of the Old Testament at the University of Memphis. 

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Last Updated: 4/17/14