People

Administration

James Price Dillard
  • Director

James Price Dillard

James Dillard is Distinguished Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences. His research is concerned with how persuasive messages arouse emotions and under what conditions those emotions are translated into attitude or behavior change. In addition to his theoretical contributions to the study of fear- and anger-inducing messages, Dillard has taken his work into applied areas such as promoting uptake of the HPV vaccine and of colonoscopies, discouraging overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and understanding how individuals regulate their emotional responses to the threat of infectious diseases including Ebola and Zika. His functions as Director include working with the Executive Committee in the process of strategic planning and implementation, and collaborating with the heads of Working Groups to identify problems and challenges suitable for the attention of the CSSI.

Kellie St. Cyr Brisini
  • Assistant Director

Kellie St. Cyr Brisini

Kellie Brisini is a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the department of Communication Arts & Sciences. Her work, broadly speaking, centers on interpersonal communication; in particular, she seeks to understand how communication in marriages helps partners and parents navigate difficult transitions, such as health crises. To this end, Kellie’s research examines communication and cognition within the contexts of social support, conflict, and family problems. As Assistant Director of the CSSI, Kellie is responsible for planning CSSI events and symposia, and collaborating with the Director to recruit and inform scholars contributing to the CSSI.

Executive Committee

Jessica Gall Myrick
  • Science Communication Liaison

Jessica Gall Myrick

Jessica Myrick is an Associate Professor in the Bellasario College of Communications. Her research examines the role of different emotions in shaping audience responses to health, science and environmental messages. Jess has investigated how online health information seeking leads Internet users to experience multiple emotional states (e.g., anxiety, hope, and interest), which then predict different post-search behaviors. Other research has looked at the interplay of fear and hope, as well as compassion, in shaping responses to skin cancer prevention messages. As the Science Communication Liaison, Jess connects the CSSI to individuals and groups engaged in the public communication of scientific topics to non-experts.

Connie J. Rogers
  • Huck Institutes Liaison

Connie J. Rogers

Connie Rogers is an Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Physiology and Associate Director of the Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences. Her research focuses on the role of changes in energy balance and related nutritional factors on inflammation and various aspects of health using both animal models and human subjects. Dr. Rogers’ recent work examines the role of exercise in breast cancer prevention, as well as the effects of obesity and probiotic consumption on immune function and gut health. As the Huck Institutes Liaison, Connie channels the perspective of the life sciences on campus and beyond.

Rachel A. Smith
  • Social Science Liaison

Rachel A. Smith

Rachel Smith is a Liberal Arts Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences, and Human Development and Family Studies. She is currently co-funded by the Huck Institutes. Her work advances theories aimed at explaining social influence: the (positive and negative) social antecedents, processes, and consequences of people’s attempts to change others’ hearts, minds, or behaviors. Her work has interfaced with infectious disease, antibiotic stewardship, and genetic-based health risks, among others. As the Social Science Liaison, Rachel is representing the social sciences broadly construed and the views of communication scientists specifically.

Denise H. Solomon
  • Head, Communication Arts & Sciences Department (ex officio)

Denise H. Solomon

Denise Solomon is a Liberal Arts Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences with expertise in interpersonal communication. Her research focuses on communication experiences in personal relationships, such as support and conflict, that enhance or erode well-being. Relational turbulence theory, which Denise was central in developing, has been used to gain insight into a wide range of phenomena, such as how people experience breast cancer survivorship, cope with infertility, and navigate post-deployment military family life. Her role on the Executive Committee involves provision of strategic advice, especially regarding the interface between the CSSI and the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences (where the CSSI is housed).

Bradford J. Vivian
  • Humanities Liaison

Bradford J. Vivian

Bradford Vivian is a Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences, and Director of the Center for Democratic Deliberation in Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy. His work in rhetoric is rooted in theories of language and power, most often examining how language shapes both individual and collective identities. His latest book, for instance, examined how citizens, politicians, and civic institutions have adopted idioms of witnessing in recent decades to influence both personal and communal norms of identity in the wake of historical traumas. As the Humanities Liaison, Brad is representing the humanities broadly construed and the views of rhetoricians specifically.