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Monday, October 7, 2013

Salatino Wins Outstanding Poster Award at OCA

Megan Salatino and Dr. Avtgis
Congratulations to Megan Salatino for winning the Outstanding Undergraduate Poster award at the recent Ohio Communication Association's annual conference. Megan, a sophomore majoring in public relations, presented the first phase of her research: "Applying Expectancy Violation Theory in Skin Cancer Diagnosis".

"I chose to do this project after my mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year, and she explained to me that her doctor violated her expectation in a negative way.  Because of this, I wanted to explore and determine violations that occur between a provider and patient when relaying a basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or malignant melanoma diagnosis to a patient," said Megan.

In taking on this research, Megan hopes to help physicians and patients become more mindful in interpreting non-verbal behavior when delivering a disease diagnosis.

"Patients may become psychologically aroused if their expectations are violated," states Megan.

In the next phase of her research, Megan will be collecting data on how patients perceived their diagnosis and whether or not their expectations were violated.

Megan would like to coach healthcare providers in using verbal and non-verbal delivery techniques so the provider is more aware of his or her behavior when delivering a specific type of diagnosis, as well as adjust to any perceived violations from the patient.

Megan presented her research at the 77th annual Ohio Communication Association Conference, held at Marietta College, on October 4 and 5. During the poster session, judges reviewed the posters in a variety of areas including construction of the poster, presentation skills, and the research presented. The award was presented during the conference's business meeting on Saturday afternoon.

"When I heard Megan's name announced it made me so proud as she is really growing into a budding young scholar. The fact that she is only in her sophomore year makes the honor that much more incredible.  I can't wait to see the quality of research she will put forth in the next two years," says Dr. Theodore Avtgis, Megan's faculty advisor.

"Over the past two years the Department of Communication Studies student research productivity has been incredible.  Through the faculty's commitment to building a "culture of scholarship" we have seen great success from our students in terms of conference papers, poster presentations, book chapters, and peer-reviewed articles. In fact, this is the second year in a row that an AU student has won the top undergraduate poster award. It is clear that both the students are fully reflecting the department motto of 'Leave No Doubt'," said Avtgis.

AU Well Represented at Ohio Communication Assocation Conference

Andrew Hart and Chrissy Thompson
Eight students and three faculty members traveled to Marietta College to attend the 77th annual Ohio Communication Association (OCA) Conference on October 4 and 5.

Three posters presentations were accepted to the conference:

"Ashland University's Greek Life: Changing Your Thoughts" by Lauren Fattlar, Andrew Hart, Sarah O'Connell, Chrissy Thompson, and Kayla Toth.

Sarah O'Connell, Kayla Toth, and Lauren Fattlar

"Young Team Doing Big Things: A Campaign for the Lake Erie Crushers" by Adena Siefert, Andrew Hart, Ashley Van Gilder, Chrissy Thompson, Christina Maidich, and Kate Lentz.

"Applying Expectancy Violation Theory to Skin Cancer Diagnosis" by Megan Salatino.
Megan Salatino

Dr. Theodore Avtgis, chair of the Department of Communication Studies, serves as OCA's vice president.

Dr. Dariela Rodriguez, assistant professor and Sport Communication Coordinator in the Department of Communication Studies, serves as OCA's conference coordinator.

Dr. Kimberly Field-Springer also attended and participated on a panel discussion.

This is the second year that the department has sent students to the conference. This year's theme was "Keystones of Communication: Scholarship, Spirit, and Service". The conference encourages opportunities for engagement in thought-provoking, meaningful, scholarly discussions, as well as, networking opportunities with colleagues from across Ohio and beyond.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Randall-Griffiths Presents at Marathon Petroleum Group's Retreat

Deleasa Randall-Griffiths, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies presented material on local folklore and legends for the Marathon Petroleum Group External Sales Department’s Retreat at Mohican State Park Lodge on September 19, 2013. Sixteen employees from around the state of Ohio gathered to work on team building and communication.

Department of Communication Studies Develops Unique Communication Program

Ashland University has developed a new undergraduate degree program in health and risk communication and, according to an AU professor, it is the only program of its kind in the nation.

"What we’re doing here at Ashland is truly unique because it is the only undergraduate health and risk communication program in the U.S.," said Dr. Theodore Avtgis, chair and professor in the Department of Communication Studies. "People interested in health and safety careers will gain the necessary skills to effectively message to publics who are vulnerable, at risk or in crisis situations. These skills sets are critical in modern day society and as natural and man-made crises will continue to occur, effective messaging is critical to keeping the public and organizations safe."

According to Avtgis, the health and risk communication program at Ashland University focuses on two of today’s fastest growing industries -- health and safety.

"We are addressing today’s job market demands with tomorrow’s skill sets. Health and risk communication is a hybrid of two separate areas in the discipline of communication studies," Avtgis said. "Health communication deals with the interpersonal aspects of patient-provider interaction, the team aspects of healthcare delivery as well as the development and execution of healthcare campaigns. Risk communication is a separate entity that deals with the identification of potential threats, the addressing of current threats or crises, and eventually, threat containment and threat mitigation."

The new undergraduate degree is housed in AU’s Department of Communication Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences, yet has students taking courses across three colleges throughout the university.
Dr. Dariela Rodriguez, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies, noted the importance of this new program.

"Traditionally, health and risk communication have been treated as separate areas of study. However, in the post 9/11 environment, we are learning that health and safety are inextricably linked, you cannot separate those two anymore," she said. "So while many communication studies programs continue to address these areas as separate, here at Ashland what we have done is created a program that reflects the current and future demands of the health and safety sectors."

With a focus on communication theory, research, and application, the AU program prepares students for a variety of careers that include health communication specialist, risk manager, director of communication and public affairs, communication project specialist, security specialist, director of external affairs, health communication training and development officer, safety training, and as a pre-professional program for students focused on medical school or other terminal degrees in health.

"Employment projections by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate a 24 percent growth in demand over the next five years in the communication studies field and our program will be set up to allow for internships ranging from local government agencies to pharmaceutical companies," Avtgis said.

He said students are actively engaged in research with faculty who are certified in risk communication and actively consulting government and private sector organizations on risk and crisis communication.
Dr. Dawn Weber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, stressed the importance of this new major at Ashland University.

"The major in health and risk communication prepares students with the skills and training that ensures the public is well informed in the event of a crisis. The role of communication is central to saving lives and to informing the public. The quality of information and the time it takes to convey it from first responders to emergency room doctors can make the difference between a life saved and a life lost," Weber said. "Just this summer, individuals in 15 states as well as our own community experienced flu-like symptoms associated with cyclospora contamination in bagged lettuce. All too frequently we hear of rogue shooters in public places such as high schools, shopping malls, and the Boston Marathon. In each of these cases, communication professionals are essential to providing the public with accurate information."

The Journal of Risk and Crisis Communication, an online journal located in the UK, helped spread the word about the Department of Communication's innovative program.