Lead Researcher

Dr. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick

Dr. Knobloch-Westerwick

Dr. Knobloch-Westerwick

The SEMI-ME group is led by Dr. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, a professor at the School of Communication at The Ohio State University and a Fellow of the International Communication Association. She serves as co-editor of Communication Research, a flagship journal of communication science.

Dr. Knobloch-Westerwick’s research examines the selection, processing, and effects of mediated communication. A key thread in her work pertains to antecedents and consequences of selective exposure to mediated messages. Her 2015 book “Choice and Preference in Media Use” provides   comprehensive review of the research on selective exposure to media messages, which is at the heart of communication science and media effects.

A bibliometric study ranked Dr. Knobloch-Westerwick as the #1 most productive scholar in central communication journals. Link

Dr. Knobloch-Westerwick’s Website


Wenbo Li

Wenbo Li is a doctoral student in the School of Communication at Ohio State. He studies media effects, health communication, and the psychological & social impacts of communication technologies. In SEMI-ME, he conducts research on self effects, social influence, and selective exposure to mediated messages. One of his two recent projects investigates the impacts of public self-awareness on selective exposure to social comparison messages on social media. The other examines how the interplay of self-effects and social influence on social media affects selective exposure to partisan content. He also collaborates with other scholars, focusing on survey research and networks. His work can be accessed through his Google Scholar page.

Friday night is his movie night; Tuesday and Saturday afternoon are his badminton times. Otherwise, he’s either in the lab or on the way to the lab.

Key terms: Communication Technologies, Health Communication, Computational Communication Science, Media Psychology/Media Effects, Persuasion

Ling Liu

Ling Liu is a visiting scholar in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University (November 2019 – March 2020; August 2016 – February 2018). She is also a PhD student in the Graduate School of Political Science at Waseda University, Japan. Her research focuses on political communication and comparative communication research. In SEMI-ME, she has worked with Dr. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick to investigate the context impacts on confirmation bias (link). Currently, she is working on confirmation bias from the social identity perspective.


Tran Luong

Kate T. Luong is a Ph.D. candidate (degree expected May 2020) in the School of Communication at the Ohio State University. Her research interests focus on message designs and evaluations for effective communication in science and environmental domains using media psychology theories and approaches. She is specifically interested in the role of the self in media processes, including media selection, processing, and effects. Her studies have examined topics such as environmental policies and behaviors, women’s performance  and interests in STEM fields, narratives and science information, and anti-vaccination.

During her free time, Kate enjoys baking, cooking, and watching crime procedural TV shows.

Her latest CV is available for download here. Her personal website is accessible here, and her Google Scholar page here.

Key terms: Media Psychology/Media Effects; Persuasion; Science/Environmental Communication; Social Groups & Media (Gender/Race/Nationalities) 

Rachel McKenzie

Rachel McKenzie is an MA student in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on how online mental health content impacts attitudes towards mental illness, social support, and help seeking. Currently, she is exploring how certain characteristics of mental health Instagram posts influence future content preferences and selection.

In her free time she enjoys creative writing, watching movies, and spending time with her little sisters.

Key terms: Health Communication, Media Psychology/Media Effects 

Elizabeth Riggs

Elizabeth Riggs is a MA student in the School of Communication at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on cognitive engagement with media messages, specifically the role of attention and memory , as well as how individuals’ self-concepts are involved in message processing. Furthermore in these domains, her interests also include improving measurement of related constructs. In SEMI-ME,  her past projects have studied suspense during engagement with audio narratives and the role of self-construal in the selection of inspirational videos.

In her free time, Elizabeth can be found doing ballet, binging new Netflix shows, or spending time with her friends.

Key terms: Media Psychology/Media Effects, Computational Communication Science, Persuasion, Entertainment

Morgan Ross

Morgan Quinn Ross is a second-year PhD student in the School of Communication. His research interests lie at the intersection of mobile communication, mobility, and identity. In SEMI-ME, he investigates mobile selective exposure, with emphasis on mobile news consumption through the lens of identity and mobility processes. 

In his free time, he enjoys running, canvassing, puzzling, and eating pancakes.

Key terms: Communication Technologies, Computational Communication Science, Media Psychology/Media Effects

Daniel Sude

Daniel Sude is an ABD (graduating April 2020) student in the School of Communication. His research with the SEMI-ME lab examines the impact of communication technologies on communication about controversial topics. Specifically, he has examined the impact of selective exposure to news aggregator sites on perceptions of public opinion and political attitudes (Sude, Knobloch-Westerwick, Robinson, & Westerwick, 2019), the impact of user generated content versus traditional mass media content on selective exposure (Westerwick, Sude, Robinson, & Knobloch-Westerwick, in press), as well as impacts on selective exposure of social identity cues and self-expression affordances (under review).

In addition to being a PhD candidate in Communication, Daniel has past degrees focused on psychology, political science, and cultural anthropology (MA: University of British Columbia, MA: University of Chicago, BA: Dartmouth College). Daniel’s current work integrates the social identity perspective with cognitive dissonance theory, Noelle-Neumann’s spiral of silence theory, and theoretical perspectives from social psychology.

In his free time, Daniel enjoys Instagramming photos of his long walks in the wild, writing thoughtful reviews of restaurants on Google Maps, as well as encouraging higher quality political talk on Facebook.

Key terms: Communication Technologies, Computational Communication ScienceMedia Psychology/Media Effects, PersuasionPolitical CommunicationScience/Environmental CommunicationSocial Groups & Media (Gender/Race/Nationalities) 

Affiliate Faculty

Robert Bond 

Robert Bond is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication at Ohio State University. He received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego in 2013. He also studied at Arizona State University, where he graduated with an M.A. in political science in 2007 and a B.A. in political science in 2006. His core research interest is in political behavior and attitudes, specifically how our social networks influence our political behavior and communication. He uses computational methods to understand why people behave as they do, how they communicate, and what the effects of communication are for politics.  Much of this core area of research uses big data to study social influence on political behaviors and attitudes, including large-scale field experiments on turnout, and observational work on ideology. In addition to his main areas of work, he has studied the development of political attitudes and behaviors in the social networks of adolescents, social network effects on aggression, and social attitudes about prejudice, using social network techniques.


George Pearson

After living in England, Scotland, the Isles of Scilly, Africa and Asia, George Pearson decided it was time to come to the United States. Everyone has a different story on the choice to study at Ohio State. For Pearson, it was his brother who said, “Have you seen the Ohio State band? You have to go there!”

Now finishing his fifth year, Pearson has completed many research studies and has taught several classes. He finished his undergraduate studies in 2011, graduating from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. He then began working for his local government in online communications. At the time, his work consisted of monitoring press releases, design and strategies for communicating with the public. Then, one day while he was watching television, he began thinking about the many ways people find information online, what sources they trust and how quickly the media industry was changing. Now, these are the topics his research revolves around.

Pearson has completed four journal articles, three of which used experimental data and the other being broad theory based. One of his publications was a required article to read on a class syllabus in Australia. His favorite research was a survey sent out in 2016 during the presidential election. In the survey, he asked participants how often they pay attention to the sources of their news. In the end, he found that people said it was important to check the sources their news came from but rarely checked the source when prompted with news articles. Along with this, he asked participants where they were getting their information. He found that those who found their information on social media were more likely to believe false information.

On top of the research, Pearson also teaches communication and journalism classes. His favorite class to teach is COMM 3163, Communication Industry Research Methods. He believes teaching is most fun when people are able to go out and get hands-on experience while simultaneously learning from the book in a classroom setting. With this, they are able to learn how to interpret and conduct research in an appropriate way. His second favorite class to teach is media writing and editing. He loves reading the great stories students find around campus and the way they write about them.

Hillary Shulman

Hillary Shulman’s research is broadly interested in how communication can be used to stimulate political engagement particularly in underrepresented populations. Her work utilizes several different theoretical and methodological approaches in an effort to understand 1) why some people become engaged while others do not, and 2) whether there is a way to overcome structural barriers to participation via communication.




Zheng (Joyce) Wang

Zheng Joyce Wang (Ph.D. in Communications & Cognitive Science, Indiana University-Bloomington, 2007) is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication and faculty-in-residence of Translational Data Analytics at the Ohio State University-Columbus. She directs the Communication and Psychophysiology Lab.

One of her research interests is the use of real time and longitudinal data (e.g., psychophysiological measures, longitudinal life experience sampling) in conjunction with formal dynamic models to study how people process information, and how their attention, emotion, motivation, decision and choices are affected by the information. A current focus of hers is the reciprocal influences between information processing and choice behaviors across time. One main application of this research is to help us better understand effective communication strategies and message designs to change health related behaviors, such as substance use and diet.

Another research interest of hers is to study contextual influences on judgment and decision by building new probabilistic and dynamic systems based upon quantum rather than traditional classical probability principles. Quantum probability theory turns out to be highly suitable for explaining puzzles associated with the highly contextual nature of choice and judgment. She has applied the dynamic quantum models to study paradoxical findings on interpersonal interactions (e.g., categorization-decision interference effects), measurement order effects (e.g., order effects of attitude questions), and episodic memory overdistribution effects. She co-edited a special issue on The Potential of Quantum Probability for Modeling Cognitive Processes (Topics in Cognitive Science, 2013, Vol. 5).

She publishes in journals in communication, psychology, and cross disciplines, such as Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Media Psychology, Journal of Mathematical Psychology, Trends in Cognitive Science, and PNAS, and has won many best paper awards. She co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Computational and Mathematical Psychology (2015) and is writing a book on Cognitive Choice Modeling (MIT, forthcoming). Her research has been continuously supported by U.S. National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Undergraduate Researchers

Jarod Crum

Jarod Crum is a third-year undergraduate student in the School of Communication at Ohio State. Currently majoring in Communication Technology and a minor in Computer and Information Science, Jarod is still figuring out his research interests, but currently helps SEMI-ME as a research assistant with data collection.


Weiyu Tong

Weiyu Tong is a third-year undergraduate student in the School of Communication at Ohio State. She is major in Strategic Communication and Journalism. She plans to continue to pursue a master’s degree in the communication field and is still figuring out her research interests. In SEMI-ME, she is currently a research assistant and helps with data collection. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies and cooking.




ChaoYi Cheng

Keming He

Lab & Project Managers

Lena Ishtayeh

Alumni Researchers

Matthias R. Hastall

Benjamin Johnson

Melissa Robinson

Melanie Sarge

Laura Willis

Past Undergraduate Researchers and Developers

(From left to right)

TJ Neers

Amal Saeed

Jane Hulse

Hope Bobbit

Mark Leskovec

Dana Brooks

Evan McWilliams

Birkan Gokbag

Berkay Kaplan

Shengkai Wang

Erin Gottsacker

Travis Filicky

Jonathan Shulman

Quinn Burgner