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Core Faculty

photo of Jennifer Bevan
Jennifer Bevan
Director of Graduate Studies, M.S. Health and Strategic Communication and Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2003
Jennifer L. Bevan is the Director of Graduate Studies for the MS Program in Health and Strategic Communication and Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. Before joining Chapman in 2007, she served on the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and at the University of Southern California. Her research and teaching interests center upon interpersonal and health communication within close relationships. Specific research topics include the negotiation of difficult interactions such as ongoing conflict, jealousy, sexual resistance, uncertainty, and topic avoidance, as well as related psychological and physical health correlates of these experiences. Dr. Bevan’s publications include over 45 peer-reviewed scholarly communication and biomedical articles and book chapters appearing in such journals as Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, Communication Research, and the Journal of Health Communication. Her dissertation received the 2003 Interpersonal Communication Division Dissertation Award from the International Communication Association. Her book, The Communication of Jealousy (2013), has won multiple awards, including the National Communication’s Diamond Anniversary Book Award and the Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Book Award from the Interpersonal Communication Division of the National Communication Association. Dr. Bevan is the editor-elect of Communication Reports.
photo of Lisa Sparks
Lisa Sparks
Founding Director of Graduate Studies, M.S. Health and Strategic Communication, Chair, Department of Communication and Foster and Mary McGaw Endowed Professor in Behavioral Sciences
Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 1998
Lisa Sparks is the Founding Director of Graduate Studies for the M.S. in Health and Strategic Communication, as well as Chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Foster and Mary McGaw endowed Professor in Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Sparks also serves as a full member of the Chao Family/NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Irvine in the School of Medicine (SOM) in the Division of Population Sciences, and has a faculty appointment in the Program in Public Health (PHP), College of Health Sciences (COHS). Prior to joining Chapman in 2006, Dr. Sparks occupied positions at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she served as Director of Graduate Programs and General Education Courses, affiliated faculty with the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases and the Center for Social Science Research, and the University of Texas at San Antonio, positions she held until she joined Chapman. A highly regarded teacher-scholar whose published work spans more than 100 research articles and scholarly book chapters, Dr. Sparks is the author and editor of more than 10 books in the areas of communication, health, and aging with a distinct focus on cancer communication science.
photo of Michelle  Miller-Day
Michelle Miller-Day
Director and Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Ph.D., Arizona State University
Michelle Miller-Day is the Director of the Communication Studies Department and a Professor of Communication Studies. Prior to joining Chapman in the Fall of 2012, Dr. Miller-Day occupied a faculty position at Penn State University at University Park as an Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Biobehavioral Health and faculty affiliate with the Penn State Center for Health Care and Policy Research. Dr. Miller-Day has served as the Principal Qualitative Investigator of a National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA/NIH] funded project for the past twenty years. This work has developed one of the most successful evidence-based substance use prevention programs in the United States and reaches more than two million youth worldwide. She has also served as Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI on a number of research grants to investigate or evaluate programs addressing issues at the intersection of health and communication. Currently, in addition to her drug prevention work, she partners with the Penn State Hershey Obesity and Diabetes Institute to evaluate “positive deviance” approaches to understanding obesity and diabetes prevention. Her cross-disciplinary work spans medicine, health, communication, and sociology and she has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, books, and chapters in a variety of outlets.
photo of Jennifer Waldeck
Jennifer Waldeck
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
Jennifer Waldeck is the Director of Graduate Teaching Assistants and Associate Professor of Communication Studies, and specializes in instructional and organizational communication research, with an emphasis on the effective use of new and emerging technologies for learning purposes. Her research has appeared in such journals as Communication Monographs, Communication Education, The Journal of Applied Communication Research, Communication Research Reports, Learning, Media, and Technology, Journal of Education for Business, and The Journal of Business Communication. Waldeck is the coauthor of Business and Professional Communication in a Digital Age (with Patricia Kearney and Timothy G. Plax), published in 2013 by Wadsworth Cengage. She has contributed to several edited volumes including Communication Yearbook, New Directions in Group Communication, Handbook of Life Span Communication, and Handbook of Communication and Instruction. Waldeck contributed invited chapters to interdisciplinary edited volumes in sociology on the role of human communication in social problems, and in business on strategic managerial communication. She regularly presents her research at regional, national, and international conferences and has earned "Top Three" Paper designations at the National Communication Association, International Communication Association, and Eastern Communication Association.
photo of Sam  Dorros
Sam Dorros
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Ph.D., University of Arizona
Sam Dorros is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. Her areas of interest include Interpersonal, Health, and Family Communication; and specifically how communication behaviors in relationships influence mental and physical health outcomes. She has conducted research examining the interdependence of couples coping with breast and prostate cancer and how the cancer experience affects relational well-being and mental health of dyads. She is currently conducting research on family communication patterns and health outcomes in children and adolescents.
photo of Claudine Jaenichen
Claudine Jaenichen
Associate Professor, Department of Art, Graphic Design at Chapman University
B.F.A., M.A. (terminal degree), University of Reading, England
Claudine Jaenichen is an Associate Professor in Graphic Design. Her specialization in information design is driven by the relationship between design and cognition, specifically with situational design serving a precise communicative role for, or in, cognitive demanding situations. She prioritizes participatory design and the importance of benchmarking as methods to measure the success of a project and how it communicates to its intended audience. Advocating inclusivity through design is central in pursuing design research for evacuation information and projects that address public information. Her work has been implemented in central and southern California, and continues to work with national Emergency Management Departments. Her creative work has been published in the GD USA Design Annual, Applications of Information Design, Journal of Applied Global Research, Information Design Journal, and Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics That People Understand. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed publications, including Parsons Institute for Information Mapping, Information Design Journal, Design Principles and Practices and journals in social sciences and humanities. She also currently services as a Life Research Fellow for Communication Research Institute. She also currently services as a Life Research Fellow for Communication Research Institute.
photo of Kerk Kee
Kerk Kee
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Ph.D., University of Texas, at Austin
Kerk F. Kee's research employs diffusion theory to examine organizational communication technologies and health communication strategies. Specifically, his communication research lies at the intersection of sociotechnical systems (i.e., social media, computational tools in collaborative cyberinfrastructure, etc.) and virtual organizing (in scientific distributed collaborations, health intervention disseminations, corporate enterprise 2.0 activities, etc.). In August 2013, he received a major grant from the National Science Foundation for a project entitled, "Computational Tools, Virtual Organizing, and Dynamic Innovation Diffusion" (2013-2016) to support a research team with 4 students at Chapman. In 2010-2011, he received a subcontract and participated in a multi-institutional project on family health innovation dissemination funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (PI: Jim Dearing, Institute for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Colorado).
photo of Sara  LaBelle
Sara LaBelle
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Ph.D., West Virginia University
Sara LaBelle is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies. Her primary area of study is in Health Communication, with a secondary area of emphasis in Instructional Communication. Her research focuses on the most effective means of implementing, disseminating, and evaluating health communication campaigns and health information in patient-provider care, as well as on improving the outcomes of these endeavors using knowledge on the teaching-learning process. Her dissertation work focused specifically on developing and validating a stronger measurement of health literacy for use in social science research. Dr. LaBelle is currently working with students to further explore the impact and influence of health literacy in a variety of health and social contexts.
photo of Jake  Liang
Jake Liang
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Ph.D., Michigan State University
Yuhua (Jake) Liang’s research relates to persuasion in communication contexts enabled by technology. These contexts include Web 2.0 websites, social media platforms, online product reviews (e.g., Amazon.com), teacher rating systems (e.g., RateMyProfessors.com), and computer agents (e.g., Siri). His research follows three foci related to (1) understanding the theoretical mechanisms of how technology-enabled communication processes converge, (2) delineating conditions under which persuasive effects are enhanced and hindered, and (3) applying strategic messages to create practical change (e.g., health-outcomes, consumer attitudes and behavior). To address these foci, he employs primarily quantitative methods such as experiments and surveys. Jake has also utilized automatic linguistic analyses and data scraping methods. Jake has published in Journal of Communication, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Computers in Human Behavior, Media Psychology, and Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Jake enjoys working with undergraduate students in collaborative research teams. Jake currently works with students on promoting engagement of online content, understanding message virality, and testing mechanisms responsible for the effects of digital self-representations (e.g., avatars).

Affiliated Faculty

photo of Nicholas Leighton
Nicholas Leighton
Adjunct Faculty Member, Department of Communication Studies
MBA in Business Administration, De Montfort University
Nick is a serial entrepreneur and has been teaching as an Adjunct Professor at Chapman since 2009. He owns three companies, The Alternative Board (www.TABsocal.com) that offers coaching and consulting to local business owners in Orange County: NettResults International (www.NettResultsLLC.com), a results-oriented marketing and crisis communications agency, and inScope Group (www.inScopeGroup.com), a West Coast project management company. Nick has represented large pharmaceutical, medical, medical-tech companies, and hospitals throughout the world as well as consulting at both the local doctor/clinic level in California and for Ministry of Health departments on three continents.