Our Alumni

Read about our outstanding alumni and their accomplishments.

Alessandra Beasley Von Burg

Alessandra Beasley Von Burg is Assistant Professor of Communication and Interim Director of American Ethnic Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has created and hosted a series of Symposia on Citizenship with her students, including one on the Where Are You From? Project, a series of interviews with citizens, immigrants, long-term residents, and newcomers to the United States. She is married to Pitt alumnus Ron Von Burg who is Assistant Professor of Communication and core faculty in the interdisciplinary Humanities Program at Wake Forest University. 

Barbara Biesecker

Barbara Biesecker is Professor and Head of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia. She is the recipient of the NCA Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division's 2011 Distinguished Scholar Award and Southern States Communication Association's 2011 John I. Sisco Excellence in Teaching Award. She was also the director of a dissertation that won the 2006 Critical and Cultural Studies Division’s Dissertation of the Year Award, National Communication Association.  She taught an undergraduate/graduate course in Visual Rhetoric at the American University in Paris in July 2007.

Michael Bruner

Michael Bruner is on the faculty of the Communication Department at Humboldt State University. Dr. Maxwell Schnurer was elected Chair of the Department of Communication at Humboldt State University in 2012, and will be retiring effective July 2018, after 35 years of university teaching. He is co-editor of "The Rhetoric of Food: Discourse, Materiality, and Power" and has dedicated recent years to mentoring undergrad research at HSU.

Pete Bsumek

Pete Bsumek currently is an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies at James Madison University (JMU), where he is a cofounder of the Center for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue. He recently was named codirector of the newly reorganized Institute for Health and Environmental Communication at JMU.

Web sites for each organization will be completed this summer. Bsumek is president of the Environmental Communication Division of National Communication Association (NCA).  He will present papers at the 2007 Conference on Communication and the Environment and the 2007 NCA Convention.

Nicholas Burnett

Currently the chair of the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Sacramento, Nicholas Burnett has 1,400 undergraduate majors; 65 graduate students; 35 full-time, tenure-track faculty; and about 50 adjuncts. He and his lovely wife, Debbi Burnett, will celebrate their 20th anniversary this coming July.

Judy Canelos

Judy Canelos is currently a Communications Specialist at the UPMC Montefiore Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. 

Rebecca Mahr Cartus

Rebecca Mahr Cartus earned a Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in May 2006 and is currently a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church. 

Robert Danisch

Robert Danisch, PhD (2004) published a book in August 2007.  In the book, titled  "Pragmatism, Democracy, and the Necessity of Rhetoric", he examines the search by America's first generation of pragmatists for a unique set of rhetorics that would serve the needs of a developing democracy.

Rod Dixon

Rod Dixon has written a book called “Open Source Software Law” (Artech House, 2004).

Alice Donnely

Alice Donnely taught for the College of General Studies at the University of Pittsburgh for 28 years and since her retirement has written a play, poetry, articles, and books. She has 4 children, 7 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.

Aimee-Marie Dorsten

Aimee-Marie Dorsten is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Wilson College in Chambersburg PA. Aimee has joined the Association for Rhetoric of Science and Technology as Second Vice-President. Her articles include:

  • “Vietnam’s Internet Pornography ‘Epidemic’: The Communist Party Goes ‘Hard Core’ for Online Entrepreneurs.” International Journal of Communication.
  • “In the Shadows of Giants, Three Founding ‘Matriarchs’ of Mass Communication Studies.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Aimee will be attending NCA's 2010 Annual Convention as both Chair and Presenter:
    • Rhetorical Reflections on Genetics and Neuroscience (Chair) Sunday November, 14 2010         
    • Metaphoric, Symbolic, and Deliberative Resources Within Science and Technology (Chair) Tuesday November, 16 2010
    • Scholar to Scholar Presents: “Can Commercials Make You Fat? The PR Campaign to Make High Fructose Corn Syrup Master of the American Diet.” Tuesday November, 16 2010

Thomas R. Dunn

In the wake of the designation of the first U.S. national monument to GLBT rights, Thomas R. Dunn (Ph.D. 2011), an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies at a Colorado State University, published his first book on the subject of memory in the GLBTQ community. The book, entitled Queerly Remembered: Rhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ Past, investigates the ways in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) individuals and communities have increasingly turned to public tellings of their ostensibly shared pasts in order to advocate for political, social, and cultural change in the present. Drawing from the interdisciplinary fields of rhetorical studies, memory studies, gay and lesbian studies, and queer theory, Dunn advances the concept of queer monumentality to explain how and why the GLBTQ past is increasingly presented in durable, public, and persistent ways today and how it might be done better.

The book originated in his graduate work at Pitt under the advising of Dr. Lester Olson. In addition to his Ph.D. in Communication, Dunn also earned a Certificate in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality while at Pitt. Queerly Remembered was published by the University of South Carolina Press, one of the top university presses in rhetorical studies and public address in the nation. 

Christine Feldman

Dr. Christine Feldman, an alumni that graduated with high honors, a Lecturer in Cultural Sociology at Griffith University (Gold Coast campus) in Queensland, Australia. In Australia, the title "lecturer" is equivalent to assistant professor. This is a tenure-track position. If anyone, including past students, needs to contact her, she does not have a Griffith University email yet, but can be reached at: christinejfeldman@yahoo.com. She was previously a lecturer in Communication at the University of New Hampshire. She has published her dissertation with Peter Lang titled "We Are The Mods: Transnational History of a Youth Subculture".

Carleton Gholz

Dr. Carleton Gholz accepted a position as a Post Doctoral Teaching Associate in the Communication Studies Department at Northeastern University in Boston. He founded the Detroit Sound Conservancy and worked on a book based on his dissertation, "Where the Mix is Perfect': Voices from the Post-Motown Soundscape." You can find information about these and his other endeavors via his Web site: http://csgholz.org.

Michelle Gibbons

Michelle Gibbons has accepted a faculty position at the University of New Hampshire.

Crystal Gabrich

Crystal Gabrich is currently dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Carlow University, Pittsburgh, PA.

Radhika Gajjala

Radhika Gajjala , Professor, School of Media and Communication, at Bowling Green State University. Radhika recently went to Indonesia as a Fulbright Specialist in May.  In June of 2012, she attended and delivered a presentation as a keynote speaker at the Digital Crossroads 2012 Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands. She has co-edited volume "Cyberfeminism 2.0" in 2012.  She has also published her book, "Weavings of the Virtual Real: Cyberculture and the Subaltern" published by Lexington Press which was released in November 2012. She completed a term as Director of American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University and returned to be full time professor as joint appointed faculty in American Culture Studies Program and Department of Communication. Radhika Gajjala co-edited collection on South Asian Technospaces was released in March, 2008. [Radhika Gajjala and Venkataramana Gajjala eds. (2008) South AsianTechnospaces Peter Lang, Digital Formation Series] 2] Radhika Gajjala's son Pratap Gajjala graduated with dual degrees in Computer Science and Digital Arts in August 2007 and he is now gainfully employed.

Jean Jones

Jean Jones is currently the Director of the Robert C. Weber Honors Program at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and also the President of Edinboro APSCUF, the union that negotiates for and protects the rights of faculty and coaches. With co-author Herb Simons, she recently published the newest edition of the well-regarded textbook "Persuasion in Society." As noted by reviewer Matt Koschmann of the University of Colorado: "From social-scientific to humanistic approaches, from globalization to argumentation, from social movements to interpersonal negotiation, whatever the context, Simons and Jones have assembled a wealth of knowledge to better inform our understanding of persuasion."

She was also named Edinboro University’s “Educator of the Year” (out of 400 faculty) for the 2006-07 year. She has updated and re-issued Trevor Melia’s “Lucifer State.” She has been married since 1997 to Brad Wilson, a former faculty member in the HPS Dept. at Pitt.  

Lisa Keränen

Lisa Keränen, (PhD, 2003) has traveled for a research and service trip to Hong Kong, Lhasa, and her Department's partner campus in Beijing. She received the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences 2012 Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Colorado Denver. She wrote a book about the rhetorical history of biological weapons and organized the Association for the Rhetoric of Science & Technology (ARST) Vicentennial Celebration. Lisa is an assistant professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Colorado Denver, winner of the 2010 Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award from the National Communication Association.

She conducted archival research for her second book, Envisioning Viral Apocalypse: A Rhetorical History of Biological Weapons from World War II to the War on Terror. Lisa Keranen serves on the clinical ethics committee at Boulder Community Hospital. In her spare time, she enjoys Emerson’s ideal transactions—reading, walking, and gardening—and is seldom far from a mug of coffee. Lately, she has taken to snowshoeing and soaking up the pleasures of mountain culture.

Deepa Kumar

Dr. Deepa Kumar (PhD Pittsburgh 2001), Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers, received on 16 November 2007 the annual Young Leader Scholar Award for the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association. She has also just published a book, from the University of Illinois Press, titled Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike (2007).

She has published numerous important articles in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies (2006), Marxism and Communication Studies: The Point is to Change It, ed. Artz, Macek and Cloud (2006), Media, Culture and Society (2005), Television and New Media (2005), Feminist Media Studies (2004), Class and News, ed. Heider (2004), and Critical Studies in Media Communication (2001). Read More.

George C. McLemore

George C. McLemore (Ph.D., 1985), traveled to India and Bangladesh in the summer of 2012 to continue work on his photo documentary study JESSORE ROAD-JOURNEY TO FIGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING: INDIA TO BANGLADESH, for the French NGO Group Development that is based in Kolkata, India. Since his retirement in 2005 from the Communication Department of The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, McLemore has completed two Fulbright Senior Scholar postings in Nepal and India.

In Fall, 2010, McLemore was a faculty member on the SEMESTER-AT-SEA round the world voyage to 12 countries where he taught The Rhetoric of Film and Intercultural Communication. Dr. McLemore is an adjunct professor at Austin Community College. View photos.

Kenneth Mihalik

Kenneth Mihalik is the Department Head of Speech, Foreign Languages, and Theatre at Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC.

Sister Charleen Pavlik

Sister Charleen Pavlik  is a founding partner and director of Angelspring Farm Wellness Retreat in Fayette City, PA.  She presents professional wellness workshops regionally and nationally.  She released her first CD in 2004, “A Shelter of Wings”, original music and lyrics for wellness and relaxation.  She has also taught part-time in Duquesne University’s Music Therapy Department since 1989.

Damon Pfister

Damon Pfister accepted a faculty position at the University of Maryland.

David W. Seitz

David Seitz defended his dissertation, "Grave Negotiations: The Rhetorical Foundations of American World War I Cemeteries in Europe," on May 17, 2011. He accepted an Assistant Professor position at Penn State University-Greater Allegheny.

Joe Sery

Joe Sery has completed his first year as assistant professor at Christopher Newport University.

Steve Swope

Steve Swope completed his MBA at Ohio State University in June of 2007. In August 2010, he entered the Ph.D. program in Organizational Communication at Purdue University. He also was awarded a Frederick N. Andrews doctoral fellowship, which is intended for the recruitment of outstanding Ph.D.-track students to graduate programs at Purdue University. Steve completed his doctoral coursework in December 2011, prelim exams in May 2012, and is currently ABD. His dissertation (in progress) is titled Social Network influences in corporate finance: a study in organizational decision-making processes. In August 2012, he joins the Department of Media Studies (formerly Communication Technologies) at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in a tenure-track role as assistant professor. Recent papers delivered include three at the 2012 ECA Conference in Cambridge, MA:

  • Swope, S.A. (2012a). From Community to Society: Extensions and Transitions Through the Internet. Eastern Communication Association Conference, Communication and Technology: "Media, Online Communities, and the Evolution of Social Forms," 26 Apr 2012.
  • Swope, S.A. (2012b). Look Down the road: technology in the performance and production of music. Eastern Communication Association Conference, Media Ecology Association: "Implications and Application of Walter J. Ong's Secondary Orality: Hope, Music and the Digital Transition," 26 Apr 2012.
  • Swope, S.A. (2012c). A rational approach to poker: what is communicated in a bet? Eastern Communication Association Conference, Applied Communication: "Applied Communication in Entertainment Contexts," 26 Apr 2012.

Susan Wieczorek

Susan Wieczorek accepted a position as Executive Director of the Cambria-Somerset Council for Education of Health Professions, Inc. She is also an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh , Johnstown campus and acts as the Coordinator of Speaking Enhanced Development for General Education, Public Speaking Program Coordinator, and Speech Tutoring Coordinator. She continues to manage the medical practice of J. Eric Wieczorek, MD. She has also spoken widely in the area of medial communication throughout the United States and Europe. Her publications include the following:

  • "Healthcare Provider-Recipient Interactions: Is "On-Line" Interaction the Next Best Thing to Being There?" in Computer Mediated Communication and Personal Relationships. Chapter in Lynne M. Webb and Kevin B. Wright (Eds.) Communication textbook. Co-authored with T. Avtgis, E.P. Polack, and S.M. Staggers. Peter Lang Publishing: 2010.
  • "Physician-Patient Email: A Socio-Informatics Perspective," ETC: A Review of General Semantics. (July 2010) 67:3 (pages 311-327).
  • "Listening and Empathy toward our Patients: A Multi-Channel Process" in Applied Communication for Health Professionals. Single-authored chapter in E.P. Pollack, V. Richmond & McCroskey's medical communication textbook, Kendall Hunt, Iowa: 2008.

Carly Woods

Carly Woods accepted a faculty position at the University of Maryland. She was awarded the Frederick B. Artz Summer Research Award from Oberlin College and the American Society for the History of Rhetoric Outstanding Dissertation Award. Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Society for the History of Rhetoric.