Melissa M. Moore initially visited UB while she was deciding on PhD programs, and it was the diversity and the close-knitedness of the department led her to choose UB to further her education. Prior to joining the UB Department of Communication, she completed her undergraduate degree in theatre and communication studies at SUNY Plattsburgh, and her Master’s at Emerson College in theatre education.
Melissa’s research focuses on narratives. She looks at “what makes a narrative engaging, or transformative,” with the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Melanie Green. She also works closely with Dr. Mark Frank to study non-verbal expression and communication. She says both her mentors, Dr. Green and Dr. Frank, are extremely supportive and help her look at behaviour, personality and the emotional elements in her research through the lens of a social psychologist.
Her extensive background in theatre helps with her research; she notes that “ the nonverbal communication definitely plays into acting against performance, but I am also really interested in the part of it, like what makes a plot good, or effective, or engaging.” She is also interested in exploring tropes i.e., using tropes in plots to see how they can be effective.
Melissa’s time at UB has been great so far. If she is interested in something, she has been able to delve into it, given the resources and the supportive faculty - “If I have an idea that overlaps their research interests, I find that they are willing to work together.” She believes that the professors being supportive creates a similar environment amongst the students as well.
Over the past year, Melissa was the president of the student club, The Communication Graduate Student Association. This was a fun experience for her, and a good way to connect with people and engage outside the classroom.
Melissa is currently focusing on narrowing her research. She is interested in a lot of things and is figuring out ways to tie them together. Her goal is to find the link between how a plot makes something engaging, and how that connects to nonverbal ability.
By: Vindhya Burugupalli