Conversations about Communication

Zach Carr.

Zachary Carr, Host

Welcome to Conversations about Communication; a podcast hosted by the Department of Communication at the University at Buffalo.

This podcast focuses on a myriad of communication phenomena through interviews and discussions with leading communication scholars in the field. Join us as we traverse through the world of communication science and explore the many aspects of human interaction.

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Recent Episodes

Bonnie Nickels.

Episode 14

Connecting, caring, communicating: A conversation with Bonnie Nickels, PhD

Dr. Bonnie Nickels specializes in teaching and researching interpersonal and health communication. As a professor with a focus on teaching, Dr. Nickels is dedicated to student-centered learning, sharing her enthusiasm for the communication discipline and emphasizing the positive impact effective communication skills can have on personal and professional growth.

In addition to her teaching, Dr. Nickels’ research delves into various aspects of interpersonal communication, particularly exploring its intersection with health, family dynamics, and media. Her research interests encompass challenging topics such as difficult conversations, end-of-life communication, and supportive interactions.

Recent studies by Dr. Nickels have investigated how communication strategies can maintain relational bonds during turbulent life events. Specifically, she advocates for using film and television as pedagogical tools to facilitate difficult discussions, such as end-of-life conversations within families. Additionally, she explores relational maintenance behaviors in relationships experiencing separation due to incarceration.

Yotam Ophir.

Episode 13

Understanding truth & media: A conversation with Yotam Ophir, PhD

Yotam Ophir (PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2018) studies political and science communication (media effects, persuasion, misinformation, conspiracy theories and extremism), using mixed-method approaches, including computational text mining, network analysis, experiments, and surveys. Dr. Ophir’s work was published in journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), Journal of Communication (JOC), and Communication Methods and Measures (CMM). His coauthored book, “Democracy amid Crises: Polarization, Pandemic, Protests, & Persuasion” was published in 2022 by Oxford University Press. His sole-authored book “Misinformation & Society” is expected to be published in 2025. Dr. Ophir is the head of the Media Effects, Misinformation, and Extremism (MEME) lab, is a member of UB’s Center for Information Integrity, and is a distinguished fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2023, he received the “Exceptional Scholar: Young Investigator Award” from UB.

Dominick Matarese.

Episode 12

Another view from the other side: A conversation with Communication undergrad, Dominick Matarese

Dominick Matarese is a senior communication major who is also pursuing the journalism certificate. He is an active member in the University Honors College, a student ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the President of EDM Club. He recently won "Outstanding Senior" for the Department of Communication at UB.

He has participated in research through Yotam Ophir's Misinformation, Extremism, and Media Effects (MEME) lab and assisted Prof. Tom Feeley with a forthcoming study.

David Lee.

Episode 11

Relationships are everything. A conversation with David Lee, PhD

Dr. David Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at UB.

His research examines how everyday social interactions and relationships enable people to thrive. He is interested in a variety of social contexts (e.g., social support exchange, social media interactions, thinking about interacting with others), and its impact on outcomes ranging from self-regulation to mental and physical health.

Ray Chan.

Episode 10

View from the other side: A conversation with Communication undergraduate student, Ray Chan

Raymond Chan is a thriving Communication student in his senior year at the University at Buffalo. Raymond plans to extend his time at UB either pursuing a master’s in Communication or a Marketing MBA. He is coming off his 3rd consecutive semester on the Dean’s list.

In his free-time, Ray loves to play volleyball and spend time with friends. Ray also enjoys traveling and trying new things as he recently returned from a study abroad experience in South Korea and Japan last winter. Ray is a ball of sunshine who always wears a smile on his face so, don’t be afraid to stop and say hi! :)

Janet Yang.

Episode 9

Risky business: A conversation with Janet Yang, PhD

Dr. Janet Yang is a Professor, researcher, and educator within the Department of Communication at UB.

Dr. Janet Yang’s research examines cognitive and affective determinants of risk perception and its impact on information seeking, information sharing, and information processing. She has examined the impact of risk perception on communication behaviors related to a variety of environmental and health topics, ranging from climate change, plastic recycling, vaccination, Ebola, to e-cigarettes. She has published numerous articles in leading communication, risk, and interdisciplinary journals. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, among others.

Dr. Yang is awarded the 2021 Chauncey Starr Distinguished Young Risk Analyst Award by the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). Watch her acceptance speech via Youtube.

Matt Parrino.

Episode 8

Innovation, the Buffalo Bills, and lessons on what not to say: A Conversation with Buffalo Buills beat reporter, Matt Parrino

Matt Parrino is the Buffalo Bills beat reporter for and co-host of the award-winning “SHOUT!” Podcast. He’s also a Bills analyst for WIVB’s pregame show: “Buffalo Kickoff Live.” He’s in his third year as a journalism adjunct instructor at the University at Buffalo and serves as the advisor for The Spectrum, UB’s student-run news publication.

Hua (Helen) Wang.

Episode 7

Entertainment, education & engagement: A conversation with Hua (Helen) Wang, PhD

Helen Wang, PhD, is a Professor, researcher, and Director of Graduate Studies within the Department of Communication at UB.

Wang’s research focuses on the use of storytelling and technology for engaging mass audiences, especially vulnerable population groups such as women, youth and refugees, to promote the well-being of individuals, groups and society at large.

She specializes in entertainment-education, especially in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and gender equality. This communication strategy leverages the power of dramatic storytelling through and across channels such as web series, interactive games and social media to share messages about health and social issues. Her projects often take the form of interdisciplinary collaborations to design, implement and evaluate public campaigns and health interventions.

Zach Glowacki.

Episode 6

Friendship, grit, and curiosity; A conversation with Zach Glowacki, doctoral student

Zach Glowacki is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Communication at UB. His research interests stem from Nonverbal Communication and include facial expressions, emotions, tone of voice, and how social proximity behaviors affect our day to day social interactions- particularly on trait perceptions (e.g., trustworthy, likeability, anxious). More recently, Zach examines the role spontaneous microexpressions have in social interactions and what implications microexpressions have in deception, emotions, and trait perceptions.

Yini Zhang.

Episode 5

Big questions, big data: A conversation with Yini Zhang, PhD

Yini Zhang, PhD, is an expert on social media and political communication. She uses computational methods and big data to study social media and political communication. Her current research program centers around three questions: 1) within social media, how people express themselves and interact with each other, 2) as an ecosystem, how social media platforms relate to one another in terms of the flow of information, and 3) beyond social media, what can influence and be influenced by communication and interaction on social media. She also collaborates with experts in other disciplines to pose new questions and develop new methods to advance communication research.

Areas of expertise: Social media, political communication, misinformation, online activism, impact of social media on journalism and democracy.

Archived Episodes

Mckenzie Vorpahl.

McKenzie Vorpahl, PhD is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, where she regularly teaches courses such as Interpersonal Communication, Principles of Persuasion, and Communication Theory. She is an expert in Interpersonal and Health Communication research, focusing on patient-provider communication and social support within sensitive conversations. Within her teaching and research, her objective is to highlight the implications of communication in everyday life through awareness, self-exploration and skill-building exercises.

Thomas Feely.

Thomas Hugh Feeley, PhD, studies compliance-gaining principles in health and organizational settings. He has authored three books and over 125 journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries in social influence processes. Prof. Feeley is a Professor within the Department of Communication at UB as well as the Director of the Arts Management Program within the College of Arts and Sciences at UB.

Lindsay Hahn.

Prof. Lindsay Hahn is an expert on the effects of mass media on people’s conscience and actions, especially with regard to the cognitive and behavioral responses of audiences ranging in age from adolescence to adulthood.

Melanie Green.

In our inaugural episode, we welcome Prof. Melanie Green! Prof. Green is the chair of the Department of Communication at UB and is also a prolific researcher in her own right. In this episode we discuss the value of a communication degree (and studying COM in general) along with a glimpse into Prof. Green’s own research interests.

Contact Us

Thoughts, comments, and inquiries can be made by emailing Zach Carr