A Remarkable and Proud Moment in Metamorphosis Project History/Legacy: Recent Job Hires

By Evelyn Moreno

A remarkable and proud moment in Metamorphosis Project history and for Principal Investigator, Dr. Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach, where four of her recent advisees and two longtime members of the Metamorphosis Project are beginning new assistant professor positions across the United States.

Starting in the fall 2015, three of Dr. Ball-Rokeach’s advisees, Dr. Carmen Gonzalez, Dr. Garrett Broad, and Dr. George Villanueva, will begin assistant professor positions that emphasize civic engagement, advocacy, and social change. The fourth advisee, Dr. Katherine Ognyanova, will start an assistant professor position in the area of computational science.

What’s more, former Metamorphosis Project team members, Dr. Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen and Dr. Meghan Moran, advisees of Dr. Michael Cody and Dr. Sheila Murphy, respectively, have begun positions in the area of public health. The Metamorphosis Project could not be prouder!

It is no coincidence that three universities with communication department positions across the U.S. who emphasize civic engagement, advocacy, and social change research hire advisees of Dr. Ball-Rokeach. To summarize just how fit this moment is, we asked Dr. Ball-Rokeach to briefly talk about how The Metamorphosis Project is a place where civic engagement and social justice research training thrives;

How does The Metamorphosis Project train students in the area of civic engagement and social change research?

Most students who join the Metamorphosis Project team come with a social justice orientation where they want to learn both theory and research methods that will allow them to undertake projects that are grounded in the everyday lives of diverse communities and that often involve working directly with community organizations that serve those communities. The training in multiple research methods occurs in a team atmosphere where more senior team members in concert with me mentor newer members.

What does the fact that three of your advisees were hired across the country at universities who are just starting these social justice and civic engagement initiatives say about a growing trend in universities/paradigm shift in social science research, etc.?

There is a hopeful trend in universities, especially those in urban centers— such as Seattle, New York, and Chicago where Carmen, Garrett, and George, respectively, have been appointed as Assistant Professors—toward re-engagement with the diverse and often disadvantaged communities that surround university spaces. Particularly impressive is that the fact that these initiatives are oriented toward working with these communities to bring about social change that benefits the health and welfare of residents and, in the process, creates university-community partnerships.

These appointments bring credit to the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism for its continued support of civic engagement and social change programs. 

Without further ado, congratulations and the best of luck to our colleagues! The details of their appointments and interests are listed below: 

Dr. Garrett Broad:

This fall, Dr. Garrett Broad will be starting as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York. The position emphasizes research and teaching in the area of strategic communication for social change and civic engagement. Dr. Broad will also be playing a role in the development of a new MA program in Public Media, which will include partnerships with both public media producers as well as community-based non-profit organizations devoted to social justice advocacy. 

Dr. George Villanueva:

This fall, Dr. George Villanueva will be starting as an Assistant Professor of Advocacy and Social Change, School of Communication, Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Villanueva will be researching, teaching, and training students in engaged research for advocacy and social change. He will be working with students who major in the School of Communication’s B.A. in Advocacy and Social Change and working with colleagues to develop a M.A. program in Advocacy and Social Change. Dr. Villanueva also plans to collaborate and be affiliated with Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL). 

Dr. Carmen Gonzalez:

Dr. Carmen Gonzalez will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington starting September 2015. She will also be a faculty associate at the new Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, an interdisciplinary research center that supports community-based work to address social inequality. Through engaged research and teaching, Dr. Gonzalez’s position will help bridge university and community efforts to promote social change. 

Dr. Katherine Ognyanova:

Dr. Katherine Ognyanova, will start an assistant professor position in the area of technology and computational methods.

Starting September, Dr. Katherine Ognyanova will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University. Her current work focuses on technology, media, and political participation, using large-scale digital data, network modeling and computational methods. Katya Ognyanova’s future projects include a study examining applications of network science in social change projects and policy initiatives. 

Dr. Meghan Bridgid Moran:

Dr. Meghan Bridgid Moran has begun as an assistant professor of Health, Behavior & Society in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Moran currently has a K01 grant to study the effect of tobacco marketing strategies on youth and young adult tobacco use. She is also working on research to understand how adolescent peer crowds and subcultures impact tobacco use and other risk behaviors and can be used to inform risk behavior prevention interventions.

Dr. Moran also continues her research as a co-investigator on two projects related to cervical cancer prevention and treatment. The first is “Barriers to Cervical Cancer Prevention in Hispanic Women: A Multilevel Approach” with PIs Dr. Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Dr. Sheila Murphy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The second project is “Transforming Cancer Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior through Narrative”, also with PI Dr. Sheila Murphy and with PI Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati from the Keck School of Medicine. Additionally, she has just begun an affiliation with the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Legacy. 

Dr. Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen

Dr. Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen began her position as Assistant Professor of Communication at California State University Channel Islands in August 2014. Focusing her research and teaching on health communication, she has collaborated with the university’s Center for Community Engagement on projects involving student research and service to local communities on health issues, such as dietary change among the Mixtec immigrants. She is also pursuing research pertaining to risk communication about vaccination and texting and driving using firsthand and secondary data. 

Dr. Chen continues her involvement with the Alhambra Project, a project directed by Dr. Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Michael Parks at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The project team is currently evaluating the impact of a theory-based local news website in enhancing civic engagement in a diverse city through both qualitative and quantitative research. 

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