Faculty Bios

Courtney Bosworth, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Teaching and research interests: Advertising, media studies

Dr. Bosworth earned his B.S. and M.A. at the University of Florida and his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia, where he wrote a dissertation entitled, “Online computer media use in the home: A study of uses-and-effects." He recently earned a graduate certificate in Digital Marketing from The University of Virginia. Bosworth has also worked at the Ocala Economic Development Council as a research assistant, promoting the area for business expansion and economic growth. He also worked for the Chain Store Guide Information Services (CSGIS), Division of Lebhar-Friedman Publishing, first as a marketing associate and then as a marketing information editor. While at CSGIS Dr. Bosworth was a member of its strategic planning and horizons planning committees. Dr. Bosworth recently stepped down as Coordinator for the Media Studies major, a position he filled for 10 years. He served as Interim Chair for the department of Political Science in 2018, and regularly advises new freshmen and transfer students at Quest. 

John Brummette, Ph.D., Professor
Teaching and research interests: Public relations, crisis communication, issues management, organizational legitimacy, organizational values, social network analysis, activism and social capital.

Dr. Brummette earned a B.A. in Communication and Rhetoric from the University of Pittsburgh in 2001, his master’s degree in Corporate and Professional Communication from Radford University in 2003, and his doctorate in Communication and Information from the University of Tennessee - Knoxville in 2008. He taught at Lincoln Memorial University and worked as a community liaison for the Safety, Environment, and Education Center at UT-Knoxville. He was designated as a Legacy Scholar by the Arthur Page Society in 2014 and his research has been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Public Relations Review, PR Journal, PRism, Corporate Communication: An International Journal, The Journal of Social Media and Society, Journal of Communication Management, Health Marketing Quarterly and the Encyclopedia of Public Relations. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Public Relations Research and Public Relations Journal.  

Dr. Brummette currently serves as the director of the SMART Lab here at Radford University.

Zehui Dai, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Teaching and research interests: Interpersonal Communication (Secondary Health Communication), Research Methods. 

Dr. Dai earned her doctorate in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. She also holds a master’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Arkansas. Her work focuses on themes related to health, relationships, social justice, advocacy. Her research has been published in several journals, including Health Communication, American Behavioral Scientist, Social Science Computer Review, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Journal of Perinatal Education. Moreover, she has received Top Paper awards from the NCA (in the Health Communication Division in 2021 and the Visual Communication Division in 2016) and from the AEJMC "Commission on the Status of Women"

Dr. Dai has served as the Associate Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program since January 2022, and she is the faculty advisor for the Women's Studies Club.

Scott Dunn, Ph.D., Professor
Teaching and research interests: political communication.

Dr. Dunn earned his Bachelor's degree and MA at Virginia Tech, and his Ph. D at the University of North Carolina. He served as the Graduate Coordinator for our graduate program for two years. Dr. Dunn also serves as the Faculty Senate representative for the School of Communication. His current research focuses on political engagement among college students.

Sandy French, Ph.D., Professor
Teaching and research interests: organizational communication; business rhetoric; corporate reputation management; leadership.

Dr. French earned her B.S. at Radford University, M.A. at Wake Forest University and Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University. She served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Business Communication, and currently serves as a reviewer for several Communication journals. Her research has been published in the Journal of Applied Communication, the Southern Communication Journal, the Journal of Business Communication, and Business Communication Quarterly. Dr. French has served as an Honors Faculty Fellow, and was awarded the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Teaching award in 2019. 

Kimberly Herbert, Senior Instructor/Internship Coordinator

Ms. Herbert received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Radford University and her Master’s Degree in Public Communication from The American University.  She previously served as the Director of Advising for the College of Sciences at Old Dominion University and an Adjunct Professor of Communication at Old Dominion, George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College.  Kim also has professional experience in Career Advising, Recruiting and Public Relations. She is currently an advisor for Lambda Pi Eta and Delta Zeta Sorority. Ms. Herbert is the Internship Coordinator for the School of Communication.

Christopher K. Hull, M.S., Special Purpose Faculty Instructor

Teaching and research interests: Persuasion, public relations, public speaking, politics and the media, media production, and cinema studies.

Mr. Hull is a Special Purpose Faculty Instructor in the School of Communication at Radford University. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre from California State University, Fullerton, and a Master’s degree in Strategic Communication from Radford University. In addition to his current position, Chris has been with RU as a Graduate Teaching Fellow and an Adjunct Instructor. He enjoys teaching and incorporating theories exploring the roles played by persuasion, public relations, and the media in reflecting and driving political and social discourse.

Sam Jennings, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Media Studies Coordinator
Teaching and research interests: Web development, digital Imaging, digital communication, computers as social actors (intelligent user interfaces), and instructional technology (Learning Management Systems and interactive rich media for teaching/training).

Dr. Jennings earned his B.A. degree in sociology and a second B.A. with a double major in computer science and business administration from Mary Baldwin College, his M.A. in Instructional Technology, and Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology from Virginia Tech. He is an experienced webmaster, system engineer, and eLearning consultant for a variety of organizations including industry (fortune 100, 500 and Global 2000 companies), health care, local government, law enforcement, and technical schools. In addition to experience in the field, he has taught computer science at both the high school and community college levels and maintains certification to teach k-12 computer science in the Commonwealth of Virginia. His course website is www.samjennings.org. Dr. Jennings currently serves as the Media Studies Coordinator for our School.

Betty Kennan, Senior Instructor
Teaching and research interests: interpersonal communication, teamwork, and communication trends.

Ms. Kennan received her Bachelors of Science in Education and Masters of Arts in Communication from West Texas A & M University.  She has taught basic communication courses in Texas and Virginia and joined the School of Communication at Radford University in 2005.  Ms. Kennan teaches Listening/Nonverbal, Interpersonal Communication, and Teamwork.  Ms. Kennan serves as mentor to students presenting research at local, regional, and national conferences.

William (Bill) Kovarik, Ph.D., Professor
Teaching and research interests: journalism, media history, media law, new media tech, and environmental history. His research is located at the intersection of history, communications and the environment.

Prof. Kovarik worked at The Associated Press, the Baltimore Sun, the Charleston SC Post-Courier, and Time-Life Books and with columnist Jack Anderson. He has also worked as a stringer with the New York Times, Time Magazine and a number of science and environmental publications.  

Prof. Kovarik studied history of media, technology and environment at the University of South Carolina, earning an M.A. in 1983, and the University of Maryland, earning a PhD in 1993.  His dissertation involved research into the media coverage of a preventable environmental disaster — the development of Ethyl leaded gasoline and alternative anti-knock additives. Kovarik has also served as an academic representative on the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists and as editor of Appalachian Voice.

Prof. Kovarik’s books (so far) include “The Forbidden Fuel” (1982, republished 2010), The Ethyl Controversy (1993); “Mass Media and Environmental Conflict” (1996, with Mark Neuzil, Sage); “Web Design for the Mass Media” (2001, Pearson) and “Revolutions in Communication” (2011, 2016, Bloomsbury).

In addition to serving full time at Radford since 1990, Prof. Kovarik has been a visiting professor at Unity College, the University of Maryland, the University of South Carolina, Virginia Tech, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Ljubljana. 

Faculty webpage: https://www.billkovarik.com

Michael J. Meindl, MFA, Associate Professor/Cinema Studies Coordinator
Teaching and research interests: Digital video and audio production, science and technology studies, media history, digital photography, motion-capture, interactive media, mediated performance, human-computer interaction, theatre, video games, animation, robotics, puppetry, gender and masculinity studies, and aesthetic philosophy.

Mr. Meindl received his M.F.A. in Dramatic Media from the University of Georgia and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech. He also holds an M.A. and B.A. in Theatre Studies from Oklahoma State University and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, respectively. He has done practical and scholarly work in a variety of areas, including theatre, film, and animation.

As a scholar, Michael focuses primarily on the relationship between media, science, and technology. He has presented at a variety of regional, national, and international conferences, including those sponsored by the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), the Society for Animation Studies (SAS), and the Popular Culture Association (PCA). He currently has two essays accepted for publication. One focuses on the representation of science and technology in both Jaws and Mythbusters and will be part of a collection of works celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jaws. The other explores the use of specific types of sources when doing history of animation research and will be part of a special “doing animation history” issue of Animation: An International Journal. Finally, he is working on a book-length analysis of early Disney animation technology.

As a video artist, he has worked with the National Geographic Channel, providing motion-capture services, as well as the New York Public Library and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, filming special events (some of his footage has been shown to the United States Congress). He has also worked on commercials and short documentaries. Through his own production company, he is currently working on a feature-length documentary investigating the intersection between puppetry and the LGBTQ community. Since its inception in 2014, Michael has been a judge for the International Red Dirt Film Festival held in Stillwater, OK.

Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., Professor, and Dean of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences
Teaching and research interests: Graphic storytelling, media history, critical methods

Dr. Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in English from West Liberty State College and his master’s in English and doctorate in Interpersonal Communication from Ohio University. He is the co-editor, along with Randy Duncan, of the Routledge Advances in Comics Studies Series. In collaboration with Duncan and Paul Levitz, he is co-author of The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture, 2nd Edition. Smith’s previous collaborations include It Happens at Comic-Con: Ethnographic Essays on a Pop Culture Phenomenon and the Eisner-nominated Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods. Previously, he was chair of the Department of Communication and Director of Cinema Studies at Wittenberg University in Ohio. 

Matthew Turner, Ph.D., Professor 
Teaching and research interests: Media production, Interdisciplinary studies, comedy, semiotics, film and video production and editing.

Dr. Turner earned his B.A. in Communication and B.A. in English at Virginia Tech, and earned his M.A. in Telecommunication and Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Arts both at Ohio University. Dr. Turner also enjoys teaching interdisciplinary classes, such as a course he originated on Brazilian arts and media. Dr. Turner’s dissertation “Signs of Comedy: A Semiotic Approach to Comedy in the Arts” looks at how comedy creates and subverts meaning in a variety of art forms. Dr. Turner has presented at numerous national and international conferences in interdisciplinary studies, theater, art history, philosophy, English, popular culture, and film. He has also published articles and book chapters on comedy Westerns, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and the Marx Brothers. Dr. Turner has worked as an editor and consultant to Jonesfilm Group Ltd. and has edited several documentary films for them. Dr. Turner’s travels and interest in international education have led him to teach students on five continents. 

Jennifer Walton, Ph.D., Professor/Director
Teaching and research interests: Public scholarship, movies and television programs.

Dr. Walton earned her B.S and M.A. at Indiana State University, and Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University. Most recently, she served as a professor and department chair at Ohio Northern University and an associate faculty member in the Master of Humanities program at Tiffin University.  Her research focuses on public scholarship and has been featured in USA Today, The Columbus Dispatch, The Tennessean among many others.  She published a scholarly book entitled A rhetorical analysis of six Hollywood Films about Politics: Presenting the Candidate as a Movie Star and had two book chapters appear in Teaching Communication Creatively: Practical Ideas to Enhance Student Learning. She is currently working on a book highlighting the health and social issues portrayed in soap operas. 

Lisa Baker Webster, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Communication Studies Coordinator
Teaching and research interests: public relations, IMC, gender communication

Dr. Baker Webster is an Associate Professor of Communication at Radford University and is currently serving as the Interim Director of the School Of Communication. She earned two master degrees from The University of Alabama and her doctorate from Bowling Green State University. Dr. Baker-Webster currently serves as the Coordinator for the Communication Studies major in our School. 

Shuo Yao, Ph.D., Professor/Graduate Program Coordinator
Teaching and research interests: Communication, research methods, communication theory, persuasion, conflict management, and International and Intercultural Communication.

Dr. Shuo Yao is a Professor of Communication at Radford University and the coordinator of our Strategic Communication graduate program. She earned her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in School of International Relations, Peking University in China, and her doctorate in Intercultural Communication from University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Yao enjoys teaching theories, research methods, intercultural communication, conflict management, and persuasion. She has presented her work at various national and international communication conferences and published in China Media Research, Journal of Health Communication, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Journal of International Communication, and Argumentation & Advocacy.