2012, Doctor of Philosophy, Iowa State University
Rhetoric and Professional Communication, Human Computer Interaction
My doctorate was awarded as a cross-disciplinary degree, with co-majors satisfying both the Rhetoric and Professional Communication and Human Computer Interaction PhD programs at Iowa State University. The two programs offered a broad foundation in user centered design and user experience, including qualitative and quantitative research methods, cognitive and social psychology, technical communication, rhetorical and social theory, and visual and multimodal design.
I specialized in the social dimensions of collaborative and social software. For my dissertation, I used ethnographic methods to study how groups of users adopt and then integrate collaborative and social tools into their professional practices. The research produced a model for how groups select which tools to use, develop practices incorporating them, and then mediate those practices through their network.
2012, Master of Arts, Iowa State University
Rhetoric, Composition and Professional Communication
The RCPC program at Iowa State prepares students for professional and academic jobs in professional communication. It provided me a background in research methods, visual and information design, social and rhetorical theory, and professional communication. My thesis, Clean coal rhetoric: Engaging the public on informal education websites about science and technology, was an empirical survey and interview study on the design and message of a informational website.
Iowa State University, 2004
As an undergraduate, I completed degrees in both Electrical Engineering and English. Each offered experience that I still find valuable. My engineering degree specialized in electromagnetic fields and waves, but I have benefited more from the problem solving, mathematics, computer programming and computer engineering skills than from my formal specialty. The bachelor’s degree in English, like my MA and PhD after it, was aligned with the rhetoric and professional communication part of the department rather than literature, education, creative writing, or English as a second language. It emphasized audience-centered writing, analysis, and composition and rhetorical theory.