Research in LSC explores communication effects in the new media environment

Life Sciences Communication Research on New MediaResearch in the department has evolved alongside our changing media environment. With the advent of new media, we are now conducting studies on how various issues are communicated on a variety of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Here is a sampling of research from our current students and faculty:

  • Kristin Runge and others are analyzing frames employed by Twitter users during the 2013 U.S. federal government shutdown to determine the proportion of tweets using shutdown-related language that employed science frames.
  • In an article recently submitted for peer-reviewed publication, James Spartz and others examined how contextual information embedded in YouTube may serve as social normative cues to users, which can influence perceived importance of issues such as climate change.
  • As part of her dissertation on policy communications related to a proposed mine in northern Wisconsin, Meg Turville-Heitz is conducting content analyses to evaluate the role of Facebook related to education, organizing, community building, and interaction with political figures and community leaders.
  •  Jill Hopke is conducting research on how hydraulic fracturing is framed on Twitter by examining how organizations and individuals represent protest against fracking and the shale industry. She is using a dataset of tweets about a movement, Global Frackdown, calling for a ban on the technology.
  • In an article in The Scientist, Sara Yeo and others explored how scientists can take advantage of these so-called “Web-2.0” tools for public communication, and how doing so can be beneficial for their scientific careers. As a follow up study, they are examining how scientists use social media for both personal and research-related purposes.
  • A recent SCIMEP lab publication in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research maps the landscape surrounding Twitter traffic about nanotechnology, showing that nano-related tweets are more likely to originate from states with federally-funded National Nanotechnology Initiative centers or networks.


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