Lab Members



Dr. Kim Bissell
Dr. Bissell is a professor in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama, serving as the College’s Associate Dean for Research and the Director of the Institute for Communication & Information Research. Her research interests lie in the intersection of media, health, and children. She helped develop the Child Media Lab and the psychophysiology lab in the College’s research center and has recently conducted several studies examining the effectiveness of video game devices in helping children at-risk for overweight and obesity become more physically active. She serves on the editorial board of several journals within the discipline. She teaches graduate courses in research methods, mass communication theory, media effects, children and cognition, and body image, as well as undergraduate courses in magazine design and international journalism. She is also a certified personal trainer, teaching group exercise to adults, and working with overweight and obese children to help them learn how to become more active and fit. She is a co-PI on a grant from NIH titled, Developing Effective, Sustainable CBPR to Reduce Obesity in Rural Alabama, which is a service grant designed to use CPBR to identify how health disparities can be reduced in the Black Belt region of Alabama.


Dr. Scott Parrott
Dr. Parrott is an assistant professor in the College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. He researches the role of the media in the stigmatization of health issues, including mental illness and obesity. His research has appeared in Media Psychology, Mass Communication & Society, Journalism & Communication Monographs, and the Journal of Social Psychology, among other publications. Parrott entered academia after working as a reporter, editor and special projects leader for the New York Times Regional Media Group in Alabama and North Carolina. As a journalist, he covered health care and produced an award-winning investigative series on the mental health care system in North Carolina. Parrott is a member of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the International Communication Association, and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Graduate Researchers


Kim Baker

Kim Baker is a doctoral student in the College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama and an assistant professor at Alabama State University. She researches the effects of technology and a changing news industry on literacy and beliefs. Baker received two top student paper awards at recent Broadcast Education Association conferences and presented at other recent conferences, including the International Communication Association, the National Communication Association, and the Popular Communication Association of the South. She has a recently published chapter concerning representations of gender and race in media and an upcoming chapter accepted for publication regarding sports fanship. Additional recent publications and research include the development and testing of a cultural literacy instrument, an analysis of race and gender in public relations, and a consideration of the effects of fitness monitoring and social media sharing on health. Her dissertation focuses on the effects of political entertainment on knowledge, beliefs, and public engagement. Before teaching in 2004, Baker worked in marketing. She continues to use those skills in volunteering with local veteran groups and humane shelters. Baker has received several awards related to teaching, including the 2011-2012 top college ASU faculty award and a 2016 All-Star faculty award by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.


Sarah E. Pember

Sarah E. Pember, BA, MT, is a doctoral candidate of Health Education and Health Promotion in the Department of Health Science at the University of Alabama. Her work focuses on socio-cultural determinants of food choice and eating and cooking behavior, which includes the media’s influence on popular understandings of health and nutrition. Currently, Sarah is utilizing the Integrated Model of Behavioral Prediction to develop effective health communications related to healthy eating, cooking, and meal planning among graduate students and older young adults. She is interested in the use of qualitative inquiry for developing more effective health promotion and communication; the effects of popular and social media on health knowledge and behavior; advocating for accurate health, science, and risk communication in the media; and critical media literacy education, especially regarding nutrition communications. Ms. Pember is a Certified Health Education Specialist, serves on the board of the Society for Public Health Education’s Pedagogy in Health Promotion journal, and won the John P. McGovern National Award for Outstanding Graduate Student in 2015, given by Eta Sigma Gamma National Health Education Honor Society.

Yiyi Yang

Yiyi (Cici) Yang is a doctoral student in the College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. Her research focuses on the mediated portrayals of health issues and their effects on the audiences’ attitudinal and behavioral responses, especially in the context of mental illness, alcohol use disorders, and emergent public health crisis. In addition, she is also interested in exploring the interaction between culture and sports communication. She is the author of three book chapters and ten conference papers. One of her studies won the Top Paper Award at Broadcast and Education Association. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Online Information Review, Communication & Sport, and other peer reviewed journals. She teaches courses related to Interpersonal Communication and Theories of Persuasion. Before entering the academia, she worked in a national television station in China as television program editor and in the public relations department of a multinational company in Beijing while pursuing her B.A. in French at Communication University of China. She was awarded Chinese National Scholarship (top 0.2% nationwide) in 2011.


Maria (Xueying) Zhang

Maria (Xueying) Zhang is a doctoral candidate in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. Her research interests are new media effects and health communication. Her research examines how health-related behaviors (e.g. health information seeking and processing, eating healthy and exercising behavior, social support seeking) can be changed through mass media use as well as interpersonal communication. She is also engaged in research projects of mass media coverage of health-related crises and audience members’ trust of mass media content. Her studies have been published in Journal of Health Communication, Newspaper Research Journal, Howard Journal of Communication, among other publications. She has taught mass communication courses such as Introduction to Mass Communication and Mass Communication Research. Before entering academia, Zhang was a news reporter and editor in a national television news website in China.