Meet CRDM Students, Alumni and Faculty

man standing at computer in visualization lab

The Ph.D. program in Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media (CRDM) at NC State offers students a vibrant and welcoming environment to pursue interdisciplinary research, teaching and creative practice, broadly related to the roles media play in contemporary life. We value diversity, community and collaboration, and we provide intensive training in academic teaching and research while encouraging students to set an intellectual and professional path that they find fulfilling and exciting. We hope you will join us for the upcoming school year.

Nicholas Taylor
Associate Professor of Communication
CRDM Program Director

The following quotes from current students, alumni and faculty provide a glimpse into the rich culture and community of the CRDM program. Here are their stories and experiences.


Khawar Latif Khan (he/him)
1st Year CRDM
M.S. in Technical and Professional Communication
UI/UX design and online information technologies interests

headshot of Khawar Latif Khan

“My M.S. in Technical Communication helped me discover and become part of the CRDM program. This program has been full of new and interesting learning experiences so far. I really enjoy the variety of research interests we have in our cohort and this diversity contributes to the insightful discussions in class seminar sessions. With my interests in UI/UX design, online information design, and tech comm in general, I believe the interdisciplinary nature of this program will help me find and excel in a particular domain in the semesters to come.”

Travis Merchant-Knudsen (they/them)
1st year in CRDM
M.A. in English and Film
Intermedia studies

headshot of Travis Merchant-Knudsen

“As a Ph.D. student with intermedia and interdisciplinary interests in media and communication studies, I have been enjoying the wide variety of experiences afforded with teaching and learning. Teaching COM 110: Public Speaking has been a great experience with engaging with a variety of views in one classroom that all strive to be better speakers. Learning in the program, between the 701 and 702 experience, forces me to think about the academic field as it exists and how the fields of communication and rhetoric can give and take alongside media. I’ve learned more about rhetoric than I’ve ever done and have begun falling in love with the ideas and discussions with the variety of viewpoints within the cohort and professors. CRDM, to me, has been the exact thing I was looking for to keep going with my education.”

Megan Flannery (she/her)
1st year in CRDM
M.A. in English

Visual rhetoric and women’s and gender studies

headshot of Megan Flannery

“My research interests include visual rhetoric, social media studies, and women’s and gender studies — specifically the rhetoric of sexual assault and its survivors. One of the greatest gifts of being a part of the CRDM program is having amazing cohort members to bounce ideas off of and expand my perspective. All of my peers contribute to my learning and inspire me just as much as my instructors do.”

Kelsey Dufresne (she/her)
2nd year in CRDM
M.A. in English Literature
Digital humanities and media studies

headshot of Kelsey Dufresne

“During my time with CRDM, I have been able to teach three different English courses: ENG 101 (First Year Writing and Research), ENG 207 (Poetry), and ENG 252 (Great American Authors). With each of these classes, I have focused on experimental and experiential learning with digital humanities and community-centered learning. My ENG 101 students constructed archives and podcasts – and my literature students practice yoga with poetry and explore what it means to study authors as humans. My pedagogical focus has a strong overlap with my research, which ranges from art, flowers, writing, reading, designing, gender studies and intersectional (eco)feminism — all under the thematic umbrella of learning through doing, and doing to strive for a more just and equitable world. I am currently constructing a Twine-based DH project, a QR Code Quilt, and learning how I can better implement critical care in all areas of my work. I can be found growing pumpkins in Ricks Annex, carrying 13 different tote bags full of literature, or making a collaborative mural.”

Margaret Baker (she/her)
2nd year in CRDM
M.A. in Interactive Media
Production technologies and remediated infrastructure

headshot of Margaret Baker

“CRDM has been the best decision I made to foster my own scholarship, and to understand various intersections between disciplines. Although Ph.D. work is challenging in a variety of aspects, CRDM specifically affords an incredible opportunity to interact with colleagues working in spaces from production to rhetoric to technical communication and design. This collaborative environment has pushed my own research and teaching into a new space, one where I am actively drawing from a larger, more diverse body of disciplines. Additionally, the environment has encouraged intersectional scholarship, and allowed me to work on collaborative projects with my colleagues and faculty focused on both traditional and non-traditional academic work. Furthermore, the faculty and staff who are a part of the program have been supportive, encouraging, and willing to help me personally and professionally take educational risks to expand my work. If I had to choose a Ph.D. program again, I would very confidently choose CRDM as my program where I am able to pursue my own interests and dreams, while also being pushed to the next level by colleagues and faculty.”

Madison D. Schmalzer (she/her)
ABD (4th year)
Digital technologies, identity, and media infrastructures

headshot of Madison D. Schmalzer

“My expertise lies at the intersection of digital media and social identities, and I examine topics that expose how gender, sexuality, and disability are imbricated in material infrastructures. Informed by my interdisciplinary training in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, my work focuses on how a community’s relationship with digital media, such as videogames or contemporary animation, shapes subjectivities and can bring about new and transformative futures. For example, my dissertation Transition Games: Speedrunning Through Gender explores the ways gender identity and videogame play mutually construct one another. Through an autoethnography of my gender transition and participation in speedrunning communities, I argue that videogame temporalities, on a micro and macro level, lend themselves to uncovering cyclical temporalities associated with transition. I show how we don’t simply play games or play at gender, but simultaneously the rules of both, reimagining existing social and political structures as well as relationships to technology and media.”


Mai Nou Xiong-Gum (she/her)
CRDM Alumni 2020
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
Furman University

headshot of Mai Nou Xiong-Gum

“Dr. Mai Nou Xiong-Gum is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Furman University. Her latest research focuses on understanding the role of mobile communication and ICTs as they reconfigure our spaces of sociality, and, therefore, our communities and civic communication processes. Her research continues to focus on the rhetoric of borders, hybrid mobilities, and forced migrant capabilities in our emerging new media settings. Thematically in her teaching, she encourages students to consider how media and media practices are rhetorical—but that access to media and the infrastructure that support media practices are not distributed evenly. As such, she investigates—in her research and with her students—how media and communication practices are tied to the politics of exclusion (and citizenship), particularly in the cases of marginalized people, women, and displaced and emplaced persons. She has published in Rhetoric Review, Kairos, and has forthcoming publications in journals such as Communication Theory. Dr. Xiong-Gum has taught courses in digital rhetoric and civic media. At Furman, she teaches courses in digital storytelling and international women’s rhetoric. Dr. Xiong-Gum joined the Furman Communication Studies faculty in Fall 2020, and she holds a Mellon Fellowship. Prior to this, she completed her doctoral research in the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program at North Carolina State University.”


Steve Wiley (he/him)
CRDM faculty member
Associate Professor of Communication

headshot of Steve Wiley

“I have taught 701 many times over the last 15 years, and we will be reading, again this semester, some of the classics that I think are important for materialist media studies.  However, this year I am also undertaking a substantial revision of the reading list to make the course less EuroAmerican-centric. To this end, we will be working together to develop an archive of media-genealogical readings that provincialize Europe (Chakrabarty, 2000) and conceptualize media from other epistemological perspectives such as Black media philosophy (Towns, 2020) or indigenous ontology (Todd 2016; Watts, 2013). The aim is to put EuroAmerican history and theory in its place within a longer and more diverse global perspective—to see Europe and European America as a part of the world that arrived late to the media technologies of mathematics, writing, and print, importing them from other more developed civilizations, and then went on to become a colonial power, reshaping other societies with the support of media and communication infrastructures such as the telegraph, film, and radio.”

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