Communication Studies - Faculty

Michelle Calka, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Department Chair of Communication Studies

Michelle Calka (Ph.D., Ohio University, 2012) teaches courses in media, small group communication, interpersonal communication, research methods, rhetoric, and gender. She also directs the communication studies internship program. Her research interests focus on the intersections of technology, rhetoric, and identity. Her dissertation focused on performances of identity in virtual worlds. She challenges and encourages students to get excited about the importance of communication, consider how communication theories apply to their own experiences, and apply their knowledge outside of the classroom.

Judd Case, Ph.D.
Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Communication Studies

Judd Case (Ph.D., University of Iowa) specializes in media studies, and teaches courses in media literacy, digital storytelling, professional communication, and communication theory. He has recently presented at the Popular Culture Association. He is an enthusiastic teacher who encourages the understanding of communication through activities that utilize fan cultures, movies, video games, TV shows, VR, graphic novels, and popular music.


Sara Kaufman, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

Sara Kaufman (Ph.D., Purdue University, 2022) teaches courses in interpersonal and intercultural communication. She earned her master’s in communication at Portland State University with a research emphasis on language and social interaction, and Ph.D. in communication from the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. Her dissertation research focused on family communication within the context of companion animal end-of-life. Previously, she has worked in industry with roles in internal, external and crisis communication, both in the United States and abroad. Her research broadly focuses on interpersonal and health communication and she is particularly interested in issues related to grief, social support and coping. Her work has been recently published in the Handbook of Research on Communication Strategies for Taboo Topics. In her classroom, she focuses on connecting theory to communication in everyday life and aims for students to look back on her class as an engaging, relevant and worthwhile learning experience.


Tim McKenna-Buchanan, Ph.D.
Director of Honors Program
Associate Professor of Communication Studies

Dr. Tim McKenna-Buchanan (Ph.D., Ohio University, 2014) teaches courses in public relations, organizational communication, and communication theory. He strives to create learning environments that guide, develop and challenge students to recognize the value and importance of communication in (and out of) the workplace. His research interests influence his teaching, which explore the intersection of difference (or diversity) and organizational life, with an emphasis on the ways narratives create, maintain and change individuals’ lived experience. His work has been published in Communication EducationBasic Communication Course Annual, Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, Communication Teacher, and Health Communication. He has a co-authored basic course textbook titled: Communication across Contexts: A Listening-Centered Approach (which is used in COMM110). As well as book chapters in Routledge’s COVID-19 Pandemic Series: Cultural Change and Institutional Adaptations (Vol. III), Contemporary Issues in Sexuality and Communication, The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods, and Communicating Hope and Resilience across the Lifespan. 


Jacob Mertens, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

Jacob Mertens (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2022) joins the faculty as an Assistant Professor for Communication Studies. He has received awards for teaching and research during his time at UW Madison and has published chapters in two edited collections, Saving New Sounds: Podcasting Preservation and Historiography (2021) and From Networks to Netflix: A Guide to Changing Channels 2nd Edition (forthcoming), and journal articles in Digital Humanities Quarterly (2021), Games and Culture (2021), and International Journal of Cultural Studies (forthcoming). He recently finished his dissertation studying digital revisionist practices and update cultures in the video game console industry. His expertise includes digital media studies and production.