Information Systems and Communications Ph.D. Research Areas

Our doctoral students take on a broad range of topics and problems related to information systems and communications.

Some of our key research areas include:

Cybersecurity & Information Privacy

Security and privacy of information has become a critical concern for industry, government, and society.  Challenges for cybersecurity are also often challenges for privacy and data protection.  Students explore a variety of cybersecurity and data privacy issues including technical, social, ethical, and policy-based aspects of these topics. Some key faculty working in this area are: Natalya Bromall, Frank Hartle, Sushma Mishra, Brian O’Roark, Karen Paullet, Jamie Pinchot, Ping Wang, Wenli Wang, and David Wood. A selection of recent student dissertations in this area include:

  • Staying up to Date: Cybersecurity Professionals Communication Networks in the Electric Power Industry (2020) by Rick Randall 
  • Applying Multi-disciplinary Systems Engineering Approach to Minimizing Information System Vulnerabilities (2019) by Alvi Lim
  • An Exploratory Study: The Knowledge Gaps of Smartphone Security Between Users and IT Security Professionals in the Emerging BYOD Environment (2019) by Elizabeth McGovern Cole
  • The Perception of Information Security Professionals on the Challenges Organizations Face with Access Control Mechanisms for Privileged Accounts (2018) by Majed Afandi
  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Systems and Cyber-Security: Best Practices to Secure Critical Infrastructure (2017) by Christopher Morsey
  • Barriers and Impacts to Adopting Interoperability Standards for Cyber Threat Intelligence Sharing: A Mixed Methods Study (2017) by Nicole Gong
  • A Mobile Device Security Implementation Model for a National Medical Center Complying with the HIPAA Security Rule (2016) by Sue Kim
  • Privacy Effects: Living in a Digitally Recorded World (2015) by Gary King

Cultural and Social Impacts of Communication & Technology

Communication and culture are intertwined in many ways, and technologies have been developed to make communication easier, long-lasting, and significantly wider in scope.  Societies, cultures, and organizations drive needs and desires for creative and effective communication and technology.  Students study the influence and impact of culture and society on communication methods and technology, as well as the influence of technology on society and culture. Some key faculty working in this area are: Stuart Allen, Natalya Bromall, Donna Cellante, A.J. Grant, Philip Harold, Diane Igoche, Edward Karshner, Fred Kohun, Brian O’Roark, Sun-A Park, Jamie Pinchot, Elizabeth Stork, Ann Summerall-Jabro, Ping Wang, and Chen Yang. A selection of recent student dissertations in this area include:

  • The Kardashian Effect: Exploring the Impact of Selfie-Culture on Millennial Women (2017) by Danita Brooks
  • Parent’s Communication Needs and Preferences when Interacting with Their Children’s School Regarding Cyberbullying Issues (2018) by Ginger Andrews
  • Validating Meaning through Ethno-Semantic Cultural Semiotics: Tattoos as Communication in the United States Navy (2017) by Benjamin Stahl
  • What is the Cultural Experience of the Digital Native Student? (2015) by Scott Spangler
  • African-American Chief Information Officers’ Career-Path Experiences: A Descriptive Phenomenological Study (2014) by Mark Campbell

Adoption and Utilization of Emerging Technologies

New technologies can be major disruptors to an organization, an industry, and in time, to society.  Organizations often struggle with when and how to adopt and implement emerging technologies into their business practices and products.  Students are often interested in studying emerging technologies, their adoption level, use cases for them, and other impacts of the technologies in the workplace and in society. Some key faculty working in this area are: Stuart Allen, Natalya Bromall, Donna Cellante, Diane Igoche, Fred Kohun, Paul Kovacs, Sun-A Park, Karen Paullet, Ann Summerall-Jabro, Ping Wang, Wenli Wang, and Chen Yang. A selection of student dissertations in this area include:

  • Defining Smart Cities: A Qualitative Study to Define the Smart City Paradox (2020) by Stuart Williams
  • Internet of Things and Sustainable Communities: Using Technology for Ecological Sustainability (2020) by Michael Love
  • The Impact of Electronic Health Records on Physician Productivity at a Pediatric Practice (2020) by Gary Janchenko
  • A Case Study of the United States Air Force Adoption of Cloud Computing (2019) by William Carney
  • The Technological, Economic and Regulatory Challenges of Digital Currency: An Exploratory Analysis of Federal Judicial Cases Involving Bitcoin (2017) by Jennifer Callen Naviglia
  • The Impact of Affective Computing in Raising Awareness of Subjective Well-Being and its Influence on Adherence and Quality of Life: An Experience Among Patients Suffering from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency-Associated COPD (2016) by Richard Stachel

Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

The growth of data analytics has offered exciting opportunities for harnessing the power of data to forecast and determine trends, with applications in many areas including fraud detection and healthcare that use machine learning algorithms to improve processes and outcomes.  Artificial intelligence (AI) now powers many new tools, devices, and innovations to aid people in making decisions and accomplishing tasks.  Students study these issues and problems for a variety of applications and contexts.   Some key faculty working in this area are: Natalya Bromall, Diane Igoche, Fred Kohun, Wenli Wang, and David Wood. A selection of student dissertations in this area include:

  • Exploring the Evolving Concepts of Artificial Intelligence (2020) by Todd Wright
  • Senators, Solicitors, or Scientists: Deterministic Programming for Ethical Decision-Making in Autonomous Systems (2019) by Kendal Polk
  • Analyzing U.S. National Security Searches in Big Data (2018) by Erik Miller
  • Big Data Analytics Solutions: The Implementation Challenges in the Financial Services Industry (2016) by Michael Ojo

Knowledge Management

The efficient handling of information resources is critical for organizations today.  Knowledge management techniques and processes help to ensure that organization is created, managed, shared, and stored in the most effective ways possible.  Good knowledge management allows for the easy sharing of data as well as perspectives, ideas, and experiences to ensure that people in the organization have the right information at the right time to enable informed decisions and to reduce the need to rediscover knowledge.  Students study many aspects of knowledge management including processes, technology tools, and methods for acquiring and generating knowledge. Some key faculty working in this area are: Donna Cellante, Frank Hartle, Edward Karshner, Fred Kohun, and Wenli Wang. A selection of recent student dissertations in this area include:

  • Measuring the Application of Knowledge Gained from the Gamification of Cybersecurity Training in Healthcare (2020) by Sean DeCarlo
  • Intergenerational Study of Knowledge Transfer in a Federal Government Research Unit Involving a Legacy Technology (2019) by Jin Kwon
  • The Effects of Social Capital Theory and Social Cognitive Theory on Knowledge Sharing in Online Healthcare Communities for Concussion Support (2017) by Marilyn DeLaHaye 
  • Enabling Knowledge in the Paradigm of International Cyber Intelligence (2015) by Quinn Lanzendorfer

Online Communities & Social Media

The rise of the digital age and digital culture have made many online communities and social media sites into household names.  These tools allow people to connect, communicate, share information, crowdsource, and collaborate in new and exciting ways.  Social media and online communities have been impactful on a global scale for both society and the workplace.  Students study a variety of social, technical, communication, and ethical issues and problems in this area.   Some key faculty working in this area are: Stuart Allen, Philip Harold, Frank Hartle, Diane Igoche, Paul Kovacs, Sun-A Park, Karen Paullet, Jamie Pinchot, Ann Summerall-Jabro, and Chen Yang. A selection of recent student dissertations in this area include:

  • Bias During Cyber-Vetting Using Social Media and Online Searches (2019) by Lisa Raymond
  • Crowdsourcing for Federal Government Innovation (2018) by Verline Shepherd
  • Barriers Impacting Social Media Marketing in Industrial Business-to-Business Organizations (2018) by Melda Al-Khalili
  • Social Media Marketing: Exploring Effective Customer to Business Interactions with the Forgotten 80% (2017) by Travis Tingue
  • Virtual Revolutionaries: Social Media’s Emerging Role in Small Wars: An Applied Semiotic Linguistic-Lexicon Analysis (2015) by Gary C. Nelson

Human Communication & Technology

Computer and Internet technologies have transformed the way people, live, work, and communicate.  Smartphones and other mobile computing devices have become ubiquitous in the past decade and have provided unprecedented innovations and opportunities in computer-mediated communication. Technology impacts how people communicate and interact with their friends and family, their co-workers and employees, businesses and organizations, and the media.  Computer-mediated communication affects both the workplace and society, with both positive and negative impacts. Students study many and varied aspects of the critical connection between technology and human communication. Some key faculty working in this area are: Stuart Allen, Donna Cellante, A.J. Grant, Frank Hartle, Edward Karshner, Sun-A Park, Karen Paullet, Jamie Pinchot, Ann Summerall-Jabro, Ping Wang, and Chen Yang. A selection of recent student dissertations in this area include:

  • Jingle Fallacy Influences on Systems Acquisition: Communications Breakdown? (2018) by Fred Robinson
  • Students’ Perceptions of the Use of Mobile Applications Technology in Learning Arabic as a Second Language (2015) by Razak Abedalla-Surrey
  • Uses and Gratifications of Podcasting: a Study of Podcaster Motivations (2013) by Gregory Buretz
  • Visual Situations: A Social Semiotic Analysis of the 2012 YouTube Channels of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (2013) by Robert Trosky
  • Sociocultural Factors and Knowledge Sharing Behaviors in Virtual Project Teams (2012) by Jayakumar Annadatha
  • Relating Communications Mode Choice and Teamwork Quality: Conversational versus Textual Communication in IT System and Software Development Teams (2012) by James Smith