My research philosophy is shaped by my inner desire to address communication and media related problems of a practical significance. I strive to research topics that are meaningful and attain great satisfaction in trying to answer questions that have the potential to better our lives.

My research program is based on three core tenets: Engagement, Relevance, and Integrity. I believe that it is very important for research to not only be engaging and interesting for the researcher, but also conceived in a way that excites the researcher. I find research issues that bridge my academic and industry experiences as very stimulating. Second, the research should be relevant to the needs of the times and aligned with a vision for the future.

We often encounter research that may be useful for some, but not addressing the pressing needs of what matters to the wider society, industry, and practitioners. Research has to play a role in the advancement of meaningful knowledge. In this regard, I believe that media use should also be understood in a balanced way to involve attention and exposure to a full range of traditional and digital sources of information, news, entertainment, and marketing.

Lastly, meaningful research must hinge on the principles of integrity in all stages of the process. I view research integrity directly translating into work that is based on highest standards of excellence. High research quality must be reflected in novel data collection procedures, superior analysis and interpretation.

Social Media Engagement, YouTube Participation and Consumption

Social media engagement: What motivates user participation and consumption on YouTube?  Computers in Human Behavior, 66: 236-247.

This study unearths the motives for YouTube user engagement that has been conceptualized as active participation and passive content consumption. In light of the Uses and Gratifications framework, a sample of 1143 registered YouTube users completed online surveys that helped gauge user behavior. Results showed that for participation on YouTube, the strongest predictor for liking and disliking videos was the relaxing entertainment motive; commenting and uploading being strongly predicted by social interaction motive; sharing being strongly predicted by information giving motive. Passive content consumption in the form of video viewing was most strongly predicted by relaxing entertainment motive, and reading comments predicted by information seeking motive. Greater YouTube experience negatively predicted liking, and anonymity played a role in sharing and uploading videos. Males were most likely to dislike YouTube videos in comparison with females.


Social Media Academic Collaboration, Internet Skills, Social Capital

Khan, M. L., Wohn, D. Y., & Ellison, N., (2014). Actual Friends Matter: An Internet skills perspective on teens’ informal academic collaboration on Facebook. Computers and Education, 79, 138-147.


Social media platforms such as Facebook enable adolescents to collaborate on academic activities, but this kind of participation may require a set of higher-order Internet skills. This study explores the factors that predict informal academic collaboration on Facebook, such as seeking help, discussing schoolwork, and finding class-related resources. Based on survey data collected from high school students (N=690), we found that academic performance, perceived support from ‘actual’ Facebook friends, higher order Internet skills (especially information seeking skills), and instrumental support from Facebook friends predicted academic collaboration on Facebook. In light of these findings, theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


A clear understanding of the research roles when collaborating on projects is of great importance. Group work can prove daunting if responsibilities are not clearly spelt out. I truly believe that effective collaboration depends on effective communication amongst members.



Public Computing, Libraries, Digital Divide


The use of public computing facilities by library patrons: Demography, motivations, and barriers. Government Information Quarterly, 30(1), 110-118.

Public libraries play an important part in the development of a community. Today, they are seen as more than store houses of books; they are also responsible for the dissemination of online, and offline information. Public access computers are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people understand the need for internet access. Using a series of surveys conducted in 12 libraries across the state of Michigan, the current study is a step towards understanding why the computing facilities are widely used, and what are the motivations behind their use. In addition, barriers and other factors that hinder usage are also discussed. The findings from this study will help policy makers and library administrators evaluate the current allocation of scarce resources, help them promote greater use of the library’s resources, and guide their future course of action. The study is conducted as part of a federally funded public computing center grant.


Social media use is already visible in a range of fields including health, government, education, business, advocacy, public relations, and risk communication. I see a common element that binds these different areas—how users engage with others. In order to understand any social media activity it must be analyzed. Such analysis is sometimes automated through a range of social media analytics tools. In other instances, we have to move beyond descriptive analytics and conduct predictive and prescriptive analyses.

Social Media, Social Capital, First Generation High School Students, College Access


Wohn, D. Y., Ellison, N. B., Khan, M. L., Fewins-Bliss, R., & Gray, R. (2013). The role of social media in shaping first-generation high school students’ college aspirations: A social capital lens. Computers & Education, 63, 424-436.


Using survey data collected from a sample of high school students in the United States (N = 504), this study examined how different types of social capital associated with parents, close friends, and Facebook Friends were related to students’ confidence about their knowledge of the college application process and their expectations about succeeding in college. We found that social media use plays a significant role only for first-generation students – students whose parents did not graduate from college. For first-generation students, finding information about college through social media was associated with higher levels of efficacy about college application procedures. Having access via social media to a broader network of people who could actively answer questions and provide informational support was positively related with first-generation students’ expectations about their ability to be successful in college, but was not the case for non first-generations.




YouTube Research


This project delves into understanding user engagement on social media. In particular, the focus is on understanding user participation on YouTube. The findings from this project have already been presented at major conferences.

Health Communication

This data analytics study explores user interactions on social media surrounding the Zika Virus and the upcoming Olympics. This work is being carried out in the SMART Lab in the Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University.

Learning Analytics

As academic collaboration increasingly takes place online, there is a need to measure, collect, analyze and report data about learners and how learning can best be analyzed. Educational data mining holds real value and this project aims to advance research in this important realm.

Social Media Engagement

SNSs offer the potential for brand owners to advertise their products and services through viral marketing, develop products and services by involving their customers or audiences, and gain vital market intelligence. This project aims to advance our understanding of business use of social media.