Faculty member named distinguished educator

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A College of Communications faculty member who ranks as an innovator and leader in the field of media studies earned one of the top awards from the Mass Communication and Society Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

Distinguished professor S. Shyam Sundar, co-director of the Media Effects Laboratory at Penn State, earned the Distinguished Educator Award and will be honored Aug. 7 during the annual AEJMC Conference in Montreal. The award is presented each year to a faculty member who has made a significant contribution to mass communication pedagogy. 

Sundar teaches courses in the psychology of communication technology, media theory and research methodology at the graduate and undergraduate levels. His research investigates social and psychological effects of technological elements unique to online communication, ranging from websites to social and personal media. In particular, his studies experimentally investigate the effects of interactivity, navigability, multi-modality and source attribution in digital media interfaces upon online users’ thoughts, emotions and actions. 

Sundar consistently blends classroom experience with laboratory training and exposure to real-world research -- an approach that draws praise from his students and administrators. His students consistently cite his ability to make complicated ideas understandable while administrators point to the integrated impact of his work in terms of teaching, research and service.

“He is the embodiment of a scholar who masterfully integrates his research and teaching in ways that have a powerful impact on students’ lives,” said Dean Marie Hardin of the College of Communications. “He has a reputation as a demanding, innovative, knowledgeable, fair and organized teacher.”

Sundar prepares graduate students as future scholars and educators by supporting their work from the classroom to national and international conferences. In addition, he promotes their published work, regularly pointing to their efforts more than his own. He prepares undergraduate students by encouraging them to think creatively and critically about communication technologies, media and research. Some undergraduate students work on research projects with Sundar and participate in his laboratory group.

Sundar joined the Penn State faculty in 1995. He brings important perspectives to the classroom and his research in part because of his interdisciplinary educational and professional background. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in communication along with bachelor’s degrees in communication and engineering. He has joint appointments in four different Penn State departments, as well as eight years of experience as a journalist.

A frequently cited source on technology, Sundar has testified before Congress as an expert witness and delivered talks at several universities in the United States, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Netherlands and Singapore. In a content analysis of journal articles published during the first decade of the Internet, Sundar was identified as the most published author of Internet-related research in the field of communications. He has published more than 100 refereed articles, conferences proceedings, book chapters and encyclopedia entries. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and has served on the editorial boards of 18 other journals. 

His research is supported by the National Science Foundation, Korea Science and Engineering Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services, among others.

Last Updated July 15, 2014