Sundar named distinguished professor

July 06, 2009

S. Shyam Sundar has been named Distinguished Professor of Communications at Penn State.

"Through the years, Shyam has built an extraordinary record of integrated scholarship," said Dean Doug Anderson of the College of Communications. "He is one of the most gifted teachers and researchers with whom I have ever worked. And he is, hands down, the most dedicated, unselfish and effective adviser of graduate students that I have known."

"Graduate students who work with Shyam are exceptionally well trained, mentored and productive. And, to the person, they recognize how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to study with him."

Sundar, whose work investigates social and psychological effects of technological elements unique to Web-based communication, has published more than 30 scholarly articles, many in the leading journals in communication, and 16 book chapters and encyclopedia entries. He has also presented nearly 100 academic papers at top national and international conferences. He serves on the editorial boards of 12 major journals.

In 2006, a meta-analysis of articles appearing in 11 leading journals in communications, marketing and advertising found that Sundar was the single most published author of Internet-related research in the field.

The College's ad hoc faculty committee, convened to evaluate the nomination of Sundar to be appointed Distinguished Professor, wrote: "Dr. Sundar is arguably the leading researcher on the psychological effects of communications technologies and among the top rung of communications scholars in the behavioral sciences subfield. His research on the interactions between humans and information technology is groundbreaking and has earned him a national and international reputation as an innovative and methodologically sophisticated investigator into the influence of new media."

Sundar is the founding director of the College's Media Effects Research Lab and teaches courses on mass-communication theory, psychology of communication theory and research methodology.

The lab, which is co-directed by Professor Mary Beth Oliver, has become a launching pad for much of the graduate student research produced in the College.

"Dr. Sundar is a paragon of integrated scholarship," the committee wrote. "In addition to his stellar research and extensive service record, he is one of the College's most committed and effective teachers--especially at the graduate level."

Sundar is in great demand among graduate and undergraduate students to be their thesis adviser. He has chaired nearly 20 doctoral committees, 10 master's committees and some 17 honors theses, in addition to serving as a member on scores of other committees.

“In my 32 years in the academy -- 22 of them in administration -- I’ve never worked with a professor in my field more devoted and inspiring to graduate students than Dr. Sundar,” Anderson said. “Nor have I ever worked with a professor who expects more of his graduate students and receives it. And while Dr. Sundar’s intellectual imprint on the College is profound, he also brings to the program a solid professional background that includes nearly a decade of work as a contributing editor and freelance journalist in his native India.”

The Committee wrote: "He is well-known for spending long hours outside of the classroom mentoring his students and for being an aggressive advocate -- with much success -- for them on the job market. Dr. Sundar has produced an impressive body of extremely high-quality research that has justifiably earned him a reputation as one of the leading scholars in his field. He is a master teacher committed to nurturing the future generation of communications scholars and is a leader in service to the University and national organizations."

He is a three-time recipient of the Deans' Excellence Award in the College of Communications, twice for research and once for integrated scholarship. On three occasions, he has been selected as faculty marshal for commencement exercises, twice for a department and once for the College.

Sundar is serving this summer as World Class University Visiting Professor in the Department of Interaction Science at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea.

He has testified before the U.S. Congress as an expert witness and delivered talks at universities in several countries. He also has served as chair of the Communication and Technology division of the International Communication Association.

Sundar joined the Penn State faculty in 1995 after earning his doctorate in communication, with a minor in psychology, from Stanford. He received a master's degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism from the University of Alabama, and he holds two undergraduate degrees from Bangalore University in India in communication and mechanical engineering.

According to Penn State’s guidelines, distinguished professors must:
-- be acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity, as evidenced by: publications in leading journals and/or books and creative accomplishments; receipt of prestigious awards and citations, and a record of invited lectures or performances.
--- have demonstrated significant leadership in raising the standards of the University with respect to teaching, research, or creative activity and service.
--- have demonstrated excellent teaching skills and contributed significantly to the education of students who subsequently have achieved recognition of excellence in their fields.

  • S. Shyam Sundar

    S. Shyam Sundar

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated January 09, 2015