Faculty member recognized for contributions to study of communication technology

May 20, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A Penn State faculty member respected for his teaching and research — as well as his collegiality, expertise and productivity — has received one of the top annual awards presented by the International Communication Association (ICA).

S. Shyam Sundar was selected as the winner of the Frederick Williams Prize for Contribution to the Study of Communication Technology. The prestigious award, presented by ICA’s Communication and Technology (CAT) Division, recognizes the major contributions and cumulative achievements of senior scholars who have advanced the study and the field of communication and technology.

Sundar is the James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and founding co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State. The breadth and depth of Sundar’s impact were summarized by a nominator for the award who wrote that his contributions “are so numerous and so vivid that just a partial listing of them may be overwhelmingly persuasive.”

According to the award citation, Sundar has authored more than 175 scholarly publications, served the chair for more than 30 doctoral dissertations, provided expert testimony before Congress, and conducted guest lectures throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Several of his original theories — Modality-Agency Interactivity-Navigability (MAIN) Model, the Interactivity Effects Model, the Agency Model of Customization, the Motivational Technology Model, Online Source Typology, and the Theory of Interactive Media Effects (TIME) — have “significantly contributed to the discipline with sound scientific advancements.” His research has attracted support from foundations and corporations.

The award also stated that Sundar’s commitment and service to the field is unparalleled: “He was former editor of ICA’s Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, a member of nearly 20 leading journal editorial boards, and generously served as CAT Division Chair.” The division is the largest of ICA’s 23 divisions. Overall, ICA includes more than 4,500 members in 80 countries.

"It is especially gratifying to be recognized by the Communication and Technology Division, which has been my academic home for close to three decades,” Sundar said. “I started with this division during my grad school days."

Sundar is a fellow of ICA and recipient of the Deutschmann Award for Research Excellence from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is also a winner of Penn State's Faculty Scholar Medal, for outstanding achievement in social and behavioral sciences. 

This Williams Prize honors the memory and outstanding contribution to our field made by Frederick Williams (1933-2010), a former ICA president and founding dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. Williams was a visionary who made significant and lasting impacts on new communication technology research.

Last Updated June 14, 2021