We are glad to work with faculty and students from Florida State University, as well as faculty and researchers from other universities and organizations.

Faculty Affiliates:

Stephen D. McDowell serves as John H. Phipps Professor of Communication and Assistant Provost for International Initiatives at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, United States, where he has taught since 1996. He has conducted research on media and communication policies in India and Pakistan, and has made presentations to universities and/or worked to establish university contacts, special programs, and/or academic exchange partnerships with universities in different parts of the world, and also to host visiting scholars at the School of Communication.

His research and teaching interests address media policies and new communication technologies in South Asia, Internet governance, international and intercultural communication.  Along with articles and book chapters on these topics, he has written a book on India’s communication policies, Globalization, Liberalization and Policy Change: A Political Economy of India’s Communications Sector (New York: St. Martin’s; and Houndmills, U.K.: The Macmillan Press, 1997), and has co-authored, with Phillip Steinberg and Tami Tomasello, Managing The Infosphere: Governance, Technology, and Cultural Practice in Motion  (Temple University Press, 2007).

McDowell has held fellowships with the Strategic Policy Planning Division of the Canadian federal Department of Communications in Ottawa (1987-1989), with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute in New Delhi (1989-1990), and a Congressional Fellowship supported by the American Political Science Association in Washington D.C. (1994-1995).  He served as Chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communication Association from 2008-2010.  (CCI Directory)


John K. Mayo is Director of the William A. Kerr Intercultural Education and Dialogue Initiative within Florida State University’s College of Social Sciences and Public Policy. He also is Professor and Dean Emeritus of FSU’s College of Communication. Prior to being named dean in 1994, Dr. Mayo served for 10 years as director of FSU’s Center for International Studies, part of the Learning Systems Institute. He is the author of two books as well as numerous research monographs and journal articles in the fields of  development and intercultural communication. His teaching and research interests include: development communication; telecommunications policy, the diffusion of innovations, and distance learning. Dr. Mayo directed USAID-sponsored R&D projects in El Salvador, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Nepal. He also has served as a consultant to a number of international agencies and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Communication, Communication Theory and Communication for Development and Social Change. In 2000 he produced Witness, a television documentary, in collaboration with the U.S. Lawyers Committee on Human Rights.

Dr. Mayo received his A.B. in Politics from Princeton and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia from and as a Fulbright Lecturer in Chile.


Barbara Robinson has conducted research on media coverage and framing of political conflict in Pakistan and India, and has a background in the fields of Humanities, Communication, and Library and Information Studies. She retired as the Associate Dean in the College of Applied Studies at Florida State University.


Ayesha Khurshid joined FSU in 2012 as Assistant Professor of Sociocultural and International Studies of Education in the College of Education. She received her doctorate in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and teaches courses on International Development Education, Anthropology of Education, and Multicultural Education.

Professor Khurshid conducts interdisciplinary research on globalization, international development, and women’s education, and focuses on international education as a site that produces gendered citizenship in different contexts. She also studies how global policies to educate and empower women in developing and Muslim countries are translated into local contexts.

She is currently working on a research project that examines how women teachers and students from rural and low-income communities in Pakistan receive and mobilize class-based cultural capital in a transnational women’s education project. Her second project focuses on a diaspora-led development project to examine how the life histories of the institutional leaders and policymakers based in North America shape the meaning and implications of education for women from marginalized communities in Pakistan.

Professor Khurshid’s work on international education and women’s rights, teacher education, multicultural education, and child development has appeared in the form of book chapters and journal articles in Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Infant and Child Development (web profile and CV).


Research Affiliates

As a Fulbright research scholar, Azmat Rasul earned his PhD from the School of Communication at Florida State University (FSU). He has been involved in researching persuasive effects of entertainment media, political and international communication, persuasive/strategic communication, and political economy of entertainment industries. Trained as a critical/cultural scholar in South Asia and Europe, Rasul also specialized in quantitative research designs and pursued an MS degree in Measurement and Statistics in the College of Education at FSU. He was selected to receive several academic awards including a Top Three Student Papers Award (Mass Communication Division, ICA’s annual conference in Puerto Rico) in 2015, the FSU Academic Leadership Award in 2015, the Mathew Grindy Prize in 2014, and the College of Communication and Information Leadership Award in 2013. As a qualified academic and professional, he has worked with large public relations firms and academic institutions in various capacities. Rasul has published 24 papers in refereed and non-refereed research journals, four book chapters, and two books. He has presented his work at more than 50 peer-reviewed national and international conferences in different countries. For the last 15 years, he has taught courses in research methods, communication theory, media and society, political communication, international and intercultural communication, communication for change, and public relations/advertising at various universities in South Asia and the United States. Rasul has a dynamic and continuing research agenda focusing on the interplay between politics and entertainment, persuasive effects of political entertainment on attitudes, political economy of global entertainment industries, media regulation and policy, and framing of political and cultural issues in international media.

Dr. Defne Bilir is a Post-Doctoral Research Scholar in the School of Communication at Florida State University. She received her Ph.D. in Humanities (Middle Eastern and Cultural Studies) from Florida State University, where she has taught courses on the Middle East, including Modern Middle East, Middle Eastern Culture, Traditions and Rituals in the Middle East, and Arab Cinema, as well as courses on American Cinema and American Culture.

She is currently working on a research project that examines the artistic and journalistic perspectives of David Douglas Duncan on South Asia (and the Middle East). This project derives its strength from her dissertation on the topic of “Twentieth-Century Western Scholarly, Artistic, and Journalistic Perspectives on the Middle East: Bernard Lewis, Sandra Mackey, and David Douglas Duncan,” where, in one chapter, she studied Duncan’s explorations of the Middle East, with a specific focus on Iran, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. However, her current project both narrows and exceeds the scope of her dissertation by focusing on Duncan and integrating his coverage of Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan into a broader study.

Her project 1) explores Duncan’s skillful photojournalism—he provided his pictures with a discourse on a number of nations’ upper echelon politics taking shape between 1946 and 1956, as well as on a variety of cultural traditions and belief systems; 2) investigates the way and how Duncan’s representations appeared in the editorial stories of Life; and 3) scrutinizes Duncan’s work in its capacity to reach the general public either through the media outlet, or his books. Significant constituents of this study rely on unpublished materials (archival) located at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas, Austin to which Duncan donated entire collections of his works in 1986. Of archival materials, the caption books and correspondences enable Dr. Bilir to examine photojournalist’s concern that an audience might stray from his intended conception, as the publishing process might be biased by the broadly Eurocentric perspective of the magazine.

She aims at demonstrating the distinctive evidence of Duncan’s testimony on geographical regions, which were undergoing a transformation by integrating into world economic and political systems in the first decade of post-WWII, through the early stages of Cold War politics and the rise of the oil economy. While conceptualizing South Asia as a dynamic region with its history and culture interconnected to the Middle East and the world, her research project capitalizes on the field of South Asian Media Studies, and it also serves to contribute to the existing studies inquiring how modern Middle East, countries of South Asia, and wider Islamic world have been perceived, studied, and represented by the West.


Dr. Ashavaree Das completed her doctoral dissertation in the Summer of 2013, titled “Information-seeking among pregnant women: A mixed method approach”. Her work on low-income women and maternal health utilization was appreciated by the rural health mission, and she provided her inputs to improve IEC efforts to the hospitals where she worked at.  Her research interests include: health information seeking; ICTs for development; gender, and; intercultural communication. She has taught at universities in the U.S., as well as at mass communication and management institutes in India. Dr. Das has completed several corporate consultancies to top multinational companies in India and led several social initiatives mobilizing students. Her papers have been presented at several international conferences. She currently resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Dr. Shruti Nair works in Mumbai, India.  She is a 2012 Doctoral graduate of the School of Communication at Florida State University. She completed her Masters of Mass Communication degree at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in 2008. Her thesis, entitled, Indian Press Coverage and Foreign Policy, explored changes in media as the country transitioned ideologically from pro-Soviet to pro-U.S. Shruti has also worked as a journalist with organizations like Zee News, The Telegraph, and Business Today. She worked as a Conference Producer at IQPC, Singapore. Her work involved researching, coordinating and managing and organizing large-scale B2B conferences across the Asia-Pacific region.

Her current research interests are in the areas of ICTs and social change, women’s issues, communication policies and regulations, health communication policies, new media and the Internet. She has presented papers at a number of international conferences across Asia. She has a graduate certificate in program evaluation and also earned the Karl and Madira Bickel scholarship at FSU. Her dissertation looked at the role of ICTs in the change in capabilities and the economic empowerment of women. Among the courses that Dr. Nair taught at FSU are media techniques, introduction to mass communication, media legalities and mass media and law.

Dr. Mariam Shaikh is a former Fulbright scholar and a Ph.D. graduate in Communication from College of Communication and Information, Florida State University, with an interest in the intersection of the fields of communication and emergency management and its influence on the resilience of at-risk communities residing in low-income areas (South-Asian region). She has conducted research and teaching in the areas of risk & emergency management communication; climate and environmental communication; disaster narratives; media Safety and reporting in emergencies; public health disasters and health-related risk communication; media management in crisis/emergency/war/terrorism or disaster situations; communication and media technology in crisis/disaster preparedness.

Warning communication as a specialized risk communication genre is her special area of interest. Her work on warning communication includes her dissertation work exploring policy, planning, management, and operational approaches to media innovations in warning dissemination and communication to effectively reach at-risk communities in low income, high risk regions; disease warning system, travel warnings and alerts, heat advisories and warnings in urban heat island, and famine warnings. Her work is recognized on several scholarly and professional forums, specifically: first place for her graduate research presentation at annual International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM 2015) and Scholarship for presenting her work at Governor’s Hurricane Conference (2014).

She uses audience engagement and simulation techniques in her teaching. She utilizes inductive thematic analysis and discourse analysis techniques in her research work. Her work spectrum covers digital, print, electronic, broadcast, mobile, and, face-to-face communication.

She has 15+ years of professional experience in civil service of Pakistan, leading significant roles in managing media, broadcast monitoring, periodicals and book publishing, film policy and documentary-making, print media registrations, and conducting publicity and public relations assignments at various levels and stations. Currently, she is serving as head of Digital and Social Media narratives with Ministry of Information, Government of Pakistan. She is also a visiting faculty in various academic and professional institutions. She is also adhoc reviewing for scholarly journals and conferences on a regular basis.

Her career goal is to advance understanding of effective communication and tailored media use to help reduce the loss of lives and damage fostering preparedness at the pre-impact stage.


Dr. Awais Saleem is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He teaching broadcasting and journalism courses. He graduated with a Ph.D in summer 2017 from the School of Communication, Florida State University. His research interests are political communication, social media and emerging technologies, political economy of media and agenda-setting. Before joining academia, Dr. Saleem worked as a print and broadcast journalist for more than a decade. During this time, he remained associated with mainstream media organizations in Pakistan, India and the United States. He tweets @awaissaleem77 and blogs at .


Dr. Mariliis Vahe is a 2013 doctoral graduate of the Florida State University School of Communication. She has a MSc degree in media and communication studies from Florida State University and MA degree in social sciences from University of Tartu, Estonia. She is a Fulbright alumna and has earned several awards and fellowships during her studies at FSU.

Dr. Vahe’s expertise is global health communication. For the last three years, she has conducted several studies focusing on different preventive health behaviors and health communication efforts in low resource settings in South Asia.  Her dissertation studied the potential of an online educational sexual health and female cancer prevention intervention targeted to young women in Pakistan. Dr. Vahe is one of the few researchers with expertise and primary data on this topic in Pakistan, and she has presented her work at several international conferences in the US and Europe.

Among the courses that Dr. Vahe taught at FSU were contemporary human communication and new technologies in health communication. She has also been active in developing new undergraduate face-to-face and graduate online courses at the School of Communication at FSU.

Before entering academia, Dr. Vahe had years of public relations consultancy experience, advising companies like Cisco, Fujitsu Siemens, McDonald’s, Radisson SAS, and others. She also worked as a communication manager for the Estonian digital health records system, one of the first national level eHealth initiatives in the European Union.

Dr. Vahe’s current research interests are development communication, new communication technologies in health communication, socio-cultural determinants of health behaviors, social marketing, health literacy issues, and health education in schools. She currently resides in Durham, North Carolina and is working on an educational eHealth project focusing on women’s sexual and reproductive health and female cancer prevention in Pakistan.

Dr. Khawaja Zain-ul-abdin teaches at one of Asia’s top business schools, the AACSB accredited Suleman Dawood School of Business at the Lahore School of Management Sciences in Pakistan.  He a Ph.D. graduate in communication at Florida State University with a specialization in new media technologies, training, and education systems. In his time at FSU he worked on developing a training system under a United States National Institute of Heath grant and a Performance Systems Analysis for the State of Florida. He also holds a Masters degree in media communication and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). His current research focuses on the development of new metrics for social media ROI calculations, the evaluation of digital influencers, and the volatility of online social norms. He also continues to work on improving training and education systems by creating hybrid modes of media delivery that enable people to learn through social contagion. This research has great applicability in the developing world as an education aid, enabling illiterate and underserved audiences to learn without the logistic and financial impediment of formal education. He has received multiple teaching and student appreciation awards as he brings such learning innovation into his classrooms and encourages students to partake in applied research aimed at creating social impact. Dr. Zain also works as a management consultant and as an executive trainer, and over the last decade has trained and advised over a 100 regional and international organizations, including banks, telecom companies, FMCG companies, development sector organizations, financial institutions, universities, multinationals, news & media companies, and entrepreneurial startups.

Mehnaz Gul is a Ph.D. scholar at School of Communication, Florida State University.  She holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from University of Peshawar, Pakistan, with distinction, and a Masters of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Public Administration from University of Bergen, Norway.  She is pursuing a doctorate in the area of communication research, a choice  driven by the multidisciplinary character of the field of communication. The openness of the field gives an opportunity to amalgamate her  training in the field of Public Administration with the scholarship by communication scholars on the impact and role of media on social issues like development, terrorism, accountability and public interest from administrative aspects. The focus of her work is on South Asia, especially Pakistan.

Asif Shaikh is a doctoral candidate at School of Information, Florida State University. His research interests focus on issues of deceptive uses of ICT. His dissertation aims to explore socio-technical factors that impact the security environment in complex organizations. In particular, the use of unauthorized personal-IT resources/tools by employees leads to compliance issues, ultimately jeopardizing information security of organizational data assets. His focus is on curbing the challenges faced by data-driven organizations, using the lens of a situational perspective of opportunity as a way to understand motivations to breach information security. His research is expected to assist in furthering his understanding of the security and compliance issues that may lead to insider threats or more serious harms to valuable organizational data assets.  In addition to his doctoral pursuits, he has also complete several certifications, including project management, multi-cultural marketing communication, and Global Pathways in Professional and Human services. He is currently serving as Graduate Leading Instructor at School of Information. Prior to his doctoral studies, as a professional, he worked as an operations consultant, and the project Lead with the State of Florida.  He has presented his work in various scholarly forums, including ICA, AMCIS, SIGMIS-CPR, IEEE, and SAMCS.