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  Director of the School of Communication 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)


Kathleen M. Erndl is Associate Professor of Religion at the Florida State University, where she teaches in the field of South Asian religions, with a focus on modern Hinduism, as well as courses on gender and religion, popular Hindi cinema, and Sanskrit language.  She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in South Asian Language and Literature, Religions of South Asia Program.   Professor Erndl’s publications include Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual and Symbol (Oxford, 1993), a co-edited collection of essays entitled Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses (New York University Press and Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), and articles on Hindu goddess traditions, spirit possession, women’s religious expressions, and religion and gender as represented in Bollywood films.  She is currently writing a book entitled The Play of the Mother: Women, Goddess Possession, and Power in Hinduism. Professor Erndl has been the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hayes, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.  Her courses include REL 3936 Bollywood Film, Gender and Religion,  and REL 5354/4359 Hindu Ethics, Human Rights, and Social Justice in India (webpage)


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 is Associate Dean in the College of Applied Studies at Florida State University.  She 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. (more)


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).


Post-Doctoral 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. 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 teaches at the Lahore School of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan.  He a Ph.D. graduate in communication at Florida State University with a specialization in training and education systems.  He  holds a Masters degree in media communication and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). His research is focused upon improving training and education systems by creating hybrid modes of media delivery that enable people to learn purely through visual modeling. This research has great applicability in the developing world as a development education aid, enabling illiterate, under-educated and aurally impaired audiences to learn without impediment. The research also presents great potential for corporate, governmental and NGO organizational training, as it enables the creation of universal training materials that do not require special learning competencies or experience to master. He has nine years of consultancy experience in the Pakistani market and has worked on training event projects for several multinationals, government and non-government organizations. Dr. Khawaja Zain has also recently completed work on developing a training system under a United States National Institute of Heath grant and a Performance Systems Analysis for the State of Florida.

Visiting Scholars:

Mudassir Mukhtar is a Visiting Scholar in the School of Communication, Florida State University. He serves as a Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad, Pakistan. He received an M.A. degree in Mass Communication with specialization in Public Relations and Advertising from University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. He completed his M. Phil in Mass Communication from Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Islamabad, Pakistan. He has taught for more than ten years in Public Relations, Advertising and Political Communication courses at various levels. Earlier, he worked as a Public Relations Officer with different organizations in the public and private sectors. His research interests include public relations, advertising, media policy and attitudes and persuasion.


Florida State University Graduate Students:

Bidisha Goswami is a first year graduate student in the School Of Communication at Florida State University and is from India. She is pursuing her Master’s degree in the Integrated Marketing Communication track along with a  graduate certificate in Project Management. She has an bachelors degree in Economics from Pune University and a Post Graduate diploma from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in Advertising and Public Relations, under the Indian Ministry of Broadcasting and Information.

Prior to joining FSU, she was working with the Indian branch of  Washington, DC based communication consultancy, Apco Worldwide India Pvt. Ltd., working with multiple clients such as Disney, Facebook, Yahoo, Perkins Engines, Oshkosh, and Intuit. She also has some teaching experience with IMS Pvt. Ltd., where she tutored school-level marketing aspirants.

She has presented papers on topics such as, “Crisis Communication on Oil Spill tragedy by Oil India Ltd.,” (2013), “Production, Distribution and Consumption of Crude Oil” (2012), and “Implementation of Mughal ideas in today’s fashion and cuisine” (2011). She has additionally worked on a history presentation on the topic “PUNE-Past and Present” (2012).

Her research interests include crisis communications strategies adopted by brands/organizations, changes in media consumer behavior after the introduction of the internet, gender relations in entertainment in India, female rights and security issues in India, and the role of media in the development of of women’s empowerment in South East Asia. She was also selected as guest columnist for India’s first gender-based newsletter published by United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).

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.

Awais Saleem joined the School of Communication as a Doctoral student in Fall 2013.   His research interests are political communication, international communication, media policy and regulation, and political economy.   He comes to FSU after more than a decade of association with with Pakistan’s leading media organizations, including Daily, The News, Express News TV and Dunya News TV, both as a reporter and as a newsroom manager. His last assignment (2011-2013) was as the correspondent of Dunya News TV in Washington, DC.

Asif Shaikh is a Master’s graduate from the School of Communication at Florida State University from Pakistan, working in the  field of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) with a concentration in the area of Project Management.  Prior joining FSU, he worked as senior officer in sales and marketing at Pakistan International Airline (PIA) responsible for handling and generating corporate business. He has over eight years of experience in Marketing, Sales, and Product & Business Development. His professional experience includes management skills in leading direct reports as well as cross-functional teams, determining and documenting new product requirements, developing sales forecasts and plans and product pricing, and launching new products, managing events and promotions to the marketplace.  He presented a paper at the Asian Media and Information Centre (AMIC) conference in  Malaysia (July 2012), entitled “Asian Americans Online: An Analysis of Growing Consumer Market for Luxury Items.”  As a Masters student in FSU’s Integrated Marketing Communication program, he is taking specialized courses in project management and striving to gain academic insights in the field of integrated marketing communication.

Mariam Shaikh is a Doctoral Student and a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan in the School of Communication at Florida State University.    She was born in Sukkur, in the Sindh Province of Pakistan, the gateway to the world’s oldest Indus Valley civilization.

Media and communication is her chosen field of academic pursuit and professional experience. She is a civil servant by profession, and has worked as a Deputy Director in Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan prior joining Florida State University. She has worked with Federal cabinet closely in the capacity of media and public relations officer and also has served in the field of media management and policy in various affiliated departments of the Ministry.

She is a law graduate and has completed qualifications in the Civil Services examination (2002) to work with Government of Pakistan as a civil servant. She has successfully completed a common training program (2002) in the subjects of economics and management, as well as a non-degree specialized training at Information Service Academy, Islamabad (2003) with highest ranking in the subjects of media, communications and public relations. As a requirement, she developed a research project entitled ‘Role of media in promoting foreign investment in Pakistan’ as a probationer at Information Service Academy. In addition through out her professional career to date, she has regularly attended capacity building courses, seminars and workshops in e-management, media studies and public speaking skills.

Her major field of research is disaster and emergency management communications and she is exploring the prospective role of media in developing resilient societies. Since emergency communication  – which is often called risk or crisis communication – is a specialized field she has completed several courses in this area with the  Center of Disaster, Risk and Policy (CDRP) within the College of Social Sciences at Florida State University. During her course of study she has also completed independent study courses dealing with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Mariam has presented her research in several international media research forums, including the International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in July 2011 at the Istanbul, Turkey conference and in July 2012, at the Durban, South Africa IAMCR  Conference. She also presented at the Asian Media Information Centre conference in June 2012 in Kaula Lumpur, Malaysia.

Her chosen field of study and research is important with regard to South Asian Media Studies because she is intending to do a comparative study between US and Pakistan to assess information needs, differences and influences of technology (ICTs), Environment, economics and social construction in communication disaster and risk related information. Developing a resilient society is a crucial task which could be facilitated by use of right medium of communication at the right time to the relevant audience.

Florida State University Undergraduate Students:

Qaree Dreher is a second year student majoring in Public Relations and International Affairs.  He is part of the FSU Undergraduate  Research Opportunity Program for 2013-2014, and undertook research in Fall 2013 on media coverage in different countries of drone strikes.

Shauna Gillooly is a first-year student in the FSU Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, double-majoring in International Affairs and Spanish.  She is examining media portrayals of gender relations in entertainment and news in South Asia in 2013-2014.

Sandra Thomas is a member of the FSU Undergraduate  Research Opportunity Program for 2013-2014 and a second year student majoring in Media and Communication Studies.  She is interested in the way media presents issues and events to the public, as well as how the public perceives these presentations, and is exploring media coverage in different countries of negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.