The Communication and Journalism programs give out awards and prizes each year to outstanding students in each program.

Communication Awards
Graduate Research Award

About the Award

This award is given every year by the faculty of the Department of Communication to a deserving graduate student (Ph.D. or M.A. student) for excellence in academic research. Students may be recognized for published academic research, which they conducted on their own or as a member of a team, for research presented at major academic conferences (e.g., NCA, AEJMC, IAMCR, ICA, AoIR), for scholarships, fellowships and/or grants received, or for any other significant scholarly accomplishments. (Note: Graduate students cannot win the award twice for the same research work.)

The student selected will be:

  • Given a financial award that might be used toward costs associated with participating in an academic conference (e.g., registration, travel) or other research-related expenses (e.g., data collection, transcription);
  • Presented with a special certificate of recognition by the Department;
  • Profiled on the Department’s website.

Nominations are submitted to the designated departmental committee by graduate students’ academic adviser. The deadline for submitting the required material is usually early March. Advisers should submit: (a) a brief cover letter (1-2 double-spaced pages) explaining why the nominee deserves the award, and (b) a copy of the student’s current curriculum vitae.

The criteria for judging the nominees include coherence of research; publications and presentations (quality, quantity and impact/prominence of journals/conferences); and independence in research (selection of topics and conducting research).

The award committee will meet and review all nominations, and subsequently make a recommendation to the faculty. Presentation of the award is usually made at the Proseminar meeting before the end of the spring semester. 

Current winners

2024: Alexandra Stankus

Alexandra Stankus

Alexandra Stankus is in her third year of the Ph.D. program, studying health communication and health technology. Alexandra's research examines how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to address patient outcomes and health disparities. Among her qualifications for this award, Alexandra co-authored a systematic scoping review of theoretical frameworks and communication feedback in mHealth interventions. This piece is now in press as a book chapter for the Palgrave Handbook of Communication and Health Disparities.

She also has multiple co-authored papers. One paper and one poster were presented to the Communication, Medicine and Ethics conference, and another will be presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association. Alexandra also has a lead-authored paper under review for the annual conference of the National Communication Association. Congratulations Alex on your impressive research accomplishments this year!

Originally from Albany, she also completed a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Communication at UAlbany. Alexandra is interested in helping patients become more informed and involved in their own health care decisions and improving patients’ experiences with the health care system. Alexandra plans to use her degree to pursue a career teaching at the college level and continuing her research in health communication.

Previous winners 

2023: Hyerim Jo

Hyerim Jo is a Ph.D. student from South Korea. Her research interests lie in mediated communication, with a focus on traditional and digital news. Her dissertation examines news environments as a contextual factor that shapes individual and collective attitudes toward climate change. Hyerim uses multilevel modeling and multilevel mediation to approach data. 

Hyerim was the first author on a publication in New Media and Society titled “Spreaders vs victims: The nuanced relationship between age and misinformation via FoMO and digital literacy in different cultures.”  For this publication, Hyerim collaborated with Professor Fan Yang in exploring how different age groups (young adults vs. seniors) react differently to misinformation on social media.  

In addition, Hyerim was the second author of a publication with Professor Masahiro Yamamoto titled “Anti-media expression by citizens: conservative summary sites, hostile media perceptions, and media trust in Japan” in  Information, Communication and Society. As part of the initial draft, she scraped text from a Japanese hyper-conservative site, preprocessed it, and extracted frequently occurring words to contextualize how reading the site could affect attitudes toward mainstream news outlets.  


2022: Seulgi Park, Victoria Barbeisch, Diana Willis

This year, the selection committee decided to give three awards to recognize outstanding student work.

1st Place: Seulgi Park: Seulgi’s research examines health communication for marginalized populations, including immigrants. Seulgi had one lead-authored manuscript (Park & Ahmed, 2021) published in Health Communication in 2021-2022, and she has two book chapters currently in press. Seulgi also had four lead-authored papers presented to or accepted at top conferences in the communication field (NCA, ICA).

2nd Place: Victoria Barbeisch: Victoria’s research examines the effects of source factors on message recipients’ impressions in mediated communication and social media. She had one lead-authored manuscript (Barbeisch & Krishnan, 2022) published in the Journal of Communication Technology in 2021-2022. She was also the 3rd place winner of the UAlbany 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

3rd Place: Diana Willis: Diana’s research focuses on communication about food, memory cultures and collective memory, and social justice. Diana had one sole-authored book chapter (Willis, 2022, forthcoming) accepted for publication in 2021-2022. She also has eight papers presented to or accepted at a diverse range of conferences, including top conferences in the communication field (NCA, ICA) as well as more specialized conferences oriented toward her research interests (e.g., Association for the Study of Food and Society: Cultivating Connections).

2021: Pallavi Khurana

Pallavi Khurana is a Ph.D. student from Delhi, India. Her research focuses on impression management and health issues in the context of social media. Pallavi had four conference papers accepted in 2020-2021. One of these papers was presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association (the most prestigious international conference for communication scholarship). Two of Pallavi’s conference papers received Top Paper Awards (New York State Communication Association Convention, BEA2021). Pallavi also has three manuscripts currently under journal review.

2020: Chia-Heng Chang

Chia-Heng Chang is a second year doctoral student. Chia was nominated for her research productivity which includes three first-author accepted papers at the 2020 Annual Conference of International Communication Association (ICA), 2020 Annual Conference of Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), and 2020 Feminist Studies Consortium. The nominators noted that “Chia is one of our program’s most self-motivated doctoral students and showcases a genuine curiosity and outstanding abilities.”

2019: Zhuozhi Shao

Zhuozhi Shao was selected for showing a promising research trajectory. She has or soon will have presented at 4 different conferences within a time span of about 1.25 years. Her recent scholarly work includes a full paper presented at the Eastern Communication Association, a paper presented in a poster session at the International Communication Association in 2018 and another full paper presentation upcoming at the ICA 2019 convention, and a poster presentation at the 10th Annual International Conference on Social Media & Society. 

2018: Xin Zhou and Bryanna Hebenstreit

Xin Zhou and Bryanna Hebenstreight are co-winners of this year's award.

Ms. Zhou's recent scholarly work includes a papers presented at the 2017 NCA Conference and the 2017 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association; for both, she is first author. In addition, she once again has a paper accepted for presentation at the 2018 ICA conference. She has a paper published (in Press) in the Journal of Health Communication; again, as first author. Last, she has a co-authored publication in the proceedings of the 23rd Americas Conference on information Systems.

In the last year, Ms. Hebenstreit has presented or had accepted for presentation, three papers; two are single authored and on the other, she is the first author. The venues include International Pragmatics Association Conference (2017) and the International Association for Communication and Sport Conference (2018). She also has secured three book chapters which are in preparation; significantly, two of these are invited chapters. Last, she has also had been invited to give a talk on her research at TELUQ University & University of Montreal.


2017: Xin Zhou and Chendan Cui-Laughton

Xin Zhou and Chendan Cui-Laughton were co-recipients of the 2016-2017 Graduate Student in Communication Research Award. They were selected for showing a promising independent and collaborative research trajectory.

Ms. Zhou’s recent scholarly work includes a paper accepted for presentation at the 2017 ICA Conference on “The influence of health-related psychographic factors and social media activity on exercise maintenance and well-being.” She has a paper under review by the Journal of Health Communication.

Ms. Cui-Laughton’s recent scholarly work includes a paper, “Fighting chaos and noise: How organizational creativity requires less talk and more bodily practices,” presented at this year’s NCA and another one accepted for presentation at the 2017 ICA Conference on “How the Body Participates in the Communicative Constitution of Organizations.”

2016: Jamie Campbell

Jamie Campbell has been awarded the 2015-2016 research award. Ms. Campbell was selected for showing a promising independent and collaborative research trajectory. Her recent scholarly work includes a paper presented at the 2015 NCA Conference that examined the impact of gender cues on evaluations of political candidates and public policy proposals.

2015: Crystal Brandow

Crystal Brandow’s many achievements to be proud of, including her participation as a research assistant on an NIH-funded project, Overcoming Barriers to African American Women's Reproductive Healthcare Seeking, and a FRAP supported research project, Reproductive Healthcare Disparities as a Function of How Women Communicate in Small Ethnically Diverse Communities. As a participant in the FRAP funded project, she played an essential role in participant recruitment, data collection, as well as the process of analyzing data. Ms. Brandow has also led our efforts to present initial findings of this work. 

She was the lead presenter at the D.C. Health Communication Conference, a specialized and well-regarded academic meeting that takes place every two years, and the lead author on the related paper. Additionally, she presented a revision of her master’s thesis at an academic conference sponsored by UMASS-Amherst and is preparing these revisions for publication. Ms. Brandow has demonstrated a strong commitment to quality research, and engaged academic participation that can serve as a model for our Ph.D. students.

2014: Muriel Scott

Muriel Scott received the Department of Communication’s 2014 Graduate Research Award for several reasons. Muriel, who successfully defended her dissertation earlier this year, has several achievements to be proud of, including two publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, a third manuscript under publication consideration, and several presentations at academic conferences, such as those of the International Communication Association (ICA), the National Communication Association (NCA), and the Eastern Communication Association (ECA).

While at UAlbany, Ms. Scott also worked as the lead research assistant on an NIH supported project. Muriel has served as a great example to her fellow Ph.D. students in our department throughout the time she has been in our program and is a deserving recipient of this award.

Wilkie Award

The Richard W. Wilkie Award for the Outstanding Undergraduate in Communication is given each May. The award is named after Dr. Wilkie, an emeritus member of the Communication faculty who urged his students to attain excellence, especially in argumentation and public discourse. 

Each March, graduating seniors ranking at the top of the class are invited to compete for this award. A Wilkie Committee selects the winner based on the following criteria: (1) an outstanding academic record, (2) effective delivery of an extemporaneous speech, and (3) strong critical thinking skills (evidenced through the development of a speech that was coherent, logical, and well-justified).

After the UAlbany department recognition ceremonies were eliminated in 2021, the winner is now invited to record a commencement message. 

Wilkie Award winners:

Jessica Porco
Jessica Porco

2024 Jessica Porco

Jessica Porco of Wappingers Falls is a double major in Communication and History. Her video commencement message: 


2023 Melissa Lalonde 
2022 Olivia Tonis
2021 Natalie Cosentino 
2020 No award
Previous winners were invited to address graduates at the live department ceremony:
2019 Karlie Flood
2018 Samantha Cardona
2017 Gabrel Reid
2016 Molly Cohen
2015 Cecilia Guo
2014 Joseph Meringolo
2013 Natasha Cooper
2012 Clare Daly
2011 Aaron Gaita
2010 Tali Gellert
2009 Tracy McQuade
2008 Kelly Smith
2007 Denise Kerwath
2006 Jamie Cheung and Erika Gatzke
2005 Ashley Heilmann
2004 John Lebret and Caroline Maiello
2003 Ioannis Kareklas and Linda Lampert
2002 Erin Hornbeck
2001 Ozioma Egwuonwu and Iram Zaman
2000 Andrew Fyfe
1999 Ashley Lounsbury and Jennifer Meilak
1998 Eric Edwin Williams
1997 Frank Crocitto and Kathryn Santoro
1996 Veronique Jouhaud
1995 Linda Lawrence and Carol Tiger
1994 Douglas Woodard
1993 Jennifer Baniak and Daniel Hills
1992 Michael Lettera and Ilene Schreibman
1991 Todd Mohrmann
1990 Noel Egiziano

Journalism Awards
Schafer and Rowley Awards

Journalism Program students compete for two prizes given each year for distinguished and outstanding writing. Faculty members in the program select the winners, who receive small cash awards and are recognized on the Program website and at the Spring Recognition Ceremony.

Awards are excellent to list on resumes, and competitive writing is an excellent way to improve skills. All students are encouraged to fill out the applications below and submit their work via email as per the instructions. Only electronic submissions will be considered.


Schafer Award

The Ronald R. Schafer Memorial Fund Scholarship recognizes the outstanding graduating senior in Journalism. (The student may have graduated at the end of the fall term or be scheduled to graduate in the May ceremony.) An honorarium attached to the Award varies yearly, but is usually a few hundred dollars.

Schafer Award application  (live each Spring semester)

Rowley Award

The William E. Rowley Award for Journalistic Writing is open to any student, regardless of major or minor, first year through senior year, for one piece of journalistic writing. The honorarium varies yearly, but is usually $200.

Rowley Award application (live each Spring semester)

Recent winners


Christian Hince
Christian Hince

Schafer Award: Christian Hince’s accomplishments while a student at the University at Albany are many, varied, and uniformly superb. A Journalism honors student from Hamptonburgh, his academic record is outstanding. He has also published extensively in the Albany Student Press, where he has held leadership positions including sports section editor and managing editor.  During this semester, he with a colleague has co-produced a weekly news radio show called “News at 1800” on WCDB Albany, the campus station. This activity has required extensive preparation at the beginning of each week by researching news spanning the global, national, state, and university levels across the topics of hard news, sports, entertainment, and sometimes science, compiling a 4,000-odd word script with a range of segments which use relevant audio clips found on the internet.

Personal website: 

Rowley Award: Christian Hince also wins the Rowley Award for reporting on culinary and cultural diversity in Albany during his time at WAMC, a regional public radio network serving parts of 7 northeastern states. Christian looks to use the skills he’s gained during his time in Albany for a long career in journalism. 

Abby Lorch
Abby Lorch

His Work:

Abby Lorch, a Journalism honors major from Clifton Park, was named runner-up for the Rowley Award for her piece "Through adversity is the only way."   The Journalism faculty said "This is a deeply felt, moving portrait of a young man with a rare disability." 



Schafer Award: Danielle Modica, from Dumont, NJ, for her articles on musicians and the underground music scene in New York, and for her contribution to the University at Albany community for her work as editor-in-chief of the Albany Student Press.
Her work:
Rowley Award: Shawn Ness from New Paltz, for his solid reporting on UAlbany Professor David Carpenter. Ness worked as a copy editor at the Albany Student Press. His continued commitment to the student-run news outlet illustrates a dedication to the importance of the mission of journalism.  
His reporting: UAlbany Professor Removed From 'Alternative Assignment' After Internal Investigation
Mass Shootings Are Not a New Thing to Generation Z


Schafer Award: Stephanie Hyde from Rochester, for her in-depth feature articles and commentary on today’s entertainment and sports industries as well as her commitment to including a variety of diverse perspectives into her work. 
Alexa Ross Interview on Soundcloud 
Rowley Award: Stephanie Hyde from Rochester, for her digital production package that takes a “closer look” at the integral role of college campus radio stations, including WCDB at University at Albany, on student life. 
A Closer Look at College Radio Stations
Faculty Award: Danielle Modica from Dumont, NJ, for her dedication and contribution to the University at Albany community as a reporter and Social Media manager for the student newspaper, the Albany Student Press. 

Schafer Award: Jordan Duncan from Ohau, Hawaii, for dedicating herself to crafting feature articles about the people she encountered during her numerous travels.
Rowley Award: 1st place: Meghan Brink, a junior from Allegany, NY, for University hopeful for increase in state aid, budget cuts still likely; 2nd place: Max Weissman, a junior from Longmeadow, MA, for Byrdhouse: It's All About the Music.

Schafer Award: A tie for 1st place: Michelle Mullen and Jackie Orchard; Honorable Mention: Jeremy Tu
Rowley Award: 1st place: Tom Marra for his photo blog on first responders; 2nd place: Raymond Drumsta; Honorable Mention: Chad Arnold 

Schafer Award: Elise Coombs, for her journalistic writing and career aspirations to serve the Fourth Estate as a First Amendment lawyer. 
Rowley Award: Michelle Mullen, for her multimedia submission, MLK's Words On Church And Segregation Are Still Relevant Today

Schafer Award: No award
Rowley Award: Senior Claudie Joaissant was awarded the 2018 William E. Rowley Award for Journalism for her thought-provoking piece about colorism's impact on race and gender; honorable mention: Brian Minutolo earned an honorable mention for his story on the ethical challenges in sports journalism. It features an incisive interview with a veteran journalist, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Schafer Award: Stefan S. Lembo-Stolba
Rowley Award: Stefan S. Lembo-Stolba for a series of investigative stories on UAlbany's EOP Program, and HM: Robert Lepelstat for "Too Late To Turn Back?" (audio link)

Schafer Award: Nick Muscavage
Rowley Award: Nick Muscavage and Connor Murphy for “A Closer Look at Our School’s Largest Donor” and HM: Ashlee Madura for “Why Women Fear the “F” Word”
Journalism Faculty Award for Outstanding Student Contribution: Kassandra Parisi and Madeline St. Amour 

Nicholas Muscavage
Nick Muscavage
Connor Murphy
Connor Murphy
Ashlee Maduro
Ashlee Madura
Kassandra Parisi
Kassandra Parisi
Madeline StAmour
Madeline St.Amour
2016 Schafer and Rowley Award winners and honorable mentions.


Schafer Award: Kyle Plaske
Rowley Award: Amanda Cubello; HM: Peter Hooley