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Dr. Melissa Johnson Wins Senior Scholar Grant

Dr. Melissa Johnson and Ph.D. student Katreena Alder Photo Credit: Robert Bell

A familiar face in Winston Hall for more than 20 years has won a prestigious Senior Scholar grant from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

Dr. Melissa Johnson, who received her doctorate in mass communication research from UNC Chapel Hill, teaches undergraduate courses, advises graduate students, coordinates the PR concentration within the department, and also coordinates an online graduate certificate in professional communication and managerial skills. In addition to the many hats she wears on campus, Dr. Johnson is known throughout the academic community for her dedication and production of quality research.

Dr. Melissa Johnson and Ph.D. student Katreena Alder Photo Credit: Robert Bell
Dr. Melissa Johnson and Ph.D. student Katreena Alder
Photo Credit: Robert Bell

AEJMC has over 3,700 members from 50 countries, and the association awarded Dr. Johnson one of only two Senior Scholar grants for her efforts in researching ethnic public relations as a subfield of public relations in the United States.

Katreena Alder, a CRDM Ph.D. student in the department, helped Dr. Johnson collect preliminary research for the final paper that Professor Johnson will present in Minneapolis in August at the AEJMC conference.

In continuing their research and highlighting the interesting ethnic public relations challenge of serving one public while also promoting cultural understanding and appreciation, Dr. Johnson will orchestrate in-depth interviews with public relations practitioners from ethnic museums all across the country. The major cities involved in this part of the research project include San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and these trips are funded through different grants Professor Johnson has received over the course of the project. Alder will help Dr. Johnson write articles based on interview transcripts, and Dr. Johnson expressed that Alder has been a key asset to the project and its continuation.

Originally, the project stemmed from CHASS and departmental funding, which then allowed Professor Johnson to apply for external grants such as the AEJMC Senior Scholar grant. The Senior Scholar program seeks to recognize scholars who have been practicing research for a long time and are involved in extended research projects.

When asked about her reaction to being selected as a Senior Scholar winner, Dr. Johnson said, “I was thrilled! AEJMC is one of two major organizations in my field, so to get an award like that from a major organization is just honestly a huge thrill.”

She has worked on research projects with a lot of different graduate students over the last 4-5 years, but this year’s Senior Scholar award has definitely ignited an acute focus on her current ethnic and cross cultural public relations research. The grant will assist with the costs of conducting research at the different ethnic museums in the four major cities.