Moody College > News > 14 new, full-time faculty bring diverse talent

14 new, full-time faculty bring diverse talent

Experts, practitioners added to each Moody College school and department

Innovative researchers and real-world practitioners highlight Moody College of Communication’s faculty growth and advancement leading into the 2019-20 academic year.

Following last year’s historic surge, as nearly 20 new full-time faculty members joined Moody College, Dean Jay Bernhardt worked with college leadership to grow the college’s diverse talent and enhance its expertise in specific areas of academic focus and industry expertise.

“We work hard every day to make sure Moody College earns its position as the best place to research and learn communication in the world. Our new faculty further serve that purpose by ensuring our classrooms, labs and studios continue to be led by individuals with the brightest minds and ideas, who also possess the energy and focus to create and produce work of real impact,” Bernhardt said.


Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations

Laura Bright, associate professor

Laura F. Bright joins the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations as an associate professor of media analytics. Bright previously served at Texas Christian University, where she was the department chair and an associate professor in the Department of Strategic Communication as well as the co-director of the Certified Public Communicator program. 

Bright’s research focuses on social media addiction and fatigue, big data and analytics, personalized advertising and digital privacy. Her work has been published in the Journal of Current Issues in Research and Advertising, the Journal of Marketing CommunicationsComputers in Human BehaviorInternet Research, the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Qualitative Market Research, and the Journal of Interactive Advertising, among others.

Professionally, Bright has spent more than a decade working in the interactive advertising business in Austin, Texas, and currently consults various companies and organizations on optimizing their digital presence.

Octavio Kano, assistant professor of practice

Octavio Kano joins Moody College as an assistant professor of practice in the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations. Kano has more than 20 years of experience in the creative industry, as well as an international background and formal education in the visual arts.

Throughout his career in the visual communication field, Kano has developed and implemented responsive and interactive multimedia designs and advertising campaigns that include print media, art direction, photography, 3D motion graphics and social media. His work has benefitted numerous non-profit and for-profit organizations such as the Boston Children's Hospital, the Consumer Electronics Association, Plato Learning Inc., Best Buy and Blue Cross Blue Shields of Minnesota.

Rohitash Rao, assistant professor of practice

Rohitash Rao joins the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations as an assistant professor of practice. He has more than 20 years of multimedia experience as a creative director, animator, director and children’s book author.

In the 1990s, Rao served as an art director, creating award-winning advertising campaigns for brands like Taco Bell, Little Caesars Pizza, Toyota and Energizer. He worked at dozens of agencies before moving to the SciFi Channel in 2002 as creative director. Rao was part of the channel’s brand re-launch and created and directed many brand spots and network IDs, which led to his career transition to animation and directing. In 2007 his animated short film “Battle of the Album Covers” was a viral hit. His films have played in more than 25 film festivals worldwide.

From 2005-2012, he was part of the roster of directors at Curious Pictures in New York and did award-winning work for clients such as Nike, Volkswagen, Crunch Gyms, Amnesty International and Boost Mobile.


Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Corinne Jones, assistant professor

Corinne Jones is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and she holds a joint appointment in the Dell Medical School’s Department of Neurology.

Jones is a certified speech-language pathologist, and her research focuses include motor control and motor learning of swallowing behaviors and non-invasive neuromodulatory approaches to dysphagia rehabilitation. She is an expert in the use of pharyngeal high-resolution manometry for assessing pressures generated in the throat during swallowing.

She received a joint doctorate in neuroscience and communication sciences and disorders from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she investigated changes to swallowing function in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

Jun Wang, associate professor

Jun Wang is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and he holds a joint appointment in the Dell Medical School’s Department of Neurology. He also leads the Speech Disorders and Technology Lab.

Wang’s interdisciplinary research focuses on assistive speech technologies, including silent speech interface to assist communication of laryngectomees, neurogenic motor speech disorders (due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) and neural speech decoding for brain-computer interfaces. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, The University of Texas System and the American Speech-Language Hearing Foundation.

Wang previously served as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and communication sciences and disorders at UT Dallas, where he also held an adjunct electrical and computer engineering appointment.

He received his Ph.D. in computer science with cross training in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Nebraska.


Department of Communication Studies

Samantha Shorey, assistant professor

Samantha Shorey joins the Department of Communication Studies as an assistant professor. Shorey is a design researcher who studies how creating and building can help society think differently about the place of technology in the social world. Her work engages overlooked stories of innovation to recognize the contributions of women to technology design—both presently and in the past.

Shorey previously completed a fellowship at the Smithsonian Museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, where she investigated the women who handmade computer hardware for the Apollo moon missions. She also served as a research associate in the Tactile and Tactical Design Lab in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. She has also worked with collaborative research teams at the University of Oxford, MIT, and most recently as a pre-doctoral intern at Airbnb.

Robert Carroll, assistant professor of instruction 

Robert Carroll is an assistant professor of instruction with a joint appointment in the McCombs School of Business. He has more than 10 years of experience teaching students pursuing multiple academic disciplines in the areas of business and professional communication, interpersonal communication, public speaking and conflict management and resolution.

A former college academic advisor and program coordinator at the University of Kansas and Temple University, Carroll also serves as a communication coach and consultant for business students seeking to improve professional communication skills through the MBA+ Program in the McCombs School of Business.

In addition, he continues to works closely with executive clients advising on leadership, corporate  issues, and effective communication. Carroll received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Missouri and a Ph.D. in communication studies from Moody College.

Joe Cutbirth, lecturer

Joe Cutbirth is lecturer with appointments in the Department of Communication Studies and the School of Journalism. He teaches for the communication and leadership major, as well as the new UTNY program. His courses examine how leadership narratives are formed and used, the ethical implications of truth and deception, and the increasingly complex relationship between satire, propaganda and journalism in American politics.

His research has been published in Ethnography Matters, Media Ethics and The Handbook of Intellectual Freedom.  Cutbirth previously taught at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, New York University and the University of Virginia, among others. He holds a Ph.D. in communication from Columbia University.


School of Journalism 

Diana Dawson, assistant professor of instruction

After many years of outstanding teaching and service, Diana Dawson has been appointed as an assistant professor of instruction in the School of Journalism. She teaches the beginning newswriting course, now called Reporting Words, and previously served as an adjunct lecturer since 1996.

Before teaching, Dawson worked as a writer and reporter in newsrooms across the country. She was a nationally syndicated columnist for 10 years, and her freelance work has appeared in publications including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Her work won national, regional and local awards, and she was part of a newsroom team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Dawson founded the Moody College Writing Support Program in 2013 to help students access greater confidence in their writing skills. Through the program, undergraduate writing coaches guide their peers from conception to polish. In addition, she created an innovative series of courses for Senior Fellows called “Communicating the Human Side of Social Issues” that leads students into the city to explore topics like gentrification and immigration.

Samuel Woolley, assistant professor 

Samuel Woolley joins the School of Journalism as an assistant professor. His research focuses on how emergent technologies are used in and around global political communication.

Woolley’s work on computational propaganda, the use of social media in attempts to manipulate public opinion, highlights political groups worldwide and their attempts to use bots and trending algorithms to control information flows online. His projects have been funded by the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the New Venture Fund for Communications, among others.

Woolley previously directed the Digital Intelligence Lab, a research and policy-oriented project at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, Calif. He also previously served as director of research at the National Science Foundation and European Research Council supported Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. He received his Ph.D. in communication from the University of Washington.


Department of Radio-Television-Film

Jennifer McClearen, assistant professor

Jennifer McClearen has been appointed as an assistant professor in RTF. She began teaching at Moody College in 2017 as a visiting lecturer.

She is a feminist media scholar whose work examines the cultural production of difference in contemporary society with an emphasis on the mediation of gender, race and sexuality in sports media.

She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on gender, race and sexuality in film and television, as well as courses focused specifically on sports media. She is an affiliated faculty member in the Center for Sports Communication and Media at UT Austin.

Curran Nault, assistant professor

Curran Nault has been appointed as an assistant professor in RTF. He previously served as a joint lecturer in the departments of Radio-Television-Film, Women’s and Gender studies and Asian American Studies.

Nault’s scholarship focus is queer subcultural media formations cast in contradistinction to the normativity, whiteness and wealth of the dominant Western media industries. He has published and presented extensively on the examples of queer punk transmedia. He also works in the film industry as a documentary producer.

Adrien Sebro, lecturer

Adrien Sebro joins Moody College as a lecturer, whose scholarship specializes in critical media studies at the intersections of television, film, comedy, gender and African Diaspora studies.

Sebro writes and teaches on U.S. Black television sitcoms, television history, filmmakers of the African Diaspora and the media's role in initiating social change and activism. In the classroom he aims to instruct his students on the roles, responsibilities and powers (social and political) of media over time as a reflection of its temporal moment.

Adriana Serrano, assistant professor

Adriana Serrano joins Moody College as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the College of Fine Arts Department of Theater and Dance. She is an experienced industry professional in the disciplines of production design and art direction.

Her films have been shown in major film festivals like Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca and Toronto, and have streamed in platforms like HBO, Netflix, ABC and Amazon. Her credits as a production designer include, among others: “Afternoon Delight,” directed by Jill Soloway (Best director in Sundance), “Arcadia” (Best film at the generation K in Berlin), and “Entre Nos” (Honorable mention at Tribeca).

She received her MFA in set design at Brooklyn College in New York and is part of The Art Directors Guild.

Natalie England

Marketing Communication


For more information, contact:

Kathleen Mabley at 512-232-1417