Social Media Analytics Research Team (SMART) Lab at Ohio University


SMART Lab Director

  • Dr. Laeeq Khan, Associate Professor

Dr. Laeeq Khan (PhD, Michigan State University) is the Director of the Social Media Analytics Research Team (SMART) Lab in the Scripps College of Communication. He is also an Associate Professor in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University.

He received his Ph.D. in Media and Information Studies from Michigan State University. Dr. Khan has years of teaching, research, and consulting experience. Besides big data and analytics, his research investigates new media effects on society in general and on organizations and businesses in particular. More specifically, his work focuses on user engagement in social media in terms of online participation and and how content affects attitudes, opinions, and behaviors. He also studies communication and development for social change in a global context.

OU Faculty Researchers

Dr. Scott Titsworth

Scott serves is the Dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, a position that he has held since 2010. Scott has published over 50 articles, books, and edited chapters in the field of communication, with most exploring connections between classroom communication and student learning.

Dr. Howard Welser

Dr. Howard T. Welser (PhD, University of Washington) is an associate professor of Sociology at Ohio University.  He investigates how micro-level processes generate collective outcomes. His published work studies these dynamics across a diverse range of settings:  role playing and diffusion of innovation among Wikipedia editors, emergence of social roles in online discussion, how cooperation emerges among competing teams, and how forms of protest and organization emerge online and spread into real world groups.   

Dr. Welser applies quantitative analysis of structural dynamics across a wide range of social settings, but with special emphasis on inequality and social change.  He is increasingly interested in studying how technological developments that affect social interaction and alter people’s capacity for collective action are changing the nature of social groups, organizations, sub-cultures and institutions. 

Dr. Aimee Edmondson

Aimee Edmondson is Professor and Graduate Director at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She received her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University (1990), her master’s degree from the University of Memphis (1998) and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri (2008). She was a newspaper reporter for about a dozen years in Louisiana, Georgia and Tennessee, spending most of her professional career at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. She has received numerous reporting awards and has published scholarly articles about libel law as well as state sunshine laws in the Journal of Media Law & Ethics, Communications Law & Policy, the First Amendment Law Review, American Journalism and Journalism History, among others. She considers herself to be a “pracademic” who works to bridge gaps between the academy and the newsroom. She is a frequent instructor at the annual conferences of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and the National Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting (NICAR). Edmondson has taught data journalism skills to educators and journalists across the globe, including China, Germany, India, Kazakhstan and Kenya, as well as holding regular training sessions the United States for the U.S. State Department.

Dr. Greg Newton

Greg’s research interests include radio/TV programming and promotion; free speech and the regulation of electronic media; and management and leadership in media businesses. He has published journal articles in the International Journal on Media Management, Journal of Media Business Studies, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Journal of Radio Studies, Journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, and Journal of Promotion Management. He has also authored or co-authored textbook chapters on programming and promotion; prepared comments in Federal Communications Commission proceedings; and has frequently been invited to speak on the regulation of offensive media content.

Graduate Researchers

Michelle Michael

Michelle Michael is a Ph.D. candidate and teaching fellow at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Her research focuses on the intersection of media and intergroup solutions. Her other research interests include identity, conflict, peace journalism, and the West’s influence on the global media landscape. Before pursuing her higher education in the United States, Michelle worked for a national newspaper group in her home country, Sri Lanka, as a corporate communications executive and was a columnist for the group’s weekly business paper, Financial Digest. She has also managed communications for B2Bs and has experience in both television and print newsrooms in the U.S.

Haneen Alqawasmeh

Haneen Khaled Alqawasmeh is a second-year Ph.D. student in the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University. Haneen has scholarly interests in gender studies, media and women, media and migration, representations of minorities in new streaming services, and social media. She is also investigating the representations of women in media. Particularly, she takes a keen interest in studying the image of Muslim women in new streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple Plus, and Amazon Prime.   Currently, alongside her Ph.D. studies at Ohio University, Alqawasmeh serves as an instructor of record in the School of Media Arts and Studies; she teaches MDIA 2113: Introduction to Social Media. Alqawasmeh also is a TeamSMART member in the SMART Lab at the Scripps College of Communication. She is involved in research projects related to SMART Lab’s Media Bias and Representations of Minorities Research Cluster. Before pursuing her doctoral studies at Ohio University, Haneen received a Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Mass Communication with a specialization in radio and television from Yarmouk University. She also used to work as a teaching assistant and a radio presenter in Yarmouk FM, Yarmouk University, Irbid-Jordan.

Laura Harbert

Laura Harbert is a Ph.D. candidate in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, School of Media Arts & Studies. Her research interests include media and social change, digital documentary/storytelling, and gender, race, and class in the media. She is also interested in the way media works in rural contexts, specifically in Appalachia.   Her qualitative study on the experiences of women in U.S. public media was recently published in the Journal of Radio and Audio Media. Her work as a journalist and storyteller has been published across a range of media platforms, including print, web, and podcast/broadcast on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Inside Appalachia, 100 Days in Appalachia, Scalawag, and Freakonomics Radio, among others.   Before returning to pursue her Ph.D.  Laura worked for nearly 20 years in public media and strategic communications, as a public radio general manager, program director, and producer; and as a non-profit communications director and media consultant.

Ghanem Ayed Elhersh

Ghanem A. Elhersh is a doctoral candidate and an instructor of record in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, School of Media Arts & Studies. He is also a TeamSMART member in the SMART Lab at Ohio University.  Elhersh’s area of expertise centers on studying the entertainment industry, storytelling, stereotypes, and new media studies. Context-wise, he investigates the representations of minorities, politics, and culture in new media employing qualitative and analytics research methodologies. Elhersh is a recipient of multiple awards during his academic journey, including graduate grant award (Ohio University, 2021), outstanding graduate student (Arkansas State University, 2018), outstanding graduate thesis award (Arkansas State University, 2018). He is also a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the National Journalism and Mass Communication Honorary 2018. He is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi by the election of the Chapter at Arkansas State University and is hereby granted the honors and privileges pertaining to membership in the society. He has more than 3 years of professional experience in the mass media industry and about 3 years of teaching experience at the university level. Before returning to pursue his Ph.D., Elhersh worked for three years as a TV presenter, cameraman, reporter, and editor.

Jessie Roark

Jessie is a doctoral student in the journalism program in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. She has an M.A. in Journalism from Ball State University, 2019; M.A. Digital Storytelling, Ball State University, 2008; and B.A. with majors in Theater and Telecommunications, Ball State University, 2005. Jessie’s research interests revolve around the representation of mental illness and disability in the media, and the effects of this representation on stigma and the larger conversation surrounding mental health and disability. Jessie has explored these effects in areas ranging from social isolation, treatment seeking behaviors, and economic implications. Jessie teaches Multiplatform Reporting and Writing at Ohio University. Jessie also has nearly a decade of experience in faculty research development involving workshops, classes and individual working sessions with faculty from all disciplines.

Albaraa Basfar

Albaraa Basfar is a doctoral candidate in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Basfar is experienced in data visualization, program evaluation, quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. He is part of the learning analytics research cluster at the SMART Lab where he is collecting, measuring, and analyzing data about learners and their contexts.

Wilhemina Bofla

Wilhemina Bofla is a first-year graduate student in the Master of Arts in Communication and Development Studies at Ohio University. She received her bachelor’s degree in Economics and Sociology from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Mina is a certified Agile and Scrum Master and has work experience in Project Management. Her research interest revolves around Communication for social change, Capacity building for social change, the youth, girl-child education gender and social media.

Affiliate Researchers / Industry Collaborators

Dr. Stephanie Tikkanen (Facebook)

Dr. Tikkanen is a researcher with 10+ years of experience in using data-driven insights to improve user experiences and communication in online settings. I specialize in both quantitative (e.g., surveys, experimental design, behavioral data analysis, sampling, hypothesis testing, and descriptive analyses) and qualitative (interview, focus group, observation, diary study) research methods, design, and analysis.

Dr. Adil Al-Busaidi (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)

Dr. Adil S. Al-Busaidi (Phd, Ohio University) is an assistant professor of organizational communication and the current Director of Innovation and Technology Transfer Center at Sultan Qaboos University. His interests revolve around research methodologies such as causal modeling, scale development, and psychometric testing. He developed R programming-based applications for social media opinion mining, sentiment analysis, social network analysis, and sample size calculation.

Dr. Umar Ruhi (University of Ottawa, Canada)

Dr. Umar Ruhi is an Associate Professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. He teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in Information Systems and Digital Enterprise Strategy. His research interests lie at the intersection of Information Systems, Knowledge Management, and Consumer Health Informatics. His research programs are concerned with exploring contemporary information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their applications in human, organizational, and social contexts.

Dr. Mustafa Demir (University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan, USA)

Dr. Mustafa Demir is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. Dr. Demir received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, specialized in Mathematics Education and Technology (2009) from Michigan State University. He teaches courses in Mathematics and Mathematics Education. He also designs online learning environments to improve students’ content and pedagogical knowledge in mathematics.

Demir’s research area is exploring students’ mathematics learning in technology-based settings and analyzing effective integration of information technology into mathematics education. In particular, he is studying the effects of using virtual manipulatives with different instructional methods on students learning of mathematics concepts.

Dr. Aqdas Malik (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)

Dr. Aqdas Malik is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Information Systems, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. He is also associated with Aalto University, Finland as a Research Fellow. He has developed and taught courses including Social Media Analytics, Social Media Research Methods, Systems Analysis and Design, and User Interface Design and Evaluation. In his research, by applying multiple research methodologies, he actively probes digital media engagement and interaction among public and niche communities within education, activism, entertainment, and public health domains. His research work has been published in a variety of prestigious venues including International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, Telematics and Informatics, American Journal of Health Behavior, and Journal of Information, Communication & Ethics in Society.

Eli Flournoy

Eli Flournoy is a 21-year veteran of  CNN’s news gathering operations in the United States and internationally, is charged with overseeing a 24/7 team of assignment editors and managers dedicated to serving more than 220 affiliate broadcasters outside the United States.

Dr. Ika Karlina Idris (Monash University)

Dr. Idris is an Associate Professor at Public Policy program Monash University Indonesia. She is an experienced researcher with a demonstrated history of working in the primary/secondary education industry. Skilled in Social Media Analytics, Policy Analysis, and Lecturing and Curriculum Development. Strong education professional with a Doctor of Philosophy – PhD focused in Mass Communication/Media Studies from Ohio University.

SMART Lab Alumni

(Former Students who participated for at least two semesters and graduated):

Graduate Students:

Aggrey Willis (2019-2021); Claudia Cisneros (2018-2019); Bowen Gao (2015-2018); Zulfia Zaher (2016-2018); Elizabeth Jenkins (2017); Ika Idris (2016-2018); Nala Edwin (2017 -2018)

Undergraduate Students:

Alayna Hutchinson (2016); Matt Lopreste (2015-2016); Haley Kennedy (2015-2016)