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University of Wisconsin–Madison


Dhavan V. Shah, Director of the Mass Communication Research Center, is the Louis A. & Mary E. Maier-Bascom Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with affiliated appointments in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Marketing, and Political Science. His research focuses on the influence of electronic and digital media on social judgments, civic engagement, and health support.

He has developed three major lines of inquiry: (1) the influence of message framing and processing on decision-making and opinion formation; (2) the capacity of mass and interpersonal communication, especially in online communities, to encourage civic engagement and political participation; and (3) the effects of computer-mediated interactions, particularly the expression of social support, on the management of cancer, aging, and addiction (Curriculum Vitae). Across these domains, he has increasingly applied computational techniques to social science questions, employing computer-assisted text analysis, machine learning, network mapping, and predictive analytics to study politics, civic life, and public health.

Within the MCRC, Shah works with fellow faculty and graduate students in three research groups: (1) Social Media and Democracy – SMAD, (2) Center for Communication and Civic Renewal – CCCR, and (3) Health Information Technology Studies – HITS.  Articles from these collaborations appear in leading communication, political science, and health informatics journals (see his website’s research section). Much of this work has been supported by grants totaling over $45 million from sources such as the Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, PBS, CPB, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Carnegie Corporation, Russell Sage Foundation, Spencer Foundation, Social Science Korea, National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI), Agency for Health Research and Quality (NIH-AHRQ), National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute (NIH-NHLBI), the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NOH-NIDA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The center and its research infrastructure also supports other faculty and student research collaborations that span a range of research groups and scholarly approaches to social research.