Skip to main content

COM-PSI Team

Founder & Co-Director

Dr. Nathan Walter

Professor Walter’s research concerns the effects of mass media, evaluation of strategic health messages, analysis of communication ecologies, the persuasive power of narratives, and correction of misinformation. His most recent work, which is supported by the FDA, focuses on novel methods to debunk tobacco-related misinformation. Prof. Walter’s overarching research agenda revolves around the development of multilevel and ecological models that provide a nuanced approach to the study of communication-related phenomena.

Co-Director


Dr. Stefanie Demetriades


Dr. Demetriades' research areas are rooted in a fundamental interest in how individuals and publics respond to challenges in the context of technological, political, and social uncertainty. Studying these dynamics in the contexts of health, science, and politics, her research interests boil down to one simple question: how can we provide more effective and equitable care and services to vulnerable and marginalized populations in the U.S. and across the globe?

Graduate Students

Emily Andrews

Emily A. Andrews is a Ph.D student in the Media, Technology, and Society
program and researched in the Center of Media Psychology and Social
Influence (COM-PSI) lab under the guidance of Dr. Nathan Walter. Her
research interests exist within the realms of health and science
communication. More specifically, she is interested in vaccine hesitancy
and misinformation, narrative persuasion, along with attitudes and
prosocial behavior. She aims to construct corrections to vaccine and
health-related misinformation. She holds a BA from SUNY Geneseo in
Psychology and an MA from SUNY University at Buffalo in Communication.

John J. Brooks

John J. Brooks is a doctoral candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern University, working with the Center of Media Psychology and Social Influence (COM-PSI) under Dr. Nathan Walter. His research primarily pertains to communication in the contexts of health and politics—specifically, the use of entertainment-education to promote prosocial outcomes, the persuasive power of narratives, and the influence of mass media representations on social issues. In addition to research, John is an enthusiastic educator: he received the School of Communication's "Outstanding Graduate Instructor/Teaching Assistant Award" for his course, "A History of Mass Media Influence," and his work as a teaching assistant in 2020-2021. He also completed the Searle Center’s Teaching Certificate Program in Spring 2021 and now serves as a Graduate Teaching Mentor for current participants. Previously, John completed a B.A. in Theatre/Gender Studies, an M.S. in Health Communication, and received an M.A. in Media, Technology, and Society, all from Northwestern.

Christopher M. Dobmeier

Chris Dobmeier is a second-year doctoral student in the Media, Technology, and Society program. His research explores the psychological mechanisms that impact how people interact with entertainment and news media, paying particular attention to the role of cognitive biases and emotions in such interactions. In tandem, Chris is interested in the many ways in which we can leverage these media (be them late-night talk shows, fictional television shows, traditional newscasts, public service announcements, etc.) to facilitate beneficial attitude and behavior change. Additionally, he finds joy as a correspondence tutor at Northwestern’s Prison Education Program, and has consulted on entertainment-education research (data analysis). He holds a BA and MA from The SUNY University at Buffalo.

Callie S. Kalny

Callie is a doctoral student in the Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern University where she works with Dr. Nathan Walter in the Center of Media Psychology and Social Influence (COM-PSI). Callie's research lies at the intersection of health and environmental communication and is broadly guided by the investigation of how messages mean. Specifically, her work explores the socio-psychological effects of communication and the relationship between message design, affective response, information processing and persuasive outcomes. Callie’s overarching research goal is to contribute to the development of communication tools and interventions that improve decision-making and promote the uptake of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. She is a graduate of Mercer University (BA, Communication Studies) and Wake Forest University (MA, Communication). 

Malavika Radhakrishnan Profile

Malavika Radhakrishnan

Mala Radhakrishnan is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Master of Science in Health Communication program. She is a Research Assistant with the Center of Media Psychology and Social Influence lab, under the direction of Dr. Nathan Walter. Her interests gravitate toward communication strategies to evaluate and design messages to counter misinformation in the health arena. She also works as a Researcher in Infodemiology with Critica, a non-profit organization, where she analyzes misinformation narratives across social media. Mala has assisted with different projects in the COM-PSI lab, including projects related to Entertainment-Education and persuasive messaging, and the effect of narratives on audience’s attitudes and behaviors. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and has volunteered with Prentice and Lurie hospitals in downtown Chicago.

Camille J. Saucier

Camille Saucier is a second-year student in Northwestern’s Media, Technology, and Society doctoral program. Her research interests include public opinion formation, attitude change, and decision-making in the domains of health, political, and science communication. She is particularly interested in mis/disinformation and the persuasive strategies available to correct these narratives. Prior to joining COM-PSI, she worked as a research specialist with the Media Impact Project and Hollywood, Health & Society under the Norman Lear Center. She holds a BA in Psychology, MA in Communication Management, and Certificate in Sustainable Policy and Planning from the University of Southern California.

Michael A. Spikes

Michael A. Spikes

Michael A. Spikes is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. His research focus concerns connecting cognitive, social, and learning environmental design theories to news media literacy education and interventions. Before coming to Northwestern, Michael worked for the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University where he developed curriculum and training in news literacy as the director of its Digital Resource Center and Illinois News Literacy & Civic Learning Project. Michael has also held positions as a Media Studies and Production teacher in both public and public charter schools in Washington DC; as a member of the Newseum’s educational advisory team; and as a media producer and editor for numerous organizations including NPR, the PBS NewsHour, and the Kellogg School of Management.

Sapna Suresh

Sapna Suresh is a third-year doctoral student in the Media, Technology, and Society program. Her research interests center primarily around message effects and persuasion. Specifically, she studies how the features of a message (e.g., emotion appeals, narrative format), the message channel (e.g., social media, television), and the audience (e.g., identity group, psychological attributes) interact to produce attitudinal and behavioral effects. In particular, she hopes to use the outcomes of her experiment-based research to facilitate productive decision-making in the areas of science, health, politics, and the environment. Outside of COM-PSI, Sapna provides research support to the entertainment-education non-profit Population Media Center and is a contributing author to the Northwestern Public Health Review. Sapna holds a BA from Rice University in environmental engineering and policy studies.