The College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State is the largest college on campus, encompassing nine departments, and the Armenian Studies Program.

Of the 60 new faculty members at Fresno State this fall, about 22% of the new hires are in the College of Arts and Humanities. These new faculty bring innovative research, diverse disciplines and technical expertise to our college, strengthening our programs across many of our disciplines.

Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to these new faces, by department.

Department of Communication

Headshot of Dr. Robert B. Lull, assistant professor of communication

Dr. Robert B. Lull joins the Department of Communication as an assistant professor, coming to Fresno State from the University of Pennsylvania where he completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Lull has three primary teaching areas: science and risk communication, strategic communication and communication technology.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I am excited to work with a student population that brings vastly different experiences and knowledge to the classroom. I grew up in suburban Ohio and have never spent more than a week west of the Ohio-Indiana border, so it’s thrilling to work in an area so different from home with students from such diverse backgrounds.

Q: Can you tell us how you became involved in your specialty area?

A: I accepted a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at UPenn after studying mass communication for my Ph.D. at the Ohio State University. The program at UPenn was interdisciplinary, merging our interests and expertise from a variety of fields in a research team studying the science of science communication. I took a deeper interest in this field and decided to alter my career path because I felt that scholarship and teaching in the science of science communication would be especially fulfilling and impactful.

Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the Communication Department offerings here at Fresno State?

A: Current science and technology advances have elevated the profile of science communication and solidified its centrality to the success of the scientific enterprise, to the extent that science communication experts now hold prominent positions on National Academy of Sciences committees and regularly work with bench scientists to facilitate more effective communication of their work. Although I have only been in the field for a few years, I have had the privilege of working with some of these leading scholars, developing a research program with relevance to a variety of academic associations, and, perhaps more importantly, to applied audiences as well. One such example is the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for whom I co-organized a risk communication workshop with colleagues from Rutgers and Clemson. Historically, much of the student instruction and seminal research in science communication has occurred in contexts where science is applied in the field at a large scale — specifically, at agricultural schools. Given the importance of agriculture within the region, the Central Valley is an area especially conducive to effective instruction and research in this field. Therefore, I am confident that my expertise will carve a unique niche for the Fresno State Department of Communication as a center for theoretical rigor and practical relevance in science and risk communication.

Q: What are you reading?

A:I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life,” by The Atlantic‘s science writer Ed Yong. Who knew bacteria could be so fascinating!

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion,” by New York University professor Jonathan Haidt. Haidt synthesizes findings from cognitive, cultural and social psychology in a volume that combines scholarly rigor, engaging style and practical relevance. It’s only become more relevant in the five years since its publication, as division and polarization continue to infect our civic climate and discourse.

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I brewed my own beer and cider for three years, before I had to downsize in Philadelphia and didn’t have the space to do so any more. I was just starting to make something worth sharing, so perhaps I’ll resume the hobby here in Fresno!

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a mistake students tend to make?

A: I really don’t like when students take an excessively practical approach to a course, focused solely on “What do I need to know for the test?” rather than “What can I learn from this class?”

Q: When are your office hours?

A: 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I am an avid sports fan, with way too many allegiances to list here. But I doubt you can find a bigger Cleveland fan in the Central Valley!

Headshot of Dr. Brian Cozen, assistant professor of communicationDr. Brian Cozen joins the Department of Communication as an assistant professor, coming to Fresno State from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Cozen’s research examines how communication mediates human-environment relationships, particularly in relation to energy practice. This research focus considers the ways various stakeholders articulate the role of energy in society, ranging from analyzing the television show “Revolution” and its collaboration with the United Nations’ energy access campaigns to interviews with nuclear energy professionals. Cozen received his Ph.D. from the University of Utah and spent the previous two years as a visiting assistant professor of rhetorical studies at UNLV. Cozen teaches courses in environmental communication and rhetoric.

Question: What are you most looking forward to here at Fresno State?

Answer: I was born and raised in California and am excited to have returned to my home state. California is a complex state especially in terms of environmental issues, with Fresno, and Fresno State in particular, at the center of many of those issues. I am excited to engage with students and the larger Fresno State community on these topics.

Q: Can you tell me how you became involved in your specialty area?

A: I grew up in Los Angeles and have always been fascinated by car culture and how environmental questions are understood from an urban perspective. It wasn’t until I began my master’s that I started considering how to incorporate these interests into a research program. At that time, a Chevron commercial aired that grabbed my attention, so I began to explore their persuasion strategies. Ever since, my research has primarily examined the relationship between energy practice and how it is communicated in different contexts.

Q: What will your distinctive background do to elevate the Communication Department offerings here at Fresno State?

A: I was a visiting professor in rhetorical studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and I bring that background into teaching two of the department’s four required courses, Communication Criticism and Rhetorical Theory. My third course this fall is a topics course in Environmental Communication. I was hired to incorporate this and similar courses into the curriculum, as well as perhaps add to the current offerings in rhetoric.

Q: When are your office hours?

A: My fall 2017 office hours are 12:30 – 2:15 p.m.Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 12 – 1 p.m. Mondays.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom or a mistake students tend to make?

A: I suppose the use of semi-colons. Make sure they combine two independent yet related clauses, or use them after a colon to separate a list.

Q: What are you reading?

A: Jane Bennett’s “The Enchantment of Modern Life.”

Q: What is a book you think everyone should read?

A: Phaedra C. Pezzullo’s “Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Pollution, Travel, and Environmental Justice” (2007) remains a favorite academic book, though I am still partial to Roald Dahl’s novels and short stories.

Q: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

A: I tell it enough, but when I lived in Las Vegas I was a 10-minute walk from the Stratosphere. There are rides at the top of the skyscraper hotel, and at night I could hear the amused screams of the tourists.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: I am excited to be here. Whenever I tell a local that I recently moved to Fresno, often the first thing they do is apologize for the heat, but I am used to it!