RPC PhD Graduates

For a more complete listing of our alumni, click here.

Recent Graduates



Danica Schieber, an RPC Ph.D. graduate, is Assistant Professor of Business Communication at Sam Houston State University. She received her BA in English from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN, and her Masters in Technical Communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN. Before returning to school for her Masters, Danica worked as an Assistant Analyst at an independent financial consultation firm in the Twin Cities.

Danica’s research interests include transfer theory and business communication pedagogy. Her dissertation is titled: Learning transfer from the business communication classroom to the workplace. It is a longitudinal study, following students from the business communication classroom to the workplace to see how and what they are transferring. She authored an article out of her research, published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly.

She is also interested in social justice issues, and was the Editor of the Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis (JCTP), located here on ISU’s campus. JCTP is a graduate student led, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal housed in the School of Education: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/jctp/.

Danica taught a variety of Composition courses and Business Communication courses at the ISU, but has also taught Written Communication for the Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute. She designed and taught a linked course between the English Department and the College of Business. She also served as the Publications Coordinator for ISUComm, working on the Instructor and Student Guides for English 150 and 250 at ISU.

Currently, Danica teaches Business Communication and Business Presentations in the College of Business Administration at Sam Houston State University.

Major Professor:  David Russell

Dissertation title: Learning transfer from the business communication classroom to the workplace

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Erin Zimmerman, (2016) is the Director of the Writing Center and the Writing in the Disciplines Program and an assistant professor in the English Department at the American University of Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon.

Erin’s research is on Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing in the Disciplines, and composition pedagogy, with a focus on enhancing instructors’ abilities to guide students’ learning in their disciplines and to support students’ transfer of learning across the disciplines. Her dissertation examined 1) how researchers in the composition and the biological sciences programs at ISU compose with and read visuals in scholarly documents and 2) how that knowledge is then transmitted to students in composition and biology classes. That awareness provides understanding of discipline-specific communication expectations, which in turn enhances instructors’ guidance of students’ learning in each discipline and abilities to support students’ transfer of learning across these two disciplines.

Along with current research projects that stem from her dissertation, Erin is also collaborating with Danica Schieber, a former ISU student, and Nicola Wilson Clasby, a current ISU student, on a project that examines how group size affects students’ collaborative processes in a semester-long, client-based group project. The researchers are specifically interested in how students working in different-sized groups distributed their workload equitably, negotiated communication with group-mates, and maintained engagement in the class in order to challenge the long-held assumption that effective collaborative work was best accomplished in small groups.

Major Professor:  David Russell

Dissertation title:  “They don’t get the respect they should”: An examination of visual communication disciplinary practices in composition and the biological sciences

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S. Scott Graham is the director of the Scientific and Medical Communications (SAMComm) Laboratory and an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His principal research expertise is in cross-domain scientific and medical communication, with particular emphases on 1) expert and public stakeholder participation in science-policy deliberation and 2) catalyzing transdisciplinary research aimed at addressing wicked health/environmental problems. Scott’s recent book, The Politics of Pain Medicine: A Rhetorical-Ontological Inquiry (2015, University of Chicago Press), chronicles three years of ethnographic research and nearly ten years archival research into interdisciplinary pain medicine and related public policy. He explores the resonance between pain science’s efforts to establish an integrated mind/body approach to treating pain and the new materialist movement in science and technology studies.

Major Professor: Carl Herndl

Dissertation title: Rhetorics of pain: Agency and regulation in the medical-industrial complex

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TCPortrait Rhonda L. McCaffery (2012) is a Lecturer I in the Technical Communication Program in the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. She teaches technical communication materials in a variety of courses for electrical engineering and computer science majors and the introductory freshman-level engineering course. Dr. McCaffery’s past research interests have tended toward pedagogy and audience-focused communication, and as such she strives to use assignments and activities that encourage students to mindfully consider their audience, context, and purpose as well as conventions of genre and culture when communicating in order to make their work as useful as possible. She currently teaches a version of the program’s junior-level course that involves a semester-long project in which students practice civic engagement by preparing and facilitating educational, STEM-related workshop materials at low/no cost for middle-school students in addition to learning standard technical communication genres.

Major Professor: David Russell

Dissertation title: WikiPedience: Teaching Students to Write for Nonacademic Audiences




Lynn McCool (2016) earned a BA in English Education from Cedarville University, an MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication from Iowa State University, and has completed her PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication at Iowa State University.

As a PhD student, Lynn was actively researching flipped, hybrid and online writing environments for advanced communication courses. Partnering with another former ISU student, Jon Balzotti, PhD RPC, they co-authored an article Using Digital Learning Platforms to extend the Flipped Classroom that discussed the use of the Professional Connections Videos as an effective method for instructors teaching in flipped classrooms to extend learning beyond the confines of the course.

Lynn’s dissertation work examines both hybrid and online teaching of multimodal professional communication. Under the direction of her major professor, Barbara Blakely, Lynn collected data on the ways in which instructors use available technologies to reduced transactional distance and foster social, cognitive, and teacher presence in online environments. In addition, she examined the relationship of social presence with online student teams in order to solve advanced communication problems, promote learning, and transfer knowledge beyond the course. Lynn is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Business Administration at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Major Professor: Barbara Blakely

Dissertation title: Humanizing advanced communication online writing instruction: Developing social presence to communicate, collaborate, and connect



Marcy Leasum Orwig (2012) is an Assistant Professor of Business Communication in the College of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, her undergraduate alma mater. She has research interests in genre theory, archival research methodology, and communication pedagogy. Since graduating from the RPC program, she has published an article based on her dissertation research about the historical genre development of military reports in Connexions: International Professional Communication Journal. Her other research has been published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, Journal of Communication Inquiry, and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. Additionally, she has presented at national conferences with the Association for Business Communication, Computers and Writing, and Rhetoric Society of America. She also had the opportunity to present at an international conference in Paris, France with Writing Research Across Borders. The courses she instructs at the undergraduate level include: Business Writing, Business Presentations, and Technology for Business Communication. At the MBA level, she teaches a course focused on communicating in the workplace.

Major Professor: Dr. David Roberts

Dissertation title: The “Genreology” of U.S. Army World War I Records: A Relationship between Organizational Communication and War





Jacob D. Rawlins (2013) is an assistant professor in the Linguistics and English Language department at Brigham Young University, where he has taught in the Editing Minor since September 2015. From 2013 to 2015, Rawlins was an assistant professor of management at the University of Louisville, where he helped develop a new business communication curriculum.

Rawlins’s research focuses on how people associated with publishing are responding to rapidly changing conditions in the industry. His dissertation, Building Consensus: Workplace Mythbuilding as a Unifying Rhetorical Strategy, looks at how one academic printing office adjusted to massive changes in their central technologies. It won the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Association for Business Communication in October 2013. He has published articles on workplace mythbuilding, interactive data visualizations, and business communication pedagogy in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, Technical Communication Quarterly, and Communication Teacher.

Major Professor: Greg Wilson

Dissertation title: Building consensus: Workplace myth-building as a unifying rhetorical strategy


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Eric J. York (2015) was Assistant Director of ISUComm Foundations Courses at Iowa State University. He was the project lead on a number of educational technology initiatives, including ISUComm Sites, an ePortfolio platform, and ISUComm Courses, a learning management system, and he teaches multimodal composition and technical communication. Eric’s research interests are in writing program administration, multimodal composition pedagogy, and rhetoric of technology and he is particularly engaged where teaching and technology intersect. Eric is an Assistant  Professor of Communication and Media at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY.

Major Professor: Barbara Blakely

Dissertation title: Programmatic knowledge management: Technology, literacy, and access in 21st-century writing programs