The Team

Dr. Sri Kalyanaraman – Founder & Director

Dr. Sri Kalyanaraman
Dr. Sri Kalyanaraman

Dr. Sriram “Sri” Kalyanaraman ( is Professor of Journalism at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. At UF, he is affiliated with the Online Learning Institute (OLI) and is setting up a Media Effects and Technology Lab. Previously, he was a faculty member and director of the Media Effects Laboratory at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. At UNC, Dr. Kalyanaraman had an adjunct appointment in the School of Information and Library Science. Dr. Kalyanaraman’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an interdisciplinary PhD in mass communication, with a focus on technology, marketing, psychology, and statistics.

Dr. Kalyanaraman’s primary research focuses on the psychology of new technologies, particularly as they inform persuasion and attitude change in online environments. Within this realm, his scholarship has explored psychosocial effects of interactive technologies, Web navigability, and Web-based customization. He also studies information processing of persuasive health messages (e.g., persuasive anti-smoking messages, effective cancer communication). Dr. Kalyanaraman’s research has been funded by both government and industry and he has been published in journals such as the Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Media Psychology, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Journal of Advertising, Health Psychology, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Health Communication, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, AIDS Education and Prevention, Journal of Consumer Behavior, among others.

Dr. Kalyanaraman serves or has served on multiple editorial boards including Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, among others, and was a co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Media Psychology (2011-2014). He is also the recipient of the 2011 Hillier-Krieghbaum Award conferred by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

Daniel Pimentel – Lab Coordinator

Daniel Pimentel
Daniel Pimentel

“No grass on the busy road; no hair on the clever head.”

Daniel Pimentel is a doctoral student at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, and a teaching assistant for the Ethics & Problems in Mass Communication undergraduate course. Daniel’s current research agenda involves the application of interactive digital media, namely 360-degree video and virtual reality (VR), in environmental communication campaigns to drive positive social change. Daniel earned his master’s degree in global strategic communications from FIU (2015), where he also served as an adjunct professor. Daniel is also a former director of the non-profit organization U.R.A., Director of VR for Changeville social change festival, President of Gators McKnight United, and a TED speaker.

Jamie Westfall – Lab Intern

Jamie Westfall
Jamie Westfall

Jamie Westfall is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in Digital Arts and Sciences. Jamie’s primary role in the lab is to build interactive virtual environments which will be used to run studies. In addition to working in the lab, Jamie is also an officer of three different UF student organizations including Objects in Motion (UF’s juggling club) and Women in CISE (WiCSE)

MinJi Kim – Graduate Student

MinJi Kim

MinJi Kim (MJ) is a first-year doctoral student in Mass Communication. Her educational background includes a master’s degree in Telecommunication from Indiana University (2017) and a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising from Sookmyung

Women’s University in Seoul, Korea (2014). MJ’s research interests broadly involve Computer-Mediated Communication, Human-Technology Interaction, and media effects, with a focus on physical and mental well-being. She currently explores how new communication technology affects attitudes toward social issues and individual lifestyle. MJ is a multi-linguist; as a native Korean and fluent English speaker, she also speaks basic Spanish, Chinese, and German. She is also an amateur fortune-reader based on horoscope, zodiac, and Saju, the Korean fortune-telling method.

Ricardo Amaya – Undergraduate Student

Ricardo Amaya

Ricardo Amaya is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Computer Science. His interests include game and software development as well as data analytics. Ricardo’s main role in the lab is to build interactive virtual environments to be used in experimental research studies. During his free time, Ricardo loves playing baseball, video games and binging on episodes of The Office.

Dylan Bloyer – Undergraduate Student

I’m an undergraduate student studying computer science with a minor in religion. I’m interested in understanding what people believe and seeing how it affects what they do.

Jacqueline Bornstein – Undergraduate Student

Destiny Cardentey – Undergraduate Student

Natalie Guzman – Undergraduate Student

Natalie Guzman Patricio is an undergraduate student studying Public Relations at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. Her interests include social and environmental issues. Natalie’s main role in the lab is contributing towards running the various studies. Her other hobbies include community service, ceramics, and movies.

Afsaneh Taylor – Undergraduate Student

Denisse Ventura – Undergraduate Student

Denisse Ventura is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Digital Arts and Sciences. Her areas of interest are in user experience and emerging technologies. Outside of the lab, she participates in hackathons and her hobbies include drawing and writing.

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Yu-Hao Lee

Dr. Yu-Hao Lee
Dr. Yu-Hao Lee

Assistant Professor, Department of Telecommunications

Yu-Hao Lee is an assistant professor in the department of Telecommunications. He received his doctorate in Media & Information Studies from Michigan State University, where his research focused on the media psychology and application of digital games, and online collaborations such as social media campaigns and wiki. His current research interests include examining the cognitive processes involved in processing persuasive messages via interactive media such as digital games and social media. He is also exploring the motivations and effects of “clicktivism”—low cost, low risk, collective online activism.

Dr. Frank Waddell

Dr. Frank Waddell
Dr. Frank Waddell

Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism

Frank Waddell is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism. His research examines the effects of communication technologies that either afford the opportunity for self-expression (such as avatars) or allow users to monitor the collective opinion of others (such as online comments). His work has been published at a variety of outlets such as the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, the Journal of Media Psychology, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, and Computers in Human Behavior.

From Left: Shiva Halan (Postdoctoral Associate), UF College of Journalism Professor Sriram Kalyanaraman, Jamie Westfall, and Daniel Pimentel are shown in the Media Effects & Technology lab at the Journalism school at University of Florida on Wednesday October 25, 2017. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]