RUCAL Faculty

Alexa Hepburn, Research Professor, Communication, Director of RUCAL

Dr. Hepburn’s research explores the transcription and interactional management of emotion, epistemics and asymmetry. Her work has highlighted limitations in more traditional perspectives on emotion and influence, and supported applied work on emotion in professional client encounters, such as helplines, medical consultations and end of life interaction in hospices.  She is currently working closely with video materials of family mealtimes and clinical and counselling encounters, as well as various types of telephone interaction.  She established Loughborough University’s Helpline Research Unit and became its first director; in addition she has built a strong relationship with the UK’s largest helpline accrediting organization, the Helplines Partnership. She is a co-author (with Galina Bolden) of a book on transcription for interactional researchers.

Galina Bolden, Professor, Communication

Dr. Bolden (PhD, UCLA) uses Conversation Analysis to conduct research on talk in Russian and English languages, as well as bilingual Russian-English conversations across a variety of ordinary and institutional (especially healthcare) settings.Her research examines how participants enact and negotiate their cultural identities and personal relationships in and through talk-in-interaction. She is currently investigating conversational activities in immigrant families, Russian-language specific conversational practices, as well as interactions in mental health settings. She is a co-author (with Alexa Hepburn) of Transcribing for Social Research.

Jenny Mandelbaum, Professor Emeritus, Communication

Dr. Mandelbaum’s (PhD, UT Austin) research uses the methods of Conversation Analysis to examine everyday talk-in-interaction. She is particularly interested in how a variety of aspects of the organization of interaction pertain to social relationships and identities. Her work includes studies of storytelling, repair organization, the management of social knowledge (epistemics), and the implementation and consequences of such actions as recruiting assistance from others, requesting, offering, assessing, and complaining. She is working with a large database of field video-recordings of families engaged in routine activities (eating meals, preparing and cleaning up from them, “hanging out” in front of the TV, doing homework, etc.). Currently, together with her students, she is exploring how parents (and other family members) respond to children’s (including grown children’s) social infractions.

Lisa Mikesell, Associate Professor, Communication

Dr. Mikesell (PhD, UCLA) investigates the communication and social practices used to negotiate interactions in a variety of health and mental health contexts. Much of her work examines the situated communication practices of individuals diagnosed with neurological and psychiatric disorders to provide a grounded perspective on everyday functioning and community participation. She also examines clinical work practices and clinical reasoning to consider applications of patient-centered constructs such as shared decision making. Her work informs our understanding of best practices, intervention development and implementation and therefore contains a strong applied component, particularly to inquiry in health services.

Jonathan Potter, Distinguished Professor, School of Communication & Information

Dr. Potter was a key figure in the development of discursive psychology, an approach to psychological matters that draws heavily on the methods of conversation analysis.  He has researched the nature of social science research methods, such as focus groups and interviews.  When not occupied with academic leadership, his recent work has focused on interaction in telephone helplines, the nature of advice giving, directives and threats in family interaction, and laughter.  He hopes to write a book that reworks psychology from an interactional perspective.


RUCAL Students

Marissa Caldwell, SC&I PhD Program

Marissa Caldwell is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at Rutgers University. She previously earned her M.A. in English from West Chester University in 2019, where she used conversation analysis to study U.S. congressional hearings. Her primary research interest remains in using conversation analysis to study U.S. congressional hearings, and she currently focuses on transitions between lines of questioning, resistant responses, and response pursuits in this institutional context.

Hee Chung Chun, SC&I PhD Program

Hee Chung is a Ph.D. student in Communication. She obtained her M.A, degree in Korean Studies – Teaching Korean as a Foreign Language from Ewha Womans University in South Korea and has been teaching Korean since 2011. Her research examines everyday interactions in Korean, especially language use and social interaction of Korean American population. She expects to focus on intercultural and translingual aspects of their communication.

Satsuki Iseki, SC&I PhD Program

Satsuki is a Ph.D. student in Communication at Rutgers University. She obtained her M.A. degree in Language and Information Sciences and B.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Language Sciences from The University of Tokyo in Japan. Her research interest is in using conversation analysis to examine conversational storytelling in everyday Japanese conversation.

Aleksandr Shirokov, SC&I PhD Program

Aleksandr is a Ph.D. Candidate in Communication at Rutgers University. He obtained his M.A. degree in Sociology from a joint master’s program of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and the University of Manchester. Aleksandr uses Conversation Analysis to examine doctor-patient communication and works with video recordings of medical consultations. He is interested in examining how doctors and patients manage asymmetry in interaction and how patients produce actions that step into the doctor’s territory of expertise, such as diagnostic assertions and treatment requests.

Hyun Sunwoo, SC&I PhD Program

Hyun Sunwoo is a Ph.D. student in the School of Communication and Information. She received her B.A. in British & American Literature and M.A. in English Linguistics from Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea.

Wan Wei, SC&I PhD Program

Wan is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication at Rutgers University. She obtained her M.A. in interpersonal/health communication from University at Albany, SUNY. She studies face-to-face interaction in both everyday and institutional settings. Her research interests include provider-patient communication across different medical contexts, service encounter interactions, repair organization, family communication, and Chinese conversation analysis. Wan’s dissertation draws upon a corpus of video-recorded provider-patient interactions in Chinese hospitals.

Kaicheng Zhan, SC&I PhD Program

Kaicheng is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication. She received two M.A. degrees, one in Linguistics and one in Communication and Rhetorical Studies, both from Syracuse University. During her time at Syracuse University, she also received a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Kaicheng’s research focuses on both everyday and institutional interactions in English and Mandarin Chinese, especially those surrounding topics of food, healthfulness and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

RUCAL Affiliates

Beth Angell, Dean & Professor, School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Angell (PhD, U Wisconsin Madison) conducts research on mental health services for people with serious mental illnesses, particularly on issues of engagement in and adherence to treatment. Her past and current studies in this area have examined how legal and informal strategies are used to promote treatment adherence, as well as the role of the consumer-provider relationship and consumer self-determination in that process. Her current projects include a conversation analytic study of client-provider communication about medication management.

Alexa Bolaños-CarpioVisiting Professor, Universidad de Costa Rica

Dr. Bolaños-Carpio (PhD, Rutgers) is a faculty member at the University of Costa Rica. Her research examines aspects of naturally occurring interactions in institutional and everyday settings in Spanish and English. She is currently interested in investigating emergency calls in Costa Rica, focusing on place formulation and the reason for calling.

Stephen DiDomenico, Assistant Professor, SUNY New Paltz

Dr. DiDomenico (Ph.D., Rutgers University) is an assistant professor of qualitative communication inquiry at SUNY New Paltz. His research is interdisciplinary and broadly focuses on the moment-by-moment dynamics of everyday interpersonal encounters. In particular he uses qualitative methods – especially discourse analytic and ethnographic approaches – to examine the situated communication practices that participants use to construct activities, identities, and relationships in a variety of ordinary and professional settings. Specific topics of interest include mental health help seeking and support services, technology use and embodiment in conversation, and genres of oral narrative in LGBTQ communities.

Heidi Kevoe-Feldman, Associate Professor, Northeastern University

Dr. Kevoe-Feldman’s (PhD, Rutgers) research provides accounts of social conduct in both ordinary and institutional contexts, with a current focus on police-citizen interaction in University settings. She utilizes conversation analysis to examine topics such as accounts in routine police traffic stops, how callers and call takers manage ‘check wellness’ requests to police, and citizens’ reporting tips and rumors to police during a crisis. She has also researched customer service communication, specifically looking at customers’ communication practices for breaking through organizational resistance.

Sasha Kurlenkova, NYU PhD student

Sasha Kurlenkova is a social scientist interested in body, technologies, and disability. In 2015-2016, Sasha gained a Master’s degree in Sociology from Shaninka (Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences). She also worked as a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, studying sensory practices and assistive technologies used by blind and low-vision people, through ethnography and qualitative interviews. Since 2018, Sasha has been a PhD student at the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication (New York University). She is now studying organization of aided / assisted communication using Ethnography and Conversation Analysis. In her PhD dissertation she is looking at how people with speech impairments and their conversational partners deploy communicators (a phone app or laptop program) and eye-trackers to build meaning together.

Dana Licciardello

Dana is a recent graduate of Rutgers’ MCM program. Her interests in Conversation Analysis are varied, but currently, she is interested in family dynamics and how squabbles are occasioned in everyday interactions.

Jana Lokajová

Jana is a Ph.D. candidate in the program of Slavic Philology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University. She earned her MA degree in the Slovak studies and English and American studies. In her current research, she focuses on examining different ways politicians resist to answer questions in interviews. In 2023 her first book on the Slovak language was published, Slovenčina v práci/Slovak for your job (Spektrum, 2023) intended for international students of SjF STU University in Bratislava. In 2023 she was awarded the Fulbright scholarship as a visiting Phd student at Rutgers University.

Song Hee Park, Postdoctoral Researcher, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, South Korea

Dr. Park (PhD, Rutgers) investigates medical interaction in Korean contexts. Her work has examined Korean dental consultations to capture communication practices that are specific to Korean medical culture as well as dentistry. Most recently she focuses on interaction between medical students and standardized patients during the clinical performance examination (CPX) in Korea.

Anita Pomerantz, Professor Emerita, Albany, SUNY

Dr. Pomerantz (PhD, UC Irvine) uses audio and videotapes of interaction to analyze the principles relied upon and the methods used for agreeing and disagreeing, seeking information, and negotiating responsibility for blameworthy and praiseworthy deeds. She studies provider-patient roles, patients’ methods for actualizing their agendas, and the work of supervising physicians in ambulatory clinics. More recently she has studied jurors’ practices for taking issue with one another during jury deliberation, ways non-native speakers reply on background knowledge and resources from their first language in managing mutual understanding in their second language, and how recipients analyze the ‘purpose of the query’ in understanding and responding to a prior query. Currently she is completing a book on Asking and Telling in Social Interaction.

Jeffrey Robinson, Professor, Portland State University

Dr. Robinson (PhD, UCLA) specializes in Language and Social Interaction, which examines the rules that guide interactants’ use and interpretation of language, and the role of talk-in-interaction in the construction and negotiation of social meanings, identities, and relationships. He also specializes in Health Communication, which examines how and why face-to-face communication (e.g., doctor-patient communication) affects aspects of healthcare and health promotion, including individuals’ physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual health.

Darcey Searles, Postdoctoral teaching associate, Northeastern University

Dr. Searles (PhD, Rutgers) researches everyday family interactions, especially those involving younger children. Her projects include topics such as children using Facetime to show objects to family members and how families with children participate in word definitions as an activity. Darcey’s dissertation examines how young children constitute their family relationships in sibling-only contexts as well as in larger family activities, revealing a variety of interactional practices that compose everyday family life.

Alex Tate, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago

Dr. Tate (PhD, UCLA) studies doctor-patient interaction in complex illness settings, including palliative/end-of-life care, care for aging adults, and cancer care.  More specifically, she looks at how the doctor-patient relationship affects clinical interactions and decision-making. Her other research projects include physician attitudes towards advance care planning discussions, mental health problem presentations in primary care, treatment recommendations in complex illness settings, and physician solicitation of patient concerns in primary care.