Assistant Professor


  • Office Hours:

    Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 am - 12 noon
  • Role:

  • Position:

    • Assistant Professor
  • Concentration:

    • Health Communication, Political Communication, Media Effects
  • Department:

    • Journalism & Media Communication
  • Education:

    • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison


Dr Sivakumar’s research interests are in the intersection of health communication and digital media, civic discourse on-line, children’s interpretations of educational media.


Her health communication work revolves around examining how people learn from mediated information especially on topics that have they no prior information or knowledge. Her recent work examines how chronically ill patients evaluate online health websites and how the quality of the information presented in such websites affect patient beliefs about the disease, their compliance intentions, and the trust they have in their doctors. Her work also examines how people make judgments about about the credibility of information they read online and how such judgments can impact their medical decision making. She is especially interested in mapping out how high degree of exposure to online health information affects beliefs about efficacy of alternative medicines.


She is also interested in examining how people who take part in online forums react to cross cutting political information and the effects of exposure to disagreement in terms of civility and politeness. This project involves examining through both content and social network analysis how posters in an online sports forum talk to each other about politics. She is currently working on a project that looks at how comments in the youtube pages can have an impact on affective polarization. She is also involved in another project that examines the themes of the 2016 presidential candidates Instagram posts and the cognitive and affective responses of their audience to these themes.


Dr Sivakumar was also involved in a three part study that examined young children's interpretation of educational media content.


Sivakumar, G., & Mares, M.L. (2016). The doctor versus the Internet: Effects of low-, medium-, and high quality websites on intentions to follow the doctor's advice. Health Communication. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2016.1228030

Mares, M. L., Sivakumar, G., & Stephenson, L. (2015). From meta to micro: Examining the effectiveness of educational TV. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(14), 1822-1846.

Mares, M.L., & Sivakumar, G (2014). ‘Vamenos means go, but that’s made up for the show’: Young children’s reality confusions and learning from educational TV. Development Psychology, Vol 50(11), 2498-2511.

Shaw, B.R., Sivakumar, G., Balinas, T., Chipman, R. & Krahn, D. (2013). Testing the feasibility of mobile audio-based recovery material as an adjunct to intensive outpatient treatment for veterans with substance abuse disorders. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 31(4), 321-336.





  • JTC 614: Public Communication Campaigns

    Conceptual issues, methodological issues, and decisions underpinning communication campaign planning, development, implementation, and evaluation

  • JTC 630: Health Communication

    Role of health communication in public health programs and campaigns. Application of communication theories to provide a broad base of knowledge about health communication topics and develop students’ ability to critique various perspectives on health communication issues, health beliefs and practices.

  • JTC 358: Advertising Buying and Selling

    This course provides an introduction to traditional and digital media systems, the terminology and concepts behind buying and selling advertising strategies, the process used to place messages in media in order to reach particular audiences, and techniques used to evaluate the success of advertising strategies. This course is designed as a concepts and skills course; it will emphasize critical thinking regarding buying and selling strategies by using a combination of lectures, readings, videos, group discussions, assignments, guest lectures by professionals, case studies, and fieldwork.

  • JTC 414: Media Effects

    This course explores the role and effect of mass media in our lives. While there are different approaches one can take to the matter, this course takes a social scientific approach. We will consider social scientific theories and empirical studies on people’s use of media and consequences of such usage. The aim of this course is to provide you with a general understanding of scientific research on media use and effects and also familiarize you with reading and interpreting peer reviewed research articles.

  • JTC 792E: Theoretical Perspectives in Persuasion & Social Influence

    This course uses interdisciplinary materials to understand the structure and function of attitudes, the relationship between attitude and behavior, and the processes of attitude change. It provides a comprehensive review and evaluation of issues and theories relating to persuasion and social influence, with approaches that vary in focus from micro to the macro.