Stanford University

Communication and Technology

The Stanford Department of Communication has been a pioneer in studying the relationship between people and digital media for decades. In the early nineties, Clifford Nass and his graduate students were among the first in the world to empirically examine constructs such as agency and anthropomorphism. Soon thereafter Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass published their landmark book, The Media Equation, which set the stage for a new research paradigm based on the notion that the brain has not evolved to differentiate mediated experiences from actual ones. Indeed, one of the fastest growing divisions of the International Communication Association, Communication and Technology, is substantially based on the work of Stanford scholars.

Currently, the area focuses on a number of ways in which digital media affect people. Byron Reeves utilizes physiological measures to understand media effects in multiplayer game technology, and develops applications for using those networked games to address critical issues such as global warming. Jeremy Bailenson directs the Virtual Human Interaction Lab and studies the phenomenon of digital human representation, especially in the context of immersive virtual reality. Fred Turner studies digital media from a historical perspective, focusing on the relationship between counter-culturalists and technologists.

The area also draws a huge amount of synergy with other departments on campus. Current communication faculty have active collaborations with scholars in computers science, education, psychology, engineering, linguistics, the business school, and MediaX. Moreover, being in the heart of Silicon Valley, the department draws constant visitors and interest from “” and “social networking” researchers.


Ph.D. Students

Selected Graduates

  • Youngme Moon
    Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School
  • S. Shyam Sundar
    Distinguished Professor, Penn State University
  • Leila Takayama
    Researcher, Willow Garage
  • Kwan Min Lee
    Associate Professor, University of Southern California
  • Katherine Isbister
    Associate Professor, Polytechnic Institute of New York
  • Eun-Ju Lee
    Associate Professor, Seoul National University
  • Nick Yee
    Research Scientist, Palo Alto Research Center
  • Jesse Fox
    Assistant Professor, Ohio State University
  • Grace Ahn
    Assistant Professor, University of Georgia
  • Vanessa Vega
    2010 — Lecturer, UC Berkelely, Dept. of Media Studies