Lab Members

Current Student Members

Erika Thrubis is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Communication Studies at WSU, graduating in May 2018. She holds a BA in Advertising from Michigan State University and works full-time in health care at HAP. Outside of the classroom and her career, Erika enjoys running with her black lab, kicking it on the couch with her pug, and laughing at her husband’s witty jokes.


Mostafa Aniss is a second-year Ph.D. student who is passionate about qualitative methods, interpersonal communication, and social media. His research interests focus on how social media affordances are employed to fulfill particular communicative goals, such as expressing romantic interest.


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Kelsey Husnick is a first-year Ph.D. student studying organizational communication and journalism, with a focus on resilience and organizing for social justice initiatives. She received her M.A. in Communication with a global focus and an M.B.A. from Kent State University in 2017. Before that, she worked on the business news desk at The Columbus Dispatch. She is currently on a R.I.S.E. Lab team researching the collective meaning-making of water access in Metro Detroit. Additionally, she is researching how variations in elements of news practice, such as sourcing, headline styles and allocation of editing resources, affect perceptions of credibility, perception and value of news.


Ariel Achatz is a second-year Master’s Student on the Public Relations and Organizational Communications track. She has worked with R.I.S.E. Lab on a project about enacting environmental sustainability on an urban research university. Her interests include environmental sustainability and leadership styles. Currently she works as a communications professional and teaches yoga part-time!



Samantha Most is a first year MA student in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University. Her research interests include mass communication, transmedia narrative, persuasion, and audience behavior. She is currently working toward a master’s thesis with the intention of continuing on to a Ph.D. program. By working with the R.I.S.E. lab she hopes to learn more about qualitative research methods and the role of communication in bringing awareness to environmental and social issues in Detroit.


Liz Pandzich is a Ph.D. student, with an emphasis on organizational communication. Currently her studies focus on stereotypes within the workplace, and specifically how popular culture and media may play a role in perpetuating these stereotypes. She’s also working on a group research project studying the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Detroit, and how various organizations play a role in developing burgeoning businesses in the region.

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