Donna Z. Davis joined the SOJC faculty in fall 2010, when she taught in Eugene for one year. She now directs the Strategic Communication master’s program at the George S. Portland Turnbull Center. She brings more than 25 years experience in public relations, fundraising, and nonprofit communication to the classroom, including 10 years as producer and host of Family Album Radio, an award-winning, daily, two-minute radio program distributed through NPR.
Davis earned her PhD in mass communication from the University of Florida, where she studied relationship formation in 3D immersive virtual environments. Her ethnographic research continues to focus on the potential uses of virtual worlds, gamification, and other emerging social media, with special interest in disability communities. She is also an inaugural faculty fellow for the SOJC Agora Journalism Center for Innovation and Civic Engagement, extending her work with people with Parkinson’s disease who are participating in a support community in a virtual world.
- PhD, Mass Communication, University of Florida
- MS, Family, Youth and Community Science, University of Florida
- BA, Journalism (Public Relations), University of Florida
Areas of Expertise
- Digital communities
- Gamification as strategic communication
- Health communication
- Media and disabilities
- Public relations
- Social/digital media and strategic communication
- Strategic communication
- Technology and media
- Virtual environments
Davis studies online health and disability communities that form in social virtual environments. She is specifically interested in social consequences and media effects of embodiment and the implications this may have on quality of life, in the way communities form, and on how information is shared.
Recent Citations, Publications, and Professional Work
Davis, D. & Yang, Y. (In press). Understanding digital media adoption: A content analysis of U.S. newspaper coverage of social networking sites and virtual worlds. Journal of New Communication Research.
Davis, D. (2014). Making a case for virtual healthcare communication: Mayo Clinic’s Integration of Virtual World Communities in Their Social Media Mix. Journal of Case Studies in Strategic Communication. Vol. 3, Article 7.
Davis, D. & Calitz, W. (2014). Finding virtual support: The evolution of healthcare support groups from offline to virtual worlds. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. Vol. 7, No. 3.
Davis, D. (2014). Interviews with avatars: Navigating the nuances of communicating in virtual worlds. In P. Laufer (Ed.) Interviewing: The Oregon Method. University of Oregon Center for Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement, Portland, Oregon.
Davis, D. (2013). A study of relationships in online virtual environments: Making a case for conducting semi-structured interviews with avatars and what we can learn about their human operators. In N. Sappleton (Ed.) Advancing Social and Business Research Methods with New Media Technologies. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Davis, D. (2013). Gendered performance in virtual environments. In C. Armstrong (Ed.) Gender and Media Across Platforms and Cultures. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books (under Rowman and Littlefield).
Grants and Fellowships
- 2015-2018, National Science Foundation, “Collaborative Research: The Role of People with Disability in the Innovation of Online Technology.” $101,140 award. In collaboration with Tom Boellstorff at University of California, Irvine. Total grant: $378,040. Co-Principal Investigator.
- 2014-15, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Fighting Fund Grant recipient, $5,000 received for academic year 2014-2015.
- 2014, PI, 2014 SOJC Center for Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement Fellowship, “A Study of Gamification in a Social Virtual World To Engage Disabled Individuals in Support Communities.” $28,000.63 award. 2014 summer fellowship.
- 2013-14, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Petrone Grant recipient, $5,000 received for academic year 2013-2014.
- 2013-14, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Fighting Fund Grant recipient, $5,000 received for academic year 2013-2014.
- 2012-13, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication Fighting Fund Grant recipient, $5,000 received for academic year 2012-2013.
Honors and Awards
- 2014, Inaugural Fellow, SOJC Agora Center for Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement, “A Study of Gamification in a Social Virtual World To Engage Disabled Individuals in Support Communities.”
- 2007, Council on Contemporary Families National Media Award for Radio Coverage of America’s Families for Family Album Radio, University of Florida
- Mass Communication and Society
- Creativity in Strategic Communication
- Strategic Communication Research Methods
- Project Management and Planning
- Foundations in Strategic Communication