Meghnaa Tallapragada, assistant professor in the Advertising and Public Relations Department of Klein College of Media and Communication, was recently elected secretary of the mass communication division of the International Communication Association, one of the organization's 33 divisions. In addition to her responsibilities, Tallapragada is using the position to further explore the interdisciplinary nature of communication.

Tallapragada considers herself a lifelong student and draws from a wide range of studies in her work. She grew up in India and completed her undergraduate education in electrical and electronics engineering at Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology, affiliated to Osmania University. Her career in communication began during graduate school at North Carolina State University when she discovered her appreciation for the subject and switched her course of study from electrical engineering to communication. She found that she could connect her two areas of interest by specializing in communication that centers on STEM.

"I think communication is one of those really cool fields that can be home to so many fields," she says. "You could be studying anything in STEM and find a home in communication. And you could still be doing STEM and a huge part of talking about science or technology or any of those fields still has communication at its heart."

Tallapragada received her doctorate from Cornell University, served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center and worked as an assistant professor of strategic communication at Clemson University. She regularly contributes to educational projects for students of all ages interested in the intersection of communication and STEM. She currently acts as a co-investigator assessing the effectiveness of the "Something Very Fishy" project — which introduces children to marine science through musical theater and science exhibits — among students, teachers and undergraduates. 

"I feel like everybody has to make their own combination of education that works for them. And I just feel like people shouldn't shy away from any field if they want to do it," she says.

Tallapragada joins fellow Klein College professor Heather LaMarre (vice-chair) as an officer in the ICA mass communication division. As the secretary, Tallpragada is expected to attend ICA conferences and act as the point of contact for questions about the mass communication division. She views her position as an opportunity to connect with scholars around the world who produce research that falls under the broad umbrella of mass communication and is happy to see scholars craft their unique area of study within the field.

"Ever since I was a student I always thought I have to someday pay it forward in some way," she says. "And I sort of see this role as one of those things that I can slowly start helping members of the division."

The ICA conference will be held from May 21-25, 2020 on the Gold Coast, Australia. To learn more about ICA and the conference, please visit the ICA website.