When people think of research projects, images of professors in white coats toiling away in labs may come to mind.

“People think of potions changing colors and things that are very tangible,” says Dr. Stephanie Schartel Dunn, assistant professor of marketing. “We don’t have that in the behavioral sciences, like business. But it’s still exciting.”

While her initial interest in research was in political communication, she soon found another path.

“I found that I was far more interested in the pop culture side of things,” she says. “So much of what we do and so much of our time is spent with media and entertainment sources. I was interested in the outcomes of that and how it shapes our behaviors.”

Dunn currently has several research projects in the works, from an upcoming article in Business Communication Quarterly to a paper on celebrity influence on millennials and a project on how election-week statements by celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Kanye West influenced perceptions.

Along with another researcher, she’s also editing a book on how narrative involvement is utilized in advertising and PR campaigns.

But it’s another research endeavor that is nearest and dearest to her heart.

Along with Assistant Dean Michelle Dawson and Dr. Beverly Block, she is collecting data on how students – both in person and online – use teamwork in the classroom, and their perceptions of it versus faculty perceptions.

“It’s bringing people together,” Dunn says of the interdepartmental effort. “Building a community of researchers is really important.”