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College of Information and Communications

  • Ali Zain

Doctoral student wins Breakthrough Graduate Scholar Award

Ali Zain, a third-year doctoral student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was awarded a 2023 Breakthrough Graduate Scholar Award from the University of South Carolina Office of the Vice President for Research. The award recognizes exceptional graduate students who demonstrate excellence in the classroom, and make considerable contributions to research and scholarly activities in their field. 

Zain's research emphasis involves online misinformation, information processing, digital discourse in politics, public relations, and science and health communications. He uses traditional qualitative and quantitative methods as well as more sophisticated computational and psycho-physiological methods. 

His doctoral dissertation, "Assessing Role of Social Media Labels in Countering Misinformation Using Information Processing Perspective," uses self-report questionnaires and psychophysiological measures to assess the role of social media labels used by mainstream platforms (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) in countering the online spread of misinformation. His research examines how these labels facilitate heuristic or/and systematic information processing. 

In Zain's nomination letter, professor Sei-Hill Kim, wrote: "Ali is a scholar who has proven himself to be enthusiastic about research and teaching. I found Ali to be pleasant to work with, a reliable contributor to collaboration, and a person of high integrity."

Zain has published and presented his research at national and international conferences. He received top student paper awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication  and the Southeast Colloquium. He has also received travel grants from the International Communication Association.  

Additionally, Zain has done collaborative works with researchers from public health, computer science, geology and nursing. Upon completion of his degree in May 2023, he hopes to continue his research as a tenure track faculty at a major university.

Zain received his undergraduate degree in communication from the University of the Punjab (Pakistan) and his master's from Hacettepe University (Turkey).

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