Master of Arts in Communications and Technology

Meet the Faculty

Our faculty and instructors offer a wide scope of expertise and scholarship in the field of communications and technology. 

Core Faculty

Thomas Barker, PhD is Professor of Communication in the Graduate Program in Communication and Technology (MACT) in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta. His PhD is from the University of Texas, and he served as Director of Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University (2003-2012). He published Writing Software Documentation, second edition, with Allyn & Bacon Press in 2003 and has contributed articles on writing and professional communication to Technical Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, and The Journal of Business and Technical Communication. He is a Fellow in the Society for Technical Communication and a recipient of the J. R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication. He has directed doctoral studies in public policy writing, professional issues in technical communication, intercultural communication, document design, and writing program administration. His current work is in risk communication with an emphasis on public health. Dr. Barker teaches COMM 502 Human Communications and COMM 554 Risk Communication.

Katy Campbell, PhD was born, raised and educated in Edmonton. She received her PhD (1994) in Instructional Studies from the University of Alberta. Her doctoral research involved a narrative study of a collaborative instructional design process as a socially transformative practice. Katy has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, effective July 1, 2009. She has been Interim Dean since 2007 and Associate Dean from 2001-2007. She worked as an instructional designer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta (1983-93), as Assistant Professor in the College of Education at the State University of New York College at Geneseo (1993-95), and as a designer of distance programs at Keewatin Community College in Manitoba, Canada (1995-96). She is currently a Professor in the Faculty of Extension, and she teaches in the Master of Arts in Communications and Technology program.

Gordon Gow, PhD is Associate Professor of Communication and Director of the Graduate Program in Communications and Technology (MACT) in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta. From 2003-2006 he was lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, where he was Director of the Graduate Programme in Media and Communications Regulation and Policy. Dr. Gow is also affiliated with the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST) at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Gow teaches COMM 503 Social Impact of Digital Media.

Rob McMahon, PhD is an Assistant Professor with the Master of Arts in Communication and Technology (MACT) in the Faculty of Extension. He holds a doctorate in Communication Studies from Simon Fraser University. His PhD dissertation “Digital Self-Determination: Indigenous Peoples and the Network Society in Canada” was awarded the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal from the Faculty of Art, Communication and Technology. After he completed his PhD, Rob worked for two years as a postdoctoral researcher with the First Nations Innovation Project at the University of New Brunswick. He also co-founded the First Mile Connectivity Consortium, a national nonprofit association of community-based Indigenous broadband providers. Dr. McMahon teaches COMM 506 Strategic Communications and COMM 509 Seminar in Research Design.

Stanley Varnhagen has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His specialty is in program evaluation and research, especially in the domain of educational technology. He is currently at the University of Alberta, in the Learning Solutions Unit where he is the Academic Director. His major responsibility is leading a team of evaluators in supporting, evaluating, and researching those using innovative learning methods and assisting faculty to evaluate their learning related projects. Dr. Varnhagen teaching COMM 553 Real World Evaluation.

Contract Instructors 2015-2016

Maria deBruijn

Megan Lefebvre recently completed her PhD in Public Health, specializing in epidemiology at the University of Alberta (although she would call herself a "qualitative epidemiologist") working alongside Drs. Stan Houston, Duncan Saunders, Maria Mayan, Yutaka Yasui, Christine Hughes, HIV-positive participants, HIV clinicians, and HIV Edmonton staff to explore adherence to HIV medication. They used quantitative and qualitative methods to explore why HIV-positive individuals with chaotic lives (e.g., experience unstable housing, substance use issues, incarceration, and/or involvement in the sex trade) were able to consistently adhere to their HIV medication. Their group then designed a knowledge translation plan which involved creating a video, highlighting original study participants and HIV clinicians, and hosting video/pizza parties at HIV Edmonton. Their intention was to reach out to HIV-positive community members who may be struggling with their HIV medications. In fact, this video has been featured on the CBC evening news, CBC Radio, and HIV/AIDS conferences. Megan also won first place in the University Without Wall’s 3 Minute Thesis competition telling her PhD Story in less than 3 minutes. Through Megan’s collaborations with students, faculty, and community partners, she developed a passion for teaching. As such, Megan is an instructor at the University of Alberta and teaches The Fundamentals of Epidemiology for Public Health with the Faculty of Public Health, Applied Research in Communications and Technology with the Faculty of Extension and this winter she will be facilitating Community Engagement: Contexts and Process with the Faculty of Extension.

Geo Takach is a veteran writer, filmmaker, speaker and instructor who has taught diverse aspects of communication at the U of A and at three universities in Alberta and in workshops. His work as a professional communicator and/or artist span hundreds of publications in speeches, print, film, radio, television and cyberspace. Geo’s research (which includes an award-winning doctoral study in environmental communication) has been presented at numerous conferences and two university art galleries, published in scholarly publications, and profiled in national, provincial and local media, where he has been quoted as an expert on issues around Alberta, identity, energy and environment. Geo is a proud graduate of MACT’s second cohort (2001).

Houda Trabelsi is an e-Commerce faculty member at Faculty of Business, Athabasca University since 2000. She has received her M.Sc. Business Administration from Sherbrooke University ; Master of Management from University of Tunis- Tunisia, and Advanced Graduate Diploma in Information Technology from Moncton University, NB. She teaches various courses in the field of electronic commerce, Management Information Systems, accounting and strategy as well COMM 550 Introduction to e-Commerce, an elective course within the MACT program since 2003. She has also chaired the Centre for Finance, Economics and e-Commerce for five years. Houda Trabelsi has developed comprehensive and rich e-Commerce and MIS courses and managed and coordinated the development of all advanced e-Commerce courses. In addition to her academic teaching and research, she is working closely with the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) and other industry Leaders to build and develop the Business, Technology and Management (BTM) program. Her research interest revolve around strategic management of technology and innovations, cyber security and legal issues, mobile payment, online privacy and other social issues of new communication technologies, interface design and e-Learning

Adjunct Faculty

Ann Curry, PhD, obtained her Masters of Library Science at the U. of British Columbia and her PhD in Information Studies at the U. of Sheffield (U.K.). She taught full-time within the MACT program (2011-2014), was Director and Professor at the U of A School of Library and Information Studies (2008-2011), Professor at the UBC School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (1990-2007), and Program Chair Library Technician Program at MacEwan University (1975-1981). She has worked in Australia, Britain, and Malaysia in addition to her home country of Canada, and has been an oil company librarian, a children’s puppeteer and librarian, a business librarian, and a public library manager. Throughout her career, Ann’s research has focused on censorship and intellectual freedom within society as a whole, and access to information issues, particularly those associated with controversial subjects and those that involve inequitable access for particular groups. She is interested in the impact of social media on our communication processes, and how both information access and our ethical decisions are influenced by the internet and social media. She has completed numerous research projects involving a variety of research methods, but she specializes in questionnaire and interview data gathering. She also consults internationally regarding library architecture and planning, particularly in South America. Ann has received two major awards for teaching excellence – the UBC Killam Teaching Award and the American/Canadian ALISE Award for Teaching Excellence.

(Effective 1 July 2016) Jessica Laccetti has a PhD from De Montfort University (Creative Technologies). Her main fields of interest are technology, social media, #SMEM, transliteracy, transdisciplinarity and pedagogy. Laccetti's current projects focus on social media in emergency management, digital strategy (for NPOs), creative technology in education, and social media curriculum design. She is a member of the Transliteracy Research Group (www.transliteracy.com), where she blogs about changing and emerging facets of communication.  Twitter: @JessL  Blog: www.jesslaccetti.com 

Debra Pozega Osburn, PhD, was appointed Vice-President (University Relations) at the University of Alberta, on July 1, 2010. She first joined the university in January 2007 as Associate Vice-President (External Relations) and became Interim VP in September 2009. Her responsibilities include strategic communications, media relations, creative direction, government relations, web development, and community relations. In addition, Dr. Pozega Osburn oversees the UofA's Calgary Centre which serves as a gateway to its campuses in Edmonton and Camrose, Alberta. She is also responsible for the Crisis Communication Plan, a critical part of the university's emergency response plan; and she works with targeted external institutes to enhance the university’s image and reputation. Dr. Pozega Osburn is a recognized expert on post-secondary external relations, with particular expertise in integrated stakeholder relations and communications programs that must be effective across institutional boundaries. She holds a doctorate in American Studies, and is a frequent presenter on best practices to professional organizations. Dr. Pozega Osburn serves as a member of the Communications and Technology program’s Advisory Board. 

Mark Wolfe, PhD, has an extensive background in strategic communication and emerging communication technologies. After being an early adopter and then educator in the area of desktop publishing technologies and applications in the mid-1980s, he was recruited by Shell Canada to help design and co-manage a world-first corporate newspaper project that helped redefine employee communications in that company while extending his expertise in networked systems. While at Shell, and also working part-time as an editor for The Calgary Herald, Mark earned a Master of Arts degree in communication from the University of Calgary, copping a Governor General Gold Medal thesis nomination for original scholarship in the process. As a PhD student in communication at the University of Calgary, Mark became a senior research associate and worked with the U of C's Dr. David Mitchell in designing and deploying several national research projects of major significance, including a three-year study of the Alberta SuperNet. Aside from ongoing work and publishing in related areas of Knowledge Management, as well as teaching in the MACT program at the University of Alberta, Dr. Wolfe is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, a senior lecturer in communication at Mount Royal University, and is also an Academic Co-Director of the Centre for Communication and Information within the Van Horne Institute in Calgary. Dr. Wolfe teaches COMM 504 Organizational Communications for the MACT program.