With over a decade of experience in research, reporting and media collaboration, Rachel Davis Mersey joined the University of Texas’s Moody College of Communication as an Associate Dean for Research and a Jesse H. Jones Centennial Professor. As a new member of the Moody family, Mersey said she intends to support the school’s staff and students by providing resources.
“My aim is to be a connector for people,” Mersey said. “Good work takes time and resources, and my aim is to help people find the time and resources to do the work that they want to do.”
Mersey said she studies the psychology of media use at local levels, taking particular interest in what people consume, what they like, and how those interactions with media make them better citizens.
In her first semester as a faculty member, Mersey said she plans to get to know faculty and students who engage in creative professional activity.
“I really want to understand everyone’s individual goals,” Mersey said. “So, that I can be the grease that makes access to those goals a little bit easier.”
Mersey, who previously served Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, authored Mobile Disruptions and Can Journalism Be Saved? Rediscovering America’s Appetite for News on the topic of media innovation.
Although she joined Moody’s faculty during a time of uncertainty, she already has “lots of irons in the fire” with the development of various projects. She is currently working on projects with Professor and Director Kathleen McElroy, Associate Professor Dr. Amy Sanders, Innovative Director Robert Quigley, and Assistant Professor Christian McDonald.
“In this environment where I can’t go to the office and I can’t have coffee with people,” she said. “I’ve really shifted my focus on how I can create as many personal connections as possible during a challenging time for everybody.”
Outside of Moody, Mersey is involved in a large National Science Foundation project which aims to increase the transparency of federal U.S. court records. She said the project is meant to make information more accessible to journalists so they can “tell better stories about what is happening in the Judiciary.”
Although she is not teaching this semester, Mersey said she plans to teach classes in the future.
“My teaching tends to focus on the audience,” Mersey said. “Audience behavior, reception, how we understand the audience to make our storytelling more effective.”
In her new role, Mersey said she wants to enhance and support the work of Moody’s students and faculty by connecting people with relevant sources and funding.
“I’m the firestarter if you will,” she said. “And they bring all the fuel.”