Leigh Nelson

Dr. Leigh Nelson is a professor of Communication Studies at James Madison University.  She received her undergraduate degree in Business Marketing at Washington State University, where she also earned her Master’s in Communication Studies.  Nelson’s Doctoral degree in Communication Studies came from Purdue University in Indiana.  Dr. Nelson decided to become a professor because it was her family’s “business.” Her father was a professor, her mother received a Ph.D., and all four of her grandparents were teachers.

Prior to teaching at JMU, Nelson held jobs as a retail manager and a statistician. Dr. Nelson was attracted to James Madison University partly because it is where her husband, Dr. Eric Fife, received his undergraduate degree, but mainly chose this university because of its balance between teaching and research. Nelson explains that JMU emphasizes teaching over research but still values research. Nelson prefers teaching be prominent, and that is what JMU offers. 

Dr. Nelson’s research is focused mainly on the intersection between mass media and interpersonal communication, specifically looking at computer-mediated communication, family communication, alcohol use and communication, and media effects. 

Nelson has taught many classes since coming to JMU. These courses are SCOM 386 Survey Research, SCOM 280 Introduction to Communication Research, SCOM 340 Interviewing, SCOM 358 Business and Professional Communication, SCOM 330 Computer Mediated Communication, SCOM 320 Interpersonal Communication, SCOM 357 Youth Pop Culture, SCOM 341 Persuasion, SCOM 580 Seminar in Communication Research Methods, SCOM 242 Presentational Speaking, SCOM 121 and SCOM 122 as well as others.

She states that her favorite part about teaching here is the students, hands down. Prior to teaching at JMU Dr. Nelson taught at Purdue University, Trident Technical Community College, and Charleston Southern University.

Dr. Nelson has many professional and personal goals for the future. Professionally she wishes to continue looking at evolving technology and its effects on interpersonal communication and to examine innovations in survey research as it applies to different areas of the communication field. At a personal level, Nelson continues to raise her two daughters and son, and loves to travel with her family.

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