Melissa Aleman

Melissa Alemán

Areas of expertise:

  • Communication in Aging Families
  • Communication in Multicultural Families
  • Higher Education Culture and Communication (Gender, Underrepresented Students, Makerspaces)


Alemán teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in qualitative research methods, family communication, gender and communication, culture and identity, and women's gender and sexuality studies. 

Alemán's research uses qualitative methodologies to explore the ways that communication constructs and reproduces culture in a variety of contexts. Her primary research explores communication in aging and multicultural families, particularly as it relates to topics such as caregiving, end-of-life, and cultural identity. She draws upon narrative methodologies to demonstrate the power of stories and storytelling in family life. 

She also collaborates with Dr. Robert Nagel (Department of Engineering, JMU) on a National Science Foundation supported project using qualitative methodologies to study learning in university makerspaces. 

Finally, she works with students and colleagues to explore the narratives of underrepresented and marginalized students in higher education. This includes the exploration of underrepresented minority students at predominately white institutions, as well as the study of graduate students' sense of belonging in the context of undergraduate institutions. 

She received her doctorate and master's degrees in communication studies from the University of Iowa, and her bachelor's degree in speech and professional communication from New York University. 

Media contact: Mary-Hope Vass, vassmg@jmu.edu, 540-568-7487

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