Technical Communication Faculty

NC State has an impressive group of faculty members dedicated to ensuring the success of the Technical Communication program and its students. All of the faculty have Ph.D.s, and many are leaders in their fields of research. Their contributions to the professional literature are recognized nationally and internationally. Several have won awards for outstanding teaching. Each faculty member contributes unique approaches to communication. Technical Communication students and alumni believe that the faculty are the greatest strength of the program!

For more information about the program and applying for it, contact:

Dr. Huiling Ding 
Director of the M.S. in Technical Communication
Department of English
N C State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-8105

Program Faculty

Stan Dicks, Associate Professor and Director of the M.S. in Technical Communication program, joined the NC State faculty in 1997, after 16 years of experience in industry as a technical writer and manager. He received his Ph.D. in English from Ohio University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in advanced technical writing, document design, publications management, and usability testing. His research interests include integrated and multimedia documentation systems, technical communication management, and usability testing theories and practices. Dr. Dicks has won three publications awards from the Society for Technical Communication. He has published papers and given presentations for several professional organizations. He served as Editor-in-Chief for the ACM Journal of Computer Documentation from 2001-2003. His book, Management Principles and Practices for Technical Communicators, was published through the Allyn and Bacon series in Technical Communication in 2004. He served as Visiting Professor at SAS Institute in 2004.

David Covington, Associate Professor, has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in technical communication since 1978, after receiving his Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University. His primary research interests are visual rhetoric and technical communication. Dr. Covington's research focuses on defining the nature of visual rhetoric in the context of technical communication and suggests its interrelationship with verbal rhetoric. In addition, Dr. Covington is the Executive Director of the Humanities Computing Laboratory at NC State and has taught many writing workshops for business, government, and industry. He served as Visiting Professor at SAS Institute in 2003.

Huiling Ding, Assistant Professor, joined the NC State faculty in 2012, after receiving her Ph.D. from Purdue. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in technical and scientific writing, rhetoric of science and medicine, and intercultural professional communication. Her research interests include intercultural communication, scientific communication, health risk communication, rhetoric of health and medicine, workplace communication, and writing in the disciplines. Dr. Ding's work has been published or is forthcoming in Written Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, Business Communication Quarterly, Journal of Medical Humanities, China Media Research, Rhetoric Review, English for Specific Purposes, and Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization. Her book titled Rhetoric of Global Epidemic: Transcultural Health Risk Communication about SARS is currently under the fourth external review by Southern Illinois University Press.

Susan M. Katz, Associate Professor, spent 12 years in television and advertising before turning to the study of writing in public and private organizations. She earned her Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1996. Dr. Katz teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the rhetoric of science and technology and coordinates the English Department Internship Program. Her research interests include the integration of verbal and visual rhetorics and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Dr. Katz has given presentations on workplace writing at many conferences and has published articles in The Journal of Engineering Education, The Journal of Business Communication, the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, and The Extended CCC. She is the author of The Dynamics of Writing Review: Opportunities for Growth and Change in the Workplace, a chapter of which was reprinted in the anthology Professional Writing and Rhetoric: Readings from the Field. She is co-author of Writing Now, a composition textbook published by Bedford/St. Martin's in 2009. Dr. Katz is the recipient of the IEEE Professional Communication Society Outstanding Paper Award (1999), the NCSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Junior Faculty Award (2001), and the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools Achievement Award for New Scholars in the Humanities and the Arts (2003).

Carolyn Miller, (Retired May 2015.) SAS Institute Distinguished Professor, has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in rhetoric and technical communication at NC State since 1973. She received her Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1980. The goal of her research is to understand how values, interests, and prior knowledge affect the ways that individuals and groups create, interpret, and respond to communication. Her current research applies these interests to emerging genres of communication, both online and in other media. Dr. Miller has published articles in many academic journals and scholarly books, has won three publication awards in scientific and technical communication research, and has given invited papers at many universities and national and international conferences. She was named an Outstanding Teacher in 1984, a Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing in 1995, Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor at NC State in 1999, and co-winner of SIGDOC’s Rigo Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communication Design in 2006. She was instrumental in helping to design and implement the MS in Technical Communication and served as its first director, 1988–95. She also served as the founding director of NC State’s doctoral program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, 2005–08.

Stacey Pigg, Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the Professional Writing Program, joined the NC State faculty in 2015. She received her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2011. Dr. Pigg researches how mobile and networked writing technologies shape work, learning, and engagement practices. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in professional writing, rhetorical theory, and digital rhetoric and writing. Her scholarship has been published in journals such as College Composition and CommunicationCommunity Literacy JournalComputers and WritingRhetoric Society QuarterlyTechnical Communication Quarterly, and Written Communication, and has been recognized with the Nell Ann Pickett awardDr. Pigg's current book project, which received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, explores how and why students and professionals write with mobile
​technologies in public places. 

Jason SwartsProfessor and Director of the Professional Writing Program, joined the NC State faculty in 2002, after receiving his Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in technical writing, online information design, network communication and culture, and discourse analysis. Jason’s research interests include technical communication practice in technologically-mediated environments, science and technology studies, and genre. Jason has published work on these topics in Written Communication, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, and the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. His book, Together with Technology, was published by Baywood Press in early 2008. These publications have garnered six publication awards, including NCTE “best article” awards, the Nell Ann Pickett award, and the NCTE award for “best book” in technical communication, and the Frank R. Smith Distinguished Article Award. He is currently at work on a second book about the changing practice of help documentation in technical communication.

Douglas M. Walls is an Assistant Professor and joined NC State in 2016. He received his Ph.D. in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing from Michigan State University (2011) after earning M.A.s in both English and Communication from the University of Nevada. Dr. Walls researches user experience (UX) for underrepresented or traditionally marginalized groups and nonprofit organizations, especially in social media contexts.  His current research is focused on leveraging rhetorical studies to design new digital experiences for such groups. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in professional writing, UX, visual rhetoric, and information architecture. His work has appeared in both traditional and new media forms in Computers and CompositionKairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy; and the Journal of Business and Technical Communication as well as various edited collections. His article entitled “Access(ing) the Coordination of Writing Networks” received Honorable Recognition for the 2015 Ellen Nold Award for the Best Article in Computers and Composition Studies. Dr. Walls’ current editorial work includes a co-edited book compilation on social networks for WAC Clearinghouse, an imprint of Colorado State University Press. 

Affiliated Faculty

Chris Anson, University Distinguished Professor, came to NC State in 1999 to direct the Campus Writing and Speaking Program, one of the first programs in the country to promote writing and speaking across the curriculum of a large university. In addition to directing the CWSP, Chris teaches courses in English language and literacy, writing, and composition theory.  Chris is the recipient of numerous awards, including the  State of Minnesota Higher Education Teaching Excellence Award and the Morse-Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. A nationally respected scholar of writing, language, and literacy, Chris has published fifteen books and over 90 articles and book chapters, and has given over 425 papers, keynote addresses, and workshops across the U.S. and in 22 foreign countries. He is past president of the Council of Writing Program Administrators and is on the editorial or reader's boards of ten journals, and has received or participated as a co-PI in over $1 million in grants.

Michael Carter, Professor with specialization in rhetoric and composition, is Associate Director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program. He has been at NC State since receiving his Ph.D. at Purdue in 1986 and teaches graduate courses in composition theory and rhetorical history. His interest in writing in the disciplines is reflected in two grants from the National Science Foundation to develop online teaching materials for students writing in the laboratory sciences. He is the author of Where Writing Begins: A Postmodern Reconstruction as well as articles published in a number of scholarly journals, including College English, College Composition and Communication, Rhetorica, and Language and Learning Across the Disciplines.

Nancy Penrose, Professor, teaches graduate seminars in composition  pedagogy, empirical research methods, and writing in the research sciences and undergraduate courses in rhetoric, composition, and scientific writing. She has been an NC State faculty member since 1987, after receiving her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University.  Her research examines socio-cognitive dimensions of academic literacy, and socialization in disciplinary and professional communities. Her work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Written Communication, and Research in the Teaching of English. She co-edited a book on the pedagogical implications of cognitive research in writing, and with Steven Katz recently completed a third edition of Writing in the Sciences: Exploring Conventions of Scientific Discourse (Longman 2010).

David Rieder, Assistant Professor, received his Ph.D. in 2002 from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he completed his dissertation under the direction of Victor Vitanza.  He joined the NC State faculty that same year. His research focuses on the following three areas: theories and practices of rhetoric and writing, new media studies, and critical theory. Recent publications include a co-edited book titled Small Tech (Minnesota Press) with a chapter contribution titled "Scripted Writing() {," and forthcoming articles/projects in Kairos, Computers and Composition Online, and Enculturation. He is on the faculty of the PhD in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media.

Catherine Warren, Cat Warren, Associate Professor, received her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She also has M.A.s in French literature and in journalism and is a former newspaper reporter. Her research interests include science, technology, and society; race, class and gender issues in the media; and women and medicine. Dr. Warren teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in reporting and editing. She has developed two new courses for the MS program: Science Writing for the Media, and Gender and Medicine. Her publications include both popular and academic works on higher education policy, media criticism, newsroom activism and identity politics, women and health, environmental policy, and two edited collections on cultural studies, James Carey: A Critical Reader, and American Cultural Studies. She is currently faculty editor of Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors, a national publication devoted to higher education policy, academic freedom, and faculty governance issues.