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 PhDs and 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

Huiling Ding, Associate Professor and Director of MS in Technical Communication. 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, health risk communication, rhetoric of health and medicine, workplace communication, genre studies, and writing in the disciplines. She serves on editorial boards of leading journals such as Technical Communication Quarterly, Written Communication, Communication Design Quarterly, and Rhetoric, Globalization, and Professional Communication. Her book, Rhetoric of a Global Epidemic: Transcultural Communication about SARSwon National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Best Book Award in Technical and Scientific Communication. In addition, two of her articles won Nell Ann Pickett Award for Best Article in Technical Communication Quarterly and Editor’s Pick New Scholar Award from Written Communication. She is now working on a large-scale project on global risk communication about artificial intelligence.    

Stacey Pigg, Associate Professor and Director of the Professional Writing Program, researches the digital and networked writing practices that shape work, learning, and engagement across a range of academic and professional contexts. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in rhetorical theory, professional communication, and digital rhetoric and writing. She serves on the editorial board of leading journals such as Written Communication and Communication Design Quarterly, and is the Grants Coordinator for the Council of Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC). In her role as the Director of the Professional Writing Program, Dr. Pigg mentors MSTC TAs for teaching technical, business, and science writing courses and works to support students across the university in learning effective professional writing practices. Her scholarship has been published in journals such as Computers and WritingIEEE Transactions on Professional CommunicationRhetoric Society QuarterlyTechnical CommunicationTechnical Communication Quarterly, and Written Communication, and she was recognized with the Nell Ann Pickett award for her article, "Coordinating Constant Invention: Social Media's Role in Distributed Work." Dr.  Pigg's in-process book project, which received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, offers a framework for understanding the transient literacies that guide students' everyday writing practices.

Jason Swarts, Professor, Associate Department Head, and Director of Undergraduate Programs, 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 verbal data analysis. Jason’s research interests include technical communication practice in social media, networks, communities of practice, and research methods. 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 latest book, Wicked, Incomplete, and Uncertain, was published by Utah State University in 2018. His book, Together with Technology, was published by Baywood Press in 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. 

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, Distinguished University 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 graduate and undergraduate courses in English language and literacy, writing, and composition theory and research. Chris is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NC State Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Professor Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award, 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 sixteen books and over 120 articles and book chapters, and has given over 550 papers, keynote addresses, and workshops across the U.S. and in 30 other countries. He is past Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and past President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, is on the editorial or reader's boards of ten journals, and has received or participated as a co-PI in over $2 million in grants. His full c.v. is available at

Michael Carter, Professor with specialization in rhetoric and composition, is Associate Dean of the Graduate School. 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 EnglishCollege Composition and CommunicationRhetorica, 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 CommunicationWritten Communication, Writing Program Administration, and Research in the Teaching of English. She and Steven B. Katz co-authored Writing in the Sciences: Exploring Conventions of Scientific Discourse (Pearson/Longman), now in its third edition.

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 KairosComputers and Composition Online, and Enculturation. He is on the faculty of the PhD in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media.

Catherine Warren, Cat Warren is a professor of English at North Carolina State University.

She 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 and creative nonfiction. She has developed two new courses for the MS program: Science Writing for the Media, and Gender and Medicine.

She publishes in journalistic venues as well as in academic ones—on science journalism, media criticism, cultural studies, and issues in higher education. She was editor of Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors from 2009 to 2012. 

Her book, What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the Worldwas published by Touchstone division of Simon & Shuster in October 2013. In March 2015, it came out as as a paperback, and has been on the New York Times nonfiction paperback bestseller list, the NYT science book bestseller list, and the animal book bestseller list. It has been translated and published in German, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese, and published throughout the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. 

Her academic publications include work 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.

Before returning to academe to get her Ph.D. in 1990, Cat Warren was a reporter for several newspapers across the United States, including the Hartford Courant. In 1995, she joined the faculty at North Carolina State University. In 2018, she received a university outstanding teaching award.

Retired 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.

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 EducationThe 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 NCSUCollege 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.