Current Research

Research Statement

My name is Ava Francesca Battocchio and I am an Information and Media Ph.D. student and University Enrichment Fellow at Michigan State University in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. I am advised by Dr. Kjerstin Thorson. As Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication’s first dual-degree student, I concurrently completed my Master of Science in Global Strategic Communication (2020) and my Bachelor of Arts in Advertising (2019).

Though my education has taken me elsewhere, I call Duluth, Minnesota and the Northland home. With my home base in Duluth and family in Bemidji and the Iron Range(Coleraine/Bovey), it enabled me to spend considerable time in rural and remote communities across the northern United States and Canada, examining the relationship between history and current community narratives. Changing industrial and economic landscapes across the Upper Great Lakes has sparked my desire to understand the changing social and political climate in communities across the region and what that means for small-town civic life. In short, I want to better understand how self-identity is associated with where one calls home interacts with the way that people develop knowledge systems, the types of information that is important, and what they share with one another while trying to make sense of the world around them.

Communities across the Upper Great Lakes are experiencing a decrease in local media, oftentimes becoming heavily dependent on news sources based in much larger cities, sometimes hours away, that are not reflective of one’s community. Additionally, people in all corners of the United States and on both sides of the partisan line, are expressing heightened distrust in the news and political information sources. The current projects that I am working on help to develop a better understanding of community media ecosystems in a shifting media landscape, through exploring the visibility of civic information, along with exploring why certain civic information may be of heightened importance in rural, remote, and deindustrialized communities.

I am very interested in any recommendations that you may have so that I can better understand what a community storytelling network may look like in your neck of the woods.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns or to learn more about this project at

Local Digital Civic Infrastructure in Upper Midwestern Community Organizations

I am part of a cross-institutional research team exploring the factors affecting how local government, media, and non-profit organizations in the Upper Midwest use social and digital media to inform the public of civic events and issues. Our team is based out of Michigan State University, University of Kansas, Northwestern University, Penn State, and the University of South Carolina. We are interested in interviewing individuals involved in marketing/outreach/communications efforts. Please see this consent form if you believe that you may be eligible to participate.

See consent form: MSU IRB Study 00000701

Hyperlocal Facebook Group Moderator

The purpose of this research study is to examine the role that information sharing in local community-based groups in the Upper Great Lakes and group moderators play in shaping civic information.

If you are a Facebook Group moderator, this consent form is for you.

See consent form: MSU IRB Study 00005822

Social Media Study

**Study no longer accepting participants at this time**

If you are an 18-34-year-old who uses social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, to find out about the world, then you will want to check out this form.

See consent form: MSU IRB Study 00005013

This overview is not a substitution for questions. If you want to know more, have specific questions, or think that you may qualify to participate, please feel free to email me at