Focus on Faculty

Nathaniel Evans

Nathaniel Evans (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Nathaniel Evans, an assistant professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, conducts research that has implications for policymakers and regulatory bodies that enforce advertising policy and protect consumers.

When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I began my career at Georgia in August 2013. I knew that Georgia (and Grady College) was where I wanted to land. The fact that Athens was relatively close to home didn’t hurt. However, my intention was to conduct high-level advertising research, and the department of advertising and public relations already had a reputation for being one of the most prolific departments in our field. In short, I wanted to be part of that.

What are your favorite courses and why?
I love teaching “Principles of Advertising.” I typically have around 300 students in the course, and it’s great. I know that some would be intimidated by such student volume, but I actually find it to be a great motivator when it comes to improving my teaching. For one, it has forced me to be a better storyteller. I could spit facts and figures at students all day long, but if they aren’t engaged, they won’t care. I believe that putting the course content in context with some added entertainment value has really paid off. Second, many students in this course constantly surprise me with their ingenuity, inquisitiveness and leadership. Because of this, I am frequently reminded that I must step back and allow students to take the wheel, even if it is in front of 299 of their classmates.

How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?
In a basic sense, I research the impact of advertising that doesn’t look or feel like advertising. At a deeper level, I investigate how consumers understand, process and evaluate covert or deceptive advertising. My research tests and extends persuasion and information processing theories to better understand consumers’ underlying psychological processes. On a practical level, my research examines how advertising disclosures affect consumer understanding or recognition of advertising content. In terms of impact, these findings are important for policy makers and regulatory bodies tasked with enforcing advertising policy and protecting consumers.

Nathaniel Evans teaching an undergraduate journalism class. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I try as much as possible to let my research inform my teaching. Whenever I touch on topics relating to advertising law, regulation or deception, I incorporate my research into the content and or discussions. When it comes to newer advertising formats and executions, I feel it is important that students understand the implications, benefits and potential drawbacks for consumers and advertisers alike. My hope is that exposing them to some of my research will help them in that regard.

What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
Ultimately, it depends on the course. For the large introductory course, my hope is that students will walk away feeling engaged and passionate. I would like them to envision themselves doing something they enjoy. For other courses I teach, such as advertising and society, I hope that students develop an understanding of themselves as potential practitioners and the responsibility that it entails.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
… the New Faculty Tour in 2013. While it was my first experience with University of Georgia as a newly hired assistant professor, there were several notable moments that have remained with me till this day. For one, we were all able to meet Uga. It was as if we were in the presence of a true celebrity.  Second, and dare I say more memorable, was our shared experience at UGA’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. In addition to trawling the bay for marine life and subsequently examining creatures in the brine tank, we witnessed the birthing of a litter of stingrays. I still have the picture.