Lisa Mikesell
Assistant Professor
Contact Info
CI 209
Office Hours:
Wednesdays 2-4

I use qualitative methods to understand human action and human meaning when communication-based problems arise in health and mental health contexts. For instance, I have explored the communication practices and interactions of neurological and psychiatric disorders (human action) and how these practices contribute to the construction and perception of social identities (human meaning). I aim to illuminate previously neglected dimensions of human experience, participation and therapeutic decision-making in health and mental health research to understand how individuals participate in community and perceive their own social functioning. I also investigate providers' perspectives of their work practices and clinical decision making to critically consider applications of patient-centeredness and shared decision making.

My work has a strong applied component. To this end, I consider how exploring situated communication practices of neurological and psychiatric disorders can contribute to our understanding of best practices, intervention and implementation in health and mental health services and community-engaged research.

Recent work on community-engaged research

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has made great strides bringing community members and academic researchers together in partnership, and ethics is often at the forefront of this work. But should we assume that simply because community-academic partnerships are developed that they are ethical?

The first comprehensive literature review on ethics in community-engaged research that I co-authored with Elizabeth Bromley (UCLA) and Dmitry Khodyakov (RAND) -- Ethical Community-Engaged Research: A Literature Review -- was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health. We found that the ethical principles of CBPR are often synonymous with the components that define the method itself (eg., close collaboration, trust, equal decision-making power). We call for CBPR researchers to consider how to establish guidelines to ensure community-engaged work is adhering to high ethical standards.

Article available online ahead of print here:

Our findings are also highlighted in the November issue of NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health's (PEPH) newsletter.

PEPH newsletter available here:

Recent Book Releases

"Dementia and Dialogue: Cognitive and Communicative Resources for Effective Engagement" co-edited by Robert W. Schrauf and Nicole Muller was recently released as part of a book series "Language and Speech Disorders."

Chapter Title


Ch 1: Conversation as Cognition: Reframing Cognition in Dementia

Nicole Muller & Robert W. Schrauf

Ch 2: "What They're Said to Say": The Discursive Construction of Alzheimer's Disease by Older Adults

Robert W. Schrauf & Madelyn Iris

Ch 3: "Getting to Know You": Situated and Distributed Cognitive Effort in Conversations with Dementia

Nicole Muller & Zaneta Mok

Ch 4: Talking with Maureen: Extenders and Formulaic Language in Small Stories and Canonical Narratives

Boyd Davis & Margaret Maclagan

Ch 5: Interactional and Cognitive Resources in Dementia: A Perspective from Politeness Theory

Jackie Guendouzi & Anna Pate

Ch 6: Conflicting Demonstrations of Understanding in the Interactions of Individuals with Frontotemporal Dementia: Considering Cognitive Resources and their Implications for Caring and Communication

Lisa Mikesell

Ch 7: "In My Own Words": Writing Down Life Stories to Promote Conversation in Dementia

Ellen Bouchard Ryan, Debra Crispin, & Michelle Daigneault

Ch 8: Preparing for a Theatrical Performance: Writing Scripts and Shaping Identities in an Early Memory Loss Support Group

Heidi E. Hamilton & Marta Baffy

Ch 9: Alzheimer Pathographies: Glimpses into How People with AD and their Caregivers Text Themselves

Vaidehi Ramanathan

Ch 10: Formulaic Language and Threat: The Challenge of Empathy and Compassion in Alzheimer's Disease Interaction

Alison Wray

"Exploring the Interactional Instinct" co-edited by Anna Joaquin and John Schumann and published by Oxford University Press came out in December as part of a series -- Foundations of Human Interaction -- edited by Nick Enfield. Here's what's inside:

Chapter Title


Ch 1: A Unified Perspective of First and Second Language Acquisition

John H. Schumann

Ch 2: Infant Attached and Language Exposure across Cultures

Gail Fox Adams

Ch 3: Learning while Eavesdropping on the Social World

Anna Dina L. Joaquin

Ch 4: Resonance in Dialogic Interaction

Anna Dina L. Joaquin

Ch 5: Biological and Psychological Bases for Social Engagement in Second Language Use

Bahiyyih Hardacre

Ch 6: Theories of the Interactional Instinct and the Pedagogical Stance: An Integrated View of Cultural Knowledge, Interaction, and Language

Jessica J. Roehrig

Ch 7: Affiliative Behaviors that Increase Language Learning Opportunities in Infant and Adult Classrooms: An Integrated Perspective

Laura Amador & Gail Fox Adams

Ch 8: Interactional Instinct and its Connection to Instruction in Human Life

Emre Guvendir

Ch 9: Leveraging the Interactional Instinct for Literacy

Andrea W. Mates

Ch 10: An Impaired Interactional Instinct: Schizophrenia as Case Study

Lisa Mikesell

Ch 11: The Interactional Instinct and Related Perspectives

John H. Schumann, Emre Guvendir, & Anna Dina L. Joaquin

Postdoc: Semel Institute Center for Health Services and Society, University of California, Los Angeles
PhD and MA: University of California, Los Angeles
BA: University of Pennsylvania

Qualitative methods; Language and social interaction; Communication-based challenges; Communication and cognitive impairment; Healthcare communication/Provider-patient interaction; Mental health services; Patient-centeredness and patient engagement; Community-based participatory research (CBPR)

Publications and Presentations


Lee, N., Mikesell, L., Joaquin, A. D., Mates, A. W., & Schumann, J. H. (2009). The interactional instinct: The evolution and acquisition of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Co-edited Volume

Mates, A. W., Mikesell, L., & Smith, M. S. (Eds.). (2010). Discourse, Sociality and Frontotemporal Dementia: Reverse Engineering the Social Mind. Equinox.

Click here to read Daniel Lende's commentary about the book.

Book Chapters

  • Mikesell, L. (2013). An impaired interactional instinct: Schizophrenia as a case study. In A. D. L. Joaquin & J. H. Schumann (Eds.), Exploring the Interactional Instinct (pp. 225-255). Series “Foundations of Human Interaction” (edited by Nick Enfield). Oxford University Press.
  • Mikesell, L. (2010). Examining perseverative behaviors of a frontotemporal dementia patient and caregiver responses: The benefits of observing ordinary interactions and reflections on caregiver stress. In Mates, A. W., Mikesell, L., Smith, M. S. (Eds.),Discourse, Sociality and Frontotemporal Dementia: Reverse Engineering the Social Mind(pp. 85-113). Equinox.

Recent Refereed Journal Articles

This article was highlighted in the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH) November 2013 newsletter                  

  • Mikesell, L. (2009). Conversational practices of a frontotemporal dementia patient nad his interlocutors. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 42(2), 135-162.

Recent Talks and Workshops

  • Bromley, E., Khodyakov, D., Mikesell, L. From Subject to Participant: Ethics and the Evolving Role of Community in Health Research. Ethics in Science panel, American Sociological Association (ASA). San Francisco, CA. August 16-19,2014.
  • Zima, B., Jung, T., McCreary, M., Zhang, L., Bussing, R., Mikesell, L., Guzman, J., Whitham, C. Development of a Mobile Health Intervention to Optimize Early Stimulant Medication Treatment. 22nd NIMH Conference on Mental Health Services Research (MHSR): Research in Pursuit of a Mental Health Care System. NIH Campus, Bethesda, MD. April 25, 2014.
  • Mikesell, L., Bromley, E., Young, A. S., Zima, B. Provider and Client Perspectives on Information Management in Mental Health Services: Developing a Communication-Centered Epistemic Model of Shared Decision Making.Kentucky Conference on Health Communication (KCHC), Lexington, KY. April 11, 2014.
  • Mikesell, L. Exploring Clinical Heterogeneity of Schizophrenia in Talk-in-Interaction: Extended Turns and Minimal Responses as Practices of Disaffiliation. Paper in LSI panel ‘Affiliation in Interaction: Managing Stance Displays in Conversation and Institutional Talk.’ National Communication Association (NCA), Washington, D.C. November 21-24, 2013.
  • Zima BT, Jung T, Bussing R, Mikesell L, Zhang L, Whitham C, McCreary M. Development of a Mobile Health Intervention to Optimize Early Stimulant Medication Treatment. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Meeting (AACAP), Orlando, FL: October 22-26, 2013. (research poster)
  • Mikesell, L. Everyday Interactions of Individuals with Cognitive and Social Impairments: Exploring Human (Dis)Coordination and Mechanisms of Conversation. Invited Workshop “Bridging the Gap Between Coordination and Conversation” (workshop organizers: Bruno Galantucci, Uri Hasson). New York, NY October 24-25,2013.
  • Issac, A., Mikesell, L., Bromley, E. Disrupted Discourse Cohesion and Distributed Responsibility in Face-to-Face Interactions with Individuals Diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI), Teachers College Columbia University, New York. October 19, 2013.
  • Mikesell, L. Conflicting Demonstrations of Understanding in the Interactions of Individuals with Frontotemporal Dementia: Considering Cognitive Resources and their Role in Conversation. Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI), Teachers College Columbia University, New York. October 18, 2013.
  • Khodyakov, D., Mikesell, L., Bromley, E. Ethics in Community-Engaged Research. American Sociological Society (ASA), Ethics and Science session, New York. August 10, 2013.
  • Mikesell, L. Using Conversation Analysis to Explore Variation in “Schizophrenic Speech”: Relevance to Interaction and Everyday Functioning. Atypical Interaction: Conversation Analysis and Communication Impairments. University of Sheffield, England. June 28, 2013.
  • Invited workshop organizer: Mikesell, L. A Framework for Exploring Interactions with Individuals with Frontotemporal Dementia. Atypical Interaction: Conversation Analysis and Communication Impairments, University of Sheffield, England. June 28, 2013.
  • Bowen, C., Mikesell, L., Piatt, A., Miklowitz, D. Implementation Preferences among Community Providers and Administrators Learning an Evidence-Based Family Intervention for Bipolar Disorder (research poster).  San Francisco, CA. American Psychiatric Association (APA), San Francisco. May 21, 2013.
  • Mikesell, L. Exploring Heterogeneity in Schizophrenia: Conversational Practices of “High Activity” and “Low Activity” Speakers. Invited speaker, Department of Communication, University of Texas, Austin. March 19, 2013.
  • Mikesell, L. Pragmatic Variation of People with Schizophrenia: Implications for Psychiatry. 57th Annual International Linguistic Association (ILA), Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. April 14, 2012.
  • Mikesell, L. Prosodic Features in the Discourse of an Individual with Schizophrenia and the Consequences for Turn-taking. Southern States Communication Association (SSCA), San Antonio, TX. April 13, 2012. (Top three LSI division paper)
  • Mikesell, L. Exploring Notions of Competence in Schizophrenia Using Video Ethnography: How Anthropological Approaches Can Reshape Mental Health Research. Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA), Baltimore. March 28, 2012.
  • Mikesell, L. Claims, Displays and Demonstrations of Understanding in the Interactions of Individuals with Frontotemporal Dementia: Implications for Caring and Communication. Third International Symposium on Dementia and Conversation. Folly Beach, SC: February 16-19, 2012.
  • Mikesell, L. A Conversation Analytic Approach to “Schizophrenic Speech”: Examining Variation in Turn Design. Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI), Teachers College Columbia University, New York. October 14-15, 2011.
  • Invited Workshop Participant: Mikesell, L. Displays Versus Demonstrations: Exploring Notions of Agency in the Interactions of Individuals with Frontotemporal Dementia. Discourse, Conversation, and Dementia: Preserving Personhood through Better Communication – A Penn State Center for Language Acquisition Workshop (organizer: Robert W. Schrauf), Pennsylvania State University. April 29 – May 1, 2011.
  • Mikesell, L., Bromley, E., Brekke, J. Measuring Everyday Functional Performance in Schizophrenia: Results from a Video Ethnography Feasibility Study. International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, Colorado Springs. April 6, 2011.
  • Mikesell, L., Bromley, E. Patient-centered/Nurse-averse: Nurses’ Work Experiences in a Patient-centered Hospital. American Anthropological Association (AAA), New Orleans. November 17, 2010.
  • Atkinson, J., Bromley, E., Stockdale, S., Mikesell, L., Katz, M. How Does Hospital Restructuring Impact Staff and Patient Experience? Nurses’ Forum (for CME credit) at Ronald Reagan Hospital, Los Angeles. November 4, 2010.
  • Mikesell, L. What Are You Looking For? Video Ethnography and Participant Observation Methods for Studying Schizophrenia and Frontotemporal Dementia. Collaborators: Alan P. Fiske, Elizabeth Bromley. Mind, Medicine and Culture (MMAC), Los Angeles, CA. November 1, 2010.