I came to Arkansas in 1994 after teaching at Ferris State University in the Department of Humanities. A native Arkansan, I have my undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas in communication and journalism education. I take great pride in having my name engraved in one of the sidewalks on the northeast side of Old Main. My Master’s degree is from the University of Kentucky and my PhD from Purdue University. I spent my first year out of college as a high school drama, debate, and US history teacher before returning to school to pursue graduate degrees.
Key Areas of Research (What I’ve researched in the past):
While I’ve studied different aspects of interpersonal communication, my main research focus has examined the interface of the interpersonal communication process and health. Specifically, I’ve studied how persons view stressful situations and their production of social support messages and the perceptions individuals have of the social support they received from relational partners (friends, coworkers, workplace supervisors) when attempting to cope with stress; the role of family communication in developing scripts for the negotiation of safer sex practices with sexual partners, and bridging intercultural gaps in the medical provider-patient relationship.
Current Research Interests (What I’m working on now):
I’m currently involved in three research projects. First, I am working with Dr. Ron Warren investigating the role parent mediation of children’s media use plays in the development of children’s positive communication skills. Among the outcomes we seek are to identify what parents and children talk about while sharing media and how perceived relational closeness is achieved resulting from shared media use. Long-range research is planned to investigate media content, children’s food choice and obesity in at-risk populations.
The second area I am researching is an exploration of communication and relational factors influencing marital satisfaction such as strategic uses of verbal and nonverbal message systems.
The third project is examining the role social support plays in managing family health crises such as diagnoses of cancer, infertility, and Alzheimer’s disease. I am particularly interested in how persons affected by these diagnoses view, seek, and receive social support from their networks including family and friends, health care providers, as well as mediated relationships created in online message forums and blogs.
I enjoy teaching about interpersonal relationships within dyads and families. I also integrate these interpersonal interests into classes focused on health care delivery and health-related information dissemination via mediated channels. My classes offer theoretical foundations along with examinations of contemporary and seminal research findings. I seek to find various ways to present information to students so they are able to better understand past their interactions and obsevations and to consider ways in which to enrich their interpersonal relationships in future interactions. I also enjoy incorporating service learning experiences for students in the courses I teach with applied foci such as Health Communication, Health Communication Campaigns--Strategies and Messages, Small Group Communication, Small Group Seminar, and Seminar in Health Communication.
Undergraduate level: Communication and Gender, Interpersonal Communication, Intercultural Communication, Contemporary Communication Theory, Family Communication, Nonverbal Communication, Small Group Communication, Fundamentals of Communication, Honors Colloquium in Health Communication, Health Communication, Issues in Health Communication, Communication in a Diverse World; Health Communication Campaign Strategies
Graduate level: Communication Theory, Interpersonal Communication Seminar (seminar focused on interpersonal communication issues affecting the family [media and marriage]; seminar focused on friendship interaction; seminar focused on human resource management and training), Small Group Communication Seminar, Organizational Communication Research, Seminar in Workgroup Communication Assessment, Seminar in Patient-Provider Communication, Seminar in Health Communication and Social Support;Seminar in Health Communication; Seminar in Health Communication Campaign Messages
Ph.D., Purdue University
M. A., University of Kentucky
B. S. E., University of Arkansas
My research has been published in journals including Communication Yearbook 10, Communication Studies, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Health Communication, Journal of Family Communication, Communication Research Reports, Journal of Thought. I also have published chapters in a number of books including The Routledge Handbook of Applied Communication Research, Communication for Families in Crisis, Medical Communication in Clinical Contexts, Computer Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships, and Communicating Interpersonal Communication in Close Relationships: Contexts, Challenges, and Opportunities.
I have been part of the University of Arkansas family long enough to have seen many changes in the number of students enrolled here, their personal backgrounds, their ways of interacting in class and what they want to happen during class, as well as their career interests upon graduation. These observed changes encourage me to grow and change as a professor. I have taught 24 different classes as a UA faculty member and continuously strive to offer courses that are timely and appeal to student interest and alter course contents accordingly.
Additionally, I have served in a number of administrative roles during my tenure as a UA faculty member such as serving on a number of departmental, Fulbright College, and university committees and associate chair of the Department of Communication. My greatest administrative challenge was serving in the executive leadership of Southern States Communication Association. As vice-president elect I planned the Theodore Cleavenger Honors Conference--the largest honors conference available for undergraduate students in the Communication discipline. As vice-president of SSCA, I served as the planner of the annual converntion. While President, I introduced new initiatives for the Association and as Immediate Past President, I was responsible for compiling and vetting the slate of candidates for election into the next 4-year rotation of executive officers.
I also have focused my Communication training into applied settings as consultant to a number of organizations in the northwest Arkansas region. For most of these projects, I recruited graduate students to gain valuable experience to help me with data collection and analysis, and project summarization.
Recipient of Outstanding Advisor Award, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas
Recipient of “Favorite Teacher” Award by staff members of Reid and Futrall Residence Halls, University of Arkansas
Recipient of Outstanding Teacher Award, presented by Chi Omega Sorority, University of Arkansas
Nominee for Outstanding Advisor Award, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas
Nominee for Master Teacher Award, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas
Named Teacher of the Year, Department of Communication, University of Arkansas
Recognized as Outstanding Faculty Member, University of Arkansas Panhellenic Council
Recipient of Teaching Incentive Grant, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas
Finalist for the Outstanding Young Teacher Award, Central States Communication Association
Recipient of Charles and Nadine Baum Teaching Grant, University of Arkansas
Recipient of Undergraduate Research Fellowships, Science Information Liaison Office-SILO Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program
Recipient of Honors College Research Grant, University of Arkansas
Top Paper Awards, Instructional and Developmental Division of the International Communication Association; Applied Communication and Communication and Aging Divisions, National Communication Association; Applied Communication and Interpersonal Communication Divisions, Southern States Communication Association