2022 NCA Award Winners
NCA’s annual awards will be bestowed on several distinguished members at the Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Below is the list of those who will be honored at the awards presentation. Winner descriptions will be added in the coming days.
Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education
Dr. Brandi Lawless’ application illuminates her pedagogical contributions as a “superlative mentor,” “a leader in the field of community-engaged learning,” and a colleague who “not only integrates social justice in the classroom but also in her pedagogy scholarship, community engagement, and overall behavior as an educator.” Dr. Lawless’ openness to change, ability to lead change, and willingness to use her voice to integrate alternative structures that privilege diversity and innovation in higher education make her a deserving recipient of the award.
Marcella E. Oberle Award for Outstanding Teaching in Grades K-12
As an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) educator, Halie Waddell Rios’ work reflects her enduring impact on international high school students. She has shown a deep commitment to students who are learning-disabled, diverse, and underserved; it is reflected in her everyday acts. Even sharing an American-style meal, she says, is a teachable moment for her students as they learn to communicate in English.
Michael and Suzanne Osborn Community College Outstanding Educator Award
Dr. Trevor Setvin’s application stood out for its demonstration of excellence in teaching and its emphasis on diversity and inclusion, experiential learning, and student engagement—all central tenets in NCA’s strategic plan. His strong work in scholarship and pedagogy, along with public communication, was very impressive. Most notable however, was Professor Setvin’s commitment to providing a voice to under-represented and marginalized populations that amply reflected the spirit of the award and did justice to its central premise.
Bernard J. Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship or Distinguished Service in Family Communication
Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas has sustained a line of research in the family sense-making process that has resulted in the development of the Communicated Narrative Sense-Making Theory. He has published 62 peer-reviewed articles, a book, two books under contract; and exhibits grant activity. Dr. Kellas has advised 10 doctoral candidates; and recognitions of her work include multiple awards such as six top paper panel awards on family communication; and others in different NCA divisions and caucuses.
Charles H. Woolbert Research Award
For the article, "Cultural Contracts Theory: Toward an Understanding of Identity Negotiation," published in Communication Quarterly in 2002.
Dr. Ronald L. Jackson II’s article expanded and transformed theories of identity negotiation by centering difference in the communication practices that express, sustain, and modify the influence and embodiment of one’s culture in relation with others. Built upon the chief example of rural African American identity, Jackson pressed the powerful question, “How [do] we select who is worthy of a sustained relationship in the first place?” In response, his meticulous and propulsive paradigm provided a map for the deeper and wider development of theory and practice—including his own—across subfields such as intercultural, interpersonal, and intergroup communication, and beyond the discipline.
Diamond Anniversary Book Award
For the book The Borders of AIDS: Race, Quarantine & Resistance, published by University of Washington Press in 2021.
This insightful book by Karma R. Chavez is a carefully threaded study that is intersectional in its examination of race, nationality, citizenship, and AIDS through the lens of quarantine. Chávez’s work builds on and extends existing scholarship related to sovereignty, citizenship, and rhetorical racialization. It is methodologically and theoretically sound with the most up-to-date scholarship and critical analysis, including extensive archival research and diverse rhetorical methods. The book advances the concept of "alienizing logic" as a way to think about the intersectional impact of AIDS on queer, migrant populations of color, but also as a logic that is fundamental to the DNA of the United States.
For the book, Digital Black Feminism, published by New York University Press in 2021.
Dr. Catherine Knight Steele’s newest book is a much-needed text that centers an understudied population specifically within a form of liberation. The book charts new ground and has a great deal of heuristic value. Knight Steele’s work draws from a rich legacy of Black feminist scholarship and extends it into the digital realm, offering a concerted look at the practice of "digital Black feminism" and understanding such practices as central to the future of digitality. This kind of work is central to the study of the role of communication in how communities engage with each other through symbolic action in times of change.
Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award
For the essay, "'Make Your Family Proud': Analyzing the Communication of Roles and Identity in Disney's Encanto."
Essay submitted by the Family Communication Division
The essay applies symbolic interactionism theory to Disney’s 2021 film, Encanto, to examine how family roles were communicatively constructed in the fictional family, the Madrigals. Moss and Vasquez discovered themes that included expected roles which must be properly upheld, individuals who must prioritize supporting the family system, and identity being formed in conjunction with one’s family role. Such themes illustrate the complex and ever-fluctuating nature of role enactment and identity development within the family system which could lead to a significant source of learning and influence amongst family members navigating identities, narratives, and shared meanings.
Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award
Dr. Karma R. Chávez is Department Chair and a Bobby and Sherri Patton Professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Chávez has published over 60 journal articles and book chapters, three book monographs, and three special issues of journals. Through this, they have been cited nearly 2,400 times over their 18 years of published scholarship. Dr. Chávez has also advanced rhetorical studies by mentoring Latina/o/xs in Communication and by developing courses in Queer Migration Rhetoric, Queer Theory and Rhetoric, Rhetoric and Social Movements, and History of American Public Address.
Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression
For the article, "Whiteness, Repressive Victimhood, and the foil of the intolerant left," published in First Amendment Studies in 2021.
Dr. Carsen R. Kelly’s article concisely addresses key themes related to the First Amendment and freedom of expression. In the use of critical race theory, the work acutely weaves current-day themes of identify politics, speech freedom, weaponized speech, and intolerance along with the politicized nature of inviting conservative speakers to college campuses. Dr. Kelly also outlines the persistent double standard of protected status and concessions for some speakers to the exclusion of others based on racial identity.
Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Awards
For the dissertation completed at Georgia State University, “The Relationship Between Environmental Factors and ISIS Economic Messaging."
Advisor: Carol Winkler
Ayse Lokmanoglu’s dissertation deploys, with nuance, advanced methodology, and centers on regression analysis. In a timely and original work, Lokmanoglu argues persuasively that Communication and related multidisciplinary scholars would reap benefits from studying research data that draw upon the most technologically advanced ways that leaders and participants in the upstart Islamic extremist—or rebel group, known as ‘ISIS’ or Islamic State—manage economic transactions in cyber or e-commerce. The study draws sobering conclusions about the ways that Communication theories and scholarship can contribute to a greater understanding of the complexity of non- or extra-state actors in influencing politics, culture, and, above all, economies in the international sphere.
For the dissertation completed at Georgia State University, "'Maintaining Frame' in the Incelosphere: Mapping the Discourses, Representations and Geographies of Involuntary Celibates Online."
Advisor: Dror Walter
Meredith L. Pruden’s dissertation focuses on social media as an increasingly prevalent, visceral mode of human communicative interaction today, studying discourses of people in co-culture of ‘involuntary celibates.’ Such ‘incels’ are mostly men who express views in online spaces that they are entitled to, but that they have been denied, a sexual or romantic partner. Their communications express resentfulness and violence, including mass shootings. This research is significant for exploring a disturbing trend that merits scrutiny via empirical research into websites that funnel into larger discourses and actions of violent white supremacy. This original work is well wrought and poses important cultural, political, and historical questions for readers to consider.
For the dissertation completed at Texas A&M University, "'I Don't See Myself': Exploring Reception to Hollywood's Construction of Memory Through Black Women's Biopics."
Advisor: Srividya Ramasubramanian
This year’s most outstanding dissertation from Asha Winfield has great significance for the field as Communication shifts and expands research foci to bring issues of utmost importance to light. These issues include rethinking from an intersectionally reprioritized standpoint of the influences of Hollywood’s films to (mis)portray members of historically underrepresented communities. They also consider audience reception of Black Women’s biopics as a way to cognitively process and ‘talk back’ too often inadequate or unjust representations on film. The originality of this project and its author’s apt use of focus groups breathes new life into theoretical and methodological considerations of cultural impacts of popular films that diverge from the lived experiences and historical realities of Black Women.
Golden Anniversary Monograph Award
For the article, “Decentering Whiteness and AIDS Memory: Indigent Rhetorical Criticism and the Dead of Hart Island,” publishing in Quarterly Journal of Speech in 2021. .
In their article, Dr. Daniel Brouwer and Dr. Charles E Morris, III, examine modalities of remembrance and memorialization grounded by the Hart Island Project to name those buried at Hart Island This remote location in New York City was used as a burial ground for the city’s indigent and “unclaimed.” Brouwer and Morris engage the problem of the “whitewashing” of AIDS remembering, interrogating who counts as a grievable AIDS subject, and the practice of historical and historicizing frames of interpreting and remembering.
James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address
For the book, Energy Islands: Metaphors of Power, Extractivism, and Justice in Puerto Rico, published by University of California Press in 2021.
Energy Islands by Dr. Catalina M. de Onís provides an urgent and nuanced portrait of collective action that resists racial capitalism, colonialism, and climate disruption. Weaving together historical and ethnographic research, this story challenges the dominant narratives of Puerto Rico as a tourist destination and site of “natural” disasters to demonstrate how fossil fuel economies are inextricably entwined with colonial practices. Dr. de Onís also shows how local community groups in Puerto Rico have struggled against energy coloniality to mobilize and transform power from the ground up.
James L. Golden Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric Award
For the essay, “’Your spirit fires my breast’: Maria Stewart and the Political Potential of the Feminine Rhetorical Sublime.”
Recognized as one of the first Black women to address audiences of mixed gender with a political message, Dr. Maria W. Stewart is a rhetorical trailblazer who had to overcome many constraints in her effort to advance a social justice agenda. In his study, Isaac James Richards draws attention to the way Stewart's oratory deployed and engendered the sublime to disrupt the socio-political status quo.
Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award
Dr. Joshua Trey Barnett’s research expounds on understanding rhetoric’s role in influencing how situated humans feel about, make sense of, respond to, and shape the very condition under which we live with others. Barnett’s book project, provisionally titled Saving Tsuga: Caring Rhetorics on the Edge of Extinction, looks to explore how ecologists, educators, governments, journalists, activists, and more-than-human beings care for an endangered species by moving others to care about it. At the center of the project is the story of the eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), a species of evergreen trees native to eastern North America whose survival has been jeopardized by the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) for more than 70 years. Funds from this award will support an additional research trip to better understand the work of the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, a program in North Carolina that organizes, among other things, the gathering and planting of eastern hemlock seeds in areas the woolly adelgid has already devastated.
Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies
For the article, "Performance Studies in Communication," published in Text and Performance Quarterly in 2020.
The article written by Dr. Jake Simmons and Dr. Travis Brisini offers a comprehensive review and synthesis of the full publication history of the NCA journal, Text and Performance Quarterly. The authors trace the history of the field of performance studies in Communication, articulate major disciplinary themes and trends, and project future directions for the field. Per one selection committee reviewer, this article is, “…a mighty cartographical effort that works to map out a decades-long conversation, one that is often characteristically unruly and … bound up in disagreement. A truly necessary text for researching and teaching about Performance Studies.”
Mark L. Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication
Dr. Valerie Manusov has been a leader in scholarly conversations defining the field of interpersonal Communication for more than 30 years. The subjects she has amplified, such as social cognition, nonverbal Communication, and mindfulness, have become mainstays in the discipline, and her students have been trailblazers as well. Her contributions through teaching, mentoring, and service have been profound in shaping the character and quality of scholarship. Dr. Manusov opened doors for future generations by formally mentoring over 50 doctoral and 40 master’s degree students and informally mentoring countless others. She is a rigorous and agenda-setting researcher, a generous mentor, and a selfless disciplinary citizen.
Marsha Houston Award
Dr. Nickesia S. Gordon’s work demonstrates her understanding of the intricacies and complexities of marginalized and underrepresented populations. She has acted tirelessly to keep such topics and concerns that intersect women of color, marginalization, colonialization and decolonialization, narratives of oppression and demands for empowerment, advocacy, and liberation, at the center. Critical in nature, Dr. Gordon’s work lays a reputable affinity for African American feminist Communication scholarship as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, and advocates for the empowerment of women relegated to the cultural and political peripheries.
Stephen E. Lucas Debut Publication Award
For the article, “Making Manifest: White Supremacist Violence and the Ethics of Alethurgy,” published in the Journal for the History of Rhetoric in 2021.
In his article, Branscomb grapples with issues that (tragically) remain timely and relevant and does an excellent job of explaining difficult concepts while keeping the subject matter relevant and interesting. The theoretical premise of this piece is strong, combing classical Foucauldian theory with contemporary rhetorical insights on white supremacy, nationalism, and terrorism. Branscomb’s impressive research exceeds the standards of a typical premiere publication.
Samuel L. Becker Distinguished Service Award
Dr. Ronald Jackson II served as the 2018 president of NCA and is the co-founder of the African American Communication and Culture Division. In his work on multiple journals, Dr. Jackson been a reviewer and co-editor and served as an outside reviewer on 50 tenure and promotion committees. He has published an extensive body of work on identity negotiation, African American Communication, and critical progressive pedagogy, and makes survival in the academy, profession, and everyday life more manageable. Dr. Jackson’s service to NCA has been transformative, with a commitment to marginalized voices and to creating space not only for scholarship, but to future generations as they navigate the academy.
Dr. Kent A. Ono, who served as NCA president in 2020, helped found the Critical and Cultural Studies Division, served as editor and reviewer on countless journals. He has also published an extensive body of work that makes the field more inclusive and welcoming and continues today in his leadership/service roles. Dr. Ono’s work has helped countless scholars study the areas they are passionate about and provided them with great tools to complete their tasks. Tackling such issues as race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, vernacular, and everyday lived experiences, Dr. Ono creates a space for people to engage critical scholarship themselves.
IDEA Scholarship Award
Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian’s work exemplifies the qualities of applied and published scholarly activities, engaging the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA). As she describes it, her work centers diversity, inclusion, social justice, anti-racist interventions; media effects, digital literacies, and data justice; identity, race, ethnicity, gender, youth, and immigrants; difficult dialogues, bias, prejudice reduction, inclusive pedagogy; as well as community-led Initiatives, action research, and intercultural/global Communication. One of Dr. Ramasubramanian’s most noteworthy accomplishments – as noted in a letter supporting her nomination – includes co-founding the Media Rise program, “…a global collective that works to promote inclusivity and justice through the power of positive storytelling, collaborative media projects, art, and design.” Dr. Ramasubramanian’s body of scholarship strongly reflects her long-standing commitment to IDEA work and principles.
Distinguished Scholar Awards
Dr. Theodore Clevenger Jr., was an early pioneer in the field of Communication. When he retired in 1993, two years before his death, he ranked fourth on the list of active Communication researchers. During Dr. Clevenger’s career, he authored three books and more than 70 articles in scholarly journals. Dr. Clevenger was one of the earliest innovators of physiological studies in Communication. He was also one of the first—if not the first—to use Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) to measure communication apprehension. Through work such as this, Dr. Clevenger helped to move the discipline from “Speech” to “Communication,” and helped cement the importance of social scientific work within it. Dr. Clevenger also served as president of the Speech Communication Association, now NCA, in 1972.
Dr. Robert Asen is the inaugural Stephen E. Lucas Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also the premier theorist of citizenship and publics in the field as evidenced by the quality of his seven books, more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters, and the wide circulation and citation of this scholarship. Further, Dr. Asen has received nearly $1 million in external funding for his collaborative research on education and public policy discourse, making him one of the leading scholars and a tireless ambassador for the discipline, both in and beyond the academy.
Dr. Tina M. Harris is the Douglas I. Manship and Dori Maynard Endowed Chair of Race, Media, and Cultural Literacy at Louisiana State University. Dr. Harris is an internationally recognized cultural Communication scholar-critic. Her scholarship makes unique, transformative contributions to gender studies through her analysis of representations of women, race, and culture in mediated contexts. This program of research has yielded more than 80 publications as well as one of the most popular intercultural Communication texts in the field. Additionally, Dr. Harris’ dedication to the field is evidenced by her extraordinary teaching and dedication to mentoring students to completion of their doctoral dissertations.
Dr. Charles E. Morris III is a professor and Chairperson in the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University. Dr. Morris, a leading scholar of LGTBQIA+ work in rhetoric and began this award-winning research when its status in the discipline was uncertain at best. Dr. Morris has co-edited five books and has published over 20 essays in top journals. In addition to co-founding the journal QED, Dr. Morris has edited almost 10 forums and special issues and has worked to bring his scholarship on Harvey Milk to the broader public. This service and mentorship mark him as one of the discipline’s best.
Dr. Kent A. Ono is professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. Dr. Ono’s research on representations of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation has shaped the field, especially the area of critical/cultural studies. Dr. Ono has published seven original and edited books, more than 60 articles and chapters, and has won numerous awards from NCA as well as other national and international scholarly organizations. Further, Dr. Ono’s exemplary record of service at all levels shows his dedication to making academia a rewarding and safe space for all; in this way, Dr. Ono truly lives the politics his scholarship advocates.
Dr. Lynn H. Turner is Professor Emerita of Communication Studies at Marquette University. A specialist in family and gender communication, Dr. Turner has consistently been at the forefront of diverse family relationships and challenges, as well as intersectionalities. This groundbreaking program of research has yielded six scholarly books and handbooks, seven textbooks, and more than 60 articles, chapters, and review and other publications. For these field-defining works, Dr. Turner has earned outstanding research awards from a host of scholarly organizations, including NCA. Dr. Turner’s service and mentoring have similarly cemented her status as a leading voice in the discipline, especially when she was the president of NCA, CSCA, and OSCLG.