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ASU Hugh Downs School faculty earn prestigious awards at national communication conference

collage of photos that spell out 'human communication'
November 27, 2019

Three faculty members of Arizona State University's Hugh Downs School of Human Communication received honors of distinction at the National Communication Association’s (NCA) 105th annual convention in Baltimore on Nov. 14-17. 

More than 7,000 communication researchers, practitioners, faculty and students are members of the NCA, and more than 4,000 attended the convention.

Associate Professor Amira de la Garza was awarded the Francine Merritt Award by the women’s caucus. The interest group bestows the award to scholars “who have made a difference in the field of communication through their mentoring, service, advocacy, teaching and scholarship.”

In a letter nominating de la Garza, one scholar wrote, “Amira routinely mentors graduate students, especially women of color, but also women who are working to create new methodological and epistemological approaches in the field of communication. Many of those students have pursued positions in the academy and some have already risen to positions of authority as departmental chairs and administrators in institutions across the country.”

Accepting the award, de la Garza wrote, “I have enjoyed my many years as a nontraditional scholar in this field largely because of the rewards that come from watching others succeed and attain intellectual, personal and professional goals knowing that they have someone supporting them.”

Instructional Professional Clark Olson received the NCA’s Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, selected for “the most outstanding scholarly monograph published during the previous calendar year.” Olson previously won the award in 2005.

Merritt Awards

(Left to right) Suzanne Enck, University of North Texas; Amira de la Garza, Arizona State University; Kathleen Feyh, Syracuse University.

The article “En/Gendering dystopia: The performance of torture at Guantanamo Bay prison” was published in Text and Performance Quarterly in 2018.

According to the nomination, “The article engages an important topic — the U.S. military interrogation of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Prison using tropes of female sexuality — with precision and journalistic integrity."

Accepting the award, Olson said, “I share this award with Kirt Shineman, a professor at Glendale Community College, who is a former graduate student and longtime friend. Considering the number and caliber of NCA journals, to have our article singled out as the best is a humbling honor."

Professor Sarah Tracy received the Charles H. Woolbert Award for Outstanding Scholarship, an award presented for a journal article or book chapter that has “stood the test of time” and has become “a stimulus for new conceptualizations of communication phenomena.”

The article “Fracturing the real-self/fake-self dichotomy: Moving toward ‘crystallized’ organizational discourses and identities” was published in Communication Theory in 2005.

In a nominating letter, one communication scholar noted that the article “has since been cited over 370 times and has helped scholars frame their work on identity formation and performance across the field of communication. Scholars have used Tracy and Trethewey’s theoretical framework to consider identity in multiple communication contexts, primarily organizational, but also interpersonal and computer-mediated communication.”

Accepting the award, Tracy said, “I am so honored to share this award with my coauthor Angela Trethewey. This article was truly a collaborative effort, and its ideas continue to guide my own life. In a time where it is ever easier to live in an echo chamber, I continually endeavor to surround myself with a variety of discourses, viewpoints and structures, and maintain a crystallized, multifaceted self.”

Sarah Tracy and Clark Olson

(Left to right) Sarah Tracy received the Charles H. Woolbert Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Clark Olson received the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award.

In addition to the faculty awards, several other Hugh Downs School faculty and graduate students were honored at the conference with Top Paper awards:

Top Papers in Ethnography

"Tuning the human instrument: How organizational autoethnography extends notions of qualitative quality," Cary Lopez and Sarah Tracy.

Top Paper in Asian/Pacific American Caucus and Asian/Pacific American Communication Studies

"Theorizing Postcolonialism in Communication Studies: A Past and A Future," Ma Angela Labador.

Top Papers in GLBTQ Communication Studies

"'Who the F--- is Heather?': Performing Ambiguity on 'RuPaul’s Drag Race,'" Benjamin LeMaster and Michael Tristano.

Top Papers in Urban Communication

"'We don't call the police': Epistemological Borders in the Gentrifying City," Tyler Rife.

Group Communication Division Top Paper

"(Re)Structuring Empowerment: Volunteer Barriers and Agency to Gender Disparities in Female Youth Sport Contexts," Katrina Hanna, Laura Martinez, Alaina Zanin.

Top Student Papers in the Theatre, Film and New Multimedia 

"Militant Survival and Black Liberation in 'Get Out,'" Kelsey Abele, Erin Zamora.

Top Papers in Spiritual Communication

"God is (Relational) Love: The Centrality of Human Relationships in Understanding Divine Fulfillment," Perry Pauley.

Top Contributed Student Performances in Performance Studies

"Is This What it Feels Like?" Lauren Mark.

Top Student Papers in Visual Communication 

"'EnHance-ing' Margaret T. Hance Park/(In)visibilizing Phoenix's Homeless Body," Tyler Rife.

Top Student Papers in International and Intercultural Communication

"Pain, Borders, and Migration: The Other (Embodied) Side of Immigration," Ma Angela Labador.

Top Student Papers in American Studies

"'I'll see you again in 25 years': Doppelgang-ing nostalgia and 'Twin Peaks: The Return,'" Tyler Rife, Ashley Wheeler.

See the full list of NCA presentations from the Hugh Downs School.