Communication professor honored with teaching award


Portrait of ASU Professor Laura Guerrero.

Laura Guerrero, professor of interpersonal communication in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.

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Laura Guerrero, professor of interpersonal communication in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University, has received the 2022 Teaching Award from the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR). This award recognizes excellence in teaching in the field of personal relationships at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels.

IARR is an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to advancing the scientific study of personal and social relationships, and encourages collaboration among students, new scholars and experienced scholars. 

Guerrero was nominated by two colleagues — Associate Professor Amira de la Garza and Assistant Professor Joris Van Ouytsel at the Hugh Downs School — as well as Samantha Shebib, a Hugh Downs School undergraduate alumna, now an assistant professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Anya Hommadova, one of Guerrero’s many former doctoral advisees, currently an assistant professor at Sam Houston State University.

De la Garza said that "Dr. Guerrero has been described by her past students as incredibly caring and assisting them to hone their research and investigation skills towards creating powerful programs of research that sustain their careers."

Shebib says Guerrero has always been a source of support, offering her expertise and advice whenever needed.

“But most importantly, Dr. Guerrero believed in me before I even believed in myself. I would not be where I am today without her — and there’s zero exaggeration in that sentiment,” she said. 

Van Ouytsel stated that her courses are highly relevant to students’ lives while also extremely rigorous.  

“This holds for her graduate seminars as well,” he said. “Projects coming out of Laura’s seminar often end up turning into conference papers, publications or dissertations. She often tells me that she sees her seminars as ‘think tanks’ where new ideas about relationship research and theory are born. Several graduate students told me that they consider themselves interpersonal scholars because of her seminars.” 

Guerrero has also co-authored three different textbooks on interpersonal communication. “Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships,” on which Guerrero is the lead author with co-authors Peter Andersen and Walid Afifi, is in its sixth edition and is one of SAGE Publication’s best-selling textbooks. This book is used in both undergraduate and graduate relationship courses at universities around the country, across various disciplines. 

She is also co-author on a textbook on Nonverbal Communication with Judee Burg“Interpersonal Encounters: Connecting through Communication,” a book Guerrero coauthored with ASU alumna Bree McEwan.

“Interpersonal Encounters: Connecting through Communication,” a textbook Guerrero recently co-authored with ASU alumna Bree McEwan.

She is also a co-author of a textbook on nonverbal communication with Judee Burgoon and Valerie Manusov, and the lead author of the recently published “Interpersonal Encounters: Connecting Through Communication,” co-authored with ASU alumna Bree McEwan. This new book is focused on introducing students to the ways communication affects their everyday lives, as well as improving their communication skills to foster better personal and professional relationships.  

“My goal in writing textbooks is to make material relevant and to provide students with solid research-based commentary about how they can be better communicators and have healthier relationships,” Guerrero said.

In addition to her classroom teaching and textbook writing, Guerrero is a popular mentor for graduate students. She has worked with a consistent stream of undergraduate honors students and research assistants, chairing or co-chairing 18 PhD students’ dissertations, and has served on another 18 PhD committees.

“I can't tell you how honored I am to receive this award from an important and prestigious organization like IARR, which represents the very best scholarship on relationships across many different disciplines,” Guerrero said. “I have been a fan of IARR since its inception. It also means a lot to me to have colleagues and former students who took the time to nominate me."

“Professor Guerrero is one of our most beloved teachers and active mentors,” said Sarah Tracy, professor and interim director of the Hugh Downs School. “Over the course of her career, she has positively impacted thousands of students, whether that be in the classroom, in the research lab or in co-authoring research publications. What is more, she has served in school leadership positions that directly support successful undergraduate education and champion student diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging.”

The IARR awards ceremony will take place this summer at a virtual conference.

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