The National Communication Association (NCA) Interpersonal Division has recently awarded Sandi Smith and Steven Wilson with the Gerald R. Miller book award for their publication, “Reflections on Interpersonal Communication Research.” This edited collection of research stories highlights the work of various scholars in the interpersonal communication field and how they are contributing to the latest developments and advancements in the discipline today.
Smith and Wilson go way back as not only colleagues but friends. They met at Purdue University in 1986 when Smith took a position there as an assistant professor while Wilson was a Ph.D. student. Not long after, both scholars found themselves faculty members here at MSU in the Department of Communication. The two have worked in the same field for years and have even collaborated on another book, “New Directions in Interpersonal Communication Research” that was published back in 2010.
Smith is currently a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication at MSU where she teaches courses on persuasion, communication theory and interpersonal communication. She was also a former director of the Health and Risk Communication Center where she focused her research on interpersonal communication and campaigns in health contexts.
Wilson, who previously worked in the Department of Communication at MSU, is now a professor in the communication department at the University of South Florida. Additionally, he is a faculty affiliate with the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue (his alma mater). The topics of his research include interpersonal communication; processes of influence and identity management in family, health and in the workplace; as well as how military families navigate complicated conversations when a family member is deployed and returns home.
Together, Smith and Wilson have combined their deep knowledge of the field to publish a collection of valuable stories and experiences that demonstrate the latest developments in interpersonal communication.
“We asked scholars in interpersonal communication, broadly defined, to tell the story of their program of research,” said Smith. “Readers have complimented us on this approach as it makes the ideas more accessible to them.”
The mission of “Reflections on Interpersonal Communication Research” is to show readers how scholars are addressing real-world issues alongside the complexity of interpersonal communication in today’s world. Stories written from a first-person perspective allow for a more practical look into the research people are implementing in the field.
“Stories have a timeline, and we asked the authors to tell us where they are now with their scholarly work, how they got there and where they plan to go in the future,” said Wilson.
The award itself is in honor and remembrance of the late ComArtSci faculty member, Gerald R. Miller. A University Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication, Miller was a highly regarded preeminent scholar in the field. Smith and Wilson were faculty members when Miller was chair of the department. “I had the privilege of team-teaching a graduate seminar with him at the very end of his career,” said Wilson.
The legacy Miller left behind is clearly unwavering as Wilson notes how elements of the scholar are incorporated in his and Smith’s book. “Our book actually is modeled on two earlier volumes that Miller edited, and the foreword to our book is written by Michael Roloff, one of Miller's former students who co-edited the second of those volumes.”
“We are both very honored to receive the award as it is from our peers and colleagues who have expertise in the subject area,” said Smith.
Smith and Wilson are set to receive their award November 18 at the NCA 108th Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
By Casey Halas