I study interpersonal communication within the context of communication technology. Most often, I research how private topics become public when using social media, and the resulting effect on relationships. Check out a few projects below that I am currently working on.
Political Interpersonal Conflict In-Person and Online
With this work, I look at how political conversations within our relationships can lead to disagreement and conflict. While this work has been explored to varying degrees in the past, it has primarily started from the lens of political communication rather than interpersonal, and has not always included the effects of communication technology. This research was funded by a $10,000 Faculty Enhancement Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State. This funding allowed me the opportunity to collect some really great data that I presented at the IARR conference in Syracuse in 2017. I am currently working on implementing the second study in this project (Spring 2018). I am also lucky to have Dr. Greg Paul and Dr. Soo-Hye Han from the Communication Studies department at Kansas State to serve as mentors for this project.
Defining Friendship in a Digital Age
My dissertation focused on un-friending and un-following through social media. Interestingly, I found that more often than not people choose to maintain relationships online even in the face of oversharing or disagreement! As a result, one of my latest research projects digs more into the unique value of weak ties and lapsed relationships through social media. I recently completed qualitative interviews and I am in the process of coding those transcripts. I was lucky to have two different undergraduate students help me with data collection and transcription in this project, one of whom completed an independent study to learn more about the research process and another who received a grant from the college of Arts and Sciences to participate in research with faculty. One of the most interesting results so far is the presence of weak ties who represent "commemorative relationships" (see: Rawlins, 1994).
Grief Communication, Social Media, and Pets
An area of research that is near and dear to my heart, I have studied grief communication and published on the topic every year since 2013. Recently I've expanded my focus based on an observance I've seen related to grieving online related to the loss of pets and their role within families, and the potential for social support to be gained online. This study is in the early stages of data collection, but I hope to have results to share soon.
Work-Life Balance and Communication Technology
Alongside Dr. Sarah Riforgiate and graduate student Emily Roth (Ruder), I was happy to contribute to a project of theirs interested in how technology may relate to work-life balance, a primary area of study for Dr. Riforgiate. We asked in our research: how might the use of Facebook increase the potential for spillover from work to home and vice versa? We will be presenting the results of this work at 2018 CSCA conference in Milwaukee.