UVU Communication Professor Wins Outstanding Dissertation Award

UVU Communication Professor Wins Outstanding Dissertation Award

Years of hard work paid off in a big way for Jordan Allen, assistant professor of communication at UVU. Allen recently won the Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, one of the highest honors in her discipline, for her dissertation “Distant Yet Existent: Networked-Dependence Theory and the Communicative Construction of Functionally Estranged Family Relationships.”

“I was so excited to win this award,” Allen said. “Writing a dissertation, like other large projects, was very challenging. Having it recognized as one of the top three dissertations is a huge honor.”

Allen started teaching at UVU in 2018 and said she was particularly drawn to UVU because of the students. “I really like that UVU attracts both traditional and non-traditional students,” she said. “Students at UVU bring different perspectives and questions that really enhance the material I teach in my courses.”

The communication research Allen specializes in centers around non-normative family relationships, like the relationships between twins, estranged family, step-families, and families headed by gay or lesbian couples. In her dissertation, Allen explored the ways that people understand and construct their estranged family relationships in a culture that prizes familial intimacy and closeness. She found that, while some viewed their estrangement with neutrality, others saw their estranged familial relationships as functional, healthy, and overwhelmingly positive.  

The National Communication Association (NCA), the largest communication association in the United States, created the dissertation Awards program in 1970 to recognize three of the most outstanding dissertations every year. Thanks to a nomination by her dissertation advisor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Allen will be presented with the Miller award on November 16, 2019, at the NCA 105th Annual Convention. 

Allen said that winning this award was particularly significant beyond disciplinary acclaim. Allen’s sister, Nicole Allen, a communication professor at Utah State University, also won the Miller award in 2018. “Sharing this experience with her has been so special,” she said.

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