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Welcome Dr. Abel Gustafson!

Haley West


Q & A with Dr. Abel Gustafson and Haley West, communication major and FOC intern.

H: Hi, Dr. Gustafson!

Thank you for interviewing with me for the FOC October newsletter! Our first question is where are you from and your educational background?

DR. G: I am from Duluth, Minnesota. I earned my master’s in communication from the University of Hawaii then went on to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for my PhD in communication, then for my postdoc I was at Yale doing research on climate change communication!

H: University of Hawaii! How was that?

DR. G: It was a great cultural experience and was really nice to be out of my comfort zone and just experiences a whole different part of the world and a whole new culture. That was actually where I started to really develop strong interest in environmental issues and that's where my research is currently in today!

H: Did you or do you currently have any hobbies you like to do in your free time?

DR. G: Outside of work, I play in a lot of competitive beach volleyball tournaments, at the start of grad school I was an aspiring professional beach volleyball player! I didn't quite make it into the top ranks of being an established professional but that was my goal for a little while. So, I spent a lot of time traveling around the country playing in competitive tournaments. And there is actually a thriving beach volleyball community in the Cincinnati area! So, once the pandemic is over, I'm excited to get involved with that community and play more tournaments, just for fun of course! I'm definitely retired from my competitive days, but it is still fun to stay involved!

H: So, your area of research is now environmental communication, what do you find interesting about that area?

DR. G: I think environment communication is rewarding, working on issues that are important in the broader world!

H: I agree! Do you have any advice to give alumni or soon to graduate students?

DR. G: Yes, I've always been really grateful for my education in communication because it's just so applicable. There are so many different fields, there's so much you can learn about the way that humans think and act and do things and those are indispensable skills. Just having this fundamental knowledge of what makes people tick and how communication can shape and influence attitudes and behavior. That's a valuable skill to have in any industry and being able to think critically about those things, like how humans act and why they act the way they do it, is really important because you can learn all the technical skills. Communication lets you have that foundation of really understanding people. These skills are a huge advantage to have. I would also say that another good piece of advice that I've always really appreciated is just to try to have a mindset of always be learning new things! When you finish your college education, that's not the time that you're done learning, it's supposed to just give you the skills to be able to continue teaching yourself things. You're not going to learn everything you need to know in college but, you are going to be able to develop the skills that will allow you to find out all the things you need to know. You have the foundation to analyze and critically evaluate things as you go on in your career.

H: Thank you Dr. Gustafson and welcome to the University of Cincinnati!

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