The Visual Communication Division of the National Communication Association will award Ben Pingel, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication with a top student paper award at their annual conference.

Pingel will be formally recognized during the NCA’s annual conference this month in Baltimore, Maryland, where he will present two papers.

Pingel’s top student paper When A GIF is Worth More Than a Thousand Words: Portraying Emotion in CMC discusses the phenomenon of nonverbal communication in the form of memes and GIFs. Through surveys and interviews, the paper explains the meaning behind these popular forms of messaging and their ability to create a social presence in CMC. “Emotions are frequently expressed in these electronic forms of communication,” says Pingel. “Memes and GIFs have proven quite effective in filling the void of missing nonverbal cues in online interactions.”

“We could not be more excited for Ben,” says Stacey Hust, chairperson of the Murrow College Strategic Communication department. “This research is particularly relevant to the courses he teaches in the Murrow College. His knowledge about portraying emotion in multimedia content, for example, informs his students’ digital content creation.”

Pingel feels he has found his calling in the classroom. “The sense of purpose I find there is overwhelming,” he explains with a broad grin. “I love working with my students and sharing my experience with them, and it’s exciting when we can incorporate this kind of research in the classroom.”

In the Family Communication Division, Pingel presents a second paper which offers a unique glimpse into cultural values of family life through the analysis of Christmas-themed advertisements in LIFE Magazine from 1936-1972. Selling the Family for Christmas: Changing Portrayal of Family Relationships in Christmas Advertising in Life Magazine highlights family life in American society and examines the changes in family values over time.

Ben has been a communication professional for more than 10 years working in marketing, graphic and web design, and advertising. He holds an M.A. in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University, and will soon complete his Ph.D. in Communication with Regent University. His research areas focus on family media and communication, visual communication, and intergenerational communication.