Communication Ph.D.’s on the Job Market

MariaMaria Butauski is a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri (B.A., Public Relations & Organizational Communication, Xavier University, 2013; M.A., Interpersonal Communication, Kent State University, 2016). Her research examines (1) communication privacy management of vulnerable, often identity-related, information, (2) communicated sense-making surrounding LGBTQ+ identities, and (3) communication in and surrounding diverse family forms. Recently, Maria was awarded the Steven A. and Susan J. Beebe Doctoral Student Scholarship Endowment Summer Research Fellowship to study how intergroup dynamics play a role in adult children’s management of the parent-child privacy boundary and important relationship and identity outcomes. Her research primarily draws from communication privacy management theory and has been published in journals such as the Journal of Family Communication, Communication Studies, and the Western Journal of Communication. In her dissertation, Maria examines the extent to which LGBTQ adult children perceive open communication with their parents as risky relates to mental health outcomes. Additionally, Maria examines how parents’ accommodative communication may reduce these risk-assessments, and thus be related to more positive mental health outcomes.

Aside from her research, Maria is passionate about social justice, diversity, and inclusion. She was competitively selected and funded by the University of Missouri’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for multiple trainings on diversity and inclusion in university settings, including a certification in Social Justice Mediation ( She also volunteers as a board member and social media coordinator for The Center Project (, which is Mid-Missouri’s only nonprofit organization serving the LGBTQ community. With her passion for social justice, diversity, and inclusion, Maria works diligently to help her students think critically about issues of diversity and inclusion as it relates to communication in public speaking and interpersonal contexts. She has been the instructor of record for public speaking and relational communication classes, but her dedication to teaching and mentorship extends beyond the classroom. She volunteers as a Safe Space Trainer for the campus LGBTQ Resource Center by conducting trainings on LGBTQ allyship for student, staff, and faculty groups across campus. Maria has also mentored undergraduate students in a variety of contexts. She has served as a research mentor for undergraduate communication students interested in gaining research experience, a senior capstone project mentor for undergraduate hospitality students, a teaching mentor for new graduate teaching assistants, and a mentor for the Proud Tiger Mentorship program through the campus LGBTQ Resource Center. Maria plans to defend her dissertation in the spring of 2019 and is seeking a tenure track position to begin in the fall of 2019.

Maria Butauski
Advisor: Dr. Haley Horstman
Butauski CV

Sarah Smith-Frigerio is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Missouri (BS Psychology & Anthropology, Missouri State University, 2001; AM American Culture Studies, Washington University in St. Louis, 2006). She takes an interpretive approach to investigating 1) the representations of mental health concerns in news and entertainment media 2) how individuals with mental health concerns engage in social capital building and mental health advocacy work online, and 3) how stigma is created and managed through communicative acts. Smith-Frigerio also completed training in public health and risk communication during her doctoral work. Her study on the intersectional representation of bipolar disorder in the television show Empire was published in the Howard Journal of Communications, and she is first author on a chapter about how the President uses Twitter to discredit his political opponents through stigmatizing mental health language in President Donald Trump and his Political Discourse: Ramifications of Rhetoric via Twitter (Ed. Michelle Lockhart). She is a 2018 recipient of the Eason Top Student Paper prize, awarded by the Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk division of the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication. Smith-Frigerio is also a Graduate Research Fellow with the Media and Diversity Center, and a Graduate Fellow with the Disaster and Community Crisis Center, both located at the University of Missouri. Her dissertation research focuses on online anti-stigma messaging from grassroots mental health advocacy organizations, and audience members’ understanding of these messages. She plans to defend her dissertation in the spring of 2019 and is seeking a tenure-track position starting in the fall of 2019.

Smith-Frigerio has extensive teaching experience. In the University of Missouri Department of Communication, she has taught Public Speaking (COMM 1200), Crisis Communication (both in-person and online; COMM 3580) and writing intensive lab sections for Survey of Communication (COMM 3050).  In the University of Missouri School of Journalism, she has taught three courses in the online master’s program: Theoretical Foundations of Interactive Media (JOURN 8001), Theories of Mass Communication (JOURN 8056), and Thesis Seminar (JOURN 8100).

Before becoming a fulltime doctoral student in 2017, Smith-Frigerio worked for the University of Missouri as the Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator for the Law School and as Senior Academic Advisor for graduate students at the Missouri School of Journalism. As a Senior Academic Advisor, she supported 82 online master’s students and 58 doctoral students as they completed their academic programs and began professional and academic positions across the nation. She was the recipient of the Journalism staff excellence award, a campus-wide teaching with technology award, and was nominated for campus-wide excellence in education and student support staff awards. Prior to working at the University of Missouri, Smith-Frigerio was the program coordinator for the American Culture Studies program at Washington University in St. Louis, and an assistant to the Vice President of University Relations at Missouri State University.

Sarah Smith-Frigerio
Advisor: J. Brian Houston
Smith-Frigerio CV