Tell us about yourself. What brought you to work as the Outreach & Assessment Coordinator of Project Vox?
I am a critical communication scholar who researches the relationship between rhetoric, technology, and culture. Currently, I am Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Technology at Kansas State University. I worked with Project Vox during my doctoral training at UNC Chapel Hill, where I received my PhD in Communication. I learned about Project Vox through Liz Milewicz; we connected at the Duke PhD Lab of Digital Knowledge, where I was a Scholar for the 2015-2016 school year. Because I was interested in communication, publicity, and social media, she invited me to participate on outreach in Project Vox. Later that year, I was awarded a Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative Fellowship, which supports project-based DH work. I used the funding to support my work as Outreach and Assessment Coordinator for Project Vox for the 2016-2017 school year.
What were some of the things that you learned while working on the Project Vox team?
Working with Project Vox was a transformative experience. The very first meeting that I had with Liz and Will, Liz assured me that they wanted me to feel comfortable pushing limits, “breaking” things and even failing (productively.) That was a new way of thinking about work and my graduate training, and it emboldened me to try new things and to think of failure as a stepping stone to success.
While I was at Project Vox, I had the good fortune of working with the Outreach and Assessment Team, Olivia Branscum (now in a doctoral program) and Adam Griggs (who graduated with a Master’s and is now working at the Mercer University Library). Along with the rest of the PV team, we had these awesome brainstorming meetings where we imagined the future of Project Vox, and thought in particular about how to share the great work PV was doing with broader publics. It was my first time managing such a team, and it has directly influenced how I work on collaborative research projects and advise my students in the present tense.
Finally, I learned how to turn communication theory into practice at Project Vox. I learned to apply the theory I was learning in my graduate coursework to practical problems, and to use my critical thinking skills to problem solve when I got stuck. And now, I highly recommend that students work on research-related projects as part of their (under)graduate training.
How did working on Project Vox affect your own research projects?
Working with PV helped me see “the bigger picture” in my research. It also gave me confidence to put things out into the world, and to collaborate on projects to make them better and more useful to more people. Additionally, while working with Project Vox I developed serious project management skills, including clarity about my workflow, which help me work on research projects more efficiently and even to juggle multiple research projects at once.
What’s your favorite memory about Project Vox?
My favorite memory about Project Vox was when the O&A team and Liz travelled to a conference in Georgia to present on outreach. We called it “one of the great road trips of Project Vox.” The trip included some awesome playlists and podcasts (including the Judge John Hodgeman podcast; look it up!), and it ended with a bonfire in the backyard of the place where we were staying. (Liz made sure we knew where the fire extinguisher was.)
If you would like to learn more about Heather and her work on digital rhetoric, check out her website!