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Simma Presents OBU Research at Conference

April 25, 2012

Simma is the first OBU student in more than a decade who has represented OBU at the event, lauded as one of the top communication conferences in the nation. She was the only undergraduate student on her panel, "Language and Social Interaction in Applied Contexts." Her paper was titled, "'Is There An Elephant in Your Closet?': The Absence of Imagination in Parent-Child Communication."

"The panel respondent, Dr. Slavica Kodish from Eckerd College, was so pleased with Laura's work, she encouraged her to submit it for journal publication," said Dr. Vickie Shamp Ellis, associate professor of communication arts. "Laura has pushed the questions and ideas around so much during these past two years that she has landed on some meaningful outcomes."

Simma started the research project in the Communication Arts research class in the fall of 2010. Her research indicates parents spend little of their child-directed speech on the topic of imagination. Additionally, parents spend little time discussing the inspiration of children's imaginations with other parents.

"After working on this paper for nearly two years, it is a joy to see the project come to completion," Simma said. "I presented the same research as my undergraduate thesis on April 23, and I enjoyed sharing with my audience that I had already presented my research at two communications conferences."

Simma said presenting original research at the convention was an incredibly enriching experience and an honor to represent OBU. She said the experience also helped her to perceive herself as a scholar. She will graduate May 11 with the scholastic predicate magna cum laude for maintaining at least a 3.70 grade point average in her communications degree, and with college honors for completing her thesis work.

"Laura has been tenacious and thoughtful from start to finish," Ellis said. "It was her parents' efforts to inspire imagination that motivated her study, but it was her own curiosity, creativity and scholarship that saw it through the OU Sooner Conference, the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) Conference, and her honors thesis. Communication Arts is proud of her work as a researcher. We are looking forward to seeing God use her gifts and talents to engage others."

Three OBU Communication Arts professors also made presentations during the event. Dr. Kaylene Barbe presented her paper, "Sarah Palin Get Your Gun: A Metaphorical Analysis of Palin's 'Take Back the 20' Campaign." Barbe serves as professor of communication studies and chair of the Division of Communication Arts. Her paper was sponsored by the political communication division of SSCA.

Ellis and Dr. Jeffrey Wells presented their paper, "Representative Jordan's Well-Made Play for Impeachment." Their paper was sponsored by the rhetoric and public address division of SSCA. Wells serves as associate professor of theatre at OBU.

For more information about the Southern States Communication Association, visit