Gavin Kirkwood: Communication Graduate Student Gets Involved in Professional Conferences

Gavin Kirkwood, a graduate student in the Department of Communication, has attended multiple Communication conferences, including the Kentucky Communication Association (KCA) conference, the Organizational for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (OSCLG) conference, and most recently, the National Communication Association (NCA) convention. Of all these, Mr. Kirkwood said that NCA was the best, describing it as the “land of opportunity” and even comparing it to the Walt Disney World of Communication conferences.

Gavin Kirkwood speaking during panel discussion

Mr. Kirkwood is a strong believer in mentorship. In fact, his advice to undergraduate students is to create a vision and then find someone in the faculty or someone you look up to who can help you achieve that vision. His mentor, Dr. Holly Payne, helped him get involved with conferences, starting with KCA.
Mr. Kirkwood presented a qualitative study on an anarchist LGBTQ commune at both KCA and OSCLG. He conducted his research using several data collection methods, including interviews, field observation, and artifact analysis. Throughout his research, he looked at the benefits and challenges of not only living in a commune, but in an anarchist one, which has no real leadership and requires a consensus when the community votes.  When asked why he enjoyed researching this topic, Mr. Kirkwood said, “There is a new frontier in communication theory research; it’s thrilling to find a research gap.”
Mr. Kirkwood enjoys going to these conferences because they are a gateway to communicate with experts, as well as offering the exciting possibility of finding someone who is researching a similar topic. In addition to expanding professional skills, these conferences offer a plethora of networking opportunities.

If you want to learn more about Mr. Kirkwood and his qualitative research, you can view his 2016 OSCLG submission on his website at

~Evan Dosch, Student


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