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Fox Organizational Rhetoric

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Dr. Rebekah Fox - Organizational Rhetoric


“The most exciting part about fire communication research is working with a community of people who understand that positive health and safety outcomes are dependent on effective and efficient communication, and who are willing to be critical about their own communication.”


Since arriving at Texas State University in the Fall of 2009, Dr. Fox has published in each of her research areas; 1) organizational rhetoric, with a focus on power and control in organizations, 2) health communication with a focus on the U.S. nursing shortage and nursing work, and 3) the rhetoric of social movements, with foci in environmental rhetoric, freedom of expression, and political communication. She publishes in a variety of journals primarily in the communication discipline, but also in related fields. For example, she recently published in the Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Health Communication, Free Speech Studies, and The Communication Law Review, but also recently co-authored articles for the American Journal of Nursing, Society and Natural Resources, and the International Journal of Healthcare Information Systems and Informatics.

Dr. Fox’s research has earned her recognition here at Texas State University and externally. She received the College Achievement Award for Scholarly/Creative Activities for the President's Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities, in 2010 and 2011, and in 2012 she received the Presidential Award of Distinction in Scholarly/Creative Activities by being one of eight finalists for this award. She is currently a nominee for the Presidential Award of Distinction again for 2013.

At the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) annual convention, Dr. Fox was awarded the Janice Hocker Rushing Early Career Research Award, which is a nationally competitive research award that recognizes assistant professors, who have had a significant research impact within their first five years in the academy. Along with her co-author, Ann Burnette, she was also awarded the James Madison Prize for First Amendment Studies from the Freedom of Speech division of SSCA.

Dr. Fox’s research concerning communication and wildland firefighting has proven to be a hot topic! She was recently awarded an $8,000, Research Enhancement Program (REP) Grant from Texas State University for her project, “Listening for Resilience: Expert Fire Managers Share Crucial Experience.” The focus of this grant is to use communication theories and principles, especially those that focus on the topic of resilience to analyze an extremely unique data set: 74, two-hour interviews with fire managers who have had at least thirty years of experience in wildland firefighting.

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Dr. Fox was also recently asked to attend the Cramer Fire Staff Ride in the Salmon Challis National Forest sponsored by the US Forestry Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the International Wildland Fire Association. The goal of this staff ride was to bring together firefighters, fire behavior specialists, fire managers, and communication researchers to analyze the events surrounding the 2003 Cramer fire in Salmon, ID.

Working with a team of interdisciplinary researchers, she was also recently awarded a grant from the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Fire and Aviation Directorate for a project titled Risk Perception, Sensemaking and Resilient Performance: The Sounds of Wildland Firefighting in Action. Fox and her team argue that managing wildland fire is an exercise in risk perception, sensemaking, and resilient performance that is usually considered studied at the individual level, but often quickly becomes a collective activity as the fire management team builds a common perception of risk. This process of sense‐making is an act of communication: collecting information, selecting what’s important, naming it, and then passing it on, in various forms and stages of completeness, from one individual or fire team to another to enable resilient performance, managing the fire safely, and efficiently. They will be examining current communication practices using multiple disciplinary and theoretical angles. They seek to develop, for the first time, a comprehensive and coordinated perspective on incident communication, resulting in a set of insights into practice and assessment methods to support continuous improvement in risk perception, sensemaking, and resilient performance. Over the next two years Dr. Fox and her team will collect radio transmissions from multiple fires; visit an active Incident Command Post, conduct interviews with fire managers, and observe training simulations as part of her research.