Department Spotlight for February: Ben Compton

Ben Compton

Our February spotlight is on new graduate student, Ben Compton. Ben comes to KU after completing his B.A. in Communication Studies at the University of San Diego. Ben received the Graduate Studies Fellowship first year student award, awarded to the Communication Studies department for the first time this last year. Read more about him below!


Tell us a little about your research interests and plans for while you are at KU: I have always described my research interests as what you and all your closest friends talk about in private: sex, attraction, and all that jazz. But maybe that’s just what my friends talked about! Since being here at KU, I’ve have been working primarily with Dr. Hall on research focused around attraction. I am also working on some projects of my own with professors at the University of San Diego about various topics like cheating and homophobia. As a new KU masters student, I am just trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can from the established professors here!

You were awarded a fellowship for the department through the Graduate School for studying at KU, congrats! Can you tell us a little about what that means for you and your time here? I was very appreciativeof being given this opportunity. Generally speaking, this opportunity has allowed me to shadow various professors and more experienced graduate students to better understand and get a feel for how to create and conduct research, whether that be by running research labs, coding, transcribing, or creating surveys. As for my time here, it allows me to focus primarily on research and hopefully will result in publications for the department. When I see how hard my cohort is working when it comes to their teaching, I try to keep up with the amount of effort they are putting in.

So starting next year you will teach, what kind of classes do you hope to get the chance to teach while at KU? As of right now, I would be thrilled just teaching Public Speaking. I have never had the opportunity to teach, but am really excited to do so. In the long term, as an interpersonal scholar, I would love to teach or assist any class within that focus. While an undergraduate, I loved all my rhetoric courses, and think they would be so much fun to teach. However, I can think of about 20 students who are way more qualified to teach than me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream!

Will you be attending and/or presenting at any conferences this semester? Yes, I will be traveling to Spokane, Washington and San Juan, Puerto Rico to present some work I have been doing this past semester. Guess which one I am more excited for?! In a few weeks I will be at the Western States Communication Conference presenting a paper and then this May I will goto Puerto Rico to present at the International Communication Association conference. Both presentations are on heterosexual individuals’ perceptions of same-sex cheating in exclusive relationships. For example, if I have a girlfriend, and she has a gay male best friend, what behaviors between them (such as cuddling or kissing) do I believe to be cheating behavior?

Last question—what do you like most about Lawrence so far? I would say the basketball culture. As a lifetime lover of the sport, I have grown up watching the game, memorizing the box scores, and arguing with friends over which conferences are superior. At first I put up a wall to jumping on the Rock Chalk bandwagon, but after about eight months of living in Lawrence, I finally feel like I am growing my wings and evolving into a true Jayhawk. Also, I may be the only one, but as an Arizonan, I love this cold and snow.