Dr. Erin Gilles, assistant professor of advertising, has found her way back to the University of Southern Indiana after earning her undergraduate as a Screagle, and moving on to complete her master's at Murray State and later her doctorate at the University of Kentucky. Her passion for education shows through her multiple interdisciplinary research projects and her dedication to her students. It is no secret she is an expert in her field, but there are a few interests that may surprise you. Let's get to know Erin Gilles.
What do you think are the most important attributes of a good instructor?
Definitely a deep knowledge in your field, but also being compassionate and empathetic to students. It helps you to know when to present information differently because every student has a different learning style.
What are some misconceptions about your job/field?
A common misconception about public relations is that it is all about spin, or advertising is all about getting people to buy things that they don't need. Public relations and advertising can be used for good, not just evil. They can inform the public about important health topics, help create political activism and bring communities together, so there are a lot of positive aspects of this career field. Another misconception is that advertising students aren't as trained in research as other disciplines. Research is an important element of this major and I think that people may think that our students have less training than others.
What are your current research interests?
My research areas are health communications, popular culture, and research relating to public relations and advertising. I’m attending a conference next week with some criminal justice faculty and communications faculty to talk about ethics. My research is pretty interdisciplinary.
My main focus in health care communications is called social support and it covers how people offer various types of support for one another. For instance, they may offer emotional, informational or network support. I often focus my social support research on reproductive issues. For instance, in 2016, I had a paper published that I co-authored with another professor at USI about women's social support online after suffering from cancer-related infertility and we looked at how women shared information and supported each other during difficult times, when they were trying to conceive after having suffered from cancer.
What has been one of your favorite research projects?
My dissertation has been my favorite research project because it was the longest and the most in-depth project that I did. I was looking at direct consumer sales of pharmaceuticals and the policies surrounding it. I also looked at discussion boards and looked at how women talked about the products amongst themselves to see if there was a difference between how companies present products and how women discuss and use them.
If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance of winning a medal for?
What hobby would you take up if time and money weren't issues?
I know it sounds weird, but probably something with precious stones and jewelry design. I took a class in high school and we did some jewelry making.
What song or artist do you like but are embarrassed to admit it?
I am not embarrassed that my favorite group is Modest Mouse. While I am not embarrassed that I like them, I am a little embarrassed by how much I like them and how many times I have seen them. It has been 15 times so far, and I will see them two more times this year. If they come within a three-hour radius I will usually travel to see them.
What is your favorite local restaurant and the meal you most enjoy when you're there?
Arazu on Main and I love the Thai-Style Fresh Wild Salmon.
Story written by Alex Tenbarge, University Communications intern
Photo Credit: USI Photography and Multimedia