Faculty & Staff Spotlight Erin

Meet Erin Donvan

What do you currently do at UT?
- “I'm a professor in the Department of Communication Studies. My research focuses on how people talk about health and illness, and I work closely with the Center for Health Communication. In Moody, I teach courses on interpersonal and health communication, health decision making, stress and coping, and interpersonal theory. I also co-teach a course in UT's graduate program in Health Care Transformation.”

When did you decide you wanted to work/get a degree in Communication?
- “I was a French major in undergrad and I loved it. I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but rather than continuing with foreign language studies I decided to turn my attention more broadly to how people use language in their relationships, which led me to interpersonal communication. Thankfully, I had several smart professors help me sort out those interests and point me in the right direction.”

What’s one of the most memorable things that happened during your Undergraduate Years?
- “Studying abroad in France was one of the best experiences -- I highly recommend travel and study abroad programs for students. All of my coursework was in French and I lived with a host family, so that immersion improved my language skills. We didn't have cell phones, or internet at home, which meant that I wasn't distracted by technology or homesickness. I'm still in touch with the friends I made there, and we've supported each other through a lot since those undergrad days.”

What’s one of the most memorable things that happened during your Graduate Years?
- “It's hard to pin down one thing, but I just had a lot of great moments with my classmates and professors. I had a wonderful cohort. We worked hard and supported each other and laughed a LOT.

What was your Master's Thesis/PHD dissertation about?
- “My dissertation was about topic avoidance in couples who were coping with a partner's breast cancer. We found that in general, people were more dissatisfied with their relationships the more that they avoided discussing the cancer. However, there was an exception -- for people who felt as though they *could* talk about it if they wanted to, their topic avoidance was actually satisfying.”

What is your favorite Austin restaurant or eating place?
- “There are so many! I love Chez Zee, Chez Nous, Blue Dahlia, L'Oca d'Oro, Chuy's, and Phil's.”

If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you bring?
- “I wanted to bring my husband, but he said that if I brought him he wouldn't be able to rescue me. So...1) a kindle loaded with hundreds of books; 2) a big canopy to protect me from the sun; 3) a box of chapstick with spf 50!”

What movie genre is your favorite? 

Where would you love to travel to next?
- “I'm hoping to go visit my brother and sister-in-law in Vermont.”

What is a fun fact about you that most people here don’t know?
- “I'm not sure how many people know the depths of my love for Christmas treats, traditions, and decorations. We always put up two trees and I've been trying to talk my husband into a third.”

Erin Donovan