Faculty & Staff Spotlight Nik

Meet Nik Palomares

What do you currently do at UT?
- “I am a professor of Communication Studies. My emphasis is on interpersonal communication. I conduct research, mentor graduate students, and teach courses.”

When did you decide you wanted to work/get a degree in Communication?
- “I have always been incredibly curious and a critical thinker. I wanted to be a professor since I was a freshman at UC Berkeley. I was a psychology major with a linguistics minor; communication was a good fit for me and my curiosities.”

What’s one of the most memorable things that happened during your Undergraduate Years?
- “I was able to take courses with two professors who conducted research in sociolinguistics, which is very similar to Communication Studies. In both courses, I was able to conduct my own research studies on topics of my choosing, which solidified my desire to become a professor and engage in research for a career.”

What’s one of the most memorable things that happened during your Graduate Years?
- “I received an award for Excellence in Research among graduate students. I had worked hard to build my CV and the faculty at UCSB (where I earned my MA and PhD) rewarded my efforts with the award. I love research and generating knowledge for the sake of new knowledge, but external acknowledgment from mentors helped me keep going early on.”

What was your Master's Thesis/PHD dissertation about?
- “My Master's Thesis was about how men and women communicate similarly and differently. I ended up publishing it and then conducting a good deal more research on the topic of gender-based communication. My PhD Dissertation was developing and testing a theory for how people infer others' goals in social interaction. The study was the start of a line of research on what makes people accurate in their goals inferences for others. I still focus on both gender and communication and goal understanding/pursuit in my research these days, but in expanded ways.”

What is your favorite Austin restaurant or eating place?
- “I don't really have a single place just yet. But I love the craft brew scene here and the food options at many breweries in town. I also really enjoy the assorted food-truck options in town.”

If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you bring?
- “My dog Matilda, a meal for each of us, and a piloted plane to get us home.”

What movie genre is your favorite? 
- “It is a toss up between comedies and suspense. I enjoy the emotional rollercoasters they can provide, when good. I really enjoy laughing and humor, so perhaps a well-done comedy would win.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
- “Mind reading...I think my research on goal understanding is related to the ability to know what others are thinking. Or teleportation...air planes suck.”

Where would you love to travel to next?
- “London. I really love that city. I have been there a handful of times and collectively have spent about half a year in the city. I used to teach a study abroad class there and got to know the city pretty well. I miss it, especially when I recognize spots while watching TV shows like Ted Lasso.”

What are you proudest of? 
- “My two teen daughters. They are the best humans I know.”

What is a fun fact about you that most people here don’t know?
- “I used to be somewhat of a social media influencer on Instagram when it first started being a thing. I had a day job though, as a prof, so it never really took off.”

Nik and their Dog

Nik and their dog, Matilda