Jessica Myrick: A Midwest Gal

By: Niki Fritz

Professor Jessica Gall Myrick just finished her first year as an assistant  professor in Journalism. Although she had to get used to a lot of things as a new assistant professor (like people calling her Dr. Myrrick and the absurd amount of emails she now gets), moving to Bloomington was actually coming home for this Indiana native.

She explained this to me in very simple terms: “I’m just a Midwest gal who got to come home.”

But Bloomington was not meant to be Jessica’s home, as per her Purdue graduate father.  “My dad claims my first word was Purdue but I came [to visit IU] and fell in love with the rolling hills. Purdue is great for engineers but I fell in love with the [IU] campus,” Jessica says.

Jessica came to IU as an undergrad track star and continued to compete through her master’s studies in journalism.  She rocked school as much as she tore up the track. “I was always on a mission to show not all jocks are dumb,” Jessica notes.

Jessica really was a track star during her years at IU!

Jessica really was a track star during her years at IU! That’s her in the #1 spot!

After graduating, Jessica worked for three years in journalism and digital media before returning to grad school to pursue her doctorate. She landed at the University of North Carolina, in an interdisciplinary health communication program, where she focused on emotions and health messages. She finished her doctorate in just three years before returning to the homeland. Jessica says the three years of industry work between her master’s and doctoral studies really helped her be productive in grad school.

“Working before I started my PhD gave me a much better perspective on the world. It helped me not be as stressed out,” Jessica reflects. “I had classmates that were going straight though and they were always very anxious. I had already failed many times and the sun kept sunning and the world kept spinning.”

Now that Jessica has landed back home, she is thinking long-term.

“As a young scholar you’re constantly shaping your identity. I identify as a health scholar but incredibly broadly,” Jessica says. “I have so much more freedom to do the research I want to do. Once you pick a dissertation topic you are locked in and you don’t have option to explore. Now I have some more explorations space.”

Jessica has an article on Shark Week in press right now and is currently working on an article on “internet cats” as pet therapy.  (Both of these studies are incredibly interesting but I can’t do them justice in 700 words. Definitely talk to Jessica if you are at all interested in health messages and discrete emotions.)

In general, from skin cancer messages to grumpy cat, Jessica is interested in how emotions influence media message and vice versa.

“I am fascinated with emotions. It seems as though people can be really knowledgeable, they know everything they need to know, but unless you have some affective response they’re not going to transfer that knowledge into action,” Jessica explains. “Emotion is the key link between knowledge and behavior.”

Jessica is looking forward to collaborating with grad students with diverse interests.  Although she identifies as an experimentalist, she also is interested in survey and content analysis, anything that “comes out of real world situations.”

In addition to expanding her research interest, Jessica is ready to break out the sweaters that have been in boxes for three years and settle back into life in the Midwest with her friends and family.

“[After leaving Indiana] I realized I really like the Midwest. The people are friendly but not too friendly,” Jessica says. “I really wanted to get out of Indiana and I’m happy I did but I’m super happy to get to come home.”

I could have written an entire article about Biscuit, a very important member of Jessica's family and the world's cutest pug. Jessica credits Biscuit for helping her get through her dissertation. If you're lucky maybe you'll see them both on campus one day!

I could have written an entire article about Biscuit, a very important member of Jessica’s family and the world’s cutest pug. Jessica credits Biscuit for helping her get through her dissertation. If you’re lucky maybe you’ll see them both on campus one day!

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