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Tamara Afifi is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She joined the communication faculty in the fall of 2006 after five years at Penn State University. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999. Most of her research focuses on how family members cope communicatively with various challenges they face. When examining her research program, two primary themes emerge: (1) information regulation (privacy, secrets, disclosure, avoidance) in parent-child and dating relationships, with particular emphasis on post-divorce families, and (2) communication processes related to uncertainty, loss, stress and coping in families. For example, one of her research interests includes interparental conflict and its impact on adolescents’ physiological (through assaying cortisol and other hormones) and psychological health. In addition to being one of the few communication scholars who studies divorced families, what often separates her work from other scholars is her triangulation of data or the incorporation of a variety of methodological approaches (e.g., observations, field studies, lab studies, surveys, interviews, physiological data) to study a particular phenomenon. Professor Afifi’s work is theoretically and socially meaningful, focusing on theories and concepts (such as stress and communal coping) as they apply to couples and families in real world situations, including divorce, refugee camps, war-time situations, natural disasters, and economic uncertainty.
Professor Afifi has published sixty five articles/chapters in numerous national and international outlets, including Human Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Communication Theory, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, the Journal of Marriage and Family, and the Journal of Adolescent Research. She served as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. She also had a book published with her husband and colleague, Walid Afifi, on Uncertainty and Disclosure Decisions in Interpersonal Contexts: Theories and Applications. She has written several book chapters, including chapters for the Handbook of Divorce and Relationship Dissolution, The Handbook of Interpersonal Communication, the Handbook of Family Communication, the Handbook of Nonverbal Communication, and the International Handbook of Stepfamilies: Policy and Practice in Legal, Research, and Clinical Spheres. She has received twenty five top paper awards from various international and national communication conferences. Professor Afifi also received the Franklin Knower Article Award in 2004 from the Interpersonal Communication Division of National Communication Association and the Distinguished Article Award from the Family Communication Division of NCA in 2008. In addition, she was the recipient of the Young Scholar Award from the International Communication Association in 2006 and the Brommel Award for a distinguished career of research in family communication in 2011. As a final indicator of publishing, in an article by Bunz in 2005 in the Journal of Communication, she was listed as the most published assistant professor in the top tier national and international communication journals.
Professor Afifi is also very passionate about her teaching. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in family communication, interpersonal communication, information regulation, and conflict management. She has also been nominated for, and received, several teaching awards, including the 2009 UCSB Faculty Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, which is a university-wide award for distinguished teaching among tenured faculty.