Chukwudalu "Dalu" Okoli, a communication graduate student, worked with Dr. Josh Bramlett and Dr. Darrell Roe, assistant professors of communication at Eastern New Mexico University, on research that led to a conference presentation by Dr. Bramlett.
The presentation, titled "Trump's COVID Crisis Communication on Twitter," was given at the Central States Communication Association Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.
Dr. Bramlett focuses his research on political communication in areas such as presidential communication, crisis communication and political uses of social media.
"President Trump's use of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic was a topic at the confluence of these different areas, so I was curious to explore it further," he shares.
Dalu was granted a research assistantship with Dr. Bramlett in the spring and summer of 2021.
"Having a research assistant made it feasible to look over the 600-plus tweets from former President Trump that discussed COVID and the pandemic," says Dr. Bramlett. "I also wanted to use Dalu's research assistant time to have him engage in an academic research project as a collaborator and co-author. I believe it is important for faculty to mentor students in the research process."
Dalu co-authored the project as a research assistant to Dr. Bramlett during his first semester as a graduate student. He coded Donald Trump's tweets for selected themes and made a report on them that was used in the results section of the paper.
Dalu graduated from ENMU in the fall of 2019 with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in applied economics and finance. He plans to graduate with a master's degree this fall and then pursue a doctorate.
He'd like to teach communication courses at a university level and do research in organizational and business communication. This research project has helped him get closer to meeting that goal.
"My work on this research project has trained me in thematic content analysis through coding with Microsoft Excel and AntConc," Dalu explains. "These skills will be of help to me whenever I decide to pursue a qualitative research project in my career, where I will be coding interviews, tweets and social media posts by companies and businesspeople for my data analysis."
Dalu is currently working on a research project that investigates the correlation that organizational coordination in terms of internal communication and external reputation has with organizational survival.
Dr. Bramlett has supervised Dalu in the spring 2022 semester in Communication 579, an individual research project course where Dalu designed and implemented his own research project. Dalu wrote a literature review, designed a quantitative survey, obtained Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and is collecting responses from participants in the United States and Nigeria.
Dr. Bramlett explains, "Dalu has expressed a desire to apply to Ph.D. programs in communication studies, so I have worked to mentor him on the academic research process over the course of the past year. The experience he has obtained at ENMU will prepare him for the next stage of his life."
Dr. Bramlett discusses his conference experience, sharing, "I was the program planner and chair for the political communication interest group and, in this role, was in charge of submitting calls for papers, assigning reviewers, deciding on acceptances and rejections and creating panels and the schedule for our interest group.
"I had quite a busy conference with events on all three days – this presentation was on Thursday. Later that day, I led the political communication business meeting and recognized and awarded the winners of Top Paper and Top Student Paper in political communication.
"On Friday, I spoke on a discussion panel about the future of presidential debates, and on Saturday, I participated in a few other panels. It was a whirlwind experience, but I wore my ENMU nametag the entire time to represent the brand!"