Skip to main content

IUPUI professor receives national Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication


INDIANAPOLIS — The National Communication Association, which promotes the use of competent communication and knowledge about communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships and to solve human problems, has named an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor as the recipient of one of its prestigious awards.

Sandra Petronio is the 2013 recipient of the Mark L. Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication. At IUPUI, Petronio is a professor of communication studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts and in the IU School of Medicine. She also is senior affiliate faculty in the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics at IU Health and is an adjunct faculty member in the IU School of Nursing and the IU School of Informatics and Computing.

The Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication recognizes individuals who throughout their careers have made significant scholarly contributions to the study of interaction and/or relational processes. The award also recognizes recipients for active involvement in interpersonal communication, significant mentoring of students and/or public service focused on interpersonal communication.

According to a nominating letter, Petronio’s “theorizing has changed the way interpersonal communication is studied, taught and practiced across disciplines. Her contributions have been sustained and increased in scope over her career to the point where she is now one of the most widely recognized and important communication scholars in the academy. In short, Dr.  Petronio epitomizes the standards for this award.”

At IUPUI, Petronio is the founding director and has managed the Translating Research Into Practice Initiative, known as TRIP, since 2007. Supported by TRIP, IUPUI researchers take the information they have learned from scholarship and apply it to create practical solutions to problems faced by people and communities. TRIP faculty have worked on projects to help farmers, manufacturers, policy makers, educators, etc. 

“Professor Petronio leads among our extensive community of translational scholars at IUPUI, whose interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research works toward the betterment of people’s lives across communities, our state, and beyond,” said Nasser Paydar, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. “This well-deserved recognition from the National Communication Association is an affirmation of her path-breaking work, its impact, and importance.”

Petronio earned her doctorate in communication from the University of Michigan. She developed the Communication Privacy Management Theory, widely considered to be an important breakthrough in understanding how people manage private information in their everyday lives. Her book, “Boundaries of Privacy: Dialectics of Disclosure,” won the 2003 Gerald R. Miller Award from the National Communication Association and the 2004 IARR Book Award from the International Association for Relationship Research. She is past president of IARR and past chair of the National Communication Association Interpersonal Division.

Petronio “has amassed an impressive research record in areas both theoretical and applied,” the Knapp award committee said of its selection of the IUPUI professor as the award recipient. “Her books on, and theory of, communication privacy management, which she has developed over the past 30 years, is relevant to so many social and technological contexts and has inspired an enormous number of citations. Her body of work is of interest not only to scholars but practitioners and citizens alike, given its potential to improve the lives of all.”

The National Communication Association will present the Knapp award to Petronio during its 99th annual convention in November in Washington, D.C.