Donica O’Malley wins the 2017 Eastern Communication Association Centennial Scholarship for her dissertation research

Donica O’Malley, a PhD candidate in the Department of Communication was given the annual Eastern Communication Association Centennial Scholarship award for her research on her dissertation, “From Redhead to Ginger: Othering Whiteness in New Media.”  She received it at the 2017 ECA convention’s Award Ceremony which was held on 31 March 2017 after Professor Raymie E. McKerrow delivered the convention’s keynote address.  The award is based solely on merit as regards the significance of a PhD. candidate’s dissertation research and other academic production, as well as scholarly potential.  The award is highly competitive, being open to all ECA members who are working on their dissertations, or, in another category, their M.A. theses.  Past winners, in both the M.A. and PhD. categories, have come from the University of Maryland, Syracuse University, Drexel University, the University of Delaware, Virginia Commonwealth University, Ohio University, the University of Memphis, and West Virginia University.  This is the first time a graduate student from University of Pittsburgh’s Communication Department has won.  Donica’s dissertation is based upon an extensive archive of ginger memes and oral history interviews she conducted in the U.S., Ireland, and the U.K.  In her dissertation she argues that against the backdrop of shifting racial and ethnic demographics in the Anglo-American world, the ginger acts as a scapegoat for anxieties about whiteness, in particular, white masculinity. She plans to complete her dissertation by the end of the 2018 academic year.  She has already published four scholarly essays, two of which have been recently accepted for publication, one in the journal Food and Foodways and the other in a collection of essays about the ABC Family/Freedom network. Donica has received several awards for her dissertation research, including a 2016 Top Paper award from the National Communication Association and grants from Pitt’s Cultural Studies program and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program. 


For more on ECA, the oldest professional communication association in the United States, see