WKWSCI Scholar Wins Prestigious Hillier Krieghbaum Under-40 Award

​Associate Professor Shirley Ho (CS’02) is the first scholar from an Asian university to receive the prestigious Hillier Krieghbaum Under-40 Award.

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When Associate Professor Shirley Ho entered the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication Studies as an undergraduate in 1998, she wanted to be a reporter as she enjoyed discovering new things.

But after taking a couple of research modules, she discovered her love for applying statistics and using data to solve problems. Her interest in communication research eventually saw her obtaining her Masters’ degree and doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before returning to WKWSCI as an assistant professor in 2008.

In her years at Nanyang Technological University, Assoc Prof. Ho has received a slew of top faculty paper awards and other accolades, but her biggest achievement to date was receiving the prestigious Hillier Krieghbaum Under-40 Award in August — the first scholar from an Asian university to be conferred the honour.

The Hillier Krieghbaum Under-40 Award — presented by The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication based in the U.S. — honours AEJMC members under 40 years of age who have exhibited outstanding achievement and effort in teaching, research and public service. It is awarded to one person each year.

“Receiving this award is a validation of the effort, contribution and hard work I put in for the last 10 to 15 years. It gives me a stronger sense of empowerment, validation and momentum to continue with research.”

ASSOC PROF. SHIRLEY HO, Associate Chair (Faculty) WKWSCI

To qualify for the award, Assoc Prof. Ho had to submit her published papers and other reports to the AEJMC, to support the nominations by WKWSCI’s Chair Professor Charles T. Salmon and Assoc Prof. Ho’s PhD advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As the award has predominantly been given to scholars from universities in the U.S. since its inception in 1981, Assoc Prof. Ho was surprised upon hearing that AEJMC had selected her for the award.

“(The award) means a lot to the scholars based in Asia because it’s a recognition that our areas of research are important,” she said.

“Receiving this award is a validation of the effort, contribution and hard work I put in for the last 10 to 15 years. It gives me a stronger sense of empowerment, validation and momentum to continue with research,” Assoc Prof. Ho added.

In the same month, Assoc Prof. Ho also received the Women in Education Leadership Award at the 9th Asia’s Education Excellence Awards. The award is presented to female scholars who have demonstrated exemplary leadership at their respective institutions.

Her primary research focus is science communication, where she leads studies that examine the public’s opinion towards science, health, and environmental issues. Assoc Prof. Ho hopes that every paper she publishes will help inform policy-making and government decisions.  

In 2016, Assoc Prof. Ho was also involved in a research paper that gauged public opinion towards nuclear energy as part of a project to help with nuclear policy-making and research. The paper is slated to be published in 2019 in the Energy Research and Social Sciences journal.

Much of her research has been funded by various ministries and statutory boards like the education ministry and the Infocomm Media Development Authority.  

“I don’t think communication researchers should be in an ivory tower. We need to link up with society and do work that external parties outside the university would value,” said Assoc Prof. Ho, who is also the Associate Chair (Faculty) of the school.

Despite her passion for research, teaching remains one of the best parts of Assoc Prof. Ho’s profession.

“I’m nurturing and developing the next generation of communication scholars and researchers, which makes me very happy and fulfilled,” she said.

To ensure that her graduate students expand their knowledge and build a network, Assoc Prof. Ho encourages them to collaborate on subsidiary papers with their batchmates, research fellows or with her.

Graduate students tend to do their own thesis and isolate themselves from their friends and colleagues, she said. But graduate studies is more than just churning out papers.

“It is not only about your thesis. It’s [also about] building a network that you might be able to tap on, learn from and work with in the future,” she added.