Meet Comm School Ph.D. Candidate Nicholas Sellers

Nick Sellers Headshot1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Pace, Florida which is about twenty minutes east over the causeway from Pensacola. There was a peanut field across the street from my high school if that gives you any sort of context.

2. What made you choose FSU?

Perhaps it had a lot to do with where I grew up, how good the football team was in the ‘90s, and being not too far from Tallahassee, but I never really wanted to go to another school. In fact, coming out of high school I didn’t even apply anywhere else, which in retrospect seems…not very smart. But (almost) three degrees later I am sure there is no other place for me. It’s going to be really hard to leave!

3. What are your research interests?

Pretty much anything at the intersection of communication and technology.  I’ve been working a lot more with video games recently, specifically as they relate to mental health and have found that really interesting and rewarding (thanks Dr. F!). My dissertation focuses on personal virtual assistants (Alexa, Siri, Google) and what motivations people have for using them.

4. How does your research drive your passion?

I would almost reverse that order and say that passion drives my research. I think we as doc students are really fortunate in that we can see a phenomenon that excites us, formulate research questions/hypotheses, and then go see what makes it tick (or try to at least). The privilege to be endlessly curious certainly fuels my research.

5. What is your favorite course you’ve taken at FSU?

I’ve taken a ton of great courses here in the School of Communication (stats with Dr. Heald, Persuasion with Dr. Arpan, Comm. Theory with Dr. Raney), but perhaps my favorite course was Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Design taught by Dr. Yeaton over in Education. If you’re reading this and are a graduate student, GO TAKE THIS COURSE! You’ll never look at research the same.

6. What course would you like to teach?

I really love the class I teach now, RTV 3001 (Media Techniques). I would love to teach some higher-level production courses where the students have access to equipment and can produce some more advanced productions than what they’re able to do in my intro course. Also, pretty much anything writing related; that is one of my other great passions.

7. What are your hobbies outside of school?

I’m a huge college football fan, love to play video games when I have the time, and watch/play/coach as much soccer as I am able to. So, when I have the time, I’m either watching college football or the Premier League (Come on Everton!), playing a Legend of Zelda game, or out on the soccer pitch!  

8. Where is your favorite place to grab dinner/somewhere you are excited to try in Tallahassee?

Always love a good burger and Wells Brothers’ on Tharpe Street makes a great one. If you’re going, get the “Gator Hater;” it’s delicious!

9. What is your favorite book and why?

Not particularly original or unique, but I really do love The Great Gatsby. Tautly written and emotionally devastating. The ending gets me every time. I’d add pretty much anything by Michael Crichton as well. I’ve always loved the way he blended science with his narratives.

10. If you could have dinner with four people (living or dead) who would you choose?

I was an English major in my undergrad, so I’ll go literary for this: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mark Twain. Walt and Mark can make us laugh; Emily and Edgar will bring their wonderful weirdness. We’ll all bring wine.

11. What accomplishment are you most proud of so far?

Probably just surviving the doctoral program thus far. I had a pretty bad case of imposter syndrome early on to the point where I was applying to other jobs about halfway through my second year. I am really proud to have pulled myself up by my bootstraps, stuck with it, and now I’m in my final semester!

12. What is your favorite band?

This will date me a little bit (or a lot), but I could listen to Death Cab for Cutie on loop for days and not have a problem with it. Specifically, the albums from ‘We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes’ through ‘Plans.’  

13. What Jeopardy category would you clear, no problem?

I’ll take “NCAA Football Video Game Cover Athletes for $2000,” Alex.

14. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

When I was growing up, my dad used to quote one of his teachers from military school and tell me and my brothers, “He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail.” It really instilled the importance of preparation in me and I think it’s served me well both professionally and academically.

15. Do you have any pets?

Yes! My wife and I have two dogs: a feisty little 10-pound Maltese/Yorkie mix named Mindy and a big, clumsy lab mix who is barely a year old (and already 70+ pounds) named Rue. We love them both dearly…no matter how much trouble they get into.

16. When you have time, what are you streaming?

I really love a good drama but haven’t had the time to really dive into anything new lately. I think my queue might tell you more about what I’m interested in than anything: Watchmen, The Outsider, The Witcher, Chernobyl, The Leftovers, The Expanse. A show I did finish recently was Mr. Robot and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

17. If you were to write a personal memoir, what would you title it?

This has been somewhat of a running joke with myself (lame, I know), but I’ve actually been jokingly jotting down book titles for a memoir I would hypothetically write about my experiences in graduate school. Leader in the clubhouse right now is “Not This Week, I Don’t Have Time for Another Crisis.”

18. What is your favorite student life activity/one you are looking forward to?

I really love attending FSU athletic events and we’ve been lucky to have so many great teams on campus in my time here so I go to as many games as I can get to: soccer, basketball, football, you name it. I really do love going to Dick Howser though and cannot wait for baseball season to start up again!

19. If you could be famous for something, what would it be?

Well I think the ship has pretty much sailed on my professional soccer career…but if I could be a famous soccer coach that would be pretty cool in my book!

20. What is the best part of being in a doctoral program in the College of Communication and Information at FSU?

My fellow doc students and the faculty. I think we are all pretty lucky to be working with such brilliant colleagues and with faculty that support us in any way that they can. A close second would be getting to teach the bright, hard-working students that we are privileged to work with in the School of Communication. If you’re even thinking about graduate school and are interested in communication, look here first (not an ad).