This year, three West Virginia University faculty members have been chosen to receive the James and Arthur Gabriel/Gabriel Brothers, Inc. Faculty Award. Those selected include two English Department faculty members, Brian Ballentine, associate professor and coordinator of professional writing and editing, and Mark Brazaitis, professor and coordinator of creative writing; and Rebecca M. Chory, professor of communication studies.

The award, established by James and Arthur Gabriel, the founding partners of Gabriel Brother Inc., was created to promote and support faculty members in their projects associated with American culture and society.

Brian Ballentine

Ballentine’s current research focuses on exploring America’s potential for energy independence associated with the “shale boom,” which involves extracting natural gas from within shale formations. This is becoming an increasingly important source for natural gas in the U.S., and is an especially important topic in West Virginia, one of the states that includes the Marcellus Shale.

“My project uses a rhetorical lens to study the public arguments being made regarding the method of extracting those resources,” Ballentine said. “That is, the method of fracturing or ‘fracking’ is hotly debated. The many public claims for and against fracking are ripe for analysis and helping us understand how the public may be receiving, interpreting and responding to messages about risk.”

Ballentine received his doctorate in English from Case Western Reserve University, and has been part of numerous publications over a wide range of professional and technical communication topics. His work has appeared in journals such as “IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication,” “Technical Communication,” the “Journal of Technical Writing and Communication,” “Computers and Composition Online,” and “Across the Disciplines.”

Mark Brazaitis

Brazaitis is working on a three-part lecture series, “Extending a Hand: Personal, Literary, Historical and Political Perspectives on U.S. Efforts to Aid the Developing World,” to be held in fall 2013.

“I’m honored to receive that Gabriel Brothers Award, and I am grateful to James and Arthur Gabriel for establishing it. I look forward to sharing my project with the WVU community,” Brazaitis said.

Brazaitis directs the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, and is the author of several books, short stories, poems and nonfiction pieces. He is also the winner of the 2004 George Garret Prize for fiction, the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Rebecca M. Chory

Chory’s research project on Hungarian immigration, assimilation, and cultural identity is something that touches her personally. The Gabriel Brothers, Inc. Faculty Award will help her to continue the research she started five years ago as the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar grant.

“My paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Hungary to the U.S. between 1870 and 1920 so this award is personally as well as professionally meaningful to me. I plan to use the award primarily to fund travel to various libraries and museums to locate materials needed for this project,” Chory said.

Chory received her doctorate in Communication from Michigan State University, and was recently recognized as the second most prolific female scholar in Communication Studies from 2002 to 2011. Dr. Chory is the co-founder and co-organizer of the George Gerbner Conference on Communication, Conflict, and Aggression, which is held annually in Budapest, Hungary. She also coordinates and teaches a WVU faculty-led study abroad program in Hungary.

For more information, contact Rebecca Herod, at 304-293-4917 or



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