Derek Lackaff

Lackaff in the snow looking out into the distance.
“I love what I am doing now, and attribute much of this success to the start I received at UB. ”
Derek Lackaff
Alumnus, UB Communication PhD Program

UB prepared me well to be an effective scholar.


UB Alumni Derek Lackaff, PhD, 2009, was living abroad when he applied to UB, so all his interactions with the program were via phone and email. But even via these forms of electronic media, Lackaff says "the program and its faculty impressed me with their diverse interests and the joy they seemed to have in their work.”

Because Lackaff was interested in developing his skills as a scientific researcher, he believes “the opportunity to take interesting classes, follow my own research interests, and collaborate with willing faculty maintained my enthusiasm throughout the program.”

“My advisor and mentor Michael Stefanone had a key role in my success at UB. Our research collaborations helped ensure that I was a strong candidate when I started looking for positions. But I learned much from work with many faculty members, and always felt supported by the department as a whole.”

Lackaff says that while “the UB Communication Department has a specific orientation towards the scientific examination of communication processes,” it also “supports student interests in a range of topical domains.” He emphasizes that “faculty members have high expectations of students, but provide the guidance and encouragement necessary to help foster independent scholars.”

Ultimately, Lackaff says, “UB prepared me well to be an effective scholar.” His first position after graduation was a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin, where he worked with the UT Austin | Portugal Program in Advanced Digital Media, and taught in the Department of Radio-TV-Film. Currently, Lackaff is an Assistant Professor at Elon University, where he teaches in an innovative new Interactive Media graduate program.

Lackaff’s advice for prospective UB Graduate students?

“Identify collaborators early, submit your work for external peer review, and take advantage of the short time you will have left as a student.”

“Graduate school is a large amount of work and sacrifice, but if you find it is your passion, the payoff is enormous.”

“I love what I am doing now, and attribute much of this success to the start I received at UB.”