Head Shot

I’m Krista Speicher Sarraf, Assistant Professor of Technical and Professional Communication at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), where I direct the Technical and Professional Communication Certificate Program and teach classes such as Corporate Communication, Technical Editing, and Information Design and Production.

My research at the intersection of creativity studies and technical and professional communication (TPC) focuses broadly on how TPC writers use creativity, or new or unique approaches, to address wicked social, cultural, and environmental problems. My current project looks at the strategies that nonprofit fundraisers use to address fundraising challenges. In particular, I am interested in how fundraisers use creative workarounds to tackle some of the problematic communication norms in fundraising, including that fundraising efforts sometimes dehumanize and commodify the very communities they seek to serve.

I’m also interested in questions related to pedagogy. How do students learn to identify wicked problems in their own disciplines and in communication contexts? How can technical and professional communication courses teach students to transform, not reinforce oppressive and unjust communication norms, practices, and cultures? And what kinds of creative thinking skills do students need to pursue this kind of transformative action?

In addition to my research, I am a committed writing program administrator. Beyond directing the technical and professional communication certificate program at Cal Poly, I serve on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the Council of Writing Program Administrators. I’m also a guest editor for a special issue of The Peer Review about (Re)Investigating Our Commonplaces in Writing Centers.

I hold a Ph.D. in Composition and Applied Linguistics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), where I studied with Dr. Dana Driscoll. During my graduate studies, I assisted Dr. Ben Rafoth in directing Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Kathleen Jones White Writing Center. I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Matt Vetter, who served as my faculty mentor for my research about the #MeToo hashtag and gave me the opportunity to co-author a paper about Wikipedia Edit-a-thons. I am indebted to my wonderful mentors who have taught me so much, including to maintain a healthy work/life balance, to collaborate with students on research, and to pay it forward to the next generation of scholars.

Contact: ksarraf@calpoly.edu