Dr. Nick Gerlich is Hickman Professor of Marketing at West Texas A&M University, where he has taught since 1989. A native Chicagoan, he recalls traveling Route 66 in the backseat of his parents' car in the 1960s, which no doubt inspired him to make it his passion in adulthood. He earned is Ph.D. at Indiana University. Gerlich has more than 100 published scholarly articles in journals and conference proceedings. His most recent research specializations include social media, corporate crisis communication, e-commerce, mobile applications, and online buyer behavior.
Gerlich is credited with creating and continuing to teach both MBA and undergraduate courses in Evolutionary Marketing, in which he explores the very latest trends in the field. While this has often found him focusing on social media platforms and their applications in business, he is also keenly attuned to demographic changes, such as the buying habits of the Millennial generation and the cultural artifacts that differentiate them from prior generations. He spends much of his time reading and studying about the demographic and technological changes of the day. Gerlich routinely teaches to both campus and online classrooms of students from all corners of the world.
Outside of the university, Gerlich has served as the Social Media and Marketing Director of New Mexico Fashion Week, where he managed social media campaigns and public relations. He created and delivers his popular Social Media Boot Camp for small- and medium-sized business wishing to leverage emerging tools and techniques.
Gerlich is an avid scholar of Route 66, has served as historian and tour guide on several tours, and is writing several books with a German photographer that capture the Mother Road in an entirely new light. He is the writer and host of the Unoccupied Route 66 documentary series. Gerlich is a long-time cyclist and photographer, and is known to combine his interest so that he can explore obscure places on two wheels, and capture them digitally. He is also documenting and photographing vintage neon signs across the US in an effort to capture historic pop culture artifacts.
Gerlich can be found across the social graph (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr) via his username nickgerlich. In addition to his academic publications, his writing has appeared in a variety of publications, from Route 66 Magazine to New Mexico Route 66 Magazine, Amarillo Magazine, and Skeptic Magazine.
Melissa Lea Beasley has been capturing moments, places and feelings through photography nearly all her life and has been studying its dynamics since her first photography class in high school. Melissa’s first childhood camera in the late 1970’s, at age seven, encased 110 film. Since then she has worked with a wide array of formats including Pinhole Box, 4x5, Manual 35mm, and Digital. Her greatest enjoyment during the “darkroom days” was manipulating images through varied exposures, as Ansel Adam's was famous for, and hand painting color into finished black & white and sepia prints. In the digital age, Melissa continues this same creativity of print manipulation via exposures and color. Only now her paintbrush has been replaced with a computer mouse, manually detailing every aspect. Melissa constantly explores new ways of printing and presentation and comments, “I like to think outside the box. I find life more exciting and interesting that way”.
On a spiritual level, Melissa comments, “Surrounding ourselves with views of nature and other peaceful things recharges our spirit which allows us to live a happy, more peaceful, complete life. I feel blessed to experience the beauty and wonder that surrounds me on a physical, spiritual and creative level. And I am excited and honored to share these experiences with others through my photography.”
Melissa Lea has traveled various areas of Europe, Canada, and Hawaii. She has also traveled extensively across the mainland United States. She has explored a large range of terrain and cultures from Yellowstone to the Everglades, the Four Corners Region to the Smoky Mountains and the Hawaiian Islands to Ground Zero. During her 20’s Melissa resided in Chicago where she became deeply involved with the Native American community. She documented several events and ceremonies both public and private.
Melissa Lea continues to journey across numerous parts of the United States, mostly driving the “Blue Highways”, her favorite being Old Route 66. She has traveled various portions of The Mother Road over several years, starting when she was just 8 years old. She drove the entire route solo from Chicago to Santa Monica in 2006. Her Route 66 portion of photography is displayed in museums and shops across the country along the route. Melissa Lea is a staff photographer and writer for the international publication Route 66 Magazine as well as the New Mexico Route 66 Magazine. Melissa is a member of the New Mexico Route 66 Association. She can be found at melissalea.com.