As a student and now as an educator, I have been fascinated with close relationships; Exploring the simplicities and complexities of people and their need to connect with each other in meaningful ways is at the heart of what I do. Though the study of interpersonal and communication theories can seem rather pedestrian at first glance, I believe its ordinariness is the greatest argument for continued study.
Everyone has experiences with other people that have shaped them in profound ways but we also all have mundane, everyday interactions that make up the bulk of our relationships. To me, part of being created in the image of God means that we are designed to live interdependently with others. But, those relationships can be simultaneously joy-giving and challenging.
While my academic home is the field of communication, I feel most comfortable situating myself as a scholar and a teacher of close relationships. At the center of my scholarship is a focus on friendship as a uniquely important interpersonal relationship type. Throughout our lives, friendships are consistently valued as a relationship but they are not static; their value, role, and function alter at different stages of life. I wrote my dissertation on the maintenance of best friendships, an enduring interest since I started graduate school and have a continuing research agenda on the dynamics between friends. Outside of interpersonal and theory, I teach and research nonverbal communication, persuasion and social influence, and sports communication. My current mental exercises (aka research endeavors) investigate including the experiences of women sports fans, the use of social media in sports to foster team/fan identity, and early transition points in friendship.
Academics are only one facet of my life; I find that my students and my research endeavors benefit from experiences outside the walls of the classroom.Â An avid sports fan, there are two teams that are my particular passions: Wheaton College Men’s soccer (for who I am the faculty partner) and the Chicago Blackhawks. I am a Chicago-native, having been born and raised in the south suburbs. While I love my hometown and make the most of experiences found locally, I also frequently indulge my wanderlust; recent and upcoming adventures include southeast Asia, Uganda, Sweden, and Australia.
I am deeply involved in the mentoring of student athletes and with HoneyRock, the Northwoods campus of Wheaton College. After participating in summer camps since the 3rd grade, HoneyRock is a wonderful convergence of my interests: experiential education, holistic development, and a “place apart” in the outdoors.
I am also a triathlete who spends a lot of time decompressing by swimming, biking, and running.
Feel free to contact me by e-mail.
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updated May 7, 2014