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Jennifer Heisler, Ph.D.

Headshot - Jennifer Heisler

Associate Professor

Office: 521 Wilson Hall
Phone: (248) 370-4139
Email: [email protected]

Jennifer Heisler, a life-long Michigander, received her Ph.D. in Communication from Michigan State University after attending Central Michigan University (M.A.) and Albion College (B.A.). With encouragement from wonderful mentors (Dr. Kelly Morrison, Dr. Steve McCornack, Dr. Sandi Smith), her doctoral research focused on family communication while attempting to answer the age-old question: If our families are so annoying, why do we still visit them for the holidays?

Her passion for understanding the role of communication in family dynamics led to exploration of the difficult conversations families have (or don't!) like sexuality, dating, religion, and finances. Extending her scholarly interests into practice, she serves on her local school district’s Sexual Education Advisory Board which evaluates health curriculums across K-12th grades for accessibility, community fit and compliance with Michigan requirements.

Recognizing her questions about family discussions couldn’t be answered using only survey methods, Dr. Heisler returned to graduate school during her last sabbatical from Oakland University to pursue expertise in qualitative methodologies. Her eclectic methods training fuels a passion for diverse approaches to research questions including surveys, interviews, and feminist ideological criticism. Her most recent work remains in family communication, but now explores the lived experience of academic motherhood. Specifically, this new work explores how memorable messages from colleagues or supervisors might influence faculty members' work-life balance, pursuit of tenure/job security, and leadership positions (such as department Chairperson). 

Dr. Heisler often teaches across the Communication curriculum from Introduction to Communication to the Communication Capstone course. She has a special love for reducing students' anxieties about Communication Theory and Research classes, persuading students that theory is just a vehicle moving us into a lifelong appreciation of good questions and the search for answers.

When she is not annoying her family with questions and difficult conversations, Dr. Heisler can be found reading a good mystery novel or questioning referee calls from the side of the soccer pitch.

Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations

Wilson Hall, Room 316
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-4120

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