The National Communication Association has named Professor of Communication Jennifer Theiss the recipient of the 2023 Bernard J. Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship or Distinguished Service in Family Communication.
Theiss will be formally recognized at the NCA’s award ceremony during the NCA 109th Annual Convention on Saturday, November 18 in National Harbor, Maryland.
“Dr. Jennifer A. Theiss’ research, particularly her work detailing how individuals navigate the challenges and tensions within their personal relationships, has made a significant contribution to the field of family communication,” wrote the NCA. “As one of Dr. Theiss’ nominators states regarding Relational Turbulence Theory, ‘Dr. Theiss literally and figuratively wrote the book’ on how ‘uncertainty reflects questions or ambiguity about the relationship which creates heightened reactivity to relationship events.’ Another nominator states that Dr. Theiss ‘has worked tirelessly to help mentor the next generation of family communication scholars and to help them find their own unique voice.’”
The purpose of the Brommel Award, according to the NCA, “is to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the area of family communication. This contribution may include research published in scholarly publications or leadership in instructional areas.”
Bernard J. Brommel, who retired as professor emeritus of Communication at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) in 1997, established the award through the NCA.
“I am very excited and honored to receive this award and delighted to bring recognition to SC&I in this way,” Theiss said.
Theiss’ research focuses on the dynamics of interpersonal communication in the context of romantic relationships, marriages, and families. Specifically, she is interested in the ways that certain qualities of relationships shape communication between partners and, in turn, how interpersonal communication influences the development of close personal relationships. She has been working with colleagues to develop the relational turbulence theory, which explains why relationships are marked by more extreme emotions, cognitions, and communication behaviors during transitional periods in the relationship trajectory. The RTT argues that transitions are marked by heightened uncertainty about the relationship and increased interference from partners in daily goals. These heightened relationship characteristics make people more reactive to their everyday circumstances.
Theiss authored the book The Experience and Expression of Uncertainty in Close Relationships, which was previously recognized with the Gerald R. Miller Book Award in interpersonal communication from the NCA. She has also received multiple distinguished article awards and top paper awards recognizing the high quality of her scholarship.