SC&I Professor of Communication Jennifer A. Theiss has been awarded the 2023 Bernard J. Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship or Distinguished Service in Family Communication from the National Communication Association (NCA).
"It is a tremendous honor to be recognized with the Brommel Award for my career accomplishments in research on family communication,” Theiss said. “I take great pride in studying families, the challenges they face, and the ways they cope with hardship. I believe my research can have an important impact in improving family dynamics and relationships, which is the greatest reward of all."
The purpose of the Brommel Award is to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the area of family communication. 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.
“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.”
One of Theiss’ nominators said, regarding the 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.”
Professor and Chair of the Communication Department Marya Doerel said, “Dr. Theiss's achievement in receiving the prestigious Brommel Award was met with unsurprised praise from her colleagues and me at Rutgers. This highly competitive award from the National Communication Association underscores her groundbreaking research that not only enriches the communication discipline, but other disciplines such as social psychology, family psychology, and public health, as well. Dr. Theiss’ research models the ways in which discoveries by university researchers are highly valued for their intellectual contributions as well as how the research resonates in meaningful ways with the real-world challenges people navigate daily. We are truly excited for Dr. Theiss!”
NCA Interim Executive Director Justin Danowski, said, “NCA’s annual awards honor Communication scholars’ teaching, scholarship, and service. NCA is proud to recognize Dr. Theiss’ significant contributions to the Communication discipline with this award.”
The NCA presented the award to Theiss on November 19, 2023 at the NCA 109th Annual Convention held in National Harbor, MD.
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 Model, which explains why relationships are marked by more extreme emotions, cognitions, and communication behaviors during transitional periods in the relationship trajectory. The RTM 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.