Communication professor receives 2023 President’s Award

Kirsten Weber, Ph.D., received the Central Michigan University 2023 President’s Award

| Author: Ellie Heron | Media Contact: Kara Owens

Kirsten Weber, Ph.D., received the Central Michigan University 2023 President’s Award. This award celebrates the success of senior faculty members throughout their time at CMU and can only be awarded once in a professor’s career. Weber is a communication professor who has been researching interpersonal communication’s impact on health experiences for over 15 years. 

Weber says, “I am honored and humbled to have been selected to receive this year’s President’s Award. When I was a sophomore in college one of my professors invited me to serve on her research team. I was instantly enamored with the research process, and receiving this award is a capstone to that passion." She also acknowledges the role others play on her success, saying “I certainly wouldn’t be here without the support of family and friends, great colleague and student collaborators, and my Ph.D. advisor to whom I am indebted.” 

Weber’s research focuses on health intervention and social support. She strives to identify barriers in health care and uncover the different ways that patients and medical practitioners communicate during health experiences, such as making decisions. Weber also works to implement trainings to help mitigate disparities in health care.  

Weber’s early work introduced the Relational Turbulence Theory (RTT) to discussions of healthcare communication. This theory was originally based in interpersonal communication studies, but Weber expanded it to include health experiences. This work showed how interpersonal communication about illnesses fundamentally altered healthcare experiences.  

Through her work expanding RTT into health communications, Weber developed an interest in healthcare disparities. She began assessing various intervention techniques to eliminate these differences. This research allows Weber to continue her commitment to marginalized populations and working to promote equity in health communications for everyone.  

Weber’s recent research centers on how people on social media can create, interact with, and alter messages about racism and sexism. Specifically, she explores how this communication style changes in times of concern. Social media has altered the way information is spread, and this new form of communication is impacting the way communication operates. Weber plans to continue studying interpersonal and health communication within the context of traditionally marginalized groups. 

“At some point, everyone will either have a health concern or a loved one of theirs will have a health concern. Communication is at the heart of how we work with doctors, nurses, and other health practitioners.” Weber says. “Understanding how we communicate with people in the medical field, and with our caretakers, matters. It can literally be the difference between life and death.”  

This story is brought to you by the  Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

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