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|PROFESSOR MERISSA FERRARA
Department of Communication
|Putting the Personal in InterPersonal Communications|
|By Brittany Hyland|
Communication professor Dr. Merissa Ferrara says her interest in interpersonal communication began as an undergraduate at Marquette University. After seeing her roommate continually get back together with an abusive boyfriend, she wanted to better understand the nature of interpersonal relationships. Her curiosity about human nature also led her to earn a degree in exercise science, so that she could investigate health issues and effectively reach people with health messages.
The knowledge she gained from her research in Africa has also helped her with her current research regarding the use of sunglasses in Guatemala. After seeing a large number of cornea surgeries caused by sun damage, Ferrara's father, a surgeon, enlisted her help to create a health message that is sensitive to the culture and that promotes the use of sunglasses.
Her current research also includes two articles on obesity trends that are currently up for review. The study looks at the success of obesity programs. It also looks at the effects of women's Body Mass Index on their perceptions of other women and the effects of family communication styles on Body Mass Index. The publication of her study is exciting to Ferrara because she looks forward to seeing her research completed.
Ferrara is undecided about future research topics, but she knows that she would like to conduct an experimental study. "Most of my research has been largely survey and observation, but I would like to set up an experiment. I have a few ideas in the works, but I haven't made a final decision about what to study just yet,"she says.
With all of her teaching and research, it is a wonder that Ferrara manages to balance it all. "It's important to keep the perspective that it all gets done. Plus, it helps to know that everything can become examples for class," she says.
This upbeat and innovative attitude has helped make Ferrara a valuable professor at the College. When asked what her favorite thing about being a professor, Ferrara exclaimed: "Hands down, the best thing is the freedom to change your courses every semester. College is all about finding out who you are. I like to give projects that make students think about their lives, and I can change those projects around if one isn't working. Being a part of that exploration is exciting."