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FCRL research featured in Psychology Today

March 27, 2017

We advocate that sometimes distancing is a healthy solution to toxic family relationships marked by abuse and neglect. Family members who are able to sustain distance from one another are frequently questioned about their family status and encouraged to mend their relationships, even if they are unhealthy. This questioning can be very painful and likely comes from societal beliefs about the importance of family and the idea that families are forever. Dr. Scharp and Dr. Dorrance Hall direct the Family Communication and Relationships Lab, a collaborative group of social scientists focused on understanding challenging family relationships such as these. 

Dr. Scharp named Student Retention Researcher of the Year

February 23, 2017

Dr. Kristina Scharp was named the Student Retention Researcher of the Year for 2016 by USU Student Services. 

FCRL Featured in the Utah Statesman

December 01, 2016

Elizabeth Dorrance Hall and Kristina Scharp, directors of the Family Communication and Relationships lab (FCRL), conducted communication research on the dark side of family communications this year at Utah State University.

FCRL explore how families communicate, and how communication affects the relationships of the family dynamic. One study is the on family black sheep. The lab defines black sheep as the singled out, the rejected, the misunderstood. From a cultural perspective black sheep are the weak links of family unity. They are torn between the foundational beliefs of their families and their developed personal opinions.

Dr. Jen Theiss to Visit Campus

September 07, 2016

Please join LPCS, CHaSS, and the Family Communication and Relationships Lab in welcoming Dr. Jennifer Theiss to campus next week. Dr. Theiss will be giving a talk on Thursday, September 15 from 3-4 in Huntsman 226 titled “Experiences of Relational Turbulence in Close Personal Relationships.”  


Jen Theiss received her PhD in 2005 from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She is now an associate professor at Rutgers University. Jen's research focuses on interpersonal communication in close relationships. Specifically, her work focuses on experiences of uncertainty and partner interference during transitional periods in close relationships and families. Her work has contributed to the development of the relational turbulence model, which she has applied to various relationship transitions, including the transition to parenthood, the transition to the empty nest phase of marriage, and the transition from deployment to reintegration among military couples.

Call for Participants

July 06, 2016

Interview Study to Understand the Experiences of Women in Non-Traditional Careers

Women who are in the first 5 years of a “traditionally male” career are needed for a research study on work experiences (must be 18 years of age or older to participate).  

Women in the United States continue to be significantly underrepresented in particular career areas. The United States Department of Labor, for instance, refers to nontraditional occupations for women as those “in which women comprise 25 percent or less of total employment” (2008). These occupations include architects, chefs, clergy, computer programmers, detectives, engineers, fire fighters, machinists, pilots, and truck drivers. The implications of these gaps are far-reaching.

Participants will complete a 60 minute interview and brief online survey, and will be compensated with a $15 Starbucks gift card. Participation is voluntary and confidential.

For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Dorrance Hall

Assistant Professor, Utah State University 


Patricia Gettings

Researcher, Purdue University 

Student Parent and Advice Poster Session

April 26, 2016

Students in Scharp's Health Communication course and Dorrance Hall's Quantitative Methods course presented their semester long research projects last night on Utah State University's campus. Topics ranged from how student parents balance academics and parenthood to how relationship advice is received and whether it is implemented. 

Family Comm Lab Directors Awarded Two Grants

April 24, 2016

April was a big month for the Family Communication and Relationships Lab. Directors Dorrance Hall and Scharp were awarded two grants to support the mission of the lab. One from NODA, the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education, and the second from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Utah State University. Both grants will support research aimed at underestanding the importance of the parent-child relationship during the transition to college with the ultimate goal of facilitating healthy transitions and the success and retention of students. 

Family Comm Lab Directors Honored with Giraffee Award Nomination

April 08, 2016

Drs. Dorrance Hall and Scharp were nominated for the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences' Giraffee Award for "sticking their necks out" this week at the College's Awards Banquet. Dorrance Hall and Scharp raised $5,500 to support their research on better understanding how student parents balance academics and parenthood.

Communication Studies Faculty Found Family Communication & Relationships Lab

April 08, 2016

College of Humanities and Social Sciences assistant professors Elizabeth Dorrance Hall and Kristina Scharp announced the founding of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab at Utah State University.


The Family Communication and Relationships lab is a social science lab that houses a collection of researchers and students interested in understanding the complex dynamics of family communication in a variety of contexts.

Dr. Dorrance Hall's research recognized with the Award for Excellence in Family Research

February 25, 2016

Dr. Dorrance Hall's recent research was recognized as the best research paper published in 2015 by researchers affiliated with Purdue University and was given the Award for Excellence in Family Research by Purdue University's Center for Families. The article, Dilemmas Families Face in Talking with Returning US Military Service Members about Seeking Professional Help for Mental Health Issues, was co-authored by Steven R. Wilson, Patricia Gettings, and Rebekah G. Pastor. You can read more about the article here: 

Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas visits campus

January 21, 2016

Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas visited USU's campus to share her narrative/storytelling research which links quality communication with quality of life. Dr. Koenig Kellas' most recent research is working toward translational storytelling and listening in assisted living facilities to improve the wellbeing of both residents and employees. You can learn more about Dr. Koenig Kellas and her work with the Narrative Nebraska lab by clicking below.

Dr. Scharp's Homesickness Research in the Wall Street Journal

October 20, 2015

As parents gather on college campuses for parents’ weekend, they may not hear much from their teens about homesickness. Students often see yearning for home as too childish or uncool to talk about.

But homesickness on campus is drawing new attention from researchers, who say it is a distinct emotional condition akin to grieving. In severe cases, it can cause or worsen anxiety or depression and increase the risk that students will drop out. Still, students can learn self-control strategies to help them regulate the emotions homesickness can raise.

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