Dr. Weiner knows experiencing health issues are difficult for everyone.

Dr. Lauren Grill Weiner
Program Coordinator and Academic Advisor for the HCOM Program
Joined the department in 2009

Still unsure what you want to do after graduation? Don't worry, even some of the department's faculty members, including Dr. Grill Weiner, were unsure until their senior year in college. Dr. Grill Weiner discovered her area of interest, family communication and health communication, by coincidence. Today, she plays a vital role in the department's Health Communication Online Master's (HCOM) program. She took a moment to share her story with us.

1. What is your area of research and what got you interested in this topic?
I research health and family communication; I became interested in the area quite by accident when I audited a research practicum my senior year of college. The practicum was based upon a grant-funded collaborative research project between Northwestern University and Children's Memorial Hospital investigating adult survivors of pediatric cancer and their parents. After 10 weeks of designing survey questions, interviewing survivors and their families, and reading some of the literature, I was completely hooked. I spent my first two years of graduate school completely immersed in the project, and have been researching family and health communication ever since. My most recent work examined how family members discuss and disclose genetic risks with one another.

2. What is your role in the online master's program in health communication?
I am the Program Coordinator and Academic Advisor for the HCOM program. My responsibilities include advising current and prospective students, maintaining and updating the HCOM website, teaching and designing courses in the program, developing and implementing marketing strategies, managing the admissions process and serving on the admissions committee, and completing various administrative tasks for the program, such as responding to all email inquiries about the program, researching new technologies to implement in the program, etc.

3. What is the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with the health communication master's program?
There are so many rewarding components to my job. First, I absolutely love getting to know my students. We have such a wonderfully bright, talented, creative, and passionate group of professionals in our program; I love the fact that my job enables me to get to know each of them personally and work with them consistently throughout their time in the program as their advisor. They teach me so many new things about their fields of expertise, and I get to watch them grow as heath communication scholars. It's an absolute joy working with all of them. Second, I love working in an online teaching format. Teaching online utilizes a different set of skills and strategies than teaching face-to-face, and I enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to be creative and learn how to teach in new ways. It's extremely fun and highly rewarding. Finally, I really appreciate working with such fantastic colleagues in this program. There's a great faculty community in the HCOM program (and the department in general), and sharing and collaborating with all of them has been a truly enriching experience. I feel really lucky to be a member of this department.

4. What is one thing you would like undergraduates to know about your work, your position, or your role in the department?
I think it would be great for undergraduates to be aware of the HCOM program (it's relatively new, so spreading the word is a great thing!) and to let them know that if any of them want information about the program, I'd love to talk with them. The most common phrase I hear on the phone or read in an email from prospective students is "I don't want to bother you ..." or "sorry to keep bugging you with questions ..." and I just want to clarify that it's NEVER a bother when students contact me. I love it! So, if undergraduates find the program interesting (or know someone who they think would be interested), they are welcome to come talk to me, call me, or send me an email -- whatever is easiest!