Katherine A. Rafferty, Director 

Dr. Rafferty (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) conducts research in interpersonal health communication with a focus on how patients and families manage and cope with chronic illness and end-of- life care. She is primarily a qualitative scholar, but also uses quantitative methods to examine research questions about family health communication needs. Katherine is an assistant teaching professor at Iowa State University. She teaches several undergraduate communication courses and mentors undergraduate students in their independent research projects. In Fall 2018, she received a $9,000 grant to develop an online health communication course for undergraduate pre-health professionals and other social science majors. Prior to earning her PhD, Katherine worked as a Health Communication Specialist for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. 



Nicole is an undergraduate student at Iowa State University. She is majoring in Communication Studies and double minoring in Public Relations and Classical Studies. She plans to graduate with a Leadership Studies certificate. Nicole is involved with different clubs on campus and enjoys spending time listening to music, studying, being outside, and visiting friends and family.


Sydney Ellis, undergraduate research assistant

Sydney graduated in May 2019 from Iowa State University. She is majored in Psychology. While at Iowa State, Sydney served as a Cyclone Aide, Career Coach, and Undergraduate Research Assistant. She is recently completed her Honors Capstone Project assessing the parental caregivers’ social support needs, with a particular focus on how medical providers can use more helpful supportive communication when interacting with parents of medically complex children.