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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies

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Faculty & Staff

Erin K. Willer

Erin K. Willer, Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Teaching Instructors

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Teaching Instructors
Sturm Hall, Room 286
[email protected]



  • BS, Illinois State University
  • MS, Illinois State University
  • PhD, University of Nebraska, Lincoln


Erin Willer’s research focuses on understanding and practicing communication that fosters empathy and compassion in the face of medical and relational trauma. Often guided by narrative theorizing and creative methodologies, Erin’s work centers on reproductive challenges, including infertility and baby loss, and on social aggression (e.g., gossip, social exclusion). Dr. Willer is a heA/R/Tist, interweaving the roles of artist, researcher, and teacher into scholarship dedicated to working with and empowering communities. Her latest work includes The Scraps of the Heart Project (, a community-based research collective dedicated to empowering families and educating communities about baby loss through research and art making. As the Director of Graduate Teaching Instructors, Dr. Willer leads a program titled Teaching With HeART, a series of workshops dedicated to exploring the intersections between narrative and pedagogy through appreciating, practicing, and engaging with art. Erin’s work can be found in journals including, Communication Monographs, Health Communication, Communication Studies, Journal of Family Communication, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Personal Relationships, and Qualitative Communication Research.