Meet Dr. Mary Fornoff

CATEGORIES: Faculty Focus

In the past year, Communication Studies has continued to grow and prosper at Iowa State. Our program was very fortunate to be able to make an incredibly talented and experienced hire. Dr. Mary Fornoff (she/her/hers) began teaching at Iowa State in the Fall of 2019.

“I took a few Communication courses in college and found the material to be interesting,” Dr. Fornoff recalled. “I wanted to learn more, so I switched my major to Communication. With the help of inspiring faculty members, I became interested in jury decision-making, social ostracism, teams, and conflict.”

“I knew I wanted to teach when I was in my Communication Studies M.A. program,” she continued. “I was offered a teaching assistantship, and was the solo instructor for my courses. I enjoyed class discussions and hearing how students were applying the materials to their lives outside the classroom. I was hooked.”

Before working at ISU, Dr. Fornoff taught for nine years at West Chester University. “I moved to central Iowa for family reasons, and reached out to the program director, David Vogel, to find out if the program had a need for additional faculty.” As it turned out, our program was searching for faculty, and Dr. Fornoff applied for the position. After a very competitive search, she was offered the position. “It was a great fit,” Dr. Fornoff agreed.

Dr. Fornoff’s areas of expertise are Group Dynamics and Research Methods. “The research on group dynamics is fascinating,” says Dr. Fornoff. “We can learn about influences on our behavior while in groups: norms, decision-making, conflict, group development, performance. I enjoy teaching this class because every course concept, every lesson, can be applied directly to students’ lives today.”

“Understanding research methods is understanding how to analyze data and reach conclusions. These skills are critical today. Assessing inputs, processes, and outputs, and theorizing about explanatory mechanisms, allows each of us to analyze the information we encounter. We can inquire and investigate data for ourselves rather than believing what the loudest voice is saying.”

Dr. Fornoff’s career goals are to continue to teach. “I want to continue developing lessons, activities, and applications so my students are able to improve communication in their social and professional spheres. I want to develop new course material and courses to meet the needs of the changing world.”

“Perhaps my favorite things about ISU is the sense of community,” Dr. Fornoff said. “The administration, faculty, and staff have been welcoming and supportive. The students are bright, hardworking, and friendly. I enjoy coming to campus and being part of the Cy community.”