Dr. Leslie R. Nelson

Assistant Professor


Office Location
Faculty Office North (47) 36-N

Office Telephone

Email Address



  • Family Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Public Speaking



  • Ph.D. University of Missouri, 2018
  • M.A. University of Missouri, 2014
  • B.A. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2012



Dr. Leslie R. Nelson joined the Communication Studies faculty in 2018. Her research examines how communication affects and reflects identity, sense-making, and well-being in diverse family forms. She has explored these topics in a number of contexts, including foster families, adoptive families, interfaith families, and mother-daughter relationships. These studies appear in journals such as Communication Monographs, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Journal of Family Communication, Western Journal of Communication, Communication Quarterly, Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, and Journal of Family Theory & Review. Dr. Nelson also co-authored a book, titled Growing Up Fast and Slow: Young Adults Reflect on Adulthood in Contemporary America.  


Dr. Nelson’s devotion to her research is matched by her passion for teaching. As a teacher-scholar of applied interpersonal/family communication, her primary goal is to teach students to be creative and critical thinkers who are passionate about using their communication skills for the good of their community. Dr. Nelson was the recipient of the Loren Reid Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award in 2014 and 2017 at the University of Missouri, where she also obtained a certified minor in College Teaching. In 2019, Dr. Nelson was the recipient of two departmental awards at Cal Poly: Outstanding Educator in GE Courses and Faculty Role Model of the Year. She currently teaches courses on family communication, interpersonal communication, and public speaking. 


In her spare time, Dr. Nelson enjoys skiing, hiking, traveling, cooking, reading, attending concerts, and entertaining her dog, Piper.




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