Greta Stuhlsatz

Greta pursues research at Iowa State with the help of faculty

Greta Stuhlsatz grew up in La Center, Washington. When it came time to decide where she’d continue her graduate education, she looked at schools in different parts of the United States. After meeting Brenda Lohman at the National Council on Family Relations conference, she knew she wanted to work with Lohman. After applying, a three-year fellowship offer from Iowa State cinched her decision.

Greta was interested in studying with Lohman because their research interests matched. Greta wanted to write her dissertation on how a hooking up culture impacts romantic relationships in young adults.

“College students are hooking up and developing relationships,” she said. “I’m interested if having sex before being romantically committed affects the relationship development. And if it does, what processes like communication can improve it in the long run.”

Greta’s interest in hooking up and its potential side effects for students, stemmed from her experience as a residential aide during her undergraduate years. Her students would come to her with questions, but at the time Greta didn’t know how to help them.

“They were struggling with aspects from the pressure to have sex and the ambiguous nature of it,” she said. “I didn’t know how to help them, so I started to study it.”

Once she was accepted to Iowa State, Greta started working with Lohman, researching the effects of hook ups, but also examining if other factors like living in low-income environments, sexuality, and education impact an individual’s potential for risky sexual behavior.

Greta said she’s really happy she got to work with Lohman and other faculty because she tried new things.

“Faculty is why I came here, and I’m glad it worked out,” she said. “Being exposed to the faculty helped with the rigor of research and the new project. I wouldn’t look at low income aspects if not for Dr. Lohman, and it’s been really rewarding.”

Greta completed her master’s thesis and recently submitted it to a few journals for publication. Originally, she wanted to research sexual behavior of older adults in nursing homes, but she was told to make her idea more accessible. Greta changed, and is glad she did, but she also has a piece of advice for other graduate students working on their thesis.

“If someone says it’s not feasible, get another opinion,” she said. “There are a lot of big ideas people want to cover, and it may feel impossible, but you can still do parts of it.”