Your Name: Lucy Niess
Please introduce yourself: Who are you and what are your research/teaching/activist interests?
My name is Lucy and I am a critical interpersonal scholar who specializes in polyamorous relationships, experiences, and identities (among other things relating to non-normative relationships). Basically, I just like to talk to people who are different and get their perspectives on how they go about their relationships that the public might not know about. I also have a fascination with methodologies and the different ways we collect and analyze knowledge and data. Teaching-wise, I tend to focus on interpersonal communication and how to conduct research.
What are you passionate about?
My #1 passion in life is learning. It would have been rather difficult to succeed in a PhD program without the passion for learning and picking up new information wherever I go. I tend to gravitate towards people who can teach me about random stuff (I mean one of my partners is a trivia wizard and another partner is a librarian, so I feel like I hit the jackpot with them when it comes to learning new things). My curiosity knows no bounds, so I am constantly seeking new knowledge to learn how the world ticks and how the people who inhabit it live their lives.
What does transformation mean to you?
Oohh…interesting question. I think of transformation like a phoenix (and not because I live in Arizona). Where a phoenix rises from the ashes and is born anew, I think of transformation in a similar way. Oftentimes we hit a snag in life and perhaps even rock bottom, but there is only one way to go from there and that is up. Transformation means to heal and learn and thrive past hardships and be born into something new and stronger than who we were when we fell. It is an ongoing process with its own ups and downs, but the goal is to come out the other end better than how you entered it.
What do you value most about the Transformation Project?
I absolutely adore and value the community and collaborative energy. I couldn’t have accomplished what I have during my time in the program had it not been for the people in the Transformation Project. The openness to work together and lift one another up and support each other is something that I will actively look for in every organization I find myself in. I have met such wonderful people who helped me through the most difficult times in my life and I am happy whenever I get to spend time with them within the project.
How has the Transformation Project supported you and your work in the past?
Financially, they funded a project I did on consent by paying for travel to a specific event in San Francisco and then to present that project to an international conference. They also helped fund travel expenses to a conference to present a study on youth sport that I was a collaborator on with members of the Transformation Project (thank you, Dr. Alaina Zanin and Laura Martinez!).
Interpersonally, they supported me by giving me something to work towards. I have thought about throwing in the towel a couple of times, but it was the community of people in the Transformation Project that reminded me that I am not alone and that we all support one another through difficult times. There were those in the Transformation Project who saw potential in me and worked with me, and I have the utmost gratitude towards them.
In what ways do you want to transform the future?
I want to transform the future into one that is more caring about its neighbors and recognizes the circle of influence we have on one another. We are all more connected than we think, and I want the future to be more aware of that. I would like to transform the future to embody this “polyamorous ethic” of recognizing that how we live our lives affects those whom we might not have a direct connection to but is still just as important to consider.
What is your favorite dessert (and can you share a recipe for it)?
New York-style cheesecake! I might have a recipe buried deep in a cookbook somewhere… I don’t have a secret family recipe or anything. I just like eating it!