Bio: Kelli (Bendickson) Gardner is a native of Forest City Iowa. After graduating from
Forest City High School in 1996, she attended Iowa State University, where she earned
her B.S. in psychology in 2000, her M.S. in psychology in 2003, and completed her
PhD in psychology in 2005. She joined Waldorf College in 2005 to establish their new
bachelor’s program in psychology, and came to Peru State College in 2009.
During her time at Iowa State University, Dr. Gardner conducted research in two main
areas. First, she studied social support, which involves what people say and do in
an effort to help others who are experiencing stressful situations. Later, she examined
relationship satisfaction in long distance romantic relationships from multiple theoretical
perspectives. Dr. Gardner continues to conduct research but especially enjoys mentoring
undergraduate students as they design and conduct their own research projects. Several
of these collaborations have resulted in student presentations at regional conferences
including the Midwestern Psychological Association, NPS/PERK Undergraduate Research
Conference, and the Great Plains Undergraduate Psychology Conference.
Despite enjoying research, Dr. Gardner considers herself a teacher first. She has
taught a wide variety of classes in psychology and won awards at both Iowa State University
and Waldorf College for excellence in teaching.
At Peru State College, Dr. Gardner served as the director of the Honors Program from
2012-2016 and recently led the psychology program’s successful effort to establish
their first-ever chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society of Psychology.