CSU graduate returns as assistant professor: Q&A with Kristen Morris

Kristen Morris standing in front of greenery.
Kristen Morris

Kristen Morris is an assistant professor in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. Learn more about why she came to CSU and her research interests in creating functional clothing for niche and underrepresented markets.

1. What brought you to the Department of Design and Merchandising at CSU?

I am a two-time graduate of CSU and the Department of Design and Merchandising. Being an assistant professor at my alma matter is a bit of a homecoming for me! I graduated from DM with my Bachelor of Science and Master of Science over eight years ago. In the interim, I was completing my Ph.D. from Cornell University, then became an assistant professor at the University of Missouri. It was because of the excellent mentorship from the faculty in DM that I knew I wanted to come back and be part of this top-tier department!

2. What are your research interests, and how did you get into that topic?

In my research, I utilize a user-centered design approach to create functional clothing for niche and underrepresented markets. I explore ways to enhance the overall performance of apparel through a technology-enabled process. For example, I use 3D body scanning, laser cutting and other advanced technologies to create garments for female firefighters, breastfeeding women, female-to-male transgender individuals, people living with disabilities and others needing unique apparel solutions. I got into this topic through my love of the problem-identification and problem-solving processes. I find people who have unmet clothing needs and find the best design process and technology to address their needs!

3. What’s your teaching philosophy?

I frame my courses by integrating my research into the classroom and providing students with hands-on experiences using advanced apparel technologies. I challenge students to think about the broader ideas of inclusive design to improve clothing for ALL apparel users. I believe, through thought exercises like this, students can improve garment innovation for any market without excluding underserved and underrepresented apparel consumers with unmet clothing needs.

4. What’s your favorite thing about campus?

My favorite thing about campus is that you can see the beautiful Rocky Mountains from relatively any location on campus. I love telling everyone the story of how the name Horsetooth Reservoir came to be!

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.