I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah as well as a member of the Cancer Control and Population Science (CCPS) core at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
As an Associate Professor of Strategic Communication I am interested in the design/evaluation of messages intended to change public behavior. For example, I am currently evaluating the impact of a statewide public service announcement (PSA) campaign designed to increase breast cancer screening. The goal of that research is to assess whether the PSA campaign is effective at increasing mammography utilization. As this example suggests, my research has typically examined the strategic communication of health information. That said, the basic techniques utilized by strategic communication professionals are relatively similiar whether they are selling potato chips or encouraging individuals to screen for breast cancer.
At the undergraduate level, I teach introductory strategic communication courses that train students to work in public relations, advertising, and (more generally) campaign design/evaluation. At the graduate level, I teach courses on health communication, statistics, and measurement. This explains my appointment in Communication and my participation in interdisciplinary cancer control groups.
Interested in learning more about strategic communication at the University of Utah? Click here.
I am currently Chair of the Health Communication Division of the National Communication Association (NCA), the largest organization that serves researchers in the field and the cornerstone of the Coalition for Health Communication (CHC). I was elected Chair after serving as Secretary for two different NCA divisions (Health and Mass Communication). As Secretary of the Health Communication Division, I created and maintained a bi-weekly listserv (called “Health Com Digest”) that posted job ads, grant notices, call for papers, and other business of interest to the discipline.
As Chair, I will help to plan the NCA conference in Chicago (November 2014).
My research on cancer news coverage recently received Article of the Year from the Communicating Science, Health, Environment, & Risk (COMSHER) Division at AEJMC's convention in Chicago. "Including limitations in news coverage of cancer research: Effects of news hedging on fatalism, medical skepticism, patient trust, and backlash, " was selected as the top article in the field by a panel of expert reviewers. In the article, we report the results of an experiment which suggests that streamlined news coverage of cancer research cultivates (among other things) fatalistic thinking about cancer. Streamlining is the process of removing caveats, uncertainties, and limitations from messages and it is common practice in modern journalism. This research indicates that the prevalence of streamlining may explain high levels of cancer fatalism in the U.S. population. Our Health Communication and Technology (HCAT) lab continues to study the causes and effects of cancer fatalism as well as other potentially harmful beliefs such as cancer information overload, cancer worry, and nutritional backlash.
I received the Young Scholar Award from the International Communication Association (ICA) at the 2013 conference in London.
The award honors a scholar no more than seven years past receipt of the Ph.D. for a body of work that has contributed to knowledge of the field of communication and shows promise for continued development. The selection committee judges the contribution and promise of young scholars based on the strength of published work, including its conceptual foundation and argumentative clarity, on the scholar's productivity at a given career stage, on the rigor of the research produced so far, and on the promise of existing work serving as a springboard for continuing scholarship.
Here is a list of past winners:
A previous recipient of this award was Dale Brashers, a member of my doctoral committee and a mentor. Dale passed away several years ago. He is missed.