Our Affiliates

Center Director


Michael Mackert

Michael Mackert, Ph.D.


Dr. Mackert's current research focuses primarily on the strategies that can be used in both traditional and new digital media to provide effective health communication to low health literate audiences. Of particular interest are approaches that go beyond "clear and simple" messages, which can create increased engagement, translating to improved health behavior and outcomes over time. His research has appeared in Health Communication, Patient Education and Counseling, Journal of Health Communication, Qualitative Health Research, and the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Founding Director


Jay Bernhardt

Jay M. Bernhardt, Ph.D., MPH


Jay M. Bernhardt serves as the President of Emerson College and Founding Director of the Center for Health Communication. He has served as faculty at the University of Florida, Emory University, and the University of Georgia, and previously led the National Center for Health Marketing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you are a UT faculty or staff member and interested in becoming an affiliate of the Center, please click below.

Become an Affiliate

Adjunct Affiliates

Headshot of Allison Lazard, UNC Professor

Allison Lazard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Allison Lazard, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lazard’s research revolves around a core interest in how visual design influences message perception and engagement in the digital environment where individuals encounter visual messages at unprecedented rates. Her educational and professional experiences combine to give her a unique research agenda that contributes to a larger body of theoretical knowledge in advertising, visual communication, health communication and science communication.

Shana Merlin

Shana Merlin

Founder, Improviser & Communications Trainer
Merlin Works

Shana founded Merlin Works Improv, in 2003 to provide custom training, interactive presentations, and comedy shows to businesses and organizations using improvisation. Some of her most requested programs are on the topics of team building, communication, sales, persuasion, leadership, medical communications, and creativity.

Rob Milman headshot

Rob Milman, M.D.

Associate Department Head, Department of Medical Education
Texas A&M School of Medicine

Rob Milman, M.D.is the Associate Department Head of the Department of Medical Education at the Texas A&M School of Medicine. Prior to joining Texas A&M, Dr. Milman served as a private practice radiologist for over 25 years and is a former partner with the Austin Radiological Association in Austin, Texas. He has professional interest and expertise in promoting effective health communication and serves as a clinical affiliate with the Center for Health Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Milman was inducted into the Texas A&M School of Medicine Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators in 2019.

Center for Health IPE

Lauren El-Assad

Lauren El-Assad, LCSW

Assistant Director

Lauren El-Assad works with the Director to develop and implement the Center for Health IPE's (CHIPE's) strategic plan in service of its mission. She oversees CHIPE's daily operations; manages and implements the communication strategy; promotes and develops interprofessional programs and activities; sources external revenue for financial support; and connects health professionals to grow health IPE at UT. She has been a member of the UT community since she moved from Chicago to Austin in 2004, working in development and external relations where she honed her skills in program development, volunteer management, event planning, marketing, and fundraising. While working full-time at UT, Ms. El-Assad earned her MSSW at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in 2016.

College of Education

Sarah-Kate Bearman photo

Sarah Kate Bearman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology
College of Education

Sarah Kate Bearman, Ph.D., leads a research program focused on the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based mental health interventions for children and families in low-resource settings. Two complementary objectives of her work are to increase access to effective intervention for children and families and to promote adoption and implementation among providers. Prior work has focused on using provider co-design to increase the user appeal of evidence-based interventions, using video-guided intervention to increase cultural relevance and fidelity of mental health intervention, and the use of electronic measurement feedback systems to guide provider decision-making about mental health intervention. Currently, she is developing a brief e-health intervention to promote positive parenting practices for high-risk families in primary care settings.


Stephanie Cawthon, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Educational Psychology
College of Education

Stephanie Cawthon, Ph.D., focuses her research on the accessibility of information to diverse learners, particularly deaf individuals with a range of educational, social, and workplace experiences. Health communication is one area of growing interest in the field due to the detrimental impact of information deprivation on the physical, emotional, and psychological health of deaf individuals.

Michelle Harrision

Michelle Harrison, Ph.D.

Director, Health & Integrative Physiology Laboratory
Department of Kinesiology and Health Education
College of Education

Michelle’s research interests revolve around the interaction between lifestyle behaviors and risks of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Her primary focus is on identifying specific biomarker ‘fingerprints’ that have the potential to be diagnostic and/or to guide treatment options including lifestyle modification strategies. She believes that there needs to be a shift in emphasis from a ‘reactive’ to a ‘preventative health care system and the way to do that is through education. Those involved in health communication play an integral role in relaying evidence-based messages that lifestyle choices have a direct and significant impact on overall health.

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Keryn E. Pasch, MPH., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education
College of Education

Keryn E. Pasch, MPH, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas, Austin. She received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology with a minor in Interpersonal Relationships Research from the University of Minnesota and her Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research program focuses on the influence of marketing of products such as tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy foods and beverages on youth and young adult risk behaviors as well as the factors that may alter the influence of marketing. Dr. Pasch instructs for both undergraduate and graduate students at UT Austin. Her notable courses include Social Determinants of Health, Impact of Marketing on Public Health, Adolescent Health Risk Behavior, and Foundations of Epidemiology.

Mary Steinhardt

Mary Steinhardt, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education
College of Education

Dr. Steinhardt is the Director of the Stress Adaptation and Health Resilience Lab. Her research focuses on resilience-based diabetes interventions, specifically the effects of psychosocial resilience resources on type 2 diabetes health outcomes through behavioral and biological resilience pathways. Dr. Steinhardt’s interest in health communication stems from a belief that sharing our stories of adversity cultivates psychosocial resilience and improves mental and physical health.

Headshot of Hirofumi Tanaka

Hirofumi Tanaka, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory
Department of Kinesiology and Health Education
College of Education

Dr. Tanaka’s research interest is the influence of aging and lifestyle modifications on cardiovascular function and disease risks. Health communication is an integral component of his research interest because compliance and adherence to dietary, exercise and psychological interventions hinge on the effectiveness of the communications between the investigators and the research participants. He is also actively engaged in the dissemination of health-related findings to the general public through major news media including the New York Times.

College of Liberal Arts

Headshot of S. Scott Graham, Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing in the University of Texas College of Liberal Arts

S. Scott Graham

Associate Professor, Department of Rhetoric and Writing
College of Liberal Arts

S. Scott Graham is an associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric & Writing. He uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to study communication in bioscience and health policy, with special attention to bioethics, conflicts of interest, and health AI.

Tetyana Pudrovska

Tetyana Pudrovska, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Population Research Center
College of Liberal Arts

Tetyana is currently working on two projects. The "Women in Leadership: Linking Stress, Health, and Equality" (WILLSHE) project explores how higher-status occupations and leadership affect women’s and men’s health. She is launching a multi-site and multi-method collection of longitudinal survey data, biomarkers, daily stress diary data, and in-depth interviews to understand how the psychological and physical health costs and rewards of job authority differ between men and women. The "Texas Dyadic Diabetes Study" project focuses on dyadic strategies of diabetes management in white and Hispanic couples in which one partner has type 2 diabetes. The project includes in-depths interviews with patients and their partners, longitudinal survey data, daily diary data, and biomarkers of metabolic health risks.

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James Slotta, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Slotta's research interests center on health “misinformation” and the ways it circulates in online and offline environments, particularly in the global south. His current project explores the way health misinformation circulating online—much of it coming from the global north—finds its way into the offline world of people living in Pacific Island nation of Papua New Guinea, a country with one of the lowest COVID vaccine rates in the world. In a country where most people do not have access to the internet, his research focuses on the intermediaries—trusted sources of health expertise like pastors, journalists, and naturopathic healers—who help to bridge online and offline worlds and, in the process, help to spread digital health misinformation. Ultimately, this project seeks to illuminate the role of offline social environments in furthering the spread of online misinformation in Papua New Guinea and beyond.

College of Pharmacy

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Renee Acosta, R.Ph., M.S.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Clinical Professor, Health Outcomes and Pharmacy Practice
College of Pharmacy

Renee Acosta teaches the Nonprescription Pharmacotherapeutics and Self-Care sequence. In these courses, she instructs student pharmacists on how to interact with patients in an over-the-counter pharmacy (OTC) setting. Her area of interest is in pharmacist-patient communication in the OTC aisle of the local pharmacy, as well as general pharmacist-patient communication as it relates to OTC products regardless of the setting.

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Ashley K. Garling, Pharm.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor
College of Pharmacy

Dr. Garling is a clinical pharmacist with expertise in healthcare communications pertaining to patient engagement, patient adherence, technology, media and advertising, and advanced patient-centric care. She has extensive experience in healthcare professional development, public education, chronic disease management, and creative adherence solutions based upon data analytics. Additionally, Dr. Garling has interests, experience, and certification in media relations, pharmacy financial mitigation strategies, medication therapy management, diabetes, anticoagulant, immunization, and oncology.

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Lucas G. Hill, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCACP

Clinical Assistant Professor
College of Pharmacy

Dr. Hill is a clinical educator and primary care clinician who specializes in chronic disease management and harm reduction advocacy. He is the director of Operation Naloxone, an interprofessional collaboration to prevent opioid overdose deaths in Texas. In this role, he coordinates overdose prevention and response education for health professionals and community members across the state. Check out OperationNaloxone.org for more information!

Janet Walcow

Janet C. Walkow, Ph.D.

Executive Director & CTO, Drug Dynamics Institute and Clinical Professor, Molecular Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery
College of Pharmacy

Everyone gets sick. Thanks to medical innovations, many diseases and conditions have been either mitigated or even cured. Dr. Walkow creates opportunities for students, researchers, and the general public to understand the medicines they take so they can become more informed (and healthier) patients and consumers.

Dell Medical School

Carrie Barron, M.D.

Director of the Creativity for Resilience
Dell Medical School

Dr. Barron serves as Director of Creativity for Resilience Program in addition to instructing in the Department of Medical Education. She is passionate about helping people address psychological concerns through blogs, conversations, and programs. She believes strong relationships, cultural involvements, and insight have a huge impact on recovery, resilience, and health.

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Keli Hawthorne, M.S., R.D.

Director of Clinical Research, Department of Pediatrics
Dell Medical School

Ms. Hawthorne directs the pediatric clinical research interests for Dell Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics, including training faculty and staff to effectively execute high-quality protocols, aligning collaborators and students together, organizing monthly research seminars, and promoting current research efforts to the community.

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Chris Moriates, M.D.

Assistant Dean for Health Care Value, Dept. of Medical Education
Associate Chair of Quality, Safety & Value, Dept. of Internal Medicine
Dell Medical School

Dr. Moriates is focused on communicating how patients and clinicians can work together to improve health care value – achieving better outcomes that matter to patients at lower costs. This work includes discussing areas of harmful overuse in medicine and principles of the Choosing Wisely campaign.

Michael Pignone photo

Michael Pignone, M.D., MPH

Inaugural Chair and Professor of Internal Medicine
Dell Medical School

The research of Dr. Pignone is focused on chronic disease screening, prevention, and treatment, and on improving medical decision making, particularly in heart disease prevention, colorectal cancer screening, and management of common chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart failure. He is interested in developing interventions that mitigate literacy-related health disparities and improve the use of appropriate preventive services.
Assistant: Janis VanderBerg, jvanderberg@austin.utexas.edu

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Dan Richards, M.D.

Associate Chair for Academic Affairs, Department of Pediatrics
Dell Medical School

Dr. Richard's interests include educational innovations in teaching, coaching, and assessing communication skills for the clinical setting. This includes communication between healthcare providers and patients and their families, as well as interprofessional communication within healthcare teams, to improve healthcare safety and value.

Headshot of Robin Richardson, an affiliate of the Center for Health Communication

Robin Richardson, M.A.

Assistant Director of Care Delivery Transformation & Community Engagement, LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes

Robin completed her M.A. in International Human Rights with a concentration in global health at the University of Denver where she was a health policy researcher on South Africa for Human Rights Advocacy Clinic and Rwanda for Water for People. At the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes, she works in clinical project implementation, patient experience, and community engagement. She is particularly interested in interpersonal communications between providers and with patients, as well as effectively providing patient education so that cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones can fully understand their disease, treatment options, and next steps.

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Steve Steffensen, M.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Neurology
Associate Professor, Department of Population Health
Dell Medical School

The creation of a "Learning Health System" is dependent on the ability to apply the best evidence for the collaborative healthcare choices of each patient and provider. Effective communications are central to the success of this effort especially as Dell Medical School seeks to expand the scope of a Learning Health System to incorporate more community engagement that augments the work already being done in Central Texas to improve Health and Health Outcomes.

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Carmen R. Valdez, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Population Health
Dell Medical School
Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Dr. Valdez is interested in how families communicate about stress and psychological wellbeing. She developed a family-focused intervention for immigrant Latinx families, Fortalezas Familiares (Family Strengths). The intervention focuses on recognition and understanding of depression and stress within the family, and on families’ establishment of shared goals and needed supports via informal and formal communication channels. Dr. Valdez is also interested in how transnational families—those with ties with family members in the U.S. and in their country of origin—use communication via technology to foster family unity and support.

Division of Student Affairs

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Brittany O’Malley

Assistant Director for Prevention, Longhorn Wellness Center
University Health Services
Division of Student Affairs

Brittany's interests lie in using social norms and social marketing to address college student health behaviors and environments.

LBJ School of Public Affairs

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Abigail Aiken, Ph.D., M.D., MPH

Associate Professor
LBJ School of Public Affairs

Abigail Aiken is an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her M.D. at the University of Cambridge, her MPH at Harvard University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Her current projects include examining women's experiences obtaining a safe abortion in contexts where access is restricted, evaluating programs and policies affecting access to contraception, and investigating the determinants and impacts of unintended pregnancies through a health equity and reproductive justice framework.

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Michael Hole, M.D., MBA

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics & Population Health
LBJ School of Public Affairs
Dell Medical School

Social worker turned pediatrician and entrepreneur, Michael Hole teaches public policy, cares for high-risk street youths, and builds antipoverty organizations helping children get and stay healthy.

McCombs School of Business

Dr. Leanne H. Field, Ph.D.

Leanne H. Field, Ph.D.

Director of Digital Healthcare Innovation
Clinical Professor
McCombs School of Business
College of Natural Sciences

Dr. Leanne Field is a clinical professor at The University of Texas at Austin and the director of the Public Health and Medical Laboratory Science Programs in the College of Natural Sciences. Dr. Field holds an appointment as an adjunct associate professor of public health at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, School of Public Health. In addition to directing the HIHIT Professional Education Program, Dr. Field leads the faculty and affiliate faculty in the HIHIT Program as they engage in innovation and research.

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Kristie J. Loescher, M.P.H.

Director, Healthcare Initiative
McCombs School of Business

The main area of interest for Kristie Loescher is healthcare delivery systems. She teaches courses in healthcare systems management for both BBA and MBA students. Her academic publications and consulting focus on healthcare management and reform, process improvement, change management, and diversity management. Prior to her career in academia, she earned an MPH from the University of Michigan and worked in the healthcare industry for 15 years in the areas of quality assurance, utilization management, and clinical research. She is currently the director for curriculum and community engagement for the McCombs School of Business Healthcare Initiative.

Moody College of Communication

Lucy Atkinson

Lucy Atkinson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Atkinson (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin – Madison) studies the connections between mass media, consumer culture, and environmental sustainability, with attention paid to environmental and political communication’s role in fostering forms of sustainable citizenship. She focuses on the ways message components (like visual elements, argument frames, source factors) in environmental communication campaigns interact with other message components to influence environmental attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Current projects look at the role of positive and negative emotions in climate change communication, the impact of moral licensing in environmental consumer behavior, and the use of celebrity endorsements in green advertising.

Donna Ballard

Dawna I. Ballard, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Moody College of Communication

Joshua Barbour

Joshua Barbour, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Barbour recognizes the importance of healthcare organizations as sites of organizational communication phenomena such as interprofessional communication and organizational change. He is also interested in health stemming from organizations, exemplified by his work on the communicative accomplishment of safety, reliability, and resilience in complex industrial systems.

Mary Bock

Mary Angela Bock, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, School of Journalism
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Bock, Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism, is interested in women's health, social equality, and healthcare access; the latter two being essential for the well-being of individuals and the community. Her work investigates the way visual media can better serve health providers and their stakeholders. She is also interested in the way journalism can mediate effective health communication. Dr. Bock's notable courses include Qualitative Methods and Critical-Cultural Theory for Graduate Students, Visual Media & the News, and Gender & the News for Undergraduate Students.

Professor Courtney Byrd

Courtney Byrd, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Founding Director, Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute
Moody College of Communication

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Wenhong Chen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film
Moody College of Communication

A media sociologist, Dr. Chen examines the health implications of communication and media technologies from a network perspective. Her work on causes and consequences of informational and participatory eHealth behaviors has been published in top-ranked journals in communication, sociology, and information science.

Headshot of Erica Ciszek, affiliate of the CHC

Erica Ciszek, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Stan Richard School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Erica's interests in health communication lie at the intersections of public relations and social change, with a specific focus on power and inequity with attention to historically marginalized communities. They are particularly interested in sexual and gender minorities, as well as structural and institutional inequities that contribute to health outcomes.

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Anthony Dudo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Anthony Dudo (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) researches the intersection of science, media, and society. He is particularly interested in scientists’ public communication activities; media representations of science, health, and environmental issues; and the contributions of informational and entertainment media to public perceptions of science. His recent work has examined factors influencing scientists’ likelihood to engage in public communication, the effects of television entertainment programs on public attitudes toward science, and media depictions of health pandemics and controversial biomedical and technological innovations. Dr. Dudo’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, and he is a Kavli Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He also currently chairs the Communicating Science, Health, Environment, and Risk Division of AEJMC, and won the UT system’s Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2016.

Headshot of Lee Ann Kahlor

Lee Ann Kahlor, Ph.D.

Professor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Kahlor's primary research interest is in health and environmental risk communication with an emphasis on information seeking and processing. A secondary interest is in cultural and racial norms related to health behaviors and message processing. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Center for Induced Seismicity at UT, and the Department of Energy. Her research has been published in Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, Science Communication, Communication Research, and elsewhere.

Deena Kemp

Deena Kemp, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Kemp's health communication interests include emotion and information processing, strategic message design, attentional processes, and behavioral decision making as they apply to vulnerable and underserved populations, adolescent risk behavior, and global health development issues.

Headshot of Matthew McGlone

Matthew McGlone, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Moody College of Communication

Dr. McGlone (Ph.D., Princeton) is Associate Director of the Center for Health Communication. Dr. McGlone studies persuasion and social influence in health contexts. His current projects investigate persuasive technologies for promoting HPV vaccination and protecting seniors from financial exploitation; provider-patient conversations about acute and chronic pain; strategic language choices in advocacy of health; police - social worker coordination of care for child abuse survivors; linguistic features of addiction/cessation narratives; public understanding of medical identity theft risk and self-protective measures.


Dhiraj Murthy, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Journalism
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Murthy is a media scholar interested in the ways in which social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook shape health communication. He has primarily studied social media in relation to cancer communities, tobacco cessation, and mental health outreach. He uses mixed methods, combining qualitative ethnography with big data computational analytics to gain insights into the emergent roles social media play in health communication.

Jeeyun Oh, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Jeeyun Oh (Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University) specializes in the psychology of new media interfaces and health communication. Her experimental research explores the potential of interactive media technologies to enhance user engagement and persuade users with health messages while delving into the intersection between health communication theories and interactivity research. Her current projects examine the persuasive effects of interactive anti-smoking websites and data visualization tools in obesity prevention websites.

Headshot of Valerie Salinas-Davis, affiliate of the CHC

Valerie Salinas-Davis

Assistant Professor of Instruction, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Valerie specializes in creating comprehensive public service campaigns that prevent or change behavior and protect public health and the environment. She would like to explore the public health effects of climate change, and the parallels between the debunking of science related to climate change and COVID-19 immunizations.

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Keri Stephens, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Stephens’s health-communication-related research focuses on the use of health information technologies (HITs) including mobile devices, interprofessional communication, healthcare organizations, workplace wellness, crisis and emergency communication, and message designs that include identity, productive redundancy, and overload reduction. Dr. Stephens published 54 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, 16 invited book chapters/encyclopedia entries, 1 edited book, and 112 conference presentations. She has led or participated in funded projects from multiple non-profit, NGO, corporate, and academic entities. She has also partnered with the Austin community often, working with Austin Regional Clinic, CommUnity Care, and Dell Children’s Hospital.

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Jeffrey W. Treem, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Moody College of Communication

Jeffrey W. Treem (Ph.D., Northwestern University) studies the relationship between technology use and social perceptions of expertise, primarily in organizational contexts. His interests include how scientists, physicians, and other health workers seek and exchange knowledge, and how this communication may influence collaborative work. Dr. Treem is currently involved in a project funded by the National Institutes of Health exploring the use of social media technologies by medical researchers.

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Sean Upshaw, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Upshaw's research interest consists of health disparity and communication with a focus on visual information and persuasion in health communication. The primary research focus of Dr. Upshaw’s research explores and explicates what/how/why underserved populations in the United States engage with health messages.

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Anita L. Vangelisti, Ph.D.

Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Graduate Education
Professor, Department of Communication Studies
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Vangelisti's current research interests focus primarily on how human communication creates and reflects the emotions and interpretive processes that occur in intimate relationships. She is concerned with how people in close relationships talk, interpret interactions, and how their communication influences their physical and mental health.

Gary Wilcox, Ph.D.

John A. Beck Centennial Professor, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
Moody College of Communication

Dr. Wilcox is a globally recognized expert on social media, advertising research, and branding. His opinions and work have been featured in such national and local media as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, KUT public radio, and AdWeek, among others. Dr. Wilcox holds a Ph.D. from Michigan State University and two degrees from UT Austin. His most recent interests include unstructured data analysis, social media analytic models, and advertising's effects on alcohol products and brands. Dr. Wilcox was featured on The Academic Minute discussing his alcohol advertising research.

School of Information

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John Robert Bautista, RN, MPH, Ph.D.

Bullard Research Fellow
School of Information

Dr. Bautista completed his Ph.D. in Communication Science at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, his Master of Public Health at the University of the Philippines - Manila, and his BS Nursing at Trinity University of Asia. His research examines the role and impact of consumer technologies (smartphones, social media, and blockchain) in healthcare and non-healthcare contexts.

Headshot of Ciaran Trace, affiliate of the CHC

Ciaran B. Trace, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
School of Information

Ciaran's research interests include studying what constitutes a literate society and the role that people play in creating and sustaining literate environments. Using a variety of methods (historical, qualitative, quantitative, and experimental) Ciaran studies the nature of information objects, the history of information institutions and information work, the use and deployment of information in everyday and in professional settings, and the impact of information on the daily lives of individuals and of members of social groups. From a health perspective, Ciaran's research is illuminating the information worlds of disparate groups, including that of self-trackers and of ovarian cancer patients and their families.

Headshot of Yan Zhang, affiliate of the CHC

Yan Zhang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
School of Information

Dr. Yan Zhang studies consumer health information needs and information search behavior in everyday life context. She is interested in how people’s information search behaviors, including the selection of information sources, interaction with search systems, and evaluation of the quality of online health information, are affected by psychosocial factors and technological artifacts. Further, she is interested in designing user-centered information interventions to help users more effectively access high-quality online health information.

School of Nursing

Headshot of Kavita Radhakrishnan

Kavita Radhakrishnan, Ph.D., MSEE, RN, FAAN

Associate Professor
School of Nursing

Dr. Radhakrishnan's interests include the use of technology such as telehealth, and digital games to communicate with and engage older adult patients with chronic disease self-management; socio-technical aspects of health technology, along with their sustainability; innovative communication strategies to engage Asian Indians in health promotion (including advanced care planning) behaviors.

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Lorraine O. Walker, RN, Ed.D., MPH

Luci B. Johnson Centennial Professor
School of Nursing

Dr. Walker's health communication interests include Health screening and decision aids for the behavioral and psychosocial care of postpartum women in clinical care and online resources; new mothers’ use of online resources for health information; and assessment of quality, accuracy, and readability of health-related website for consumers.

Headshot of Bo Xie, professor in the School of Nursing and School of Information

Bo Xie, Ph.D., FGSA

School of Nursing
School of Information

Dr. Bo Xie received her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2006), her MS in Psychology from Peking University, and her B.Med.Sci. from the West China School of Medicine in Chengdu, China. Her research focuses on health informatics interventions that can promote older adults’ use of information and communication technologies for health information, communication, and decision-making (i.e., e-health literacy) that may have important implications for patient-provider relationships and health outcomes. As Principal Investigator, she has been awarded a number of research grants from federal funding agencies including the NIH, NSF, and IMLS.

Cara Young

Cara Calloway Young, Ph.D., RN, FNP-C, FAANP

Associate Professor
School of Nursing

Dr. Young’s program of research focuses on adolescent mental health promotion and prevention of mental health disorders, primarily in the primary care setting. In her work developing integrated behavioral and mental health mindfulness-based interventions for youth, she is interested in producing developmentally appropriate health communication for optimizing health and wellness.

Steve Hicks School of Social Work

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Elisa Borah, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor
Director, Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness
Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Dr. Borah's interests include engagement with stakeholders to improve mental health care systems, improved access to evidence-based mental health care treatment options and support for military and veteran populations, and development of peer support and other supportive programming for veterans, veteran spouses, and their families.

Kasey Claborn

Kasey Claborn, Ph.D.

Director, Addiction Research Institute
Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Kasey Claborn is a research scientist and licensed clinical psychologist. She is an assistant professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and the Department of Psychiatry at Dell Medical School, and an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Claborn’s research interests broadly focus on the syndemics of addiction and infectious disease. Her research seeks to improve clinical outcomes of vulnerable and at-risk patients through improving care coordination and communication at the systems level and promoting health behavior change at the patient level.


Lori K. Holleran Steiker, Ph.D., ACSW

Steve Hicks Professor of Addiction, Recovery and Substance Abuse Services
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Steve Hicks School of Social Work

As a researcher and practitioner in the area of youth and substance use disorders, treatment and recovery, and as a liaison with community agencies and Dell Medical School around bridges to the community, Dr. Holleran Steiker is interested in the following health communication factors: Lowering stigma associated with substance use disorders and recovery, interdisciplinary exploration of addiction and recovery solutions, dissemination of impact of recovery on academic variables and efficacy of recovery schools (e.g., University High School, Austin’s first sober high school; UT Center for Students in Recovery, etc.) and ways to involve UT students in solving the problem of youth substance use, the opioid epidemic, and the need for overdose prevention initiatives on and off-campus.

Barbara Jones

Barbara Jones, Ph.D.

Josleen and Frances Lockhart Memorial Professor for Direct Practice in Social Work
Assistant Dean for Health Affairs
Co-Director for The Institute for Palliative Care and Family Survival
Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Dr. Jones serves as Associate Dean of Health Affairs for the School of Social Work, Co-Director of the Institute for Collaborative Health Research and Practice, and Associate Director of Social Sciences and Community Based Research for LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes and the Dell Medical School. She is particularly interested in pediatric, adolescent, and young adult oncology along with prognosis, palliative care, and patient-family-provider communication. Dr. Jones feels that focusing on palliative care and patient-family-provider communication can lead to improved outcomes, quality of care, and quality of life. As a professor of both Social Work and Population Health, Dr. Jones leads courses such as Foundations of Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (Transformative Teams in Health Care), Interprofessional Seminar on Psychosocial Oncology, Living with Dying, and Social Work in Health, Grief, and Loss.