Research Projects

*Denotes UT-Austin faculty or student

Cancer Research

Text Message Tailoring for Promoting HPV Vaccination

Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. $41,000 subcontract from UT Health Science Center at Houston to test the efficacy of different text message formats for encouraging parents to initiate HPV vaccination of their children. June 2014 - May 2016.

Maria Fernandez, PhD (UTHSC). *Matthew S. McGlone, PhD; *Keri K. Stephens, PhD

Breast Cancer Advertisements

Study focused on the evolution of pink and cancer-oriented ads during October over time.

*Michael Mackert, PhD (co-author)

An Interactive Preventive Health Record to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening

National Cancer Institute, 1 R01 CA166375. Total Award: $611,589. 2013-2018.

*Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH (Consultant); Resa M. Jones, PhD, MPH (PI – Virginia Commonwealth University)

In-person and Digital Support for Young Adult Cancer Survivors: A Comparison of Workloads and Information-Source Trust

This project compares the utility of in-person and online support groups to understand how best to support psychosocial needs. $12,500. Ends in 2014.

*Brad Love, PhD


Health & Advertising/Marketing

Breast Cancer Advertisements

Study focused on the evolution of pink and cancer-oriented ads during October over time.

*Michael Mackert, PhD (co-author)

Unhealthy food and beverage advertising around schools

National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute R03CA158962. $141,826. March 1, 2011 – February 28, 2015.

*Keryn E. Pasch, MPH, PhD (PI)


Health & Aging

Marital Life Course and Late-Life Health: A Biopsychosocial Approach. (Under second review)

R01 resubmitted to the National Institute on Aging as part of P01 “The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study: Tracking the Life Course.” January 1 2014 – present.

*Tetyana Pudrovska, PhD; (Co-I); Deborah Carr, PhD (PI - Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)


Health & Ethnicity/Race

Exploring Culturally-Linked Motivational and User-Generated Internet-based Communication Strategies Related to Cigar Use and Alteration among African-American Young Adults.

St. David’s Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Research in Underserved Populations, UT-Austin. Survey data have been collected and are being analyzed; message development and testing will occur in next phase. $25,000. January 15, 2014 - February 2, 2015.

*Lee Ann Kahlor, PhD (Co-I); *Kentya Ford, Dr.P.H., M.S. (PI)

SMS & Social Media to Help Young Latino Adults Quit Smoking

Texting service with embedded social media to help young South Texas adults quit smoking.

*Alfred L McAlister, PhD (Co-PI); Amelie Ramirez, PhD, MPH (PI – The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio)

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Salud-America!

This project promotes policy and environmental changes to reduce child obesity in Latino communities

*Alfred L McAlister, PhD (Co-I); Amelie Ramirez, PhD, MPH (PI – The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio)

A School-Based Gardening Obesity Intervention for Minority Children

(Pending final approval) Grant number: 1 R01 HL123865-01A1. The overall goal of this study is to conduct a controlled school- based gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention to improve dietary intake and reduce obesity and related metabolic disorders in predominantly Hispanic, low income children. April 2015 – March 2020.

*Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP

Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Late-Life Mortality: Sex and Race Differences

Grant R03AG040037, National Institute on Aging. Total costs: $122,180. September 1, 2011 –August 31, 2014.

*Tetyana Pudrovska, PhD (PI)


Health & Gender/Sexuality

Gender and Development Book Research (in progress)

*Karin Gwinn Wilkins, PhD

Men and Breastfeeding

Investigates approaches for engaging men as breastfeeding advocates. A related project will look at the intersection of breastfeeding and co-sleeping.

*Michael Mackert, PhD (PI)

Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Late-Life Mortality: Sex and Race Differences

Grant R03AG040037, National Institute on Aging. Total costs: $122,180. September 1, 2011 – August 31, 2014.

*Tetyana Pudrovska, PhD

Reducing physical pain affects social pain: Sex differences in the influence of a physical pain reliever on ratings and descriptions of social pain.

Prior research suggests there may be sex differences in the influence of physical pain relievers of individuals' experience of social pain. This study is being conducted to investigate the extent to which those differences exist and, if so, whether the differences can be accounted for by the cognitive resources available to individuals who experience hurt.

Nicholas Brody, PhD (University of Puget Sound); Trey Guinn, PhD (University of the Incarnate World); *Rebecca M. Kurlak, MA; Nelson, E.; *James W. Pennebaker, PhD; *Anita L. Vangelisti, PhD

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Health & Linguistics

Linguistic Agency Assignment in Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising

Linguistic analyses of DTC advertisements, focusing on differences in the way that sentences describing drug benefits and side effects are constructed. June 2013 – present.

Leah LeFebvre, PhD (the University of Wyoming); *Matthew S. McGlone, PhD


Health & Nanotechnology

Talking Nano: Nanoscientists as Public Communicators

National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN). In preparation – Nano ethics: How nanoscientists evaluate and communicate the ethical dimensions of their research (with Dudo, Liang, Lazard, and AbiGhannam). $20,000. 2012 – 2014.

*Anthony Dudo, PhD (Co-PI); *Lee Ann Kahlor, PhD (Co-PI)

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Health & Personal Identity

Identity Literacy Scale Development

UT Center for Identity. $45,316 used to develop a scale for measuring people's literacy regarding the management and protection of personally identifiable information (SSN, medical records, etc.) from "identity theft." June 2014 - May 2015.

*Dawna I. Ballard, PhD; *Brenda L. Berkelaar, PhD; *Matthew S. McGlone, PhD

Center for Identity, UT Austin, Global Project for Identity Management

$5 million appropriation received by the Texas State Legislature to enable the Center for Identity to become a global resource for identity management, privacy, and security. Two teams are conducting research on behalf of the Center. This includes a study on mobile wallet use and research on convenience versus security tradeoffs. 2013 – present.

*Dawna I. Ballard, PhD (led two research teams of behalf of the Center)

Social identity and employer-sponsored health dissemination

Stephens, K. K., Pastorek, A., Crook, B., Mackert, M., Donovan-Kicken, E., Shalev, H. (in press).

*Keri K. Stephens, PhD (Co-PI); Michael Mackert, PhD (Co-PI); Erin Donovan, PhD (Co-PI)


Health & Work Overload

Scale development on Overload, including health and work overload (2014-2016)

*Keri K. Stephens, PhD (PI)


Health & Personal Relationships

What happens when the standard for openness goes unmet in romantic relationships? Cross-sectional analyses of stress, coping, and relational consequences

The purposes of this investigation are to explore the stress elicited when the standard for openness goes unmet, identify the coping strategies individuals engage in when faced with this stress, and assess the consequences of coping efforts for individuals and their relationships. November, 2014.

Thompson, C. M.; *Anita L. Vangelisti, PhD

“Good reasons” for telling secrets: The morality of secrecy

This study is being conducted to examine the moral assessments associated with revealing secrets about other people. Individuals' criteria for revealing secrets are tested, the secrets that people revealed "good reasons” are examined and some of the factors that may influence people’s moral evaluations concerning reasons for revealing others’ secrets are explored.

Nelson, E. C.; *Anita L. Vangelisti, PhD

Does time heal all wounds?: A turning point analysis of forgiveness in romantic relationships

This study focuses on how and why individuals forgive a relationship partner for a hurtful transgression. Turning point analyses was employed to examine the reasons partners provided for changes in their forgiveness, to explore the possibility that certain trajectories or pathways characterize the forgiveness process, and to test whether forgiveness trajectories differ as a function of the severity and degree of hurt evoked by the transgression.

Jessica Parker-Raley, Ph.D. (The University of Texas at San Antonio); *Vangelisti, A. L.

Reducing physical pain affects social pain: Sex differences in the influence of a physical pain reliever on ratings and descriptions of social pain

Prior research suggests there may be sex differences in the influence of physical pain relievers of individuals' experience of social pain. This study is being conducted to investigate the extent to which those differences exist and, if so, whether the differences can be accounted for by the cognitive resources available to individuals who experience hurt.

Nicholas Brody, PhD (University of Puget Sound); *Rebecca M. Kurlak, MA; Nelson, E.; *James W. Pennebaker, PhD; Trey Guinn, PhD (University of the Incarnate World); *Anita L. Vangelisti, PhD

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Health & Sports

Time in the Football Career: Professional, Personal, and Public Times in the Life of a Player

Texas Program in Sports and Media Fellowship Award, College of Communication, UT Austin. $4,000. Funds used for transcription costs of interviews with aspiring, current, and former NFL players, their coaches, and academic support staff. 2010 – 2011.

*Dawna I. Ballard, PhD


Health & the Environment

Energy Institute, UT-Austin

Funding received and project completed. Related publications in preparation: Eastin, Kahlor, Abi Ghannam, Liang. From Media Exposure to Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: The case of hydraulic fracturing. In review at Science Communication; Information-Seeking as a Precaution Behavior: Exploring the role of decision-making stages. In review at Human Communication Research. $50,000. 2012.

*Lee Ann Kahlor, PhD (Co-I – 33%); *Matthew Eastin, PhD (PI - 66%)

Are risk information seeking models useful outside of health and environmental contexts?

Testing a parsimonious information-seeking model across contexts. Kahlor, Dudo & Yang.

*Lee Ann Kahlor, PhD


Health Behaviors

Perceived Health Goals

In collaboration with two graduate students and UC Davis, this project aims to construct a study to investigate individuals' perceptions of a relational partner's influence attempt to change a health behavior (e.g., quit smoking, exercise more). Surveys will assess how the perceived goals of the partner are associated with individuals' behavior change. Fall 2015 - Fall 2016.

*Rene Dailey, PhD

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Health Communication & Technology

Center Digital Media Team Participates in the Regional NSF I-Corps Program

Patient satisfaction and digital media: two concepts that should become more entwined over time. The team of Keri Stephens, Matt McGlone, Millie Harrison, Yaguang Zhu, and Dron Mandhana, spent the past two weeks learning about innovations and the customer discovery process used by the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps. This team conducted 23 informal interviews in a two week period to better understand how technology might be used to improve patient satisfaction and safety. They interviewed hospital administrators, physicians, surgeons, nurses, social workers, and patients to get a better perspective of the challenges healthcare systems face today. The team is combining this information with their own past research to build models and interventions designed to understand how digital media can play a pivotal role in improving healthcare.

Digital Inclusion Evaluation

Ford Foundation and HACA Scholarship Foundation, total $150,000, UT share $44,900. A longitudinal, mix-method study of whether and how Internet access and digital training programs affect health, employment and education outcomes among residents of public housing projects in Austin. 2014-2015.

*Wenhong Chen, PhD

Voicing Organizations in Social Media: How Workers Use Technologies to Help Companies Appear Human.

This project involves interviews with individuals responsible for social media management in diverse organizational contexts. The goal is to examine how organizations communicate in an environment designed for interpersonal communication.

*Jeffrey W. Treem, PhD (PI)

Academic and Community Partnership for CBPR Research on Social Media and Digital Communication

National Institute of Child Health & Human Development 5R13HD071401. Total award: $90,112. 2012-2015.

*Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH (Co-PI); William C. Livingood, PhD (Co-PI – University of Florida)

SMS & Social Media to Help Young Latino Adults Quit Smoking

Texting service with embedded social media to help young South Texas adults quit smoking.

*Alfred L McAlister, PhD

Patient Portals

Faculty and PhD students studying patient adoption of a patient portal through Austin Regional Clinic.

*Michael Mackert, PhD

Developing the evidence base for local health departments' use of social media to protect and improve public health

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Total award: $99,293. 2012-2014.

*Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH (Consultant); Harris (PI)

Playing for Life: Reducing the Negative Impact of Tobacco on Youth and Young Adults through Video Games, Gaming, and Gamification and Leveraging Expert Gamer Advice for Tobacco Prevention and Health Promotion through Games

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products and National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Communication and Education funded through Ogilvy PR Washington, DC. Total award: $310,662. 2013-2014.

*Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH

In-person and Digital Support for Young Adult Cancer Survivors: A Comparison of Workloads and Information-Source Trust

This project compares the utility of in-person and online support groups to understand how best to support psychosocial needs. $12,500. Ends in 2014.

*Brad Love, PhD

Do I feel like I’m a part of this organization? Using technology to communicate about health

Stephens, K. K., & Zhu, Y. In T. R. Harrison & E. A. Williams (Eds). Organizations, Health, and Communication, Routledge. This is a social identity and organizational communication project in progress. Anticipated publication: Spring 2015.

*Keri K. Stephens, PhD (PI)

Bystander intervention in cyberbullying: The role of relational closeness, visual anonymity, and number of bystanders

The inaction of bystanders can augment the deleterious effects of bullying on a victim. However, bystanders can take action to stop a cyberbullying incident or offer support to the victim. These two studies examine variables expected to influence the propensity for a bystander to take action in cyberbullying incidents – the number of bystanders, the anonymity of the bystander, and the closeness between the bystander and the victim. July 2014.

Nicholas Brody, PhD (University of Puget Sound); *Anita L. Vangelisti, PhD

Applying Agency and Brevity to Text Message Vaccine Reminders

2014 – 2016. *Matthew S. McGlone, PhD [Consultant on a Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Grant]; *Keri K. Stephens, PhD (Consultant on a CPRIT Grant)

Organizational digital divide, health, and crisis reach

Stephens, K. K., & Ford, J. L. (2014). Banning mobile devices: Workplace policies that selectively exclude can shape crisis communication. 2013 – 2015. *Keri K. Stephens, PhD (PI)

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Health Literacy

Health Literacy Stigma

This project focuses on the stigma associated with low health literacy. Funding came from a college Grant Prep Award. The first publication from this study should be submitted in the spring, with (hopefully) a submission to NIH in the summer or early fall.

*Michael Mackert, PhD (PI)

Health Threats

Agency Assignment in Fear Appeals about Health Threats

This project involves a series of studies investigating the effects of strategic agency assignment in the language used to frame health threats, both acute (flu, bacterial infection, etc.) and chronic (cancer, diabetes, etc.). September 2013 – present.

*Matthew S. McGlone, PhD; *Joe McGlynn, MA; *Elizabeth Glowacki, MA; *Tracy Zhang, MA; *Nancy McCallum, MA; *Max Wartel, MA

International Health

Center for Middle East Studies

US Department of Education Title VI NRC funding, $880,000. 2014-2018.

*Karin Gwinn Wilkins, PhD

Demands and Resources in Work and Family Life and their Implications for Stress and Health among Canadians: Waves 3-5. Canadian Institute of Health Research. January 1, 2014 – present. *Tetyana Pudrovska, PhD (Co-Applicant); Scott Schieman, PhD (Principal Applicant - University of Toronto)

International Students and Health Insurance

This project examines how college students - mainly international students - learn to make sense of the US healthcare system, health insurance, etc.

*Michael Mackert, PhD (PI)

Roots and Wings: Glocalized Networks and Mobile Media Entrepreneurship in Austin and Lisbon

Foundation for Science and Technology Portugal / UT Portugal CoLab. $99,792. A comparative, mix-method study of how glocalized networks afford entrepreneurship in mobile media industry in Austin and Lisbon. 2014 – 2016.

*Wenhong Chen, PhD

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Organizational Communication

Resourcing Offshoring: How Preexisting Structures Shape the Meaning of Intra-Organizational Expertise

This project examines how automotive engineers developed differential perceptions of the expertise of colleagues at a captive offshoring center. Findings reveal that the meaning of the new organizational resource was shaped by schemas influenced by preexisting organizational resources.

*Jeffrey W. Treem, PhD (Researcher)

Data Credibility and Decision Making in Interorganizational Communication: Evidence from Hospital Patient Transfers; Researcher

This project looks at the communication involved in the inter-hospital transfer of pediatric patients. Specifically, we look at the expert practices enacted by a transfer team that occupies a unique structural role between hospitals.

*Jeffrey W. Treem, PhD (Researcher)

Public Engagement

Scientists’ Views of the Public, Public Engagement Practice, and Public Engagement Goals

National Science Foundation (NSF), Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL). Grant No. AISL-1421214-421723. $310,000. 2014-2016.

*Anthony Dudo, PhD (Co-PI); John Besley, PhD (Co-PI – Michigan State University)

Recreational Drugs & Substance Abuse

Campus Stigma Around Substance Abuse and Recovery

The general goal of this project is to study the stigma associated with substance abuse and recovery on campus and strategies for reducing that stigma as a barrier to seeking help.

*Michael Mackert, PhD (PI on a project component)

E-Cigarette Education

This is a microgrant project funded by the public health TCORS center. This project examines what college students know about e-cigarettes and better strategies for educating them.

*Michael Mackert, PhD (co-investigator)

Hitting the Books and the Bottle: Academic Performance Norms as a Factor in Alcohol Consumption among College Students

Kahlor, Liang, Han, Herrera, Shah, Torres, & Millender.

*Lee Ann Kahlor, PhD

Playing for Life: Reducing the Negative Impact of Tobacco on Youth and Young Adults through Video Games, Gaming, and Gamification and Leveraging Expert Gamer Advice for Tobacco Prevention and Health Promotion through Games

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products and National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Communication and Education funded through Ogilvy PR Washington, DC. Total award: $310,662. 2013-2014.

*Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH (PI)

Texas College Tobacco Prevention Initiative

Texas Department of State Health Services. $750,000. September 1, 2014 – August 31, 2015.

*Keryn E. Pasch, MPH, PhD (Co-PI); *Alexandra Loukas, PhD (Co-PI)

Impact of E-Cigarette Commercials on Young Adult Cognitive and Factors

Pilot Funding from the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science on Youth and Young Adults, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute/Food and Drug Administration. 1P50 DA036116-01. $19,882. June 1, 2014 – May 31, 2015.

*Keryn E. Pasch, MPH, PhD (PI)

Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science on Youth and Young Adults

National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute/Food and Drug Administration. 1P50 DA036116-01. $19,678,428. September 19, 2013 – August 31, 2018.

*Keryn E. Pasch, MPH, PhD ((Co-I, Associate Director Statistics and Marketing Core); Cheryl L. Perry (PI - The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston)

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Weight & Diet

Meeting Weight Management Goals: The Role of Partner Confirmation

A team of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty collected data from overweight individuals working to lose weight. The participants completed daily surveys regarding the quality of communication from their romantic partners. The findings suggest a combination of acceptance and challenge from partners is associated with meeting more daily weight management goals (e.g., exercising, sticking to the diet). Funded by an Undergraduate Mentor Fellowship (Moody College of Communication). Fall 2013 – Fall 2015.

*Rene Dailey, PhD

Salud-America! This project promotes policy and environmental changes to reduce child obesity in Latino communities.

*Alfred L. McAlister, PhD

A School-Based Gardening Obesity Intervention for Minority Children

(Pending final approval) Grant number: 1 R01 HL123865-01A1. The overall goal of this study is to conduct a controlled school- based gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention to improve dietary intake and reduce obesity and related metabolic disorders in predominantly Hispanic, low income children. April 2015 – March 2020.

*Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP (Co-I)

Sugar sweetened beverages: Impact on reward, satiety, and metabolism in children

Grant number: 1R21DK098719-01A1. The overall goal of this study is to examine and compare how pictures of SSB and actual SSB receipt impacts brain reward pathways, food choice, subsequent food/beverage intake, and metabolic pathways in Hispanic children (7 –9 years old), between frequent and naïve drinkers. November 2013 – November 2015.

*Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP (Co-I)

Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment/1115 Medicaid Waiver Childhood Obesity Center Expansion

The goal of the project is to expand all aspects of our childhood obesity center including tertiary care clinical programs, group treatment programs, training and support for primary care providers and the creation of a health promoting hyperlocalized health and wellness information app. July 2013 – October 2016.

*Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP (Center Director)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Project

Grant number: U18DP003367. This project is a systems-based approach to childhood obesity for children aged 2 – 12 years old in Houston and Austin. In addition to a community level systems-based intervention, a nested randomized controlled study evaluates a 1-year community based childhood obesity intervention in comparison with enhanced primary care. September 2011 – September 2015.

*Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP (Co-I)

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