B.A., University of Massachusetts M.A., University of Arizona PhD., University of Arizona
My approach to research and teaching is as a social scientist, primarily using quantitative (experimental, survey, and content analytic) and qualitative (interview, focus group, and thematic analytic) methods. My research largely focuses on the construction of persuasive messages to strengthen health communication campaigns. I use theory and formative research to tailor health messages to the specific needs of multicultural populations (especially African Americans) and youth. I focus both on message variables (such as figurative language) as well as on features of receivers that demand that messages be constructed in specific ways. The features of receivers that I examine are culture, sensation seeking, and figurative language processing ability. My secondary area of interest is intercultural communication. My research in intercultural communication heavily informs my research and teaching in health communication since it helps me understand how health-related messages should be tailored to particular groups. However, I also conduct research on intercultural interactions independently of my interest in health communication. I am interested in people's motivations for seeking out others who are culturally different from themselves, and I have been working toward building a theory of the motivations that affect intercultural communication behaviors.
I have served as co-Investigator on three grants totaling $4 million, and have received additional funding as Principal Investigator or Principal Researcher on four grants totaling over $4 million. I serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Applied Communication Research (and have been an active reviewer for ten other journals), serve as a scientific review panel member for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Health Services Resources Administration, and have served as research associate for four research centers in the areas of cancer control, injury prevention, health communication, and mass media effects.