Since August 2010, I have been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at North Carolina State University. I have also been appointed associate director of the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCOST) Project.
My teaching and research primarily focus on public perceptions of controversial science issues and how they influence behaviors and attitudes, especially concerning public policy and politics. With colleagues at North Carolina State University, I am helping to develop the social-science core of an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program focusing on Genetic Engineering & Society: The Case of Transgenic Pests. Participation in this program is allowing me to expand upon several concepts and models that grew out of my dissertation, which explored the communication and public opinion dynamics surrounding the site selection for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). My dissertation was part of a larger grant project funded by the National Science Foundation (SES-0820474), and my co-authors and I have an article recently published in Risk Analysis on the role of citizen discussions in the formation of public attitudes about this issue. The press release is available here, a summary by Dietram A. Scheufele here, and a write-up in Miller-McCune here.
More recently, in a study published in Public Understanding of Science, I led the examination of problems associated with relying on single-item measures asking citizens to evaluate complex science issues. Other recent publications include: (1) an examination of public perceptions of nanoparticle risks relative to other known risks (in Journal of Nanoparticle Research), (2) an analysis of the effects of news media use and interpersonal discussion on public concern for global warming(in Science Communication ), (3) a causal analysis of the relationships between interpersonal political discussion and attitude extremity toward stem cell research during the 2004 election, (in Communication Research). Other research interests include the social amplification of risk, strategic communication, message campaigns, and science and technology studies.
Prior to embarking on a career in academia, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. Living in a place with no mass communication inspired my interest in the role it plays in everyday life throughout levels of society.