Autumn Shafer

Dr. Autumn Shafer
Assistant Professor
Department of Public Relations

About Me

I’m married to my college sweetheart. We have one amazing daughter who is a toddler and full of energy and joy. I enjoy fishing, hiking, reading, and binge-watching my favorite shows during school holidays.

Research Specialty

My research agenda focuses on the intersection of communication, persuasion, and health behavior theories. I have two complimentary streams of research:

I enjoy working on health communication campaigns because these projects provide a bridge between research and application. My lab-based research investigates the effects of exposure to mass media on health-related beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Although much research has examined the harmful effects of popular media on health behaviors, I have explored the possibility that media may also positively influence health, especially when health messages are embedded within an engaging story or testimonial. My principal topical focus is sexual health among adolescents, although I have also studied health messages about tobacco, HPV vaccination, nutrition, diabetes, and eating disorders. I often approach research questions from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws from communication, public health, social psychology, and consumer behavior.

Main Methodological Approaches

I’m comfortable using a variety of methods, which method I use is mostly driven by my research questions. I most often find myself conducting experiments, focus groups, interviews, and content analyses.


Graduate Courses Taught


My professional background is in public relations and political communications. I have worked as a political campaign manager, field director, and state legislative aide. Recently, I helped develop and evaluate two social marketing campaigns focusing on preventing cervical cancer and easing caregiver burden for parents of children with eating disorders.

Publications in Last Five Years