Dr. Gardner's research focuses on strategic health communication, primarily health message design and resistance to persuasion, with the ultimate goal of designing communication to address health disparities facing underserved populations. She also studies health literacy, applications of public relations in health-focused contexts, cognitive and emotional processing of media messages, and gendered representations in the mass media.
Dr. Gardner has experience in a variety of public relations functions. She worked as a public relations assistant in a mid-sized hospital, as communications intern for the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, as a member of the health care team of Porter Novelli Public Relations in Atlanta, and as a marketing associate and technical writer for a software consulting firm. Before coming to Texas Tech, she taught courses in strategic communication and research methods and worked as a research assistant at the University of Missouri.
Dr. Gardner has received two top paper awards from the Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, from the Commission on the Status of Women (top student paper, 2006) and the Mass Communication and Society Division (co-author of the second place paper, 2009). She was also the recipient of several competitive scholarships and fellowships at the University of Missouri and the University of Texas.