My research program examines how people communicate about health, science, and environmental risks. Such communication takes place in many venues -- from the front page of the New York Times, to the website of the CDC, to the local public meeting, to the doctor's office, to the visitors' center in our national parks. I am particularly interested in how risk communication influences people's attitudes and behaviors, as well as incentives and barriers people face in the context of risk communication.
My current research examines ways to develop risk messages that encourage greater awareness of the linkages between human, animal, and environmental health and well-being ("One Health"). It also focuses on public acceptability of risk in the context of new and renewable energy technologies.
Outreach and Extension Focus
My research often takes place in contexts related to risk and environmental decision making (e.g., Why do people attend public meetings about local environmental risks? Who do people trust for information about renewable energy?), and I enjoy sharing my results and discussing other relevant research with people outside of the classroom who want to learn more about risk communication.
For the undergraduate major, I teach Communication and the Environment, Risk Communication, and Community Involvement in Environmental Decisions. In the graduate curriculum, I teach Risk Communication and Advanced Communication and the Environment.
Awards and Honors
- President-Elect (2018) Society for Risk Analysis
- Councilor (2015) Society for Risk Analysis
- Fellow (2014) Society for Risk Analysis
- Advisory Committee Service Award (2010) U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Fellow (2009) Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future
- Abrahamse, W., Darby , S., & McComas, K. A. (2018). Communication Is Key: How to Discuss Energy and Environmental Issues with Consumers. IEEE Power and Energy Magazine. 16:29-34.
- Tallapragada, M., Eosco, G., & McComas, K. A. (2017). Aware, yet ignorant: Exploring the views of early career researchers about funding and conflicts of interests in science. Science and Engineering Ethics. 23:147-164.
- Lu, H., McComas, K. A., Buttke, D. E., Roh, S., Wild, M., & Decker, D. J. (2017). One Health messaging about bats and rabies: how framing of risks, benefits and attributions can support public health and wildlife conservation goals. Wildlife Research. 44:200-206.
- Schuldt, J., McComas, K. A., & Burge, C. (2017). Intersecting frames in communicating environmental risk and uncertainty. Journal of Risk Research. 1-12.
- McComas, K. A., Lu, H., Keranen, K., Furtney, M., & Song, H. (2016). Public perceptions and acceptance of induced earthquakes related to energy development. Energy Policy. 99:27-32.
- Lu, H., McComas, K. A., Buttke, D., Roh, S., & Wild, M. (2016). A One Health Message about Bats Increases Intentions to Follow Public Health Guidance on Bat Rabies. PLoS One.
- Liao, W., Yuan, Y., & McComas, K. A. (2016). Communal risk information sharing: Motivations behind voluntary information sharing for reducing interdependent risks in a community. Communication Research.
- Schuldt, J., McComas, K. A., & Byrne, S. (2016). Communicating about ocean health: Theoretical and practical considerations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
- Young, C. E., & McComas, K. A. (2016). Media’s role in enhancing sustainable development in Zambia. Mass Communication and Society. 19:626-649.
- Liao, W., McComas, K. A., & Yuan, Y. (2016). The influence of unrestricted information exchange on willingness to share risk information with outsiders. Human Communication Research. 43:256-275.
Presentations and Activities
- Troubled Waters: Risk Perception and the Case of Oyster Restoration in the Closed Waters of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. AEJMC 2017 Conference. August 2017. Northwestern Medill, Scripps Howard Foundation, Elon University, et al.. Chicago, IL.
- How do people think about marine health? Exploring motivated reasoning about the links between climate change, oyster disease, and human health. International Communication Association (ICA). May 2014. ICA. Seattle, WA.