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
- Fellow (2014) Society for Risk Analysis
- Councilor (2015) 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
- Chauncey Starr Distinguished Young Risk Analyst award (2008) Society for Risk Analysis
- 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.
- 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.
- Tallapragada, M., Eosco, G., & McComas, K. A. (2016). Aware, yet ignorant: Exploring the views of early career researchers about funding and conflicts of interests in science. Science and Engineering Ethics.
- 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.
- 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.
- Roh, S., Rickard, L., McComas, K. A., & Decker, D. J. (2016). Public understanding of One Health messages: The role of temporal framing. Public Understanding of Science.
- Lu, H., McComas, K. A., & Besley, J. (2016). Messages promoting genetic modification of crops in the context of climate change: Evidence for psychological reactance. Appetite. 108:104-116.
Presentations and Activities
- 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.