Katherine McComas


468 Mann Library Building
(607) 255-7737

My research program examines how people communicate about health, science, and environmental risks. Such communication can take 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.

Research Focus

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 applied 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.

Teaching Focus

As part of 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

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

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.