The Health & Risk Communication Center Strosacker Research Fellowship provides funding intended to support opportunities for graduate students to engage in hands-on research, apply theoretical constructs to real world health practices and share results and impacts from funded projects with community partners. All the projects focus on issues that are important to people in Michigan. This year's recipients include Ph.D. students Barikisu Issaka (Department of Advertising & Public Relations), Megan Knittel (Department of Media & Information), Sue Lim (Department of Communication), and Victoria Nelson (Department of Advertising & Public Relations).
Issaka will use the funds to support research on postpartum depression (PPD) help-seeking behaviors among young mothers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. Identifying how women seek help will help inform PPD health communication campaigns that target young mothers in Michigan, given that PPD remains a major health concern for mothers from historically marginalized communities in the State of Michigan. Issaka's advisor for this project is Saleem Alhabash, Ph.D.
Knittel will use the award to better understand how smart home technology is used by abusers in domestic violence and intimate partner abuse scenarios. To learn more about issues related to such technologies —which can be used by abusers to access private information, monitor a victim without their consent, control the home environment, and other abusive activities — Knittel will be interviewing survivors of tech-mediated intimate abuse. This will allow her to better understand risk factors and survivor outcomes to inform future work in designing technologies to prevent harm. Knittel's advisor on this project is Stephanie Jordan, Ph.D.
Lim will use the funds to investigate how voice assistants can be used to improve the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information to make appropriate health decisions among vulnerable populations — particularly those in Lansing, Michigan. Specifically, she will set up voice assistants in participants' homes and conduct a series of workshops on using voice assistants for health information. Lim's advisor on this project is Jingbo Meng, Ph.D.
Nelson will use the funds to support research on how the news media affects attitudes toward people with one or more stigmatized medical conditions and who are diagnosed with COVID-19. The investigation will examine whether those who are obese or suffer from Type 2 Diabetes are subject to more blame and stigma than those with asthma or without any pre-existing conditions. Nelson's advisor on this project is Bree Holtz, Ph.D.
The Strosacker Awards are administered through the Health and Risk Communication Center (HRCC): Healthy People-Healthy Planet. The HRCC is an interdisciplinary center with over 50 faculty affiliates who support and facilitate research on health, risk, environment and science communication. It is home to the Health and Risk Communication MA program and its Iris Scholars Program translates research findings into practical, useful information for people.