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Alumni Lab Member Spotlight

Jacob Rohde – Graduate Research Assistant (2017 – 2021)

Why do you believe health communication is important?

Communication allows us to spread critical health-related information to large audiences. Now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, disseminating accurate, evidence-based research through different communication mediums (e.g., public service announcements, reports) can inform the public and improve the health and wellbeing of communities.

What does “Communicating for Health Impact” mean to you?

Communicating for Health Impact is interdisciplinary. To me, it means developing, testing, and evaluating meaningful communication informed by multiple disciplines (from social science and medicine to policy initiatives) for public good.

What did you enjoy most about working in the CHI Lab?

The people! I love collaborative work and the CHI Lab helped me establish a network of scientists across different research fields. As a Ph.D. student, the CHI Lab offered a ton of opportunities and resources to start new projects and allowed me to jump into existing grant-funded work with some of the most skilled researchers at UNC.

What are you working on now, and how did working in the CHI lab prepare you for that work?

I’m currently a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. As part of this fellowship, I’ve been given the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in public health at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health. For the most part, I’m working on expanding my skills in epidemiology and biostatistics to complement my health communication background through course work. In my free time (which is rare), I’ve also been working on publishing some of my dissertation research, which examines the role of eHealth as a communication medium for disease self-management.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

I have a rambunctious dog named Daniel (pictured above) who keeps me very busy. Surprisingly, he and I share a passion for the exact same sports teams, and in our free time, we love cheering on the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Carolina Tar heels!

Current Lab Member Spotlight

Alex Kresovich – Graduate Research Assistant (2018 – Present)

Why do you believe health communication is important?

Health communication is important for two vital reasons. First, all of the most important scientific developments mean much less than we hope if we can’t effectively communicate about them with the public. Second, health communication and messaging can take on many different forms. For example, I’m studying how popular music referencing mental health difficulties influences U.S. youth attitudes and behavioral intentions. Health communication is around us 24/7/365.

What does “Communicating for Health Impact” mean to you?

With the advent of smartphones, text messaging, video messaging, and social media platforms, there are so many great — and not so great — implications of the health communication messages floating around for all different types of audiences. “Communicating for Health Impact” is about ensuring that communication tools — old and new — are used to effectively promote public good while diminishing health inequalities and disparities.

What do you enjoy most about working in the CHI Lab?

The collaboration! It’s such a pleasure to work with Dr. Noar and all the other wonderful students and staff who have been a part of the CHI Lab. The meetings are a blast! I love getting to exchange ideas and learn from so many smart people all committed to trying to make the world a better place and improving health communication. The people are my favorite part pf the CHI Lab!

What are you working on now, and how did working in the CHI Lab prepare you for that work?

I’m working on my dissertation looking at how celebrity pop music artists who have disclosed mental health difficulties could potentially be used as part of a mental health intervention aimed at improving help-seeking tendencies among depressed U.S. youth. Working in the CHI Lab helped me to understand different perspectives and aspects of the issue that I wouldn’t otherwise understand. While my dissertation research is different than most of the focus of the CHI Lab work, aspects of health communication — such as theoretical decisions, empirical designs, etc. — are all similarly informed. Being a part of the CHI Lab has given me a fantastic head start on my work and helped me to consider many different aspects of my work that I would have missed out on without this experience.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Going to the new Wegmans in Chapel Hill (as you can tell by the picture). Outside of that, I love continuing my quest to try all of the fast-food chicken sandwiches (so far… Popeyes > KFC & Chick-Fil-A > Bojangles >>>>>> McDonalds & Wendy’s). I also love to hang out with my partner, my friends, and my sweet puppy Wally and watch either my favorite shows (Great British Bake Off) or my favorite sports teams (UGA football, Atlanta Hawks, Carolina basketball, New York Yankees).