I was born in Orlando, Florida, but I was raised in Alexandria, Virginia. Originally studying to be an architect in Northern Virginia, I pivoted to Communication at BYU to chase my passion for strategic communication. Afterward, I worked in the private sector in Washington, DC and Salt Lake City, UT, before returning to complete my PhD at the University of Utah under the direction of Dr. Jakob Jensen. There, I adapted my strategic communication background to the study of health communication, in partnership with scholars at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the College of Nursing. Now, I maintain research lines covering topics from skin cancer and body image to alcohol and tobacco use, hospice communication, and death narratives. For the past 10 years I have served as the Director of the BioComms Lab in the Brigham Young University School of Communications, and I am proficient in visual attention and cognition research, as well as the impact of message features and strategies on visual processing and affect.
The BioComms Lab is actively engaged in several studies focusing skin cancer prevention, primarily from the perspective of empowering lay-individuals with the skills needed to perform skin self-examinations (SSE) and identify atypical lesions, and the motivation to push through barriers to seek a dermatological diagnosis. The lab pioneered a Visual Skill Acquisition Model (VSAM) that uses eye-movement and fixation data from eye-tracking technology as measures of visual processing efficiency, to assess how various training methods impact accuracy. The lab is also measuring the efficacy of ultraviolet photographs (and the sun damage they make visible) to motivate individuals to initiate sun-safe behaviors such as wearing sunscreen or protective clothing. Finally, the lab is currently exploring appropriate communication methods for skin cancer messaging to non-white populations that are susceptible to acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM).