Ciera Kirkpatrick

Ciera Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Advertising & Public Relations

Ciera Kirkpatrick is an Assistant Professor of Advertising and Public Relations in the College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She joined the faculty in 2021 to teach undergraduate and graduate courses, including Strategic Writing and Advertising Issues & Strategies. She enjoys helping students become stronger writers and loves the challenge of convincing students that research can be fun!

Kirkpatrick’s own research is focused on how messaging in the media (e.g., advertising, news, social media content) affects individuals’ mental and physical health and how strategic communicators can effectively design messages to improve individuals’ health outcomes through the promotion of healthy behaviors and the prevention of unhealthy behaviors. She uses a social scientific experimental approach that involves both online and laboratory experiments. With her experimental designs, Kirkpatrick investigates how message features (e.g., the content and structure of the message) interact with characteristics of the audience (e.g., their prior attitudes and risk perception) to influence the cognitive and emotional processing of messages and, in turn, outcomes like message perception, attitudes, and behavior change.

Most recently, Kirkpatrick’s research has examined topics such as how communication can be designed to increase enrollment of minority populations in clinical trials and how idealized portrayals of motherhood on Instagram influence the mental health and well-being of new mothers.  

Kirkpatrick has worked on research funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has presented her research at national and international conferences such as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference, the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) and the International Communication Association (ICA) conference. Her research is published in Health CommunicationCommunication Reports, and Review of General Psychology.

Prior to coming to Nebraska, Kirkpatrick taught as a Teaching Fellow at the Missouri School of Journalism and as a graduate student at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication, where she had the opportunity to develop and teach an integrated marketing course for the Communication Upward Bound (CUB) program, a program to help first-generation students with limited income prepare for college. 

Kirkpatrick has professional experience in digital marketing, having worked as a copywriter and social media consultant at Ascential Marketing in Wichita, KS.  

Kirkpatrick graduated from Wichita State University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication, with an emphasis on integrated marketing. She earned a Ph.D. in journalism, with an emphasis on strategic communication, from the University of Missouri.