My primary area of research is health communication through social media.
I currently study how young people use social media and the influences this has on their body image. As social media platforms continue to grow and develop, this insight is very much needed in order to address young people's mounting concerns over their bodies and the repercussions for mental health.
I have also examined health-related peer-to-peer communication through online platforms and how it influences health attitudes and outcomes. And how hospitals in the United States use social media to communicate with their patients. I have also conducted research in international communication by surveying international journalists about disaster coverage by the media, and advertising, where I have studied viral videos and online customer reviews.
I work with various interdisciplinary groups on campus and am a fellow of the Centre for Health Policy. I am also the founder and coordinator of the Working Group on Body Image and Eating Disorders, which includes academics, clinicians, health charity professionals, bloggers and people with lived experiences. We work on research and public engagement around social media, body image and creating a healthier and more inclusive online environment for young people. Watch our video here, which explores how young people use and feel about social media.
Most recently, I've contributed to several advisory groups on young people and body image, which have produced reports, recommendations and interventions that aim to address this topic. Among them is the Scottish Government's Healthy Body Image for Children and Young People Advisory Group, which produced a detailed report with recommendations in March 2020.
I give frequent interviews to the media, public talks, and presentations at schools, clinicians’ groups, non-profits, etc. Watch my TEDx talk on the topic.
I welcome applications from PhD students interested in health communication, digital media/social media and health, body image/eating disorders, mental health.
I currently supervise students working on the following topics:
- the concept of the ideal beach body and its relation to women's body image concerns (in collaboration with Marketing)
- how organisations engage in crisis communication via online platforms
- hesitancy towards childhood vaccinations and its relationship to online media consumption
- body positivity empowerment and Instagram (in collaboration with Marketing)
- social media addiction (second supervisor in collaboration with Psychology)
- identity creation by online influencers (second supervisor in collaboration with Marketing)
- fandom, fan fiction and K-pop communities online (second supervisor in collaboration with English)