UK Happenings

Kentucky Conference on Health Communication to take place April 4-6

Janet Yang, shown third from right,  is the 2024 KCHC Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award winner.
Janet Yang, shown third from right, is the 2024 KCHC Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award winner.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 18, 2024) — The 18th biennial Kentucky Conference on Health Communication (KCHC) is coming soon, and this year’s conference will honor a scholar whose research added insight into COVID-19 risk perception during the height of the pandemic.

This year’s conference, “Innovations in Health Communication,” will be held on April 4-6, at the Hyatt Regency Lexington. Janet Yang will be presented with the 2024 KCHC Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award.

This award is named in honor of Lewis Donohew, who was on the faculty in the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information’s Department of Communication from 1964 to 1999. Recipients of the award, like Yang, are recognized for their outstanding research contributions to the health communication field. 

“I am honored to be recognized with this award because many other health communication scholars who I deeply respect and admire have received this award before,” Yang said. “I dedicate this award to the many graduate students and collaborators who have supported and motivated me along the way.”

Yang, professor in the Department of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences, at University of Buffalo, SUNY, studies how communication behaviors and decision-making processes are influenced by the way people perceive risk. She has conducted research in numerous environmental and public health contexts, including climate change, plastic recycling, vaccination, monkeypox, e-cigarettes and COVID-19. 

Yang attended her first KCHC conference in 2010 as a first-year assistant professor from the University of Buffalo, SUNY. Now, more than a decade later, Yang hopes that the graduate students attending with her this year will be able to have similar experiences and opportunities.

“KCHC provides such an inspiring and friendly environment for health communication scholars to exchange ideas and network,” Yang said. “Many graduate students from the University at Buffalo are attending this year. For some of them, this is their first academic conference. I sincerely hope that many years from now, they will remember this conference with the same fond memories that I have for KCHC.”

A national and international audience of about 300 people will attend the conference. Attendees include faculty members and graduate students from a variety of academic institutions and disciplines, healthcare providers and practitioners, and representatives from government and private and non-profit organizations.

On Thursday, Carma Bylund, University of Florida professor of communication and founding editor of PEC Innovation, will deliver the keynote address to start the conference. Competitive papers, posters and panel sessions on a host of topics ranging from the role of communication science in community-based research to cultivating health equity through effective health communication, as well as workshops on publishing and grant writing, will round out the rest of the conference. Authors represent 37 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Chile, China, England, Norway, Singapore and Taiwan, as well as nearly 150 institutions and organizations.

The conference will conclude Saturday afternoon with an awards luncheon, during which Yang will receive the Donohew Award and make a research presentation. Awards also will be given for top poster, top student paper, top early-career scholar paper and top conference paper.

Early bird registration rates are available through March 22, and UK faculty, staff and students are eligible for a discounted rate. The full conference program can be found here.

“We’ve been offering KCHC for more than three decades, and we’re extremely proud of the contributions this conference makes to the field of health communication,” said Nancy Harrington, KCHC director and professor of communication in the College of Communication and Information. “I’ve seen numerous collaborations develop as a result of the networking that happens during the conference, and I’ve watched as researchers transition from graduate student to assistant professor to tenured faculty who then bring their own graduate students to the conference. We are a home for health communication scholars, and we hope to be so for decades to come.”

Funding for KCHC is made possible in part by support from the UK Vice President for Research , the College of Communication and Information and its Graduate Program in Communication and the Department of Communication

Visit the KCHC website to learn more about the conference.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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