Mason Professor Elected Fellow of the International Communication Association

Mason Professor Elected Fellow of the International Communication Association
Gary L. Kreps

A Communication faculty member has been named a Fellow of the International Communication Association. 

Gary L. Kreps, University Professor and Director; Center for Health and Risk Communication, teaches courses in health communication, ehealth, and international health and risk communication.   His research examines health and risk communication regionally and worldwide. For example, regionally, he advises the Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax, a community-based collaborative evaluating health needs among vulnerable populations in Fairfax County and developing evidence-based programs promoting healthy behaviors, tobacco and substance abuse control, good nutrition, and reduction of health risks.

Nationally, he works with projects such as best message strategies for communicating health risk and benefit information to key U.S. audiences across the nation concerning current science and practices concerning food and drug safety with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a member of the FDA Risk Communication Advisory Committee.

Internationally, he developed and advises many initiatives, such as a large cross-national research program, the International Studies to Investigate Global Health Information Trends (INSIGHTS research network). This program coordinates health information dissemination studies conducted in the U.S. by the National Cancer Institute, with similar studies conducted around the globe, such as in China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Korea, Singapore, Israel, and Hong Kong.  The studies examine where consumers access relevant health information, what they understand and don’t understand about important health issues, who they trust to provide them with health information, and how they use this information to make important health decisions.  The information generated from these studies is used to guide development of evidence-based programs for health education and health promotion within and between countries.   

“It is a great honor being elected a Fellow of the International Communication Association, the highest honor an ICA member can achieve,” said Kreps.  “However, the work I do to help promote health and wellbeing is not done to receive awards and recognition. It is done to help reduce human suffering and increase quality of life. Helping to achieve those goals is the greatest honor for me.”

Kreps came to Mason in 2004 to build its graduate programs.  He served as department chair from 2004 to 2013, leading efforts to recruit faculty and establish a doctoral program in health communication and strategic communication.  He is the recipient of numerous other awards for scholarship and mentoring including the Research Laureate Award from the American Academy of Health Behavior, the Outstanding Health Communication Scholar Award from both the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association (NCA), and the Dale Brashers Mentorship Award from the NCA.

Mason’s doctoral program in health and strategic communication now boasts graduates who are themselves contributing to health communication research.  Kreps’ former students work for universities, corporations, and government agencies world-wide.  They speak highly of Kreps and their education at Mason.

“Dr. Kreps being named an ICA Fellow further cements his status as one of the most influential scholars in Health Communication, and the field of Communication in general,” said one of his former doctoral students Dr. Jordan Alpert, who is now an assistant professor, University of Florida, Gainesville. 

Dr. Suzie Carmack, another one of his former doctoral students, who is now a principal communication and well-being researcher, American Institutes for Research, said, “I met Gary when I started my PhD program eight years ago when I walked into his e-health class on the first day of the semester. I had gotten lost on campus, so I walked into class a few minutes late.  But he welcomed me with a big smile, invited me into his class like it was his home, and had genuine interest in what I had to say.”

“His research has made a profound impact on me and the way I see the world,” she said.  “I know that I have lived a better life because of the scholarship he shared and the many paths he has forged.”

Kreps’ colleagues in communication are proud of his being named an ICA Fellow and appreciate his upbeat, supportive manner.  Anne Nicotera, current chair of the communication department at Mason, said, “Gary Kreps is a prolific scholar and a good-natured colleague. He brings our scholarship a global perspective. His work in our local communities and worldwide is an exemplar for our department’s dedication to translational research. He is a warm and welcoming mentor deeply devoted to nurturing the scholarly development of his students. His work truly makes the world a better place.”

For more information about the award, please contact Anne Nicotera, communication department chair, anicoter@gmu.edu or Kreps, gkreps@gmu.edu