Sarah N. Heiss 


School of Communication Studies
Ohio University

43 West Union Street
Athens, Ohio 45701

Office Phone: 740-593-4828


Balboa Park, San Diego  Winter 2009


My research program stems from the belief that the fields of health and communication are interconnected and can be better understood using an interdisciplinary approach. Specifically, I am dedicated to contributing to theoretical and empirical understandings of the social practices that shape how we define, make sense of, and manage the relationships among health, food, and the body.

Currently, I am working on my dissertation, which explores how trade associations representing sweeteners use online resources to discuss health risks while maintaining a favorable image of their product. With this project, I blur the line between health education and commercial promotion to help the consumers, the food industry, and scholars from a variety of fields better understand and evaluate strategic communication campaigns. I am currently completing my analysis and am on track to defend my dissertation by April 2011.


I see the classroom as a point of connection—connecting ideas and people. As the instructor, my role is to facilitate points of connections in the classroom by (1) engaging diverse interests, (2) cultivating student efficacy, and (3) honoring the process of becoming. I ask my students to consider communication theories within practical applications that could also be categorized as public health, journalism, consumer studies, marketing, or professional development. I also challenge my students to develop their digital communication competency by critically producing, analyzing, and consuming various media. I have taught the following courses at Ohio University:

* Public Speaking (COMS 103)
* Techniques of Interviewing (COMS 304)
* Communication and Persuasion (COMS 342)

Teaching Assistant
* Foundations of Human Communication (COMS 101)


Doctor of Philosophy. (Anticipated Completion: June 2011).
Ohio University, School of Communication Studies, Advisor: Benjamin R. Bates
Dissertation: Sugar-coating risks: The social construction of nutritional risk in the discourses of trade associations representing sweeteners.

Masters of Arts. (June 2008).
Ohio University, School of Communication Studies, Advisor: B. Scott Titsworth

Bachelor of Arts. (May 2006).
Hiram College, Department of Communication, Advisor: Linda Rea
Thesis: An exploration of the relationship between consumers’ need for cognition and the use of nutritional information on canned food goods