SciComm lecture on link between public relations and science news on Feb. 26

Jonathan F. McVerry
February 09, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.— Science communication researcher Suzannah Evans Comfort says public relations may have more influence on science news compared to other types of news coverage.

Comfort, assistant professor in the Media School at Indiana University, will discuss her research as part of the SciComm Speaker Series at 3 p.m. Feb. 26. The lecture, “It Takes Two: The Permeability of Science Journalism to Public Relations” will be virtual and streamed live on Zoom.

According to Comfort, public relations professionals often serve as interpreters of science jargon and complicated research studies. Given this role, they may have more influence on science news than coverage of politics, economics and culture. In her lecture, Comfort will present a way to study the relationship between communicators in public relations and how science is presented in the news.

Using big data and theories of media influence, the lecture will present implications to the science communication field.

Comfort’s research focuses on environmental communication with an emphasis on news coverage of climate change as well as communicative tactics by environmental NGOs. Her work has been published in numerous journals, including Journalism, Science Communication, and Environmental Communication.

Prior to earning her doctorate, Comfort worked as the editorial director at Oceana, the world’s largest environmental organization dedicated to ocean conservation. There, she published the book “The Perfect Protein: The Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World” with Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless.

The virtual event is a part of the SciComm Lecture Series, an initiative of Penn State’s Science Communication Program. The program is housed in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and builds productive research collaborations between scientists in a variety of disciplines with science communications researchers.



  • Suzannah Evans Comfort

    Suzanna Evans Comfort is an assistant professor in the Media School at Indiana University. 

    IMAGE: Provided

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 10, 2021