Karen Hilyard

Karen Hilyard is assistant professor of health promotion and behavior at the University of Georgia College of Public Health, where she studies health and risk communication related to infectious disease prevention and disaster preparedness and response. Her dissertation work, funded by the National Science Foundation, examined public response to government messages about a hypothetical pandemic of a deadly avian flu strain. Since then, she has studied vaccine decision-making in the actual, relatively mild 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic, and is embarking on a new study exploring vaccine disparities among African-American adults. Other scholarship in disaster risk communication includes analysis of disaster preparedness websites, and how blogs facilitated social support and rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina. Karen received her Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Georgia, her M.A. in communication and public policy from American University, and her B.A. in history from Dartmouth College. Prior to moving to academia, Karen was a public relations executive and an Emmy-winning producer at CNN.