Visiting scholar to present on persuasion in vaccine controversy

At 3:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in University Hall Room 134, Louisiana Tech University will host Dr. Heidi Y. Lawrence, one of the 2019 Eunice C. Williams Scholars in Health and Medical Communication, as a part of Tech’s School of Biological Sciences Seminar Series.  

Lawrence will give the talk “Reclaiming Persuasion in Vaccine Controversy” that will examine the communication dynamics in the ongoing debate over vaccination.  

Lawrence’s talk is sponsored by the Eunice C. Williamson Endowment in Technical Communication and Tech’s newly created Health and Medical Communication Research Center, and the event represents continued interdisciplinary collaborations around research in health, medicine, and communication at Tech. 

During her visit to campus, Lawrence will also meet with Tech students and faculty to discuss prospective collaborations around the area of communicating public health issues as well as deliver a guest lecture in an undergraduate class in technical communication (part of the “Master Class Lecture Series” sponsored by Tech’s Technical Communication program). Lawrence’s visit is designed to share information across institutions and disciplines as well as foster research and teaching collaborations among faculty and students in different disciplines and at different schools.

Lawrence is an Assistant Professor of English at George Mason University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on professional writing and rhetoric Her research focuses on the rhetorics of medical and scientific controversies, currently examining public debates about the safety and efficacy of vaccinations. She has studied the role that professional communication produced by physicians, health officials, and researchers plays in shaping public debate and parental beliefs about vaccines. She has also conducted field studies examining the persuasiveness of arguments about vaccines among parents and young adults, and she works to uncover how individual perspectives on health and illness shared in the media and online shape views and policies on vaccination. Her book, Vaccine Rhetorics, published by The Ohio State University Press, will be available early 2020. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the Medical Humanities, the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, and Environmental Communication.