Xiaoli Nan


Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Director, UMD Center for Health and Risk Communication

Co-Director of Graduate Studies

Phone: 301-405-0640
2130 Skinner Building
Professional Interests: 

Dr. Xiaoli Nan is a Professor of Communication Science and Co-Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication. She is the Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at the University of Maryland and a full member of the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center Population Science Program.

Dr. Nan’s research is broadly concerned with health and risk communication, focusing on a) the design of persuasive messages to influence health risk perceptions and behaviors and b) the role of traditional and emerging media (e.g., social media, mobile media, virtual reality) in promoting (and hindering) public health. Dr. Nan’s research addresses the basic processes of human judgment and decision making related to health risks and the implications of these processes for effective risk communication. Her work prioritizes several health domains including cancer control, vaccination, food safety and nutrition, and climate change. At Maryland, Dr. Nan regularly teaches courses on health communication, persuasion and attitude change, media effects, and quantitative research methods.

Dr. Nan has published extensively in her areas of specialization with over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles. In total, she has authored or coauthored more than 80 refereed articles, book chapters, and refereed conference proceedings, in addition to over 90 refereed conference papers. Dr. Nan’s work appears in top communication and interdisciplinary journals including Human Communication Research, Communication Research, Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Advertising, Psychology and Marketing, Marketing Theory, Health Education, and Vaccine.

Dr. Nan has been a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Homeland Security, totaling over $7.5 million. She has served as the PI on three NIH-funded projects examining optimal cancer communication strategies targeting under-served populations.  

Nan is a senior editor for the journal Health Communication and currently sits on the editorial boards of flagship journals in communication including Human Communication Research and Communication Research. Additionally, she is serving or has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Health Communication, the Journal of Communication, Communication Studies, Communication Quarterly, the Journal of Advertising, and the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising. Nan was an elected member of the executive committee of the Communication Theory and Methodology Division of AEJMC and served on the research committee of the American Academy of Advertising. Nan currently serves as the Vice-Chair and is the incoming Chair of the Health Communication Division of the National Communication Association.

For more information about Dr. Xiaoli Nan, visit www.xiaolinan.com.

Curriculum Vitae

Graduate Advising Philosophy

Representative publications:


Ma, Z., & Nan, X. (in press). Positive facts, negative stories: Message framing as a moderator of narrative persuasion in anti-smoking communication. Health Communication.

Nan, X., Futerfas, M., & Ma, Z. (2017). Role of narrative perspective and modality in the persuasiveness of public service advertisements promoting HPV vaccination. Health Communication, 32, 320-328.

Nan, X. (2017). Influence of incidental discrete emotions on health risk perception and persuasion. Health Communication, 32, 721-729.


Futerfas, M., & Nan, X. (in press). Role of humor in the persuasiveness of entertainment narratives on unprotected sexual behavior. Journal of Health Communication.

Nan, X., & Zhao, X. (2016). The mediating role of perceived descriptive and injunctive norms in the effects of media messages on youth smoking. Journal of Health Communication, 21, 56-66.

Nan, X., & Madden, K. (2015). Biased assimilation and need for closure: Examining the effects of mixed blogs on vaccine-related beliefs. Journal of Health Communication, 20, 462-471.