Xiaoli Nan


Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Director, UMD Center for Health and Risk Communication

Co-Director of Graduate Studies

Phone: 301-405-0640
2102 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 and a full member of the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center Population Science Program. She is an affiliate professor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health and a faculty associate at the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

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 and the implications of these processes for effective health and risk communication. Dr. Nan’s interdisciplinary work has addressed such diverse public health challenges as cancer prevention, 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 69 peer-reviewed journal articles. In total, she has authored or coauthored more than 80 refereed articles and articles in edited volumes, in addition to over 90 refereed conference papers. Dr. Nan’s work appears in top communication and interdisciplinary journals including Human Communication ResearchCommunication ResearchHealth CommunicationJournal of Health CommunicationJournalism and Mass Communication QuarterlyJournal of AdvertisingPsychology and MarketingMarketing TheoryHealth 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.  

Dr. 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 CommunicationCommunication StudiesCommunication Quarterly, the Journal of Advertising, and the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising. Dr. Nan was an elected member of the executive committee of the Communication Theory and Methodology Division of AEJMC and has served multiple years on the research committee of the American Academy of Advertising. Dr. Nan has served as Vice-Chair (2018) and Chair (2019) of the Health Communication Division of the National Communication Association.

Dr. Nan was an honoree at the Inaugural Maryland Research Excellence Celebration sponsored by the Provost’s Office and the Office of the Vice President for Research in 2019. She was the 2018 recipient of the Mayhew Derryberry Award from the American Public Health Association for outstanding contributions to health education research and theory.

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

Curriculum Vitae

Graduate Advising Philosophy

Representative publications:


Nan, X., Daily, K., Richards, A., & Holt, C. (in press). Parental support for HPV vaccination mandates among African Americans: The impact of message framing and consideration of future consequences. Health Communication.

Nan, X. & Qin, Y. (2018). How thinking about the future affects our decisions in the present: Effects of time orientation and episodic future thinking on responses to health warning messages. Human Communication Research, 45, 148-168.

Nan, X., Daily, K., & Qin, Y. (2018). Relative persuasiveness of gain- vs. loss-framed messages: A review of theoretical perspectives and developing an integrative framework. Review of Communication, 18, 370-390.


Futerfas, M., & Nan, X. (2017). Role of humor in the persuasiveness of entertainment narratives on unprotected sexual behavior. Journal of Health Communication, 22, 312-318.

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.