Elisia L. Cohen is the director of the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. As the School's executive officer she is responsible for managing the School's undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, research, service and engagement missions. The Hubbard School is the second-largest undergraduate-serving unit in the College of Liberal Arts that is home to three undergraduate majors (journalism, strategic communication, and media and information), two minors (media and information and digital media studies), multiple master's programs (both a professional MA in strategic communication, an academic MA in mass communication), and a PhD program in Mass Communication (and joint MA/PhD & JD in Mass Communication & Law). For her mentoring of graduate students and faculty, she received the 2018 Dale E. Brashers Distinguished Mentor Award from the Health Communication Division of the National Communication Association. At Minnesota, director Cohen supported her unit's expansion of hybrid, online and remote learning activities through expanded summer course offerings, served as chair of the College of Liberal Arts' Council of Chairs as the COVID-19 pandemic began, led a college-wide workgroup on curriculum innovation opportunities (the WCO), developed and implemented a $4.3 million renovation plan of Murphy Hall to enhance its research and instructional facilities, and continues to serve as a representative of the College of Liberal Arts representative to the University's Faculty Senate.  As a researcher, Dr. Cohen partners with medical and behavioral scientists in her research and engagement with the Masonic Cancer Center and Center for Translational Science Institute to enhance quality of personally-relevant and culturally targeted communication strategies to improve cancer and related health outcomes. She is currently the treasurer of the International Communication Association, board member of the Minnesota Newspaper Association Foundation, and past president of the board for National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press.

Biographical Information

Elisia Cohen came to the University of Minnesota from the University of Kentucky, where she held the Gifford Blyton Endowed Professorship and chaired the University of Kentucky's Department of Communication. She was on the faculty at the University of Kentucky for a decade, leading its Health Communication Research Collaborative and engaged as a Member of the Cancer Prevention and Control faculty group of the Markey Cancer Center and faculty affiliate with the Center for Translational Science Institute.  At the University of Kentucky, she was awarded the campus Sarah Bennett Homes Award in recognition of her leadership, research, and service for developing innovative media and community-based outreach strategies to improve women's cancer prevention and detection behaviors in underserved communities. Prior to joining the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, Dr. Cohen began her career at Saint Louis University in its Department of Communication. She earned her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, her Master's degree in communication at Wake Forest University, and her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Louisville. 

Dr. Cohen's research focuses on targeted communication strategies to improve cancer prevention and vaccination update; she has studied how people communicate about cancer prevention and vaccine preventable diseases, studying what knowledge, attitude and practice gaps they have, and how to close these gaps to improve cancer prevention and vaccination outcomes. Her research in communication strategies and interventions is multi-leveled, and contributes to interdisciplinary health communication scholarship. Substantively, she has developed the first-of-its-kind social media-based and video-based interventions to improve cervical cancer prevention and HPV-vaccination. She has innovated methodologies to sampling and large-scale content analytic projects of media. As a nationally-recognize expert in the field of health communication, she has developed and evaluated a range of evidence-based programs to intervene to promote health, change health behavior, and prevent and manage disease. Her research also has focused on communication strategies to improve the reach and effectiveness of health communication messaging in breast, cervical and colorectal cancer prevention efforts to reduce disease burden in poor, rural Appalachia and urban populations. For this work, she was recognized with the American Public Health Association’s 2016 Mayhew Derryberry Award.

Her research has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and private industry. Her research on media reporting and public understanding of disease has appeared in journals such as: Health Communication, Health Education and Behavior, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Journal of Communication, Journal of Communication in Healthcare, Journal of Health Communication, Qualitative Health Research, and Prometheus. She has edited four volumes of Communication Yearbook.


Educational Background & Specialties
Open Close

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Communication, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, 2003
  • M.A.: Communication, Wake Forest University, 1999
  • B.A.: Political Science, University of Louisville, 1997


  • health communication
  • multileveled community communication interventions
  • communication strategies to reduce health and cancer disparities
  • community-engaged research