Dr. María E. Len-Ríos

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor, Public Relations

About: As associate dean, Dr. Len-Ríos oversees assessment and accreditation, undergraduate services and curriculum, experiential learning and student career services, college-level promotion and tenure, scholarships and special awards, strategic planning, faculty development, and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, as well as other duties as assigned. She chairs the College’s Standing Committee on Diversity and is faculty advisor to the College’s student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). Dr. Len-Ríos teaches public relations, graduate seminars, and cross-cultural journalism courses. In 2019, she co-authored the co-edited textbook, “Cross-Cultural Journalism and Strategic Communication: Storytelling and Diversity,” (2nd Ed.) with Dr. Earnest Perry (Routledge/Taylor& Francis.) (1st edition, 2016, found here.)

View Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D., Journalism, University of Missouri
  • M.S., Journalism, Grady College
  • B.A., Speech, International Studies and Spanish Literature, Macalester College

Research Interests and Activities

Dr. Len-Ríos’ research focuses on inequalities in public relations and health communication. Together with colleagues and doctoral students, she has earned more than 9 Top Paper awards in national and international academic conferences across multiple areas – public relations, health and science communication, mass communication & society, popular culture and magazine research. Len-Ríos has collaborated on interdisciplinary grant work, including a Washington University/Missouri School of Journalism NIH Center for Excellence in Cancer Communication Research. She has also been lead PI on the LASER project through the MU Mizzou Advantage program. She is an affiliate of the MU Center for Children and Families Across Cultures as part of the LASER collaborative, which is dedicated to studying the well-being of U.S. Latino adolescents. In addition, she served as an inaugural board member of The Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland (2014-2016).

Dr. Len-Ríos was elected association-wide to serve a 3-year term starting in 2020-21 as a Board Member at Large for the International Communication Association (ICA), the leading international membership organization of communication researchers worldwide. She also serves as Co-Chair of ICA’s I.D.E.A. (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Standing Committee (formerly Task Force). Her service also extends to AEJMC (the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication), the largest association of educators in the field of journalism and mass communication. She is in her second term as an elected member of the Standing Committee on Research, which oversees all association-wide national research awards and research competitions. She is the incoming SCR chair for 2020-2021 and as such serves on the Board of Directors. She is also a member of Page Up of the Arthur W. Page Society, a membership organization of senior communicators.

Sought out for her research expertise, Dr. Len-Ríos is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Public Relations Review, the International Journal of Strategic Communication, and The Howard Journal of Communications. Previously, she served as a member and chair of the Publications Committee for AEJMC (2013-2016), which oversees the flagship journals of the association. She is a former head of the Communication Theory & Methodology Division of the AEJMC (2007-2008).

Child immigrant detention: Spokesperson key messages, engineered frames and cultural rules María E. Len-Ríos

Abstract: PR professionals engineer acceptability for policy, such as child immigrant detention, through key messages. Agenda building, engineered frames and rules theories guide study of spokesperson attributions from 221 articles […]

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Journalistic challenges to a politician’s race-related policies: Rules for interview appropriateness and perceptions of bias and credibility María E. Len-Ríos and Solyee Kim

Abstract: This study uses a randomized posttest-only between-subjects experiment to investigate the communication rules participants perceive after a journalist interviews a politician about race-related policies. The journalist’s adversarialness (no challenge, simple challenge, […]

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Grant Award: Dr. Maria Len-Rios María E. Len-Ríos

Willis, Erin; Schauster, Erin; Len-Ríos, María E.; Debaere, Majorie. “Patient Influencers: The Morality of Paid Influence in Pharmaceutical Advertising.” Award Amount: $7,000; 2021 Page Center Ethics of Care grant from […]

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Using Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve the Beliefs and Intentions of Influenza Vaccine Avoidant 18-to-49-Year-Olds: Considerations, Effects, and Lessons Learned. Nathaniel J. Evans, Glen Nowak, Bartosz Wojdynski, Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn & María E. Len-Ríos

Abstract: Only one-third of adults 18 to 49 years old in the United States receive a recommended annual influenza vaccination. This study examined whether supplementing vaccine information statements (VIS) with […]

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Latino trust in journalists and the 2016 U.S. general election: An analysis of voter responses María E. Len-Ríos and Ivanka Pjesivac

Additional author: Patricia Moy Abstract: This paper reports qualitative and quantitative data from a national online panel survey of Latinos (N=720) after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Participants reported in […]

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Mixed methods to examine communication crises: Combining a case study with the experimental method María E. Len-Ríos

Additional authors: Manu Bhandari & Kyung Jung Han Abstract: In 2013, U.S. television chef Paula Deen faced a public relations crisis following news reports of a court deposition in which she had […]

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Teaching Specialties

Dr. Len-Ríos has taught courses in cross-cultural journalism, public relations, public relations writing, public relations administration/management, strategic campaigns, master’s thesis seminar, quantitative methods, mass media seminar and doctoral seminar courses.


Before coming to UGA, Dr. Len-Ríos served 10 years as a faculty member at the Missouri School of Journalism on the strategic communication faculty, two years at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, and two years at Georgia Southern University.  Her students have won first place in the Arthur W. Page Society Case Study Competition in Corporate Communication.

Awards and Fellowships

• Latino/Latin American Research Award, 3rd Place, granted by the AEJMC International Communication Division (ICD) and the AEJMC Minorities and Communication Division (MAC), Washington, D.C., 2018

• PRIME Research Award, 20th Annual Conference, International Public Relations Research Conference, 2017

• PRSA Health Academy/Quinnipiac University Paper Competition Winner, 2010

In the News

Grady professors publish in second edition of textbook aimed at teaching excellence for communicating cross-cultural issues

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Len-Ríos named associate dean of Grady College

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Growing demand leads Grady College to offer additional online courses for summer semester

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Public skepticism would likely greet a new Zika vaccine, study says

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New survey shows only half of people plan to get flu shots this year

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