Dr. María Len-Ríos

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor, Public Relations

About: Dr. Len-Ríos teaches public relations and cross-cultural journalism courses. In 2016, she co-authored a textbook,”Cross-Cultural Journalism: Communicating Strategically About Diversity,” with Dr. Earnest Perry (Routledge/Taylor& Francis. http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138784895 )

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  • 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 serves 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 is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, the International Journal of Strategic Communication, Communication Yearbook, and The Howard Journal of Communications. She serves as a member of the Publications Committee for the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication (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).  She is also a member of the International Communication Association and the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Child Immigrant Detention: Spokesperson Key Messages to Shape Policy and Public Perceptions María Len-Ríos

Abstract: Key messages, as delivered through talking points, play a critical role in public relations communications, and are unstudied. This research examines 226 articles containing source attributions to spokespeople related to U.S. immigration policy of child detention during the time period of March 2017 to September 2019. Using agenda-building, framing, and rules theories it investigates […]

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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 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 an immersive virtual reality (VR), short video or electronic pamphlet story designed to convey the community immunity benefits of influenza vaccination would improve influenza vaccine […]

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

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 their closed-ended responses a level of distrust toward the news organizations that largely parallels national figures. In open-ended responses, Latinos cited cable news journalists most as trusted journalists, with […]

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

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 admitted using a racial epithet in the past. To investigate questions related to her effectiveness at image repair on issues of race and study the question more broadly, we conducted a […]

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Teaching Specialties

Dr. Len-Ríos has taught courses in cross-cultural journalism, public relations, public relations writing, 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, 2 years at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, and 2 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

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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