Public relations student wins second place in UGA Global Health Case Competition

Fourth-year public relations student Sarah McRae from Peachtree Corners, Georgia, recently participated in the University of Georgia’s Global Health Union’s first Global Health Case Competition. Her team of six won second place at the virtual event with their research in developing a sustainable solution to a current international health problem.

McRae’s team focused on reducing child malnutrition in northeast Kenya. After the first round, her team was one of three that moved on to the final round. When the judges proposed a twist, they had one hour to change their focus to a specific refugee camp instead of a region of the country. 

“I remember they were asking us to introduce our majors, and our mentor was like, ‘I want the team with one Grady person.'”

As a global health minor, McRae is passionate about health communication. Her interest in learning about different cultures around the world began in an intercultural communication class, McRae said. McRae, who also serves as a Yarbrough-Grady Fellow specializing in crisis communication, hopes to pursue a career in health communication after graduating in May. 

There were eight teams in the global health competition. Teams were made up of undergraduate and graduate students who had to have at least two different schools represented. 

McRae’s team met and worked virtually for four months with a faculty mentor before the competition at the end of 2020. During the first meeting, McRae was sought out for having a different skill set than the rest of the students.

“I remember they were asking us to introduce our majors, and our mentor was like, I want the team with one Grady person,” McRae said. “I thought it was really cool that someone in a totally different industry and totally different school looked at Grady like that, and revered it and wanted to work with my whole team based on a unique skill set that not many other teams have.”

McRae found her place among the STEM majors and Ph.D. students in her group when it came time to present their findings and plan to the judges. 

“I feel like it just kind of made me realize even more that PR and communications has a place in any industry, and especially on the medical side,” McRae said.

eHealth class addresses intersection of healthcare and technology

There is nothing like a global pandemic to emphasize the reliance on technology. One of the sectors that is gaining momentum is healthcare, with the growth of concepts like telehealth consultations with doctors and keeping in touch with loved ones in the hospital through iPad conversations.

This convergence is the focus of the course Technology and Health (eHealth) offered by the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and taught this summer by Jeong-Yeob Han, associate professor of advertising.

“The availability of this course helps to prepare students to better meet the needs of society at large and use their knowledge in advertising and public relations, public health, communication, and emerging media in a creative and collaborative manner,” Han said of the class that has been offered for several years.

The course explores the information revolution and its implications for health care and health promotion, including applications of information technologies for health care delivery, interactive communication campaigns, care/patient empowerment, health behavior change and health care delivery systems. The course reviews theories and methods of eHealth communication campaigns, issues related to design and evaluation, promising health applications and diverse media technologies.

In addition, students explore some of the more unique aspects of eHealth like delivering information through gaming, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Han explains: “For example, we discuss ethical and social implications of embodied artificial intelligence that is currently adopted in diagnosis and treatment of dementia and autism, and its challenges to engage in hard-to-reach populations. We also explore how artificial intelligence potentially impacts key tasks of primary care.”

Han, Jeong-Yeob
Jeong-Yeob Han has taught the eHealth course for five years.

Curriculum for this course was recently updated and now examine an emerging trend in patient-provider communication that adopts various technology, including video conferencing, chatbot and social media platforms and how they can potentially improve quality of supportive communication among patients, physicians, and family members.

This is a graduate-level class that appeals to students in a variety of majors including health and medical journalism, advertising and public relations, public health, communication studies and emerging media.

“Having students from a diverse perspective in health has been a great asset to the class given the multidisciplinary nature of the field itself,” Han said.

The course is expected to be offered again in summer 2021.

Grady doctoral student receives esteemed Inez Kaiser Award for health communication research

Fourth-year doctoral student, Yen-I Lee was recently selected as one of three recipients of the prestigious Inez Kaiser Graduate Student of Color Award. This award is given by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in honor of Inez Kaiser, the first African-American woman to be a member of the Public Relations Society of America. Lee received the award for her research in strategic health communication.

The PRSA Foundation funds this award given by the AEJMC to encourage diversity within the field of public relations. Lee’s achievement is particularly exceptional as there was a large pool of applicants this year. Lee will be honored on Aug. 10 at the AEJMC Conference in Chicago.

Lee has conducted extensive research at Grady and been a part of many different research efforts, however she is especially keen on researching specific topics regarding health public relations, the strategic use of technology, and cultural psychology in health risk and crisis message design.

Her vast research on these subjects have included projects investigating cancer risk perception, advertising and health product brands on Facebook and scale development of health crisis information seeking and sharing. She also has designed and led several of her own research projects, one researching health-related Facebook content and another examining the effectiveness of flu vaccination PSAs.

Lee is an instructor at Grady College. She has taught as a lab instructor for the social media analytics class and will be teaching a public relations research class this upcoming fall.

Lee is honored to have received the award and says that it has encouraged her to continue in her research.

“I would like to thank Grady College for being supportive of students,” she said. “I also would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Yan Jin, and professors who support and guide me regarding my research interests, so I can continue to make quality contributions to the Grady College.”

For more about Lee’s research, visit