Grady College alumna honored with 2017 Makovsky Best Master’s Thesis of the Year Award

Ruoyu Sun’s thesis investigated the risk perception and purchase intention of Millennials in China and the U.S. toward genetically modified food


The Institute for Public Relations has awarded Ruoyu Sun, a recent graduate of Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s master’s program, the 2017 Makovsky Best Master’s Thesis of the Year Award based on her work studying source credibility on digital media toward Millennial purchase intention of genetically modified foods. Thanks to the new sponsorship of the award by Makovsky, an integrated communications firm, the award annually celebrates a master’s thesis that most contributes to advancing research-based knowledge in the field of public relations.

Sun’s thesis, “Effects of Source Credibility via Social Media on The Risk Perception and Purchase Intention Toward Genetically Modified Foods: A Cross-Cultural Study between Young Millennials in China and The U.S.,” found that long-term communication and education about genetically modified foods to young Millennials are necessary before one can increase his/her purchase intention. Her thesis suggests public relations practitioners in China should have scientists serve as a credible information source to inform stakeholders about the benefits of GM foods. In the U.S., a mixed approach of scientists and government was found to be more effective.

Sun will receive a cash grant of $2,000 and Juan Meng, Sun’s faculty advisor, will receive $1,000 at the IPR Annual Distinguished Lecture and Awards Dinner on Nov. 29 in New York City.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award from IPR,” said Sun, now a doctoral student at the School of Communication, University of Miami. “It encourages me to work harder and to do more scientific research which could contribute to the effective practice of PR in the future. Thanks to IPR, Makovsky, and my advisor, Dr. Juan Meng at the University of Georgia, for her unwavering support throughout this project.”

Meng, an associate professor of public relations, described Sun as passionate about conducting research that can have an impact on the public relations profession.

“I am eager to see Ruoyu continue to develop her research expertise during her doctoral program and I look forward to collaborating with her in future research projects,” Meng said.

“The purpose in our sponsoring this award is to help attract the brightest minds to pursue a career in public relations,” said Ken Makovsky, president of Makovsky. “Large businesses are facing increasingly complex challenges such as digital disruption, marketing cyberattacks, shareholder activism and an increased focus on governance.

Established in 1981, the award honors a winning master’s thesis that focuses on the development of research-based knowledge in the field of public relations, and the degree to which the research is relevant or has an impact on the profession. This is the first year the award has been given since 2010 thanks to a new sponsorship by Makovsky to recognize and encourage graduate study and scholarship in public relations.

About Makovsky

Founded in 1979, Makovsky ( is one of the nation’s largest and most influential independent integrated communications firms. The firm attributes its success to its original vision: that the Power of Specialized Thinking™ is the best way to build reputation, sales and fair valuation for a client. Based in New York City and Washington, D.C, the firm has agency partners with nearly 2,000 professionals in 30 countries through IPREX (, the second largest worldwide public relations agency partnership, of which Makovsky is the founder.

About the Institute for Public Relations

The Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit research foundation dedicated to fostering greater use of research and research-based knowledge in corporate communication and the public relations practice.  IPR is dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. IPR provides timely insights and applied intelligence that professionals can put to immediate use. All research, including a weekly research letter, is available for free at