Associate Professor



Professor Abrams' expertise is at the intersection of strategic communication and food system and natural resources issues. Her work aids businesses, organizations, and government in developing practices and products in agricultural, food, and natural resources systems that balance scientific innovation with consumers’ values and attitudes, and leads to improved communication among stakeholders. More succinctly, it contributes to socially sustainable agricultural, food, and natural resources systems.

Most of her research focuses on three broad areas: food marketing communication models of influence, transparency and strategic communication in the agriculture industry, and, most recently, risk communication regarding human-wildlife interactions in partnership with the National Park Service. A focus on communication pertaining to animals/animal agriculture has been a dominant thread through all areas of her research, but she has branched into other topics within food/agriculture as well. She often combines theories in human behavior change with those in communication and psychology. She currently is principle investigator projects funded by USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the National Park Service.

She advises students with interests in public relations, advertising, and institutional communication, as well as those with interests specific to communication regarding food, agriculture, or natural resources. She uses survey, experimental, in-depth interview, and focus group methods in her research. Since January 2018, she has served as the chair of the department's undergraduate committee. Beginning in January 2019, she began as managing editor of the flagship journal for the agricultural communication discipline, the Journal of Applied Communications.

Prior to joining the department in August 2013, she was a faculty member in advertising and agricultural communication at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Her interests in agriculture come from her degrees in agricultural communication from Purdue University (B.S.) and the University of Florida (M.S., Ph. D.) where she became knowledgeable about the food system and passionate about food labeling, livestock issues, and communication issues facing our food system. Her professional experience is in web and graphic design and marketing research.




Abrams, K., & Soukup, C. (2017). Matching local food messages to consumer motivators: An experiment comparing the effects of differently framed messagesJournal of Applied Communications, 101(4). doi: 10.4148/1051-0834.1297 [Awarded "Article of the Year"]

Abrams, K. with Gaiser, T. (2016). Online focus groups. In N. Fielding, R. Lee, & G. Blank (Eds.), Handbook of online research methods (2nd ed.). London: Sage. pp.435-450.

Abrams, K., Evans, C., & Duff, B. (2015). Ignorance is bliss: How parents of preschool children make sense of front-of-package visuals and claims on food. Appetite, 87. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.12.100

Abrams, K., Zimbres, T., & Carr, C. (2015). Communicating sensitive scientific issues: The interplay between values, attitudes, and euphemisms in communicating livestock slaughterScience Communication, 37(4). doi: 10.1177/1075547015588599

Abrams, K. (2015). Loss aversion and regulatory focus effects in the absence of numbers: Qualitatively framing messages on food labelsJournal of Applied Communications, 99(3).  [Awarded "Article of the Year"]



  • JTC 211 Visual Communication

    Covers: 1) How users see and interpret visual cues like color, shapes, depth, and movement. 2) Principles of effective design through understanding and applying visual theories. 3) The nuances of planning for and communicating with layout, typography, photography, video, and websites (including social media).

  • JTC 419 Food and Natural Resources Issue Comm

    Covers how media and communication affects the beliefs and decisions people make when it comes to food and natural resources issues like climate change, conservation, gene editing, antibiotic resistance, and healthy eating. Students gain skills in science/media literacy and deepen their writing and critical thinking skills within the context of food and natural resources issues.

  • JTC 662 Science Communication

    Objectives: Understand, broadly, what we currently know about the science of science communication. Identify and understand how to overcome challenges to science. Understand how the media landscape affects science communication. Analyze successes and failures in science communication. Understand the interplay of cognitive processing and science information. Analyze and further develop research in science communication.

  • JTC 793B Survey Methods in Media Research

    Concepts and skills necessary for designing and carrying out surveys for conducting media and communication research.