Katie Abrams

Assistant 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 currently is working on projects funded by USDA-NIFA, 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.

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

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).



  • 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 661 Information Design

    Covers theoretical and empirical approaches to design and presentation of information-based media. It focuses on media products within advertising, journalism, public information, public relations, and technical communication; although, the subject is useful to multiple fields/industries.

  • JTC 419 Food and Natural Resources Issue Comm

    Students analyze and communicate how people form beliefs about food and natural resources issues and the role of news media, PR, and advertising in that process.

  • JTC 374 Social Media Management

    Introduces students to various social media applications used for promotional purposes by organizations and is designed to prepare students for careers that involve social media management.

  • JTC 793B Survey Methods in Media Research

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