Visiting Scholars


Barbara Sharf received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Minnesota in 1976. After her first academic appointment in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah, she joined the faculty of Medical Education at the University of Illinois College of Medicine from 1978-98 where she also served as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Head of the Medical Humanities Program. Subsequently, Dr. Sharf served on the faculty of Communication at Texas A & M University from 1998-2011, where she taught classes in health communication, qualitative research, and narrative inquiry, and helped establish the doctoral program in health communication. As an internationally-recognized health communication researcher, she was a member of the founding group of scholars who established this field of inquiry. Dr. Sharf’s research interests have encompassed communication in clinical settings; patients’ experiences of illness; cultural influences on health care; health disparities related to race/ethnicity, class, and geographic location; the portrayal of health and illness in popular media; and most recently, integrative approaches to health care. Her most consistent mark of distinction centers on qualitative forms of investigation and analysis, particularly narrative inquiry, as applied to the study of health communication. Dr. Sharf is the author or co-author of two books, including an influential text in health communication, and more than 75 academic journal articles and book chapters.  She has also been a principal or co-principal investigator on a dozen grants, as well as a primary consultant on an additional half-dozen, most of which were funded by various U.S. national governmental agencies. In 2005, Dr. Sharf was named Outstanding Health Communication Scholar, a career achievement award, co-selected by health communication divisions of the National Communication Association and International Communication Association. In 2011, she received the Boase Award for Excellence in Communication Scholarship from the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.  As Professor Emerita at Texas A & M, she remains active in conducting research, publishing, and mentoring doctoral students and young faculty.


Gary L. Kreps is a University Distinguished Professor of the Department of Communication at George Mason University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Communication Research, Health Communication, Organizational Communication, Consumer-Provider Health Communication, Health Communication Campaigns, and E-Health Communication. Dr. Kreps received his BA and his MA in Communication from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his PhD from the University of Southern California. Dr. Kreps’ areas of expertise include health communication and promotion, information dissemination, organizational communication, information technology, multicultural relations, risk/crisis management, health informatics, and applied research methods. He is the Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication, serves on the Governing Board of the Center for Social Science Research, and is a faculty affiliate of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, the Center for Health Policy & Ethics, the Center for the Study of International Medical Policies and Practices, the Climate Change Communication Center, the Center fo Consciouness & Transformation, and the Center for Health Information Technology, at George Mason. Prior to his appointment at Mason, he served for five years as the founding Chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NIH), where he planned, developed, and coordinated major new national research and outreach initiatives concerning risk communication, health promotion, behavior change, technology development, and information dissemination to promote effective cancer prevention, screening, control, care, and survivorship. He has also served as the Founding Dean of the School of Communication at Hofstra University in New York, Executive Director of the Greenspun School of Communication at UNLV, and in faculty and administrative roles at Northern Illinois, Rutgers, Indiana, and Purdue Universities. His published work includes more than 350 books, articles, and monographs concerning the applications of communication knowledge in society.