Katherine McComas, Ph.D. is a professor of communication at Cornell University, where she specializes in risk, science, and environmental communication. She also supports the university’s public engagement mission by serving as Cornell’s Vice Provost for Engagement and Land-Grant Affairs. For more than two decades, Katherine’s research has focused on understanding how people respond to information about different types of risks, which includes understanding who people trust for information, how people respond to different pathways of communication, and what types of messages influence attitudes and behaviors. The contexts for her work range widely, including communication about zoonotic disease, wildlife health, climate change, food safety, and renewable energy, among others. She particularly enjoys collaborating with state and federal agencies to ensure that the research addresses these agencies’ needs. She is the author or coauthor of 80+ refereed journal articles and two books, including co-editing the SAGE Handbook of Risk Communication. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Parks Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). From 2011-2019, she served as Area Editor for Risk Communication for the journal Risk Analysis. She is a Fellow for the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) and served as SRA’s President 2018-2019.
Back in 1987 a small, dedicated group of agency bear managers, educators and wildlife specialists met at Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories to focus on finding ways to better understand and manage conflicts between people and bears.