• Communication Studies

Susan Mello

Assistant Professor

Susan Mello is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. Broadly, her research interests lie at the intersection of risk perception, health communication, and the environment. Her recent work focuses on how exposure to risk information in the media, specifically about cancer and environmental toxins, impacts individual perceptions and protective health behaviors. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Health Communication, Risk Analysis, and Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, Dr. Mello served on the faculty at The Ohio State University. She earned her doctoral and masters degrees from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also taught undergraduate courses and worked as a research assistant in a National Cancer Institute-funded Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research. Dr. Mello was a 2007-2008 U.S. Fulbright Fellow to Quebec City, Canada, and also worked in public relations for Discovery Communications, Inc. the parent company of the Discovery Channel, Discovery Health, and Planet Green. She graduated summa cum laude from Boston College with a BA in Communication.

At Northeastern University, she teaches classes on communication theory, health communication campaigns, risk communication and regularly guest lectures for the Bouve College of Health Science Honors Program. Currently, she chairs both the department Curriculum Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee for the College of Arts, Media and Design.

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  • University of Pennsylvania, PhD Communication


  • Top Student Paper Award, Health Communication Division National Communication Association
  • Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship, The Wharton School Risk Management & Decision Making Center, UPenn
  • Presidents and Provost President’s and Provost’s Citation for Exceptional Commitment to Graduate Student Life, UPenn

Courses Taught

  • COMM1225 Communication Theory
  • COMM4102 Health Communication Campaigns

Research/Publications Highlights

  • • Mello, S. & Tan, A. S. (2016). Who’s to blame? Media framing of responsibility for pediatric environmental health and mothers’ perceptions of accountability. Journal of Health Communication, 21(12), 1217-1226. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2016.1240267


  • • Mello, S. & Hornik, R. C. (2016). Media coverage of pediatric environmental health risks and its effects on mothers’ protective behaviors. Risk Analysis, 36(3), 605-622. doi: 10.1111/risa.12467


  • • Mello, S., Bigman, C. A., Sanders-Jackson, A., & Tan, A. S. (2015). Perceived harm of secondhand e-cigarette vapors and policy support to restrict public vaping. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 18(5), 686-693. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntv232


Professional Affiliations

  • • International Communication Association (ICA)

  • • National Communication Association (NCA)

  • • American Public Health Association (APHA)

  • • Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM)



Research Interests

  • behavior change theory
  • cancer
  • Health & environmental communication
  • media & message effects
  • quantitative research methods
  • risk perception