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Amy Shirong Lu

Head and shoulders images of a brunette woman smiles at camera with blue blazer and white t-shire outside with a blurred yellow background.
Dr. Amy Shirong-Lu, Associate Professor
Head and shoulders images of a brunette woman smiles at camera with blue blazer and white t-shire outside with a blurred yellow background.
Dr. Amy Shirong-Lu, Associate Professor

Amy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies of the College of Arts, Media and Design and in the Department of Health Sciences of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. She directs the Health Technology Lab, where she explores the psychological, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms and effects of digital interventions using games, XR, and apps across the developmental spectrum. She is especially interested in narratives, mediated characters, and digital media to improve human cognition and behavior.Amy has secured more than $4.15 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding as Principal Investigator or sub-contract PI since the Lab’s inception in 2012. Her work has appeared in Journal of Communication, Games for Health, Scientific Reports, Pediatrics, and Digital Health. Amy has served as a reviewer on multiple NIH grant review panels and is an ad hoc reviewer for over 25 international peer-reviewed journals in communication, medicine, public health, game studies, psychology, education, computer science, and media.Amy received her BA in English from Peking University, and her master’s in Communication Studies and doctorate in Mass Communication from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

Research/Publications Highlights

Lu, A. S., Green, M. C. & Alon, D. (2023) The effect of animated Sci-Fi characters’ racial presentation on narrative engagement, wishful identification, and physical activity intention among children. Forthcoming at Journal of Communication. *

Lu, A. S., Green, M. C., Sousa, C. V., Hwang, J., Lee, I.-M., Thompson, D. & Baranowski, T. (2023) To pause with a cliffhanger or a temporary closure? The differential impact of serial vs. episodic narratives on children’s physical activity behaviors. Forthcoming at Communication Research

Lu, A. S., Pelarski, V., Swaminathan, N., Baran, A., McGarrity, E., Alon, D. & Sousa, C. V. (2023) The effect of narrative element incorporation on physical activity and game experience in active and sedentary virtual reality games. Virtual Reality. 27(3), 1607–1622. PMCID: 9888740 *

Sousa, C. V., Lee, K. J., Alon, D., Sternad, D. & Lu, A. S. (2023) A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of active video games on postural balance. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 104(4), 631-644. PMCID: 10142571 *

Alon, D., Sousa, C. V., & Lu, A. S. (2021) What type of body shape moves children? An experimental exploration of the impact of narrative cartoon character body shape on children’s narrative engagement, wishful identification, and exercise motivation. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. PMCID: 8312721 *

Hwang, J. & Lu, A. S. (2018) Narrative and active video game in separate and additive effects of physical activity and cognitive function among young adults. Scientific Reports-Nature, 8(1), 11020. PMCID: 6054679

* Co-authored with undergraduate and/or graduate students


Communication Studies

Research Focus

  • Health Communication
  • Narratives
  • Games for Health
  • Child Obesity
  • Behavioral Science
  • Physical Activity


  • BA English Language and Literature, Peking University
  • MA Communication Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • PhD Mass Communication, UNC-Chapel Hill

In the News

Courtesy of NGN/Netflix
Communication Studies

Is Peppa Pig a good show for kids?

Peppa Pig, a show for preschool-age children, has its devotees and its haters. Communication studies professors Meryl Alper and Amy Shirong-Lu break down why.

March 8, 2024