McKenzie Vorpahl


McKenzie Vorpahl.

McKenzie Vorpahl


McKenzie Vorpahl


Scholarly Interests

Interpersonal communication; Health communication; Persuasive communication; Evidence-based teaching practices for student engagement.


Dr. McKenzie Vorpahl (PhD, University at Buffalo) specializes in Interpersonal and Health Communication, with an interest in sensitive topics and populations. Through her research, Dr. Vorpahl hopes to improve medical conversations, decisions, and perceptions. As an instructor, Dr. Vorpahl is committed to creating engaging, scientifically driven classrooms using evidence-based teaching practices. She recently became a Lumens Circle Fellow following advanced training in Effective Teaching Practices with Active Learning. Additionally, Dr. Vorpahl serves on the Undergraduate Education Committee, Undergraduate Judiciary Committee, and is a mentor for the Graduate Student Teaching Initiative. In all her endeavors, the guiding principle is to make communication science visible in everyday practices to grow leaders professionally and personally.  

Educational Background

  • PhD, University at Buffalo SUNY
  • MA, Kent State University
  • BA, Kent State University

Recent Courses

  • COM 225: Interpersonal Communication
  • COM 231: Principles of Persuasion
  • COM 326: Public Speaking
  • COM 337: Communication Theory
  • COM 495: Undergraduate Supervised Teaching

Current Research

  • Dr. Vorpahl’s current research is examining the use of nonclinical touch in patient-provider interactions, assessing for patient satisfaction, experience, and perceptions of immediacy behaviors.
  • Additional research projects are exploring patient disclosures and perception among various healthcare providers, with special considerations for women’s healthcare professionals and medical conversations throughout the lifespan.

Selected Publications

Vorpahl, M. M., & Yang, Z. J. (2017). Who is to blame? Framing HPV to influence vaccination intentions among college students. Health Communication.

Yang, Z. J., & Pittman, M. M. (2016). The silver lining of shame: Framing HPV to influence vaccination intentions. Health Communication.