Brian Southwell is a member of the graduate faculty of the school and holds adjunct appointments in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and at Duke University. In addition to his faculty appointments, Southwell serves as senior research scientist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park. 

Prior to moving to North Carolina, Southwell was an associate professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He also held an adjunct appointment in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. He previously worked for a variety of non-profit and government organizations, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, as well as Ogilvy Public Relations in Washington, D.C. 

Southwell has conducted research on topics that include campaign measurement and evaluation, with special emphases on the intersection of interpersonal communication, social networks, and mass communication and on the role of aging. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other sources. Southwell’s research and theoretical contributions appear in more than 70 journal articles and chapters, in publications such as Social Science and Medicine, Communication Theory, Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Health Communication and the Journal of Health Communication. He also published a book with Johns Hopkins University Press in 2013 entitled, "Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health: Sharing Disparities.” 

He has served as senior editor for Health Communication and as a member of the editorial boards of Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Science Communication, Journal of Health and Mass Communication, and the Journal of Public Relations Research.

Southwell's 2002 dissertation was awarded the Health Communication Dissertation of the Year, given jointly by the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association. In 2006, he was awarded the Arthur “Red” Motley Exemplary Teaching Award by the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. In 2012, the National Communication Association’s Health Communication Division recognized his 2007 Communication Yearbook review of the roles of interpersonal interaction in mass media campaigns (co-authored with Marco Yzer) with the Distinguished Article Award.


  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A., University of Virginia