Laura Rickard

Cooperating Faculty Member, Climate Change Institute

Research Interests:

  • Communication in the context of risk, health, science, and environmental issues
  • Attribution of responsibility
  • Perception of risk
  • Climate change communication
  • Human dimensions of natural resource-related issues


  • Ph.D. in Communication, Cornell University
  • M.S. in Communication, Cornell University
  • B.A. in Environmental Studies, magna cum laude, Brown University

Courses Taught:

  • CMJ 404: Risk Communication
  • CMJ 608: Communication Theory
  • CMJ 610: Seminar in Risk Communication

Student Opportunities:

Dr. Rickard is currently accepting MA and Ph.D. students through the Department of Communication and Journalism.


Laura Rickard is an Assistant Professor of Risk Communication. Whether focusing on how audiences seek information, perceive risk, communicate about scientific issues, or attribute responsibility, her work has broad application to organizational risk and environmental management. Drawing from sociology, social psychology, and natural resource management, her research is highly interdisciplinary. She utilizes quantitative and qualitative methods, such as surveys, experiments, and interviews, to explore complex, applied communication questions, often with policy implications. Her current research focuses on communicating about the intersection of ecological, human, and animal health (i.e., the “One Health” concept), public opinion related to sustainable aquaculture development in Maine, and strategic communication about global climate change.

Dr. Rickard’s work appears in such journals as Risk Analysis, Public Understanding of Science, Global Environmental Change, and Environmental Communication, and she teaches courses in risk communication and communication theory. Laura is also a member of the social science team of UMaine’s National Science Foundation $20 million, 5-year EPSCoR project, Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET).

Selected Publications:

Rickard, L. N., Schuldt, J. P., Eosco, G. M., Scherer, C. W., & Daziano, R. A. (forthcoming). The proof is in the picture: The influence of imagery and experience in perceptions of hurricane messaging. Weather, Climate and Society.

Rickard, L. N., Yang, Z. J., Schuldt, J. P., Eosco, G. M., Scherer, C. W., & Daziano, R. A. (forthcoming). Sizing up a superstorm: Exploring the role of recalled experience and attribution of responsibility in judgments of future hurricane risk. Risk Analysis.

Rickard, L. N., & Feldpausch-Parker, A. M. (2016). Of sea lice and superfood: A comparison of regional and national news media coverage of aquaculture. Frontiers in Communication: Science and Environmental Communication. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2016.00014

Roh, S., Rickard, L. N. , McComas, K. A., & Decker, D. (2016). One Health messages: The role of temporal distance. Public Understanding of Science. doi: 10.1177/0963662516670805

Rickard, L. N ., Yang, Z. J., & Schuldt, J. P. (2016). Here and there, then and now: How climate ‘departure dates’ influence climate change engagement. Global Environmental Change , 38 , 97-107.

Velardi, S., Folta, E., Rickard, L ., & Kuehn, D. (2015). The components of effective professional development for science educators: A case study with environmental education program Project Learning Tree. Journal of Applied Environmental Education and Communication, 14(4), 223-231.

Roh, S., McComas, K. A., Rickard, L. N ., & Decker, D. (2015). How motivated reasoning and temporal frames may polarize opinions about wildlife disease risk. Science Communication, 37 (3), 340-370.

Rickard, L. N., & Stedman, R. C. (2015). From ranger talks to radio stations: The role of communication in sense of place. Journal of Leisure Research, 47(1), 20-38.

Yang, Z. Y., Seo, M., Rickard, L. N., & Harrison, T. M. (2014). Information sufficiency and attribution of responsibility: Predicting support for climate change policy and pro-environmental behavior. Journal of Risk Research, 18(6), 727-746.

Rickard, L. N. (2014). Mountains and handrails: Risk, meaning, and responsibility in three national parks. Environmental Communication, 8(3), 286-304.

Rickard, L. N., Yang, Z. J., Seo, M., & Harrison, T. M. (2014). The “I” in climate: The role of individual responsibility in systematic processing of climate change information. Global Environmental Change, 26, 39-52.

Yang, Z. Y., Rickard, L. N., Harrison, T. M., & Seo, M. (2014). Applying the Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) model to examine support for climate change mitigation policy. Science Communication, 36(3), 296-324.

Rickard, L. N. (2014). Perception of risk and the attribution of responsibility for accidents. Risk Analysis, 34(3), 514-528.

Rickard, L. N., & Newman, S. B. (2014). Accidents and accountability: Perceptions of unintentional injury in three national parks. Leisure Sciences, 36(1), 88-106.