Lisa Keränen

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Communication
University of Colorado Denver



Dr. Lisa Keränen is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Communication Department at the University of Colorado Denver, where she studies and teaches rhetorical theory and criticism with an emphasis on the rhetoric of science, medicine, and health care.

Lisa has received numerous awards for her research, teaching, and service. Most recently, she received a 2012 Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, the 2011 Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Public Address, and the 2010 Karl R. Wallace Memorial Research Award from the National Communication Association. From 2008-9, she was a faculty fellow at the Center for Humanities and the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her graduate degrees include a PhD in communication and an MA in bioethics from the University of Pittsburgh.

Lisa researches the interface between science, publics, and the state in biomedical controversies, end-of-life discourse, and the international biodefense industry. Her first book, Scientific Characters: Rhetoric, Politics, and Trust in Breast Cancer Research (University of Alabama Press, 2010), chronicles the contests over trust, truth, and character in a high-flying breast cancer research misconduct controversy.

Lisa’s essays concerning rhetoric, medicine, bioethics, and terrorism appear in places such as Academic Medicine, Accountability in Research, Argumentation & Advocacy, Communication Yearbook, Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of Medical Humanities, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, the Western Journal of Communication, and edited books about the rhetoric of science and medicine. She is hard at work on her second book, Envisioning Viral Apocalypse: A Rhetorical History of Biological Weapons from the Post-Cold War to the War on Terror.

Lisa teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in rhetorical theory and criticism and in the rhetoric of science and medicine. As Director of Graduate Studies, she teaches the introduction to graduate study for the Communication Department. Other recent course offerings include a seminar in rhetorics of health and medicine and one devoted to exploring rhetoric and biothreats. She also teaches an intensive Maymester travel study course in Beijing and Shanghai, Narratives of the New China, which explores how China is crafting its identity in its post-Olympic era. Support from here.

From 2006-2009, Dr. Keränen served as a member of the clinical ethics committee and member of the consultancy committee at Boulder Community Hospital, and is past director of the National Communication Association Forum (NCA-F), a group devoted to promoting high quality public discourse about salient social issues. She serves on the editorial boards of Health Communication, Western Journal of Communication, Journal of Medical Humanities, POROI, and the Quarterly Journal of Speech, and has been a long-time member of the board of governors of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology (ARST). She serves as President of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science & Technology.

Lisa is a transplanted east coaster who fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. In her spare time, she enjoys Emerson’s ideal transactions—reading, walking, and gardening—and can usually be found clutching a mug of coffee or gen mai cha. An avid hiker, snowshoer, and skier-in-becoming, she hones her amateur botany skills while bagging peaks. Lisa lives in downtown Denver with her existential soul mate, life partner, and fellow mountain adventurer, the poet, activist, and scholar Dr. Stephen John Hartnett, whose beautiful young daughters are becoming stong adventurers in their own right. Recently the family has taken up kayaking.

Scientific Characters

Rhetoric, Politics, and Trust in Breast Cancer Reseach

Recipient of the 2011 Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Public Address from the Public Address Division of the National Communication Association.

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University of Alabama Press