Merissa Ferrara, PH.D.

Associate Professor


PhD Michigan State University

B.A. Marquette University

Research Interest

My research interests over the years have spanned various facets of communication, with a particular focus on interpersonal communication dynamics, the intricacies of difficult relational decisions (i.e., how to handle deception, what to do when we lack support from our relational partners), exploring the nuances of sexual communication among emerging adults, and the effectiveness of health communication campaigns (i.e., bystander intervention, increasing parent involvement in sexual education). These areas of study not only contribute to our understanding of human communication but also have practical applications in enhancing interpersonal relationships, promoting health behavior change, and informing persuasive messaging strategies.

Courses Taught

Interpersonal Communication Theory, Soft Skills Training and Identity Management, Conflict Management, Social Media Marketing & Analysis, Relational Communication, Sustainable & Responsible Tourism, Health Communication, Study Abroad Courses in Spain, Greece, Italy, Peru, Costa Rica, etc.


Selected Publications

Ferrara, M., Boye, S., Foster, A., Hagan, C. (2023) I Needed To Know: Emerging Adult Experiences with Sexual Education Related to Wellbeing. Healthy Behavior and Policy Review.

Sundstrom B, DeMaria AL, Ferrara M, Meier, S, Vyge, K., Billings D., DiBona, D., & McLernon Sykes, B. (2021) You Have Options: Implementing and evaluating a contraceptive choice social marketing campaign. Medicine Access Point of Care, 5, 1-10. doi:10.1177/23992026211003499

Sundstrom, B. L., DeMaria, A. L., Ferrara, M., Smith, E., McInnis, S. (2020). “People are struggling in this area:” a qualitative study of women’s perspectives of telehealth in rural South Carolina. Women & Health, 60 (3), 352--365. ISBN-ISSN Number: 0363-0242

Sundstrom, B. L., DeMaria, A. L., Ferrara, M., Meier, S., Billings, D. (2019). “The Closer, the Better:” The Role of Telehealth in Increasing Contraceptive Access Among Women in Rural South Carolina. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 23 (9), 1196--1205. ISBN-ISSN Number: 1573-6628

Sundstrom, B. L., Billings, D., Smith, E., Ferrara, M., Albert, B., Suellentrop, K. (2019). Evaluating the Whoops Proof S.C. Campaign: A Pair-Matched Group Pretest–Posttest Quasi-experimental Study. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 23 (8), 1036--1047. ISBN-ISSN Number: 1573-6628