Kari Nixon speaker

Kari Nixon

Medical Humanities Professor, specializing in anxiety about epidemic diseases and public health adoptions

Kari Nixon: Biography highlights

Kari Nixon is a professor specializing in social reactions to infectious diseases. She works at Whitworth University, where she teaches about social responses to contagion and quarantine in medical humanities and Victorian literature courses. Her work on public health has been published for lay audiences in HuffPost, YES! Magazine, and CNN. Her academic book, Kept From All Contagion: Germ Theory, Disease, and the Dilemma of Human Contact, was published by SUNY University Press, and tracks the social history of humankind’s responses to disease in Victorian literature and popular culture.

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Full biography of Kari Nixon

About Kari Nixon

Guiding empathetic development as a method of conflict resolution in public health, epidemic outbreak, and public health adoption resistance.

With knowledge of history, culture, psychology, and society, Kari Nixon is great at providing non-partisan ways to community growth as a team across the world. Her talks assist in fostering transformative insight into how various elements of modern life—particularly health and wellness culture, parenting expectations, and digital and visual media—can provide indications about where and how to live a meaningful life.

Adept at pairing qualitative and quantitative data into moving narratives that guide audiences through difficult conversations and social dilemmas, Kari Nixon’s expertise in public health adoption and debate came into broader relevance than ever in March 2020, when the COVID-19 Pandemic swept the globe.

Originally a data scientist studying for her doctorate in clinical psychology with a specialization in psychometrics, Nixon left the field after placing out of introductory statistics courses and making a 4.0, because she felt that numerical data was only part of the equation for understanding human psychology.

For the past decade, Nixon has conducted scholarly research on how society reacts to developing scientific information. Her dissertation and first book addressed this topic in response to the growth and popularization of germ theory in the 1880s. Her research seeks to understand the science at hand, but then to understand how this science affects the lay public, including what science “says” versus what the public “hears.” In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, she turned her work more and more to the lay public, with a new book from Simon and Schuster about what pandemic arguments and uncertainties teach us about our day-to-day life.

Her ability to comprehend quantitative data and then to delineate its qualitative, societal impacts make her a unique and transformative speaker.

She has also co-edited books on the use of contagion as a cultural concept (such as in computer viruses) and the effect this has on society and on syphilis and how patient status in any disease affects self-image. Her most recent public-facing articles have been in CNN about climate change conversations (2021), and xenophobia in COVID-19 discourse (2020), and the value of mourning culture and grief rituals in YES! Magazine (2019 and 2020), and employing productive empathy in vaccine hesitancy for HuffPo (2019).

Academically, she remains a leader in her field, as the series co-editor of the Lexington series in Health Communication, which has published 12 titles to date, while also maintaining publications in the realm of Victorian public health ethics. She stands on local ethics committees working to provide the most ethical response to COVID-19, and has been featured in numerous podcasts and news stories as an expert voice discussing present-day public health difficulties and their historical precursors. She acts as a consultant for a team of scientists working to develop communications for the lay public about antibiotic resistance as a public health crisis.


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1/2 videos
COVID & The Common Good - Kari Nixon
COVID & The Common Good - Kari Nixon
HOPE TV E7: Dr. Kari Nixon
HOPE TV E7: Dr. Kari Nixon

"Wonderful and thoughtful presentation - so glad that there are smart women working on this issue of getting good science out to the public in a way that it is received and acted upon. Thank you so much for your work."

"This was very informative and useful across disciplines. Thank you very much speakers!"

"Working on a module on scientific communication so am excited you brought together this panel."

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