Lisa Keränen

Lisa KeranenDr. 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 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.
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Lisa’s essays concerning rhetoric, medicine, bioethics, and terrorism appear in places such asAcademic Medicine, Accountability in ResearchArgumentation & Advocacy, Communication Yearbook,Cultural Studies-Critical MethodologiesJournal of Applied Communication ResearchJournal of Medical Humanities, Quarterly Journal of SpeechRhetoric 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 World War II 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. 

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 CommunicationWestern Journal of Communication, and the Journal of Medical Humanities and has been a long-time member of the board of governors of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology (ARST). She was recently elected ARST’s Second Vice-President.


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 they’ve taken up kayaking.

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