Portrait of Xun Zhu

Xun Zhu

  • Assistant Professor, Communication Dept

Contact Info

Office Address

Columbia Hall Room 2370
501 N Columbia Road Stop 7169
Grand Forks, ND 58203-7169

Office Hours

Monday/Wednesday 9 - 10 am, or by appointment


Dr. Xun Zhu is a communication scientist who studies the role of persuasive communication in creating, perpetuating, and transforming socially shared beliefs such as collective norms and public stigma. He is particularly interested in the means by which persuasive messages propagate within a social system through peer-to-peer sharing. Three questions are central to his research program: Why do some persuasive messages spread widely in a social system, while others do not? How do the structural characteristics of a social network and people's positions in it facilitate or inhibit the peer-to-peer sharing of persuasive messages? What can be done to promote the sharing of messages that lead to positive outcomes or to constrain the spread of messages that cause noxious ones? Dr. Zhu uses quantitative methods to test theories on communication and social influence.

Dr. Zhu is currently leading two research projects. The first project examines what social dynamics generate public perceptions of unmanned aerial systems (aka. drones). The second project explores the communicative processes in which people re-evaluate message validity. He is interested in working with enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate students who are curious about quantitative communication research. 

Dr. Zhu teaches courses on social influence, communication theory, organizational communication, and risk and crisis communication at the undergraduate level. He teaches a graduate seminar on quantitative methods in communication research.

Multilevel influence in social networks; social diffusion; risk amplification; unmanned aerial systems

Zhu, X., Smith, R. A., Parrott, R. L., & Worthington, A. K. (2018). Understanding information sharing about rare diseases: an evaluation of the NIH's website on AATD. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 11, 128-139. doi: 10.1080/17538068.2018.1453434

Smith, R. A., Coffman, D. L., & Zhu, X. (2018). Investigating an intervention’s causal story: Mediation analysis using a factorial experiment and multiple mediators. In L. M. Collins, and K. C. Kugler (Eds.). Advanced Topics in the Optimization of Behavioral and Biobehavioral Interventions. New York, NY: Springer

Zhu, X., Smith. R. A., & Parrott, R. L (2017). Belonging: The influence of genetic stigma and ingroup cognitions on labeled people’s communication strategies, support networks, and stress. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 45, 179-198. doi: 10.1080/00909882.2017.1288292

Smith, R. A., Sillars, A., Chestnut, R. & Zhu, X. (2017). Investigating married adults’ communal coping with genetic health risk and perceived discrimination. Communication Monographs, 85, 181-202. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2017.1404618

Zhu, X., & Smith, R. A. (2016). Advancing research on the spread of stigmatizing beliefs with insights from rumor transmission. American Behavioral Scientist, 60, 1342–1361. doi: 10.1177/0002764216657382

Zhu, X., Brinker, D. L., & MacGeorge, E. M. (2016). Mediated communication. In A. S.Rancer, T.A., Avtgis, & E. L., MacGeorge(Eds.). Contemporary communication theory (2nd ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

Faculty Success Program, National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), University of North Dakota (Spring, 2019)

Carroll C. Arnold Award for Scholarly Excellence, Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, Pennsylvania State University (2016-2017)

Top 4 student paper award, Applied Communication Division, National Communication Association (2016)

Top 3 paper award, Social Cognitive Division, National Communication Association (2013)

Summer Research Excellence Fellowship, College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Michigan State University (2013)

Ph.D., 2018, Pennsylvania State University

M.A., 2014, Michigan State University