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Lisa Sparks


District 5 (2018-2022)

Serving Aliso Viejo, Coto de Caza, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Las Flores, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Joaquin Hills, San Juan Capistrano, portions of Lake Forest and portions of Costa Mesa.

Biographical Information

Lisa Sparks (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 1998).
Dean, School of Communication
McGaw Endowed Professor in Behavioral Sciences
Chapman University in Orange, California.

Dr. Sparks is the Inaugural Dean of the School of Communication and Endowed Professor at Chapman University, Orange, CA. She previously served as Chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Founding Head/Director of the Master of Science graduate program in Health and Strategic Communication. Dr. Sparks was recently elected as a public official to serve on the Orange County Board of Education, Trustee Area 5 serving from 2018-2022. Further, she was competitively selected as an International Fellow by the Faculty Graduate School and Department of Communication Science at Vriet Universitiet Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2015-17. From 2008-2017, Dr. Sparks served as Full Member of the Chao Family/NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Irvine in the School of Medicine, Division of Population Sciences; and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention, Program in Public Health. Prior to joining Chapman in 2006, Dr. Sparks occupied faculty positions at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dr. Sparks is a highly regarded teacher-scholar whose published work spans more than 150 research articles and scholarly book chapters, and is the author and editor of 12 books in the areas of communication, health, and aging with a distinct focus on intersections of provider-patient interaction and family decision-making as related to cancer communication. Her research goal is to understand and create evidence based strategic health messages that effectively change health behavior resulting in better health outcomes by applying social science theory and methods to the continuum of cancer care surrounding issues of health promotion, disease prevention, survivorship, and health disparities from a communication lens. Dr. Sparks' research and teaching interests in intergroup (intergenerational, intercultural) communication and aging approaches merge with her research in health, risk, and crisis communication domains including provider-patient interaction, family caregiving, health information and decision-making, breaking bad news, medical adherence, health campaigns, and communicating relevant messages with vulnerable populations when information is uncertain during periods of health risk.

Dr. Sparks was cited as top ten prolific authors (tied for 7th) in Health Communication, 2012; [see Kim, J.N., Park, S.C., Yoo, S.W., & Shen, H. (2012). Mapping health communication scholarship: Breadth, depth, and agenda of published research in Health Communication. Health Communication, 25, 487-503.] Her innovative research has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, and TED. She has served as Editor of Communication Research Reports and Guest Editor of numerous academic journals including: Patient Education and Counseling, Health Communication and Communication Education and serves on a variety of editorial boards.

Dr. Sparks serves on the Board of Directors for the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Orange County and has served as Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI on a number of research grants including the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) Grant: Statewide Stigma and Discrimination Reduction: Partnering with Media and the Entertainment Industry (2011-2014); ASCO-Komen Improving Cancer Care Grant (2011-12); and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Grant Award: Hablamos juntos: Improving patient-provider communication for Latinos. 

She has served as a scientific consultant and advisor to the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, Institute for Healthcare Advancement, American Medical Association, American Medical Student Association, Educational Testing Service, Southwest Oncology Group, American Association of Cancer Research, Entertainment Industries Council and the United States House of Representatives at the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. She is a Founding Senior Scientific Research Fellow for the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), Burbank, CA/Reston, VA. Dr. Sparks is a former Cancer Communication Research Fellow for the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD and has served as an External Scientific Reviewer for NIH.

Dr. Sparks' achievements, leadership qualities, and strong commitment to advance the intersections of health communication and aging in the cancer care context are significant as evidenced by: a) the number of publications (over 150) most of which are peer-reviewed, and 12 books; b) the obtainment and effort to obtain competitive peer-reviewed research grants and contracts; c) the recognition of her scientific stature; d) her collaborations with the top national and international scientists in communication and related scientific fields such as public health, medicine, and gerontology; e) her teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students and junior faculty; and f) her demonstrated leadership and administrative roles as elected to public office to serve on the Orange County Board of Education, Trustee Area 5, University Dean, Department Chair, former Head/Director of the Health and Strategic Communication Graduate Program at Chapman University, Editor of Communication Research Reports, Guest Editor of Health Communication, Patient Education and Counseling, and Communication Education as well as her editorial service for a number of peer-reviewed journals and continued service on several executive boards and associations.

Check out Dr. Sparks' invited TED talks:

2013, "Why Health Communication Can Change (SAVE) Your Life" TEDxChapmanU:

2011, "Health Risk Messages and Decision-Making" TEDxOrangeCoast: 

Check out articles and clips featured in the media:

2017, Invited featured article "Building Character at Chapman University" Orange Plaza Review, Sept/Oct, 2017.

2016, Health communication segment featuring Dr. Lisa Sparks on PBS SoCal-Plus.

2014, Creating a Healthy Dialogue Between Doctor and Patient,0,2272893.story#ixzz2yt0TEq1Y

2014, Teaching Professionals the Art of Health Communication,0,542181.story#axzz2yt04ivgF

2014, Mixed Messages on Ebola. Orange County Register, Chapman University Section (p.2) (November 3, 2014), Orange County, CA.

2013, Preventing gun violence: More than a legal issue, it's become a public health concern. Orange County Register, Chapman University Section (p.2) (April 30, 2013), Orange County, CA.