Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations

Wilson Hall, Room 316
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-4120

General Department Questions:

Zexin "Marsha" Ma, Ph.D.

A head shot of Zexin 'Marsha' Ma.

Assistant Professor
Office: 110 Vandenberg Hall
Phone: (248) 370-4090

Zexin “Marsha” Ma (Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2018) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations. She conducts research at the intersection of health communication, narrative persuasion, misinformation, and social and emerging media. Her primary research examines the power of media narratives in health contexts.

Dr. Ma’s current work has two goals: (1) Identify narrative features that promote healthy behaviors and the psychological mechanisms that underlie narrative effects in traditional and emerging media, and (2) Understand and mitigate the harmful impacts of online health-related narrative misinformation.

Her research has been published in communication and interdisciplinary journals, including Media PsychologyHealth CommunicationJournal of Health Communication, Computers in Human Behavior, and Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. She also serves on the editorial board of Health Communication.

Dr. Ma is the recipient of several competitive grants, including a federal R03 grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator; 2022-2024). This project aims to determine the role of pictorial warning labels featuring narrative content in communicating the cancer risk of alcohol. Her research contributions have also been recognized with the Faculty Recognition Award for Research in 2020.

For a complete list of Dr. Ma’s published works, see her Google Scholar profile.

At Oakland University, Dr. Ma teaches Introduction to Public Relations, Research Methods in Public Relations, Internal Public Relations, and Public Relations Campaigns. In her class, she seeks to connect students with the local community and opportunities to work on real-world problems. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, students in her Public Relations Campaigns class have been working closely with the University’s administration and Graham Health Center to promote flu and COVID-19 vaccination.