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:
Crystal Bell

Zexin "Marsha" Ma

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, and social and emerging media. Her primary research seeks to determine what makes narratives persuasive and how to design effective narrative-based health messages.

Her current research projects investigate (1) the role of narrative images in communicating cancer risks, (2) the relationship between narrative features and social media engagement, and (3) the persuasive effects and psychological mechanisms of immersive narratives in health and prosocial contexts.

Dr. Ma’s works have been published in top journals in her field, including Media Psychology, Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, Communication Research Reports, and Journal of American College Health.

She is the recipient of several competitive grants, including the Faculty Research Fellowship and Faculty Research Grant awarded by the University Research Committee. 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, External Public Relations, and Emerging Media and Health Communication. 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 External Public Relations class have been working closely with the University’s administration and Graham Health Center to promote flu and COVID-19 vaccination.


  • Ph. D. in Communication with minor in Statistics, University of Maryland, College Park, 2018
  • B.A. in Communication, Communication University of China, 2013