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Julie Gerdes

Julie Gerdes, Assistant Professor

Julie Gerdes, Assistant Professor
Julie Gerdes, Assistant Professor

Department of English
355 Shanks Hall 
181 Turner Street, NW 
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Julie Gerdes is an assistant professor of technical and professional writing and rhetoric. She works at the intersection of technical communication and global public health. Her research examines methodologies for understanding and implementing inclusive risk communication, particularly during public health emergencies. 

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Dr. Gerdes spent five years working in global health with the U.S. Agency for International Development based in Washington, DC. There, she was a technical advisor for the Zika response in Latin America and the Caribbean and supported global health supply chain activities such as an evaluability assessment project and technical assistance in emergency supply chain preparedness, response, and recovery during infectious disease outbreaks. She also championed knowledge management activities aimed at improving processes and opportunities for transnational expert information exchange and ideation. 

Dr. Gerdes’ research on international risk communication earned the Horne Professors Graduate Achievement Award from Texas Tech University, where she completed her Ph.D. in technical communication and rhetoric. She also holds a master of arts in rhetoric and composition from the University of South Florida and a bachelor of arts from Clemson University, where she double majored in writing and publication studies and in modern Spanish. 

  • Rhetoric of health and medicine
  • Professional and technical writing
  • Knowledge management
  • User-centered design of communication
  • Global public health evaluation
  • PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric, Texas Tech University
  • MA in Rhetoric and Composition, University of South Florida
  • BA in English (writing and publication studies) and Spanish, Clemson University


  • Helen Locke Carter Memorial Scholarship, 2015-2016
  • Horne Professors Graduate Achievement Award, 2018

Journal Articles

Gerdes, Julie (2022). Diagnosing Unsettled Stasis in Transnational Communication Design: An Exploration of Public Health Emergency Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, DOI: 10.1080/10572252.2022.2069286.

McCurdy, N., Gerdes, J., & Meyer, M. (2018). A Framework for Externalizing Implicit Error Using Visualization. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics.

Gerdes, J. & Basu, A. (2014). “Malawi.” SAGE Encyclopedia of Health Communication. 1st ed. Print and Electronic. 

Gerdes, J. & Basu, A. (2014). “South Africa.” SAGE Encyclopedia of Health Communication. 1st ed. 2014. Print and Electronic. 

Book Chapters

Gerdes, J., & Serino, A. (2022). The Invisible Threat: Communicating Risk and Engaging Communities to Respond to Zika in Communication and Community Engagement. In E. Manoncourt, R. Obregon, K. Chitnis (Eds.), Disease Outbreaks: Dealing with Rights, Culture, Complexity, and Context (129-150). Cham: Springer.

Peace Corps Volunteer (English education, Namibia)

Activity manager for five-country mixed methods case study impacts of Zika on maternal and child health systems (monitoring trip to Dominican Republic)

Activity manager for adaptation of Emergency Supply Chain Preparedness and Response Playbook in over ten countries (monitoring trip to El Salvador)

Short-term technical assistance trips to Nepal, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Paraguay, and El Salvador 

Workshop Participant and Presenter

USAID Zika Communication and Community Engagement Workshop; November 2016; Panama City, Panama

Zika Community Engagement Share Fair; April 2018; Antigua, Guatemala

“Building Consensus, Capturing Lessons: Learning from the Zika Response for Future Success” Share Fair; April 2019; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

“Care and Support for Mothers, Infants, and Families Affected by Zika: Sharing Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Future” Regional Meeting; April 2019; Panama City, Panama

International workshop on “Community mobilization for the response to emergencies and epidemics: learning from the fight against Zika”; June 2019, Quito, Ecuador

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