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Ricardo J. Wray, Ph.D.

Professor; Behavioral Science and Health Equity
College for Public Health and Social Justice

Courses Taught

Science, Theory and Public Health (PHS 6050); Social Ecology and Public Health (BSH 5200); Translating Evidence and Theory for Community Practice (PUBH 5070); Health Communication (BSH 5310)


  • Ph.D., Communication, University of Pennsylvania
  • M.S., Communication, Cornell University
  • B.A. with Honors, International Development Studies, Brown University

Research Interests

Health communication, climate communication, digital media strategies, social and behavioral theory, social determinants of health, health disparities and equity.

Publications and Media Placements

1. Wallace C, Subramaniam DS, Hendricks-Ferguson VL, Wray RJ, Dant D, Bullock K, Bennett A, Coccia K, White P. Development of a hospice perceptions instrument for diverse patients and families (Sci223). Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 65(5), e652., 2023.  

2. Wray RJ, Nicks S, Adsul P, Elliot M, Enard K, Jupka K, Trainer A, Hansen N, Shahid M, Wright-Jones R, Siddiqui S. Promoting informed prostate cancer screening decision-making for African American men in a community-based setting. Cancer Causes and Control, 33(4), 503-514, 2022

3. Wray RJ, Hansen N, Ding D, Masters J. Effects of a campus-wide tobacco-free policy on tobacco attitudes, norms and behaviors among students, faculty and staff. Journal of American College Health, 1-12, 2020.

4. Wray RJ, Weaver N, Adsul P, Gautam K, Jupka K, Zellin S, Goggins K, Vijaykumar S, Hansen N and Rudd R. Enhancing organizational health literacy in a rural Missouri clinic: A qualitative case study. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 32(5), 788, 2019.

5. Nicks S, Wray RJ, Peavler O, Jackson S, McClure S, Enard K, Schwartz T. Examining peer support and survivorship for African American women with breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 28(2), 358-364, doi:, 2019.

6. Seale DE, LeRouge CM, Ohs JE, Tao D, Lach HW, Jupka K, Wray RJ. Exploring early adopter baby boomers’ approach to managing their health and healthcare. International Journal of E-Health and Medical Communications, 10(1), 94-117, 2019.

7. Wray RJ, Nicks S, Adsul P, Elliott M, Jupka K, Trainer AK, Shahid Sr. M, Wright-Jones R and Siddiqui, S. Promoting informed screening decisions among men at high risk for prostate cancer. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 52, S1: S24-S24, 2018.

8. Adsul P, Wray RJ, Boyd D, Weaver N and Siddiqui. S. Perceptions of urologists about the conversational elements leading to treatment decision making among newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients. Journal of Cancer Education, 32(3): 580-588, DOI: 10.1007/s13187-016-1025-2, 2017.

9. Wray RJ, Weaver N, Jupka K, Zellin S, Berman S and Vijaykumar S. Comparing state legislative aides’ perspectives on tobacco policymaking in states with strong and weak policies: a qualitative study. American Journal of Health Promotion, 31(6), 476-483, DOI: 10.1177/0890117116668453, 2017.

10. Adsul P, Wray R, Gautam K, Jupka K, Weaver N, Wilson K. Becoming a health literate organization: formative research results from healthcare organizations providing care for underserved communities. Health Services Management Research, 30(4):188-196, 2017.

11. St. Louis researchers want your mosquito pictures (Tracy Hinson, KSDK piece, 2/9/23) 
12. St. Louis researchers seek public's help with new mosquito tracking app (Spectrum News, 3/10/23); Elizabeth Barmeier|Digital Journalist; P: 314-303-9275|E:

13. Staying ahead of mosquito borne diseases. New app tracks the insects  (Leah Hill, KMOV piece, 3/30/23) 

14. SLU researchers want your mosquito photos this summer (Emily Woodbury and Elaine Cho, St. Louis on the Air, 4/6/23) 

15. Mosquito Alert STL wants to help you ID the bugs in your backyard—and give public health officials the data they need to monitor diseases (Amanda Woytus, St. Louis magazine, 4/19/23)

Honors and Awards

  • Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award (2010)
  • Health Literacy Missouri Trailblazer Award (2014)
  • Wind Under Our Wings Award, The Empowerment Network (2018)

Professional Organizations and Associations

  • Society of Behavioral Medicine
  • American Public Health Association
  • Society for Health Communication
  • Society for Public Health Education

Community Work and Service

For more than 30 years Dr. Wray has contributed to the design, implementation and evaluation of health communication programs abroad and in the United States, promoting reproductive health, prevention of violence, cancer, chronic and infectious disease, and emergency preparedness. He has led studies reporting on health communication science scholarship, including adoption of organizational health literacy, explicating theoretical pathways of interventions effects, and exploring how digital technologies affect health behaviors. Extending the behavior change emphasis common to the field of health communication, his research explores how communication processes intersect with organizational, institutional, social and community-level phenomena affecting population health in minoritized and underserved communities. His work applies principles of implementation science, health equity and community-based participatory programs and research, applying qualitative and quantitative methods, observational, quasi-experimental and experimental designs, in collaboration with community organizations in the design, conduct and dissemination of applied public health research.  
Dr. Wray is a long-time collaborator of The Empowerment Network, a survivor-founded and led organization providing prostate cancer service and support to African American men in St. Louis. He has an ongoing collaboration with the City of St. Louis Health Department and the St. Louis County Department of Public Health on their COVID prevention outreach efforts to the African American community in North St. Louis.  
He currently serves as communication and research lead for Mosquito Alert STL (MASTL), a collaboration of SLU, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis City and County Health Departments. MASTL seeks to promote the adoption and use of a smart phone app called Mosquito Alert, create networks of citizen scientists, improve understanding of effective mosquito prevention practices, and ensure ecological mosquito control while protecting biodiversity, working through partnerships, community-based and digital outreach and research.