Petya Eckler


  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Personal Statement

My primary area of research is health communication through social media.

I have studied how using Facebook relates to body image and eating attitudes among young women and have led a team of experts to propose a research agenda for the area of social media, body image and eating disorders. 

I have also examined health-related peer-to-peer communication through online platforms and how it influences health attitudes and outcomes. And how hospitals in the United States use social media to communicate with their patients. I have also conducted research in international communication by surveying international journalists about disaster coverage by the media, and advertising, where I have studied viral videos and online customer reviews.

I work with various interdisciplinary groups on campus and am a fellow of the  Centre for Health Policy. I am also the founder and coordinator of the Working Group on Body Image and Eating Disorders, which includes academics, clinicians, health charity professionals, bloggers and people with lived experiences. We work on research and public engagement around social media, body image and creating a healthier and more inclusive online environment for young people. Watch our video here, which explores how young people use and feel about social media.

I give frequent interviews to the media, public talks about social media and body image/mental health, and presentations at schools, clinicians’ groups, etc. Watch my TEDx talk on the topic.

My professional experience includes working as an assistant editor, managing editor, health writer, reporter, and copy editor for various publications in the United States and Bulgaria, and as a public relations coordinator at the American University in Bulgaria.

I currently supervise two doctoral students, who work on the topics of the beach body and body image, and on crisis communication and social media. I welcome applications from PhD students interested in health communication, digital media/social media and health, body image, eating disorders, mental health, advertising, public relations or strategic communication (with or without a health focus).


Expertise & Capabilities

  • Health communication
  • Social media
  • Body image
  • International communication 
  • Strategic communication/advertising 
  • Quantitative/qualitative methods

Teaching Interests

  • Journalism 1b (first year) 
  • Journalism 2 (second year) 
  • Journalism Portfolio (fourth year, honours) 
  • Producing Media (post-graduate) 

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Missouri

Award Date: 1 Jan 2010

Master of Arts, University of Missouri

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

Bachelor of Arts, American University in Bulgaria

Award Date: 1 Jan 2001


  • Health communication
  • Social media
  • Journalism
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • International
  • Advertising


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