• United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Willing to speak to media

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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
  • International communication 
  • Strategic communication/advertising 

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

Master of Arts, University of Missouri

Bachelor of Arts, American University in Bulgaria


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

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

Social Media Medicine & Life Sciences
Body Image Medicine & Life Sciences
coverage Social Sciences
news Social Sciences
journalist Social Sciences
body image Social Sciences
leisure time Social Sciences
Hurricanes Engineering & Materials Science

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2014 2019

Body Image and Social Media: Research and Practice in a Changing Environment

Eckler, P., Tonner, A. & Cameron, J.


Project: Internally funded projectResearch (Internally Funded)

Research Output 2006 2017

7 Citations

Facebook use and negative body image among U.S. college women

Eckler, P., Kalyango Jr., Y. & Paasch, E., 28 Feb 2017, In : Women & Health. 57, 2, p. 249-267 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
body image
Body Image
theory comparison
Social Media

The female body on social media

Eckler, P. & Kalyango Jr., Y., 31 Mar 2017, Social Media: A Reference Handbook. Burns, K. S. (ed.). Goleta, CA: ABC-CLIO Greenwood, p. 139-145 7 p. (Contemporary World Issues)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Social Media
Female Body


2013 Outstanding Reviewer award

Petya Eckler (Recipient), 27 Mar 2014

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Multimedia Publication of the Year

Petya Eckler (Recipient), 29 May 2014

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


Activities 2011 2017

European Researcher Night 2017

Tonner, A. (Presenter), Eckler, P. (Presenter)

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation

Body Image and Eating Disorders: Future Research Priorities

Eckler, P. (Organiser)
5 May 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganiser of special symposia


Youth select committee submission on social media use.

Andrea Tonner (Participant), Petya Eckler (Participant)

Impact: Impact - for External PortalPolicy and legislation