People Directory

Lee Ahern

Associate Professor, Advertising/Public Relations


Lee Ahern joined the faculty at Penn State in 2008 as an assistant professor.

Ahern has close to 20 years of industry experience to complement his teaching and research. Most recently he was marketing manager for an international custom publishing company, where he also oversaw development and implementation of all new media products.

After beginning his career as a financial writer in New York, he worked in various communications capacities on Wall Street for over a decade. For several years thereafter, Ahern and his wife (Colleen Connolly-Ahern) ran their own marketing communications company serving clients in financial services and advertising.

His current research focuses on the description, analysis and ethics of strategic messages, primarily in the context of environmental and health communications. In particular, he has explored psychological effects and cognitive processing implications of different environmental message factors. In an international context, Ahern also studies the roles of culture and media system development on environmental attitudes and behaviors.

Ahern’s work has been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Health Communication. In 2007, Ahern received the Betsy Plank Graduate Student Research Award, which is presented annually at the Public Relations Society of America International Conference. He has presented multiple papers at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) annual conference. He is the current Research Chair for the Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk Division of AEJMC.

Ahern teaches introduction to advertising, research methods and media planning.


  • Environmental Communications
  • Global Warming
  • Strategic Communications
  • Health Communications
  • Green Advertising/Marketing