Biography: Sharon M. Friedman

Lehigh University Science and Environmental Writing - director, Sharon M. Friedman

Sharon M. Friedman Home Page --

Sharon M. Friedman is Professor and Director of the Science and Environmental Writing Program in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Lehigh University. At Lehigh, she served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Staff in the College of Arts and Sciences from 2006-2008, Chair of the Journalism and Communication Department from 1986-1995 and Undergraduate Curriculum Director of Environmental Studies program from 2004 to 2011.  Her research focuses on risk communication issues and on how scientific, environmental and health issues are communicated to the public. She has conducted research on mass media coverage of such risk issues as the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents, Alar, radon, dioxin and electromagnetic fields. Currently, she is studying mass media coverage of potential environmental and health risks from nanotechnology and from hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Friedman has been a consultant to a number of governmental organizations including the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the U.S. Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She served on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences as a risk communication expert for radiation and low level radioactive waste issues. She also chaired the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advisory Committee for its Low Dose Radiation Research Program.

She is the co-author of Reporting on the Environment: A Handbook for Journalists, which has been translated into 19 languages, and the co-editor of two books--Communicating Uncertainty: Media Coverage of New and Controversial Science, and Scientists and Journalists: Reporting Science as News.  She also has written numerous book chapters and journal and magazine articles.

Friedman is a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Society of Risk Analysis (SRA).  She was elected a member of the AAAS Council in 2014 and of the Committee on Council Affairs in 2015. She also has served as a member of the SRA Council and as Vice Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the International Food Information Council Foundation. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal Science Communication. At Lehigh, she was awarded an endowed Iacocca Professorship from 1992-2000, and was a co-recipient in 2006 of the Hillman Faculty Award for excellence in research, teaching and service. In 2009, she was one of five people worldwide to win the International Green Pen Award given by the Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists. 

Recent Presentations

“Earthquake Perceptions in a U.S. East Coast Urban Area,” Sharon M. Friedman and Brenda P. Egolf, Society of Risk Analysis (SRA) annual meeting, Denver, CO, December 10, 2014.

“Google Information about Nanotechnology Risks,” Sharon M. Friedman and Brenda P. Egolf, Poster Platform Presentation, SRA annual meeting, Baltimore, MD, December 10, 2013.

“A Case Study:  Nanotechnology Risk Coverage in the New Haven Independent,”  Sharon M. Friedman and Brenda P. Egolf , Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (S.NET) meeting, Boston, October 29, 2013.

"Tracking Media and Internet Coverage of Nanotechnology's Risks Over the Years," ,” Sharon M. Friedman and Brenda P. Egolf , SRA annual meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 12, 2012.

"Examining Nano Risks and Regulation in Traditional Media and a Web Newspaper," Sharon M. Friedman and Brenda P. Egolf, Society of Risk Analysis-Europe, Zurich, Switzerland, June 18, 2012.

"Explaining Radiation Risk:  A Comparison of U.S. Media Coverage of the Accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima," Sharon M. Friedman  SRA Annual Meeting, Charleston, SC, December 6, 2011.

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

“The Changing Face of Environmental Journalism in the United States,” Sharon M. Friedman, The Routledge Handbook of Environment and Communication, Anders Hansen and Robert Cox, eds., Routledge, 2015, pp. 144-157.

"A Longitudinal Study of Newspaper and Wire Service Coverage of Nanotechnology Risks." Sharon M. Friedman and Brenda P. Egolf, Risk Analysis, Vol. 31, No. 11, November 2011, pp. 1701-1717

"What have the Mass Media been Reporting on Nanotechnology Risks?" Sharon M. Friedman and  Brenda P. Egolf, in Nanotechnology and the Public: Risk Perception and Risk Communication, Susanna Hornig Priest, CRC Press; Taylor and Francis Group, 2011, pp. 157-165.

"Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima: An analysis of traditional and new media coverage of nuclear accidents and radiation." Sharon M. Friedman, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 2011, 67: 55-65, doi:10.1177/0096340211421587.

"Policy Forum: Nuclear Waste:  Knowledge Waste?" Eugene A. Rosa, Seth P. Tuler, Baruch Fischhoff, Thomas Webler, Sharon M. Friedman, Richard E. Sclove, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Mary R. English, Roger E. Kasperson, Robert L. Goble, Thomas M. Leschine, William Freudenburg, Caron Chess, Charles Perrow, Kai Erikson and James F. Short, Science, August 13, 2010, pp. 762-763.