Janelle Applequist

Associate Professor, Advertising and Public Relations, The Zimmerman School Director of Internships and Concentration Head, Integrated Public Relations and Advertising, The Zimmerman School Associate Director, Center for Sustainable Democracy, College of Arts and Sciences


Office: CIS 3099


  • Ph.D. in Mass Communications (Penn State University)
  • M.A. in Media Studies (Penn State University)
  • B.A. in Journalism & Psychology minor (Penn State University)


Janelle Applequist (Ph.D., M.A., Penn State University) is an Associate Professor of Advertising and Public Relations at the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications at the University of South Florida. She also serves as Director of Internships and Concentration Head for the Integrated Public Relations and Advertising sequence. Most recently, she was named as Associate Director for the Center for Sustainable Democracy housed in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida.

Dr. Applequist was recently nominated by USF President Rhea Law as the sole junior scholar (across the University system) for the 2024 Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program. This distinguished program was established in 2015 to provide philanthropic support to extraordinary scholars for high-caliber research in the humanities and social sciences.

She is the author of Broadcast pharmaceutical advertising in the United States: Primetime pill pushers and co-author of CTE, media, and the NFL: Framing a public health crisis as a football epidemic (2016 and 2019, Lexington Books). Her educational training and continued research trajectory have provided her with the skills and knowledge necessary to execute large- and small-scale integrated marketing communications campaigns focused on health. She has a broad background in the field of mass communications, with specific training and expertise in qualitative research methods.

Her primary area of publications directly address the pharmaceutical advertising industry and best practices for successful messaging. She investigates the ways in which patients respond to these advertisements, using mixed-methods analytical approaches, and has been successful in more recently applying these principles to the related areas of health equity and social determinants of health.

Since 2019, Dr. Applequist has served as an Academic Consultant on the Patient Engagement Advisory Committee for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where she is able to attend various hearings and meetings in Washington, D.C. to provide her expertise on the following topics: agency guidance and policies, clinical trial or registry design, patient preference study design, benefit-risk determinations, device labeling, unmet clinical needs, available alternatives, patient reported outcomes and device-related quality of life or health status issues, and other patient-related issues. In 2021, she was chosen as one of seven panelists to present her research to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (with 600+ attendees) for their workshop titled The Future of Prescription Drug Promotion and Digital Marketing. In 2023, she was chosen as one of four panelists to present to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and Office of Drug Promotion (with 700+ attendees) for their workshop titled Informing and Refining the Prescription Drug Promotion Research Agenda. Both events were hosted by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, a prestigious organization focused on improving health, health equity, and the value of health care through practical, innovative, and evidence-based policy solutions.

Her secondary area of research emphasizes the broader field of health communication, focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of mass and interpersonal communications. In working as a lead- or co-researcher on numerous studies, she has been able to successfully navigate the intersectionality of applying mass communications principles to physician-centric stakeholder adoption of innovative policy-based health infrastructure changes. Through a consultation with the Health Informatics Institute at USF, she led the research phases for the message design, testing, and dissemination for the recruitment of six international clinical trials for patients with rare diseases. The publications resulted from a body of work focusing on best practices for successful implementation of new mass communications or organizational changes across national and international health care settings. As a researcher focused on health communication, health equity, and advertising, Dr. Applequist is most interested in developing normative frameworks to encourage proper patient education. Her research explores the content of pharmaceutical advertisements, legal compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements, and issues of representation related to patients and health care in advertisements or mass mediated efforts.

Dr. Applequist has been published in multiple outlets, including Journal of Medical Internet Research, Patient Education and Counseling, Annals of Family Medicine, Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, BMC Medical Research Methodology, Journal of Health Communication, Qualitative Health Research, Journal of Interactive Advertising, and others.

For a review of her work, welcomed collaboration opportunities, or media requests, please visit her website.


advertising, pharmaceutical advertising, qualitative research methods, health communication, health policy, health and political polarization