Lea Stewart

Lea P.

Richard D. Heffner Professor of Communications and Public Policy; Director of the Center for Communication and Health Issues; Professor of Communication


DeWitt 202

Lea P. Stewart is Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Communication and Health Issues, one of the first research groups in the nation to study the role of communication in students’ alcohol use and misuse. She served for a decade as Livingston Campus and UAA (Undergraduate Academic Affairs) Dean and currently is a Rutgers Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies Affiliate.


Purdue University
Ph.D., Communication

Purdue University
M.A., Communication

Allegheny College
B.A., Psychology


Lea P. Stewart’s research has focused on prevention campaigns using both mediated and interpersonal strategies to reduce dangerous drinking among undergraduate students. She has participated in the design, implementation, and evaluation of health communication campaigns especially those targeted to students making the transition from high school to college. She has addressed theoretical issues (e.g., applying social norms theory to correct students’ misperceptions of dangerous drinking), methodological issues (e.g., using qualitative methods to gain nuanced understanding of the culture of college drinking), and substantive issues (e.g., studying the components of a recovery community that supports students living on a college campus). For the past six years she has been the Principal Investigator on a grant from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, to design, implement, and evaluate a dangerous drinking prevention campaign for undergraduate students as well as provide support for students living in recovery housing on campus.  

Centers, Labs, Working Groups, and Clusters

Funded Projects

Co-Investigator (2016-2019), Motivational and Contextual Influences on Patterns of Simultaneous Alcohol and Marijuana Use: A Daily Assessment Study, National Institute on Drug Abuse (1R01DA040880) $2,001,700.

Principal Investigator (2014-16), Recovery @ Rutgers;  Sustaining an Environment that Supports Recovery and Promotes Responsible Choices, New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (15/16-715-ADA-0) $490,200.  

Principal Investigator (2012-14), Rutgers Coalition to Support Recovery and Environment Change, New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Addiction Services (12/13/14-715-ADA-0) $725,619.

Principal Investigator and Project Director (2005-2007), Let’s Talk About It:  Using Experiential Learning and Curriculum Infusion to Reduce College Drinking, U.S. Department of Education (Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities National Program, USDE Q184H050084) $425,000.

Co-Principal Investigator (2003-2008), The Rutgers Transdisciplinary Prevention Research Center (RTPRC), Collaborative Project with the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies (R. Pandina, PI), National Institute on Drug Abuse (P20 DA017552) $6,000,000.  

Selected Publications

Laitman, L., & Stewart, L. P. (2012). Campus recovery programs. In H. R. White & D. L. Rabiner (Eds.), College drinking and drug use (pp. 253-271). New York: Guilford Press.

Lederman, L. C., Stewart, L. P., & Russ, T. L. (2007). Addressing college drinking through curriculum infusion: A study of the use of experience-based learning in the communication classroom. Communication Education, 56, 476-494.

Yanovitzky, I., Stewart, L. P., & Lederman, L. C. (2006). Social distance, perceived drinking by peers, and alcohol use by college students. Health Communication, 19, 1-10.

Lederman, L. C., & Stewart, L. P. (2005). Changing the culture of college drinking: A socially situated health communication campaign. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Ruben, B.D., and L. Stewart, Communication and Human Behavior - Sixth Edition. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall-Hunt, 2016. 

Awards & Recognitions

Rutgers Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research, Rutgers University, 2007

Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2003

Model Program Award, U. S. Department of Education, Principal Investigator, 2001

Inaugural Fellow, Teaching Excellence Center, Rutgers University, 1992-1993

Research Keywords