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Dr. Jakob D. Jensen

Dr. Jakob D. Jensen currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Research, Chair of the University Research Committee, Professor of Communication in the College of Humanities, and Member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Core at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Education & Research

Dr. Jakob D. Jensen was born in Circle, Montana, a rural community located in a federally-designated frontier county. After leading Circle to a state championship in Speech and Drama, Dr. Jensen received a speech scholarship and Pell Grants to attend Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. At Concordia, Dr. Jensen was an active member of the speech team. In 2001, he was a national champion public speaker and named to the first All-American team. Following graduation from Concordia, Dr. Jensen completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he received the Karl R. Wallace Award for Distinguished Research by a graduate student. Dr. Jensen began his faculty career as an assistant professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University before relocating to the University of Utah.

Dr. Jensen’s central research program examines how to communicate complex information to non-experts. Over the last decade, he has conducted a series of message experiments examining how to communicate scientific research to the public. Dr. Jensen’s research program has received multiple awards, including the Golden Anniversary Monograph (twice) from the National Communication Association which honors “the most outstanding scholarly monograph published during the previous calendar year.” In terms of funding, Dr. Jensen is the first communication scholar to win the prestigious New Innovator Grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His work has also been supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the American Cancer Society, the Department of Defense, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, the Utah Department of Health, the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, the Indiana State Department of Health, the Center for Families, the Immunology, Inflammation, and Infectious Disease Initiative, and the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering. In 2015, his research was the focus of an episode of NPR’s award-winning feature “On the Media.” That episode can be heard here.

Academic and Leadership Impact

Dr. Jensen has extensive experience in promoting scholarly and creative research during his time as associate dean for research in the College of Humanities, a position he held from 2015 – 2022. As AssociateDean, Dr. Jensen oversaw seven departments (Communication, English, Philosophy, History, Languages & Literature, Linguistics, and Writing and

 Rhetoric Studies) and numerous research centers, programs, and initiatives. In this role, he dramatically increased applications and funding for the college. For example, working with the Office of Foundation Relations, Dr. Jensen developed an incentive program that increased applications to the American Council for Learned Societies (ACLS) from an average of two a year to fifteen plus per year. In the years that followed, Dr. Jensen developed similar programs for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). From 2015 – 2021, the College of Humanities won funding from NIH, NSF, NEH, ACLS, Guggenheim, the National Humanities Council, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Mellon Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Dr. Jensen’s scholarly background is unique as (1) he is a social scientist (2) who served as Associate Dean for Research in a College of Humanities (3) with funding from the National Institutes of Health (notably the NIBIB and NCI). Through his unique academic and leadership roles, Dr. Jensen has the impact to represent scholars across the university and build bridges between researchers from different traditions and parts of campus. While navigating the complex geography of funding in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts, Dr. Jensen also brings extensive knowledge of funding in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. He has experience winning funding from agencies and foundations at both the federal and local level and understands the world of publishing (journals and books), development and launch of technology, and support for creative work.

In addition to college-level programs, Dr. Jensen has developed and led multiple grant writing workshops every year of his tenure. These workshops are open to faculty across the university and extended to research faculty from partner universities in the state of Utah. The free grant writing workshops have provided faculty with an opportunity to develop grant proposals in 1-3 days writing retreats.

 Research Oversight and Strategic Initiatives

Dr. Jensen is the interim associate vice president for research and the chair of the University Research Committee. He currently oversees the Office of Sponsored Projects, Pre-Award team, Research Education, and Rio Mesa Bonderman Station. He also leads the university’s grant development pipeline and internal grant funding programs. Dr. Jensen’s innovative leadership is implemented by the following strategic initiatives:





About Jake

Outside of his research and academic roles, Jake loves film festivals, science fiction, and traveling. Jake has attended many major film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Toronto, Cannes, and Venice. His partner, Dr. Robin E. Jensen, is a Professor in the Department of Communication, and they have two sons, Jor and Dane. When he is not on campus, Dr. Jensen can be found in Disneyland (he has an annual pass).