Sonia H. Stephens

Sonia H. Stephens, Ph.D.


  • Ph.D. in Texts and Technology from University of Central Florida (2012)
  • M.S. in Botany and Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology from University of Hawaii at Manoa (2003)

Research Interests

Scientific and technical communication; Narrative information visualization; Risk communication; User-centered design; Digital humanities

Selected Publications


  • Forthcoming S. H. Stephens and A. Altamirano. (2023 in press) “Envisioning user agency during development of a natural hazard communication website.” Accepted to Journal of Business and Technical Communication.
  • D. P. Richards and S. H. Stephens. (2022) “Do voices really make a difference? Investigating the value of local video narratives in risk perceptions and attitudes towards sea level rise.” Technical Communication. 69(4): 79–96. DOI: 10.55177/tc105639
  • D. E. Delorme, S. H. Stephens, and R. C. Collini. (2022) “Coastal hazard mitigation considerations: Perspectives from northern Gulf of Mexico coastal professionals and decision-makers.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 12: 669–681. DOI: 10.1007/s13412-022-00771-z

  • A. Altamirano and S. H. Stephens. (2022) “Experience Report: Streamlining complex website design using a content audit selection heuristic.” Communication Design Quarterly. 10(1): 14–23. DOI: 10.1145/3507454.3507456
  • D. E. DeLorme, S. H. Stephens, R. Collini, D. W. Yoskowitz, and S. C. Hagen (2021) “Communicating and understanding ecosystem services assessment with coastal stakeholders: Obstacles and opportunities.” Frontiers in Communication. 6: 656884. DOI: 10.3389/fcomm.2021.656884
  • T. R. Amidon, A. C. Nielsen, E. H. Pflugfelder, D. P. Richards, and S. H. Stephens. (2021) “Visual risk literacy in “Flatten the Curve” COVID-19 visualizations.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication. 35: 101–109. DOI: 10.1177/1050651920963439
  • S. H. Stephens, D. E. DeLorme, and S. C. Hagen. (2020) “Coastal stakeholders’ perceptions of sea level rise adaptation planning in the northern Gulf of Mexico.” Environmental Management. 66: 407–418. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-020-01315
  • D. E. DeLorme, S. H. Stephens, M. V. Bilskie, and S. C. Hagen. (2020) “Coastal decision-makers’ perspectives on updating storm surge guidance tools.” Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management. 28(2): 158–168. DOI: 10.1111/1468-5973.12291
  • S. H. Stephens and D. P. Richards. (2020) “Story mapping and sea level rise: Listening to global risks at street level.” Communication Design Quarterly. 8(1): 5–18. DOI: 10.1145/3375134.3375135
  • S. H. Stephens and D. E. DeLorme. (2019) “A framework for user agency during development of interactive risk visualization tools.” 28: 391–406. Technical Communication Quarterly. DOI: 10.1080/10572252.2019.1618498
  • S. H. Stephens. (2018) “Using interface rhetoric to understand audience agency in natural history apps.” Technical Communication. 65(3): 280–292.
  • D. E. DeLorme, S. H. Stephens, S. C. Hagen, and M. Bilskie. (2018) “Communicating with coastal decision-makers and environmental educators via sea level rise decision-support tools.” Journal of Science Communication. 17(3): A03. DOI: 10.22323/2.17030203.
  • S. H. Stephens. (2019) “A narrative approach to interactive information visualization in the digital humanities classroom.” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education. 18(4): 416–429. DOI: 10.1177/1474022218759632
  • D. E. DeLorme, S. H. Stephens and S. C. Hagen. (2018) “Transdisciplinary sea level rise risk communication and outreach strategies from stakeholder focus groups.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 8:13–21. DOI: 10.1007/s13412-017-0443-8
  • J. D. Applen and S. H. Stephens. (2017) “Digital humanities, middleware, and user experience design for public health applications.” Communication Design Quarterly. 5(3): 24-34.
  • S. H. Stephens, D. E. DeLorme and S. C. Hagen. (2017) "Evaluation of the design features of interactive sea-level rise viewers for risk communication." Environmental Communication. 11(2):248-262. DOI:10.1080/17524032.2016.1167758
  • D. E. DeLorme, D. Kidwell, S. C. Hagen, and S. H. Stephens. (2016) “Developing and managing transdisciplinary and transformative research on the coastal dynamics of sea level rise: Experiences and lessons learned.” Earth’s Future. 4(5): 194–209. DOI: 10.1002/2015EF000346.
  • S. H. Stephens, D. E. DeLorme and S. C. Hagen. (2015) “Evaluating the utility and communicative effectiveness of an interactive sea level rise viewer through stakeholder engagement.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication. 29(3): 314-343. DOI: 10.1177/1050651915573963
  • S. H. Stephens, D. E. DeLorme and S. C. Hagen. (2014) “An analysis of the narrative-building features of interactive sea level rise viewers.” Science Communication. 36(6): 675-705. DOI: 10.1177/1075547014550371
  • S. H. Stephens. (2014) “Communicating evolution with a Dynamic Evolutionary Map.” Journal of Science Communication. 13(1): A04.
  • S. Stephens. (2012) “From tree to map: Using cognitive learning theory to suggest alternative ways to visualize macroevolution.” Evolution: Education and Outreach. 5(4): 603-618.

Conference Papers/Presentations

  • S. H. Stephens and D. E. DeLorme, July 2023. “Understanding community members’ lived experiences can help communicators develop better risk communication tools.” Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences Conference. Portland, OR.

  • S. H. Stephens and A. Altamirano. (2022) “Supporting community resilience to environmental hazards through user-centered design.” SIGDOC 2022, Boston, MA. DOI: 10.1145/3513130.3558989

  • S. H. Stephens, et al. April 2022. “HazardAware: A new tool for risk and resilience education.” The Gulf of Mexico Conference (GoMCon) 2022. Baton Rouge, LA.

  • S. H. Stephens and A. Altamirano, October 2021. “Understanding user expertise through lived experience: Making natural hazard risk and mitigation information more accountable to users.” SIGDOC 2021, virtual. DOI: 10.1145/3472714.3473660

  • S. H. Stephens and J. D. Applen, October 2021. “Developing online resources to inform technical communication majors about graduate school.” CPTSC 2021, virtual.
  • Y.R. Fernández and S. H. Stephens, October 2021. “Applying user-centered design to improve astronomy outreach.” American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences 53rd Meeting, virtual conference.
  • A. Altamirano and S. H. Stephens, February 2021. “Web content audits: A powerful tool for complex website design.” Symposium on Communicating Complex Information, Norfolk, VA.
  • S. Raffel and S. Stephens, July 2020. “How hurricane visualization tools affect the public’s perception of risk and preparedness.” ProComm 2020, Kennesaw, GA.
  • S. H. Stephens, October 2019. “Telling the stories of nonhuman agents in the Anthropocene.” SIGDOC 2019, Portland, OR.
  • S. H. Stephens, June 2019. “Using digital tools for community disaster response: Social media and the 2018 Kīlauea Volcano eruption.” Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Orlando, FL.
  • S. H. Stephens, March 2019. “Using deep mapping in participatory design.” Association for Teachers of Technical Writing, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • S. H. Stephens and D. P. Richards, August 2018. “Story mapping and sea level rise: Bringing a global risk home.” SIGDOC 2018, Milwaukee WI.
  • S. H. Stephens and D. P. Richards, June 2018. “Connecting to community concerns through sea level rise stories.” Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Washington, DC.
  • S. H. Stephens, D. E. DeLorme, R. C. Collini, and S. C. Hagen, June 2018. “An analysis of stakeholder advisory committees in coastal resiliency projects.” Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Washington, DC.
  • S. H. Stephens and D. E. DeLorme, December 2017. “Benefits, challenges, and best practices for involving audiences in the development of interactive coastal risk communication tools: Professional communicators’ experiences.” American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2017, New Orleans, LA.
  • S. H. Stephens. November 2017. "Rhetoric, agency, and risk visualization for diverse audiences." HASTAC 2017, Orlando, FL.
  • S. H. Stephens, August 2017. "Designer perceptions of user agency during the development of environmental risk visualization tools." SIGDOC 2017, Halifax, Canada.
  • S. Stephens and J. D. Applen, October 2016. “Rhetorical dimensions of social network analysis visualization for public health.” ProComm 2016, Austin TX.
  • S. H. Stephens and D. E. DeLorme, June 2016. “Making sea level rise risk research responsive to community needs.” Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Washington, DC.
  • S. H. Stephens, May 2016. “Bird identification guides as interface: Transformation and continuity.” Rhetoric Society of America, Atlanta, GA.
  • M. Shelton and S. Stephens, February 2016. “Connecting scientists to citizens regarding sea level rise.” Social Coast Forum, Charleston, SC.


No courses found for Fall 2024.

No courses found for Summer 2024.

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
11486 ENC3241 Writing for Technical Prof Face to Face (P) M,W 04:30 PM - 05:45 PM Unavailable
No Description Available
11544 ENC4218 Visual Technical Communication Web-Based (W) Unavailable

This course focuses on visual technical communication in the form of charts, tables, and diagrams, as well as full-page informational graphics that blend text and visuals to tell data-based stories. We will focus on visual design principles and practice using tools to produce graphics. We will begin with an introduction to graphic design and practice producing effective graphics that complement the text elements of documents. We will then study persuasive aspects of visual design and learn to develop information graphics that inform or persuade audiences about technical or scientific topics. The course concludes with a project in which you will plan, research, and create a full-page informational graphic on a technical or scientific topic.

20291 ENC6217 Technical Editing Web-Based (W) Unavailable

Online, WWW 

In this course, you will learn about strategies for editing the prose, design, and illustrations of print and online technical documents. We will pair foundational works in technical editing with new studies from scholars and practitioners in the field. Areas of focus may include social justice, scientific or medical editing, and editing for localized and global audiences. Assignments will involve short editing exercises and extended project redesigns based on students’ professional interests. 

Updated: Nov 30, 2023