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Jon Poehlman

Jon Poehlman

Center Director, Center for Communication Strategy and Design


BA, Anthropology, University of Virginia
MA, Anthropology, Georgia State University
PhD, Anthropology, University of South Florida


Jon Poehlman leads a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, strategists, designers, and creators that work together to develop and deliver engaging communication products, campaigns, and interventions. Trained as an applied anthropologist, he conducts ethnographically informed and participatory-inspired research to understand audiences information and communication needs, identify appropriate strategies and solutions, and design and deliver impactful communication solutions. Methodologically, his expertise is in ethnographic and qualitative research methods, including interviews, focus group discussions, and analysis of structured, qualitative data. 

Dr. Poehlman’s current work focuses on informing decisions and changing behaviors among health care providers. He currently directs or supports two health care worker-focused communication projects for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one supporting health care providers in preventing and treating HIV and another increasing infection control training opportunities for frontline health care workers. Other recent projects include developing a campaign to prevent Zika virus infection among pregnant women in Puerto Rico, using design thinking to develop and test financial education messages and tools for consumers, and conducting formative research to understand the acceptance of anemia treatment among pregnant women in India. He has lived in Malawi and has conducted research in a number of countries in Africa and Asia.

Dr. Poehlman has been with RTI since 2003. He is a fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology and a member of the Society for Anthropological Sciences. Dr. Poehlman has a number of peer-reviewed articles on formative communication research, as well as authored the book chapter “Social Marketing as a Public Health Intervention” in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Social Marketing.

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