Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
Dawn Opel
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Dawn Opel

Assistant Professor

Graduate Faculty

Office: 240 Bessey Hall

Email: opeldawn@msu.edu

Twitter: @dawnopel

Skype: DawnOpel

Google Scholar






Research Areas

Rhetoric of health and medicine, experience architecture, community literacy, technical and professional writing, feminist and activist research methodologies


Dawn is a community-engaged action researcher, and partners with nonprofit, government, and healthcare organizations to improve the design of communication and improve the coordination of patient care. Dawn's research lies at the intersection of rhetoric, law, and policy, having previously served as a federal law clerk and lawyer with legal aid societies and other nonprofit organizations. In 2016-2017, Dawn was Faculty Fellow at the Sparrow Health Systems/MSU Center for Innovation and Research at Sparrow Hospital, where she continues to work with healthcare professionals on a variety of projects involving innovation of healthcare service delivery, communication practices, and information technology. 


PhD, Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics. Arizona State University. 2015.
JD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. 2002.
BA, History. Wake Forest University. 1999

Representative Work

Opel, D., Abbott, C., & Hart-Davidson, W. (2018). Toward an encounter team model of clinical project management: A needs analysis in a family health center. Technical Communication, 65(2), 181-193.

Opel, D. (2018). What is “Obamacare”?: Health literacy, e-commerce, and The Affordable Care Act’s online content. Communication Design Quarterly, 6(1), 16-25.

Opel, D. (2017). Ethical research in health 2.0: Considerations for scholars of medical rhetoric. In J. B. Scott & L. Meloncon (Eds.), Methodologies for the rhetoric of health & medicine. Routledge.

Opel, D. (2016). Designing online resources for safety net providers: Users’ needs and the Evidence-based Medicine paradigm. Communication Design Quarterly, 4(3), 35-45.

Selected Courses Taught

WRA 878: Composition Studies: Issues, Theory, and Research

WRA 491: Medical Rhetoric and Science Writing

XA 333/AL 333: Researching Experience

WRA 331: Writing in the Public Interest

Research or Academic Affiliations

Member, Board of Directors, Coalition for Community Writing

Co-PI, Humanities Without Walls, "The Building Healthcare Collectives Project"

Food@MSU Seed Grant Researcher

Affiliate, Digital Humanities @ MSU