Avery E. Holton
  • Department Chair, Communication
  • Associate Professor, Communication
  • Co-Research Coordinator, Center for Excellence in ELSI Research


  • Doctor of Philosophy, College of Communication, The University of Texas at Austin (William Powers Fellow)
  • Doctoral Certification, Disabilities Studies (Texas Center for Disabilities Studies), The University of Texas at Austin


Avery serves as Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Utah, one of the largest departments on campus. He is also Co-Coordinator of Research for the University’s UCEER Center, which focuses on genetic communication and is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Additionally, he is the Vice-Head of the Council of Divisions for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).
He is co-author of The Paradox of Connection (University of Illinois Press, 2024) and co-editor of Happiness in Journalism (Routledge, 2024)
along with more than 90 other peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and special issues.

He previously served as an Associate Chair (2018-2020) for the Department and was the University’s longest-standing Student Media Advisor (2016-2023). His research engages digital and social media, mental health and well-being in the media, and constructs of health, identity, and ability.

As Director of the Communication Institute in 2020-2021, he helped establish the largest donor gift ever for the Department. A $1.5 million gift from Edna Anderson-Taylor provided a new physical and communal space for the center as well as perpetual support funds.

Avery was selected in 2018-2020 as a Vice President's Clinical and Translational Research Scholar. He concurrently served as the Journalism Sequence Coordinator in the Department of Communication and was selected as a Digital Journalism Research Fellow with Oslo Metropolitan University in 2019.

He was named a 2018 National Humanities Center Summer Fellow for his work in genetic information and its translation into digital and social media. This work was (and is) part of a collaborative project run through UCEER, which has been supported by two multi-million dollar grants ($3.8 million for 2017-2020 and $3.9 million for 2021-2024) from the NIH and the National Human Genome Research Institute. Through UCEER, he also serves as a research mentor for students who identify with a disability.

Avery was named Faculty Researcher of the Year in 2014 and a 2018 Rising Star in the Humanities. He completed his PhD as a William Powers Fellow in the College of Communication at the University of Texas Austin in 2013. He also received a Doctoral Certification in Disabilities Studies. He js a former journalist (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) and communications specialist (Triple-A Round Rock Express-Houston Astros organization).

He makes his home in Salt Lake City with his wife, Katy, their daughters, Luna and Bea, and their pups, Dezi and Roark.