Seven co-authored papers from The College of New Jersey were the only undergraduate submissions from throughout the world accepted for presentation at the prestigious biannual 2023 D.C. Health Communication Conference hosted by George Mason University April 28–29, 2023. An additional three papers were accepted from TCNJ graduate students enrolled in the master’s in public health program.
All papers were written by students in communication studies and public health in courses in communication research methods and in international communication taught by John C. Pollock, professor of communication studies and public health at TCNJ, who accompanied the students to the conference.
“The (student submissions) from The College of New Jersey are the only undergraduate student abstracts/papers that we have accepted at DCHC ever since I became conference planning chair in 2016, seven years ago,” Kevin Wright, DCHC planning chair and professor at George Mason College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said.
Wright added that “the exceptional quality of these students’ research projects and presentations cannot be overstated. The students are presenting along with some of the most influential health communication scholars in the discipline from around the world, and their research projects elaborating community structure theory have attracted a lot of attention and interest from scholars over the years.”
Papers presented by TCNJ undergraduates at the conference cover a wide range of topics, including nationwide multi-city U.S. coverage of: the Supreme Court Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, gender wage disparities, and children and COVID-19. Other topics include cross-national coverage of human trafficking, genetically modified organisms, and suicide. Topics for TCNJ graduate student papers included cross-national coverage of child labor, refugee health, human trafficking, and children’s food security.
“Everyone at the DCHC conference was so incredibly welcoming, interested, and supportive of our work,” Nicole Woods, senior communication studies major, said. “This perfect capstone experience was truly better than I could have asked for, and I will carry it with me far beyond my graduation this month.”
Added public health presenter Gabi Valladares ’23, “This conference offered my most exciting and influential professional development experience over four years at TCNJ. Working over the past four semesters with Dr. Pollock, I made connections I would never have made elsewhere.”
Echoing student appreciation, Susan Ryan, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies, said: “The department is thrilled that so many communication studies students were able to present their work at the D.C. Health Communication Conference. This experience not only recognizes their original scholarship but also gives them invaluable exposure to academic conferences and the exchange of ideas with other health communication scholars.”
Brenda Seals, professor and chair of the Department of Public Health, added: “What a wonderful opportunity for TCNJ Public Health students to conduct research on critical issues of our times. We are proud of this recognition of their talent and commitment.”