MJ-school awards $25,000 in seed grants to faculty for research projects

Five UNC School of Media and Journalism faculty were awarded seed grant funds for research projects.

Joe Cabosky, Nori Comello, Rhonda Gibson, Allison Lazard and Adam Saffer each will receive $5,000 to move their research forward.

The goal of the program, created by Dean Susan King, is to help faculty conduct formative, exploratory or innovative research projects that match with funding priorities of external funding agencies and programs.

"We want to give our faculty incentives to test global and local ideas that need research attention," said King. "At this time of change and disruption, scholarship can help us better understand changes in media and what that means for understanding its role in civic life."

Proposed research projects that will receive seed funding are:

  • "Durham Voice: A Case Study in Measuring the Development of Social Capital": Joe Cabosky will conduct a case study of the "Durham Voice," a joint project between the MJ-school and North Carolina Central University, to determine how best to value the publication and project in terms of relationships, diversity, self-empowerment and social capital.
  • "Formative Research to Pretest Tailored Messages Delivered by an Online Cessation Tool": Nori Comello will work with Nicotrax, the developer of a smart-case and app that tracks cigarette use patterns, to discover the most promising strategies tailored to individuals to help them quit tobacco.
  • "Media Images of Transgender Families and the Effect of Those Images": Rhonda Gibson will conduct an examination of media images of transgender families and the effects of those images on members of transgender families as well as the larger population.
  • "Visually Implied Vaping Arguments: Effects of E-Cigarette Cues for Implicit and Explicit Attitudes": Allison Lazard will study how e-cigarette imagery influences the effectives of messages about the potential risks of e-cigarettes.
  • "Mapping Civil Society in China: A Network Analysis of Chinese NGOs": Adam Saffer will identify the communication networks of Chinese NGOs and assess the network of those NGOs. The study will be the first of its kind to gather primary network data from Chinese NGOs.

Daniel Riffe, Richard Cole Eminent Professor, chairs the seed grant committee. Rachel Lillis, Barbara Friedman, Spencer Barnes and Heidi Hennink-Kaminski are the committee members.

This academic year is the fourth cycle of the seed grant program and drew more faculty submissions than ever before.

Riffe said the committee weighed carefully the detailed proposals submitted for consideration.

"We are looking first at proposals that promise to yield results that will ultimately benefit the public in North Carolina and society at large," he said. "Ideally, the proposed research will both complement the school's existing areas of strength, like health communication, media effects and political communication, and take the school, the individual researchers and their graduate students in new directions."