Interactive Media students head to Las Vegas, present research at BEA conference

Doo Lee G’22, Alyssa Sandy G’22 and Sophia Theriault ’20, G’22 traveled to Las Vegas to share their ongoing research that delves into DEI education, minority women's mortality rates in the United States, and body inclusivity.

During BEA’s 2022 Festival of Media Arts, Doo Lee G’22 (far left) was one of three Interactive Media students to make research presentations. In the photo, Lee highlights his education mobile application prototype, titled Elon Together, that seeks to advance campus diversity, equity and inclusion education.

A trio of Interactive Media graduate students recently presented their ongoing research at the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts, the preeminent international media competition focused on student and faculty creative endeavors, held in April in Las Vegas.

Alyssa Sandy G’22 (from left), Sophia Theriault ’20, G’22 and Doo Lee G’22 attended the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts in Las Vegas to present their research and capstone projects. The graduate students also met with peer groups, working professionals and Elon alumni.

Doo Lee G’22, Alyssa Sandy G’22 and Sophia Theriault ’20, G’22 shared their capstone projects, which the graduate students have conceptualized and executed since the fall semester. The three projects were presented as part of the festival’s Grand Plans & Great Expectations conference session.

During his April 23 presentation, Lee previewed his education mobile application prototype, titled Elon Together, that seeks to advance campus diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) education and engagement in the Elon community. According to the student researcher, his objective was to make DEI education more interesting and engaging for Elon’s student population.

“I conducted a lot of research to find out if a mobile application would be beneficial for DEI education and put in much effort and time to enhance my visual design skills to design an application interface with great usability,” Lee said.

Sandy introduced festival attendees to her mobile social network application prototype, Mother Nature, which provides access to resources and social support for pregnant minority women in the United States. The graduate student was drawn to build the application because it would fit a real need.

The Elon trio pose outside of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which hosted the 2022 Festival of Media Arts.

“Minority women face the highest mortality rates in the United States,” Sandy said. “My application was created to combat this by ensuring minority women are receiving the necessary information to make informed decisions during and after their pregnancy.”

As part of her research, Sandy said she discovered that minority women often face hurdles in their information-seeking efforts.

“My application hopes to alleviate some of these barriers,” she said. “As a minority woman, I relate and identify with the women using my application and understand the importance of having an application like Mother Nature.”

Lastly, Theriault presented her Ceros interactive guide and campaign, #thereelyou, for companies and brands to integrate body inclusivity into their content to help in women’s body image. Theriault explained that there is a link between Instagram use and several body image issues, including dissatisfaction and social comparison. Theriault said her goal was to find ways to improve the social media experience for women.

“I hope to increase awareness of the importance of breaking female beauty standards throughout the media and educate brands about how they can be more inclusive and more mindful,” she said.

Associate Professor Derek Lackaff, who directs the Interactive Media program, commended the students’ efforts and their interest in sharing their research with a wider audience.

“These professional projects are examples of the high-quality, research-driven work that students are able to produce within the program’s accelerated timeline,” he said. “It’s great to see them take the stage among their academic peers at a national conference.”

All three capstone projects will be on display as part of the Interactive Media Capstone Exhibition on Tuesday, May 17, in Long Building. The exhibition, which is open to the public, begins at 5:30 p.m.

Following their trip to Las Vegas, the three students expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to present their findings, as well as see what other student researchers are investigating.

“I enjoyed learning what students at other universities are researching and the projects they’re developing during their programs,” Sandy said. “I also loved attending the NAB Show because I was able to witness the amazing technological advancements of companies in the field.”

Added Lee, “It was an excellent opportunity to share my achievement with peer researchers and communications professionals and hear valuable feedback. One of the highlights of the BEA conference is that I was able to make good connections with a peer group, professionals, and Elon alumni.

“I am very grateful for the tremendous support from the Elon University School of Communications and Interactive Media program, so I can have a lifelong experience and expand my vision as a communications professional.”

In total, nine School of Communications projects were recognized in the 2022 Festival of Media Arts, including “Purple Man,” which won first place in the competition’s Narrative Category.

In March, BEA released its first-ever school rankings based on student achievements in its Festival of Media Arts, and Elon’s School of Communications placed sixth overall. The rankings were compiled using the past five years of festival winners.