ElonComm has strong representation at AEJMC conference in Detroit

Faculty members Israel Balderas, Amanda Sturgill and Shannon Zenner were recognized with awards at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s 2022 national convention.

With a dozen faculty, staff and students in attendance, Elon University’s School of Communications was well represented at the 2022 national convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in Detroit last week.

The ElonComm contingent attending the 2022 AEJMC national convention enjoys a light-hearted moment in the rain in Detroit. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Bravo.

The conference, which ran from Aug. 3-6, was AEJMC’s first in-person gathering in three years and the four-day event included several ElonComm highlights, including faculty members Israel Balderas, Amanda Sturgill and Shannon Zenner collecting awards.

Sturgill and a team of Interactive Media graduate students captured first place in the Communication Technology and Visual Communication Divisions’ Best of the Web/Best of Digital Competition. In early 2021, a group of six students teamed with the Terra Cotta Heritage Foundation, located in Greensboro, to preserve the history of more than 200 families who lived and worked in Terra Cotta. As part of their project, the graduate students interviewed community members and conducted their own research to create a new website for the foundation, www.terracottaheritage.org. The new site was designed to share the history of Terra Cotta in a way that was engaging and accessible for future generations.

Led by Sturgill, the student group included Yasmeen Grandison (project manager), Meagan Chalmers (video lead), Madeleine Horrell (content strategist), Meg Boericke (design lead), Michael Boyd (photography lead) and Ben Johnson (web developer).

Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill presents the award-winning website her team of Interactive Media students developed for the Terra Cotta Heritage Foundation. Photo courtesy of Bravo.

Zenner was recognized for her first-place faculty paper in the Visual Communication Division. She presented her co-authored research titled “You’re Just Not My Type: The Relationship between Fonts, Political Ideology, and Affective Polarization.” Additionally, Zenner was recognized as a winner in the 2022 Innovations in Teaching Competition for her research submission titled “The Simple Self Evaluation: An Ungrading Technique to Increase Risk Taking and Creativity.”

Lastly, Balderas earned third place in a Teaching Ideas Competition Panel presented by the association’s Law & Policy Division.

Assistant Professor Shannon Zenner was active at the AEMJC convention, making presentations, moderating panels and collecting a few awards. Photo courtesy of Zenner.

In addition to this year’s award recipients, Elon’s conference participants included Vanessa Bravo, Dan Haygood, Jenny Jiang, Amber Moser, Jane O’Boyle, Hal Vincent and Qian Xu, as well as students Leila Jackson ’22 and Lindsay Gelman ’23.

Below is a recap of other Elon-related activities at the AEJMC convention:

  • Israel Balderas served as a panelist in the First Amendment topics panel titled “’Deplorable’s’ Speech: The Radicals, Scoundrels and Rouges Behind Free Speech Precedents.” Hosted by AEJMC’s Law and Policy Division, the panel profiled the individuals and groups behind several of the most lauded and celebrated free speech precedents, including their motivations and their reactions to their cases. Balderas also served as a panelist in a teaching panel session titled “Designing and Teaching the Combined Law and Ethics Course.”
  • Jenny Jiang and Qian Xu co-presented “Co-evolution of Discourse between Influencers and Regular Users: A Case Study of Tweets Using the Co-hashtags of #StopAsianHate and #BlackLivesMatter” as part of a scholar-to-scholar refereed paper research session. The session highlighted the positive impact of social media. Jiang, Xu and Ashleigh Afromsky shared additional research, titled “What Do Employers Expect for Jobs Requiring Media Analytics? A Comparison Between In-person and Remote Positions During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” during the Internship and Careers Interest Group’s top papers session.
  • Amber Moser served as a panelist for a teaching panel session titled “Preparing for Careers Beyond Academia After the Ph.D.” The panel examined how doctoral students can prepare for careers outside the university by talking to Ph.D. graduates who have secured employment in the technology industry.
  • Leila Jackson ’22 presented “Black, Biracial or Other? An Analysis of Tweets Concerning Meghan Markle’s Race” as part of the Cultural and Critical Studies Division’s refereed paper session. The session highlighted critical and cultural studies in media communication.
  • Vanessa Bravo moderated the Minorities and Communication Division’s High-Density Research Session and served as a discussant for the division’s Top Papers, MAC Division Session. Additionally, Bravo delivered the faculty and student grants to the respective winners during the MAC Division social.
  • Shannon Zenner moderated a research panel session titled “The Future of Visual Research and Visual Sensemaking: Shaping our Tools, Techniques, Methodologies, and Partnerships” and co-moderated the Visual Communication Division’s annual luncheon. Additionally, she served as a discussant for the division’s scholar-to-scholar (poster) refereed paper session examining conflict, ideology and memory.
  • Hal Vincent moderated a Professional Freedom and Responsibility session titled “Beyond the Classroom: Leveraging Co-curricular Experiences to Equip Students of Diverse Backgrounds to Compete for the Best Jobs.” He also served as a panelist for a session titled “Welcome to Your Home: Celebrating, Encouraging, and Mentoring the Hybrid Practitioner/Scholar/Professor Model at AEJMC.”
  • Amanda Sturgill was a discussant during the Communication Technology Division’s top faculty research session.

Also in attendance was Elon graduate Contia’ Prince ’18, G’19, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prince presented two research papers at the convention – “Instagram Faces and Fashion Nova Bodies: Black Women, Cosmetic Surgery and Hyper-Visual Culture,” during a session hosted by the Minorities and Communication Division, and “Selling Bodies as Billboards: Algorithmic Gossip and Bodily Autonomy in Female Beauty Vloggers,” as part of a session hosted by the Cultural and Critical Studies Division.


The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) is a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals. The association’s mission is to advance education, foster scholarly research, cultivate better professional practice and promote the free flow of communication.