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TCNJ communication studies students break records at D.C. Health Conference

TCNJ’s Department of Communication Studies furthered its reputation for producing top-notch undergraduate research, with a record-breaking number of student-authored papers chosen for presentation at the D.C. Health Communication Conference in Fairfax, Virginia.

Eight TCNJ students were the only undergraduate students in the nation invited to present papers at the conference hosted by George Mason University that took place on April 26–27, 2019. Communication studies and public health majors presented on a variety of issues related to this year’s topic, International and Global Health Communication Research.

Each paper — co-authored by TCNJ Professor John C. Pollock — tested Pollock’s Community Structure Theory, which posits that city or national demographics have the power to influence media coverage of national and global issues.

Communication studies major Casey Hendrickson ’20 presented a paper titled “Nationwide newspaper coverage of safe drinking water: Testing community structure theory.” Hendrickson and her co-authors — Nicole Bruno, Michelle Lampariello, Michael Milazzo, and Jared Kofsky — collaborated on their paper in Pollock’s Communication Research Methods course.

“We chose safe drinking water as our area of analysis because we recognized that it is a widespread national issue,” says Hendrickson, “Cities across the nation have individualized safe drinking water hazards and we were interested in seeing how various newspapers approached these problems.”

This was Hendrickson’s first research conference, and she says the experience was humbling. According to Hendrickson, it is the extensive original research TCNJ undergraduates conduct in Pollock’s course that gives them a leg up over students from other institutions.

The following students presented co-authored papers at the 2019 D.C. Health Conference:

  • Brielle U. Benyon, Cross-national coverage of child hunger: Testing community structure theory
  • Jessica Farrell, Nationwide newspaper coverage of minimum wage: Testing community structure theory
  • Jessica Fleischman, Cross-national newspaper coverage of HPV vaccination: Testing community structure theory
  • Casey Hendrickson, Nationwide newspaper coverage of safe drinking water: Testing community structure theory
  • Dare Lewis, Cross-national coverage of food security: Testing community structure theory
  • Ed Melvin, Cross-national coverage of promoting condom use: Testing community structure theory
  • Mason Moran, Nationwide newspaper coverage of gun safety: Testing community structure theory
  • Kristine Spike, Nationwide newspaper coverage of prison reform: Testing community structure theory

The D.C. Health Communication Conference takes place once every two years and features competitive papers, posters and panel sessions related to the year’s chosen topic.


Sarah Voorhees ’20

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