AdLab

AdLabFrom educational workshops to renovated lab spaces, new initiatives at the College of Media are facilitating more research and creative endeavor opportunities.

Michelle Nelson, associate dean for research and creative endeavor, has been strengthening the research culture for faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students since she began her position in August.

"The college has made it a priority to highlight the innovative and important research being done by our faculty, and we’re busy with some exciting research initiatives, including new and revamped research labs, and the continuation of our Undergraduate Research Symposium," said Dean Tracy Sulkin. "I'm so pleased to have Associate Dean Michelle Nelson aboard. Her efforts have been instrumental in helping us to coordinate these efforts.”

An advertising professor at Illinois since 2006, Nelson has a long history of research. She focuses on advertising literacy and persuasion knowledge. (Her most recent research was an interdisciplinary project with the Family Resiliency Center and the University of West Indies in Jamaica about advertising and nutrition.)

Last fall, Nelson organized a panel where full professors from marketing and anthropology were invited to speak to associate professors in the college. They discussed the steps to prepare themselves for promotion to full professor, which includes selecting their future books, projects, and grants.

Nelson is setting up a brown bag seminar this spring to teach researchers how to find and apply for external funding and grants.

“Historically, professors studying journalism, media and cinema studies, and advertising haven’t gotten as many grants as engineering or the ag campus, but it’s becoming attractive to receive external funds because you can often do more things with your research,” Nelson said. Her panel will help de-mystify the grant process.

For students, Nelson is coordinating the college’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium on Saturday, April 6. Media undergraduates are encouraged to submit their research or creative projects from their classes, their independent study work, or James Scholar projects. The deadline for submission, which includes a 250-word abstract, is March 1 to nelsonmr@illinois.edu.

Professor Michelle Nelson“There are so many cool things that faculty and students working on in our college,” Nelson said. “We hear a lot about the research that the hard sciences do, but we hear a little bit less about all the cool things we’re doing here, so I hope to help build on that.”

Over the past year, the college has invested in collaborative research spaces in the Armory building. Nelson has met with the dean and faculty in the college who are designating spaces to be used for researchers across departments, including space for social media analytics, focus groups, and more. The new collaborative labs include:be used for focus groups, a social media analytics lab, and perhaps getting more research technology.

  • Digital Trace Data Analytics Lab in the Armory (coordinator: Leona Su, assistant professor of advertising)
  • Focus Group/Research Group Meeting Space in the Armory (coordinators: Anita Chan, associate professor of media and cinema studies, and John Wirtz, assistant professor of advertising)
  • Eye-Tracking/Physiology Lab in Greg Hall (coordinator: Kevin Wise, associate professor of advertising and director of graduate studies for the Institute of Communications Research)

The labs will be fully functional by the end of this semester. Renovations in the existing AdLab in the Armory were completed last semester.

—Arielle Kramer, communications and marketing intern, contributed to this story