Lauren Mills discusses her Iowa Watch posters with one of a festival judge. Source: Cheryl C. Berry
Lauren Mills discusses her Iowa Watch posters with one of a festival judge. Source: Cheryl C. Berry

A research poster about IowaWatch and non-profit journalism has been recognized as an “Outstanding Poster Presentation” by judges at 7th Annual Spring Undergraduate Research Festival at the University of Iowa.

Lauren Mills, a reporter and the assistant editor-designate of IowaWatch, prepared the poster for presentation during a three-hour program at the Iowa Memorial Union last Saturday that displayed about 100 research posters by the university’s students. The presentations covered the arts and humanities, math and engineering, natural sciences and social sciences.

Mills’ poster was one of five presentations recognized in social science category. The other social science winners included Keegan Koehlinger, Distinguished Poster Award; Anna Zoerner and Josey Strathe, Outstanding Poster Awards; Megan Thies, Commended Poster Award.

In the IowaWatch poster presentation, Mills explained “the underlying situation of the failed media model – with its restrictive monopolies, layoffs and financial difficulties.”  Mills noted that “a changing society that increasingly turns from paper and radio to television and online sources” provides the context for the problems that beset the traditional media model.

“IowaWatch is, essentially, an experiment searching for a viable model of journalism that makes investigative stories more accessible to the public,” she said.

Mills also talked about the articles published in IowaWatch and her own work examining the causes of the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

The research festival provides students an opportunity to present the projects, experiments and studies they’ve undertaken throughout the year under the mentorship of university faculty. Mills’ mentor was Stephen J. Berry, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and interim executive director of IowaWatch.

IowaWatch Board member Judy Polumbaum also was involved in the Festival as a mentor for student presenter Kirstin Riggs. Rigg’s poster showed historical research related to a biography of Ted Polumbaum (1924-2001), who was blacklisted after appearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1953 and subsequently developed a successful career as a photojournalist. Polumbaum’s archives are at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

All of the students’ research is either funded by an Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates award or undertaken on their own.

This conference was co-hosted by the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates, University Honors Program, Office of the Vice President for Research, Office of the Provost, the Graduate College and the Jakobsen Conference.

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