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Professor of Music Named to Advisory Board of COVID-19 Aerosol Study in the Performing Arts

Dr. Allen Henderson, professor of music at Georgia Southern University, was recently invited to join the advisory board of an important research study at Colorado State University.  The study, Reducing Bioaerosol Emissions and Exposure in the Performing Arts: A Scientific Roadmap for a Safe Return from Covid-19 aims to reduce the risk of human exposure and co-infection to SARS-COV-2 aerosol during performing arts activities.  Only scant evidence exists to document the rate of aerosol release during performing arts activities and whether there are effective means to control such releases and reduce the risk for human exposure). This research seeks to enact a rigorous, data-driven approach to inform a safe return to activities for the performing arts community.  “The research group will be testing approximately 100 singers and instrumentalists of varying age and gender, measuring the amount and size of bioaerosols emitted by them when undertaking various musical activities,” says Henderson.  This study along with associated studies at the University of Colorado and University of Maryland hope to gather a strong data set to provide direction on the effectiveness of various control measures such as masks and room ventilation and filtration.  “Each singer will go through a variety of singing exercises, speaking exercises, and will sing in a variety of styles so that we can provide guidance for those who sing music theater as well as pop styles in addition to classical literature.  We will also be including singers of varying ages and who primarily sing non-classical styles in the study as well,” says Henderson.  

Collectively, these studies will be the first of this magnitude in the United States to specifically measure the aerosols emitted by performers.  A number of others studies have measured airflow but airflow studies conducted have not specifically measured aerosols which have been so often connected with the transmission of COVID-19.  Henderson was invited due to his active work in the performing arts during the pandemic with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) (www.nats.org).  He helped conceive and produce one of the most viewed webinars (https://youtu.be/DFl3GsVzj6Q) specifically on singing and COVID-19 which has been viewed on YouTube over 200,000 times since May 5th.  He also helped produce a series of ten other events online to educate the singing community and provide training and resources to singers and teachers of singing.  He and the staff and leadership of NATS converted a national conference slated to involve over 150 speakers and presenters into a virtual event in 8 weeks which drew record attendance and was lauded for its ability to bring the singing community together. 


Theatre professor steps into new role

Georgia Southern University theatre professor Lisa Abbott stepped into a new role as region 4 chair of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

KCACTF works to recognize and celebrate the work produced in university and college theatre programs. As chair of region 4, Abbott works with a leadership team that puts together the regional KCACTF festival for Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. She coordinates travel logistics for 200-300 regional shows each year, manages organizational finances, coordinates the regional festival, and represents the region on the national leadership committee, among other roles.

The regional festival, held each year in February, provides a forum where students and professionals have the opportunity to take part in auditions, performances, portfolio reviews and workshops.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person KCACTF fall 2020 activities such as peer reviews of productions will be conducted remotely, and the 2021 region 4 festival will now be held virtually.  

“Things will be different, but we will re-emerge with new stories, and new ways of sharing the live theatre experience,” Abbott said. “We have made a commitment to celebrating innovation in this time. Our students are already leading the way in how to utilize different mediums to tell stories and celebrate their work.”

While many theatres are closing for an indefinite period of time, Abbott is trying to be transparent with all decisions being made for KCACTF.

Through innovative storytelling, Abbott looks to uphold the equity, diversity and inclusion standards of KCACTF. “We are here to support, to listen, to raise up our students, faculty, and artists of color,” Abbott said. “We will continue to follow these practices, hopefully with a renewed and greater commitment.”

Abbott has been active with KCACTF for 12 years and served as the vice chair for the past three years. She is now chair until April 2023.

Abbott teaches courses such as Directing, Acting, Playwriting, and Theatre Management within the Communication Arts Department, and directs student productions.


Statesboro campus professor co-authors book

Cover of Broadcast Announcing Worktext

Georgia Southern University Professor Reed Smith co-authored Broadcast Announcing Worktext 5th edition, recently released by Taylor & Francis Group, to help students enhance their skillsets in broadcast.

“I thought it was important to contribute to the content of this text to help it fulfill the needs I believe are critical for students to address in announcing courses,” Smith said. “Now that the internet and multinational media ownership have made all communication messages available around the globe and to diverse audiences, it is imperative that students understand the worldwide impact what they produce can have.”

Broadcast Announcing Worktext uses practical experience, traditional teaching methods and principles of good performance to introduce key concepts that are developed through the use of sample scripts and hands-on exercises. The authors emphasize the significance of the audience and the importance of effectively communicating with diverse groups. The fifth edition features updates regarding audio performance, social media and international media performance.

Smith teaches Audio for Journalists, Sports Broadcasting, Announcing, History of Mass Communication and Media Ethics. He has experience in news reporting and video production, and participates in a variety of broadcast projects. These projects allow Smith to work closely with students and stay connected to the world of broadcast. 

The work that went into the textbook allowed Smith to develop as a professor in the communication department at Georgia Southern. 

“There are many more opportunities for students to use their voices in communicating,” Smith said. “Therefore, it is critical that I continually upgrade my own knowledge, so I can properly prepare students for these developing applications.”

Smith wrote new segments about the process of “producing podcasts” and “women in sports.” He also included exercises to improve announcing skills, a rubric to evaluate skills, and sample syllabi for announcing courses. 

Written over the past two years with Mary Beadle, a professor in the Tim Russert Department of Communications at John Carroll University. Beadle co-authored previous editions with the late Alan Stephenson, a fellow professor at John Carroll University and the originator of the  textbook’s concept. Previous editions have been used in high school and college courses both in the United States and internationally. 

Smith is also the author of Cecil Brown: The Murrow Boy Who Became Broadcasting’s Crusader for the Truth, published in 2017 by McFarland, and is a book review editor for American Journalism: A Journal of Media History.


Hendricks shares recipe for Southern rice pie

Dr. Christopher Hendricks

History professor Dr. Christopher Hendricks recently appeared on WTOC to share how to make Southern rice pie. Click here to view the segment.


Armstrong campus professor co-edited academic journal

Elizabeth Desnoyers-Colas

Georgia Southern University communication scholar and associate professor, Dr. Elizabeth Desnoyers-Colas was invited to serve as guest co-editor of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research regarding the special issue “Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege.” Desnoyers-Colas, is based on the Armstrong Campus and serves as its Communication Studies Coordinator.

Desnoyers-Colas assigned roles in the academic journal were to serve as a guest co-editor and manage a two-layered review of each of the 35 submissions to determine the final essays for publication, as stated by Dr. Devika Chawla, editor of Departures in Critical Qualitative Research.

“During this process I looked more at new scholars or those who have published once or twice,” said Desnoyers-Colas. “I was looking for their arguments and what their viewpoints were in regard to merit and diversity.” Desnoyers-Colas also mentioned that the process was really tough, and that the unselected articles from the special issue may be used in the future.

Desnoyers-Colas, in the journal introduction, addressed the issue of racism among scholars in the field of communication, stating that the National Communication Association’s Distinguished Scholars has only had one person of color who has received the award in 2015. In the special issue “Merit, Whiteness, and Privilege,” NCA Distinguished Scholars nomination practices become a focus.

For over 12 years, NCA’s Executive Committee of the NCA has been trying to increase diversity among Distinguished Scholars. “This special issue will begin to create more intentionality to have minority voices heard,” said Desnoyers-Colas. She also mentioned how proud she was to be a part of this special issue and for minorities in the communication studies field to become a matter of fact. One of the driving forces for Desnoyers-Colas work with the special issue is that she believed and “felt that I owed it to my students.”