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UNF faculty featured in national radio spots


University of North Florida professors have an incredible influence in the region. They’re fixtures on local and state media, and their research is held in high regard by other academics, civic groups and political leaders.


Now, radio listeners across the country are getting an earful of what UNF has to offer.


The University’s professors have become regular guests on “The Academic Minute,” an educationally focused radio segment produced by WAMC in Albany, NY, a National Public Radio member station. The show features an array of academics from dozens of schools across the country. They are invited to discuss the unique aspects of their research and present academia in a light-hearted and easily palatable format for casual radio listeners. The program airs every weekday and is run multiple times during the day on about 50 different member stations across the National Public Radio spectrum — traversing the continent from California to Canada.


Dr. Elizabeth Furdell, a UNF history professor and author of six different academic texts on medical history, was a guest in early September. She was on for only a few minutes, but she said she likely reached a far larger audience through the segment than through her books.


“It’s terrific for academics because we don't always have that broad of an audience, especially when you do something as esoteric as medical history,” Furdell said. “You sometimes focus only on your own field and can become respected as an expert, but the field doesn’t reach out too far. This presents us the opportunity to get our research out there to listeners who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to it. I probably got the attention of more people through “Academic Minute” than anything I’ve done. It’s fitting that it came together because of a UNF connection.”


That connection is Brad Cornelius, an associate producer at WAMC and a UNF history graduate. Cornelius, a former undergraduate and graduate student of Furdell’s, came calling soon after “The Academic Minute’s” first segment ran in July 2010. He was tasked with tracking down academics who were able to condense their intense and heavily footnoted academic works into a bite-sized, radio-friendly format. And because of the station’s location in New York, he was looking for a little geographical diversity in his lineup of participating universities.


“It came together great when I took the job,” Corenlius said. “I was looking for new schools we hadn’t touched, and because I had connections and knew professors at UNF, I knew I wanted the University to do some segments. Dr. Furdell immediately came to mind.”


Cornelius said UNF’s focus on hands-on and transformational learning helped shape him into a media professional with a diverse skillset. And when he had the opportunity to promote UNF to a national audience, he was glad to pay it back.


So far, two other UNF professors — Dr. Jennifer Wesely, an associate professor from the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Dr. Katie Monnin, an assistant professor of literacy from the Department of Childhood Education — have had guest spots. Cornelius said he’s already looking forward to the next UNF-centered segment.



Monnis spoke highly of her brief radio experience. She said she enjoyed tailoring her academic research to a wider audience, something she said more professors and researchers should try out regularly.


“A format like this, while it might be brief, really helps you narrow down your research to just the essentials,” Monnin said. “It makes your work better — more relatable — and gets it out there to way more people. I had more calls about my “Academic Minute” segment than from any of my four books. So, that shows people are interested in hearing about the research going on in higher education, and we, as faculty members, should be willing to get our research and our work out there to others.”


That desire to disseminate scholarly research beyond the restrictions of the purely academic world is shared by Monnin and a number of other UNF professors.


Furdell said her spot on Academic Minute is a testament to the benefit of keeping track of students once they leave the protective confines of campus.


“I try and keep tabs on a lot of my grads, especially those, like Brad, who took undergrad and grad classes,” Furdell said. “And that helped set up this terrific opportunity. I’ll take any chance I can to introduce a lay audience to my research. Too often, there’s a separation between scholarship and general citizens. But this does away with that barrier, and it’s a great program for UNF to be involved in.”