Elena Conis, Professor

Closed (1) Communicating Vaccine Preventable Disease Risks

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

This project explores the news media’s role in communicating the risk of vaccine preventable diseases to the public.

Students working on this project will analyze how the media portrays the relationship between outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs), such as measles, mumps and pertussis, and state vaccination laws.

Students will use Lexis-Nexis, ProQuest Newspapers, the Internet Archive and the Vanderbilt Television News Archive to collect media coverage of outbreaks of the diseases listed above from 2010 to the present, with a focus on Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Colorado. Students will also collect state vaccination laws, regulations, or statutes, as well as data on the rate of vaccine exemptions in the states above. Time permitting, students will also look at state medical journals and the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published by the CDC to compare scientific explanations of VPD outbreaks with those explanations highlighted by news media coverage.

Qualifications: Interest in topic, attention to detail, well organized, proficient in searching databases, able to work well and efficiently independently. Must be able to meet weekly and write up concise weekly progress reports. Some data science experience preferred, but not required.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Closed (2) Boys, Girls, and the Prevention of Mumps

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2019.

If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’re vaccinated against the mumps. But why? What risks would mumps have posed to you if we didn’t vaccinate against it widely in the U.S., as we did starting in the 1970s, and how would these risks—or the perception of these risks—have been shaped by your gender?

Students will help answer these questions as part of a larger project on the historic role of pediatric medicine in shaping and responding to gender norms in American society. Students will answer these questions by conducting targeted searches of historical and medical-scientific literature and summarizing their findings in graphic and narrative form.

Qualifications: Specifically, students will: • Quantify the number of medical journal articles on the subject of mumps by year for the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century; we will align patterns in attention and inattention to the disease with historical events and trends. • Search early pediatrics journals for articles on mumps, to be analyzed for how they discuss gender with respect to mumps (or vice versa). • Quantify the number of medical journal articles that focus on mumps’ effects by gender, either by year or by decade. • Search Army medicine journal for articles on mumps, to be analyzed for how they discuss gender with respect to mumps. • Analyze how mumps is described in successive editions of major historical pediatric textbooks, such as L. Emmett Holt’s Diseases of Infancy and Childhood. Qualifications: Interest in topic or historical research, attention to detail, good organizational skills, proficient searching databases, confident using Excel (or learning how to use it or other graphing software), able to work well and efficiently on an independent basis, strong writer. Must also be able to present findings at bi-weekly meetings.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Related website: http://www.elenaconis.com