TU student among winners selected for USM Public Health Challenge

February 14, 2021

USM task force and corporate sponsors recognize presentations on staying safe, healthy while waiting for COVID vaccination

Towson University student Chris Edwards ’21 was among six people honored by the University System of Maryland (USM) COVID Research & Innovation Task Force today for the Public Health Challenge. 

Undertaken with the support of several local organizations, a task force in mid-December invited members of the USM community to take part in this multimedia challenge, seeking creative ways to highlight how USM students, members of the broader university community, and all Marylanders can stay safe and healthy while waiting for a vaccine.

Edwards submitted an animated video encouraging Marylanders to do their part to keep everyone safe. The submission creatively uses motion graphics to outline the state’s vaccination distribution plan and promote CDC-approved preventative health and safety measures such as hand hygiene and wearing masks.

The senior majoring in electronic media and film (EMF) and economics says he was intrigued by the challenge’s focus on pandemic fatigue. “My family is full of people who are high risk, so it was important to me to help spread the message about remaining safe,” says Edwards, who is also a member of the Honors College.

Headshot of Chris Edwards
Chris Edwards

Edwards made the video with skills he learned in a visual effects course taught by EMF Assistant Professor Lynn Tomlinson, who encouraged him to enter the challenge. “I want to be an animator in the industry one day, and this was one of the first videos I made that was entirely motion graphics,” he says. “Working on this project really helped me refine my animation skills.”

Animation’s ability to catch attention and simplify complex information makes it an ideal medium for communicating public health information, says Tomlinson, who created a series of animated gif “merit badges” that marked COVID-19 milestones. “It is an ideal way to explain complex information in a short amount of time.”

“His PSA is colorful and professionally produced, showcasing so much of what he has learned,” she adds. “He’s a great representative of TU’s Electronic Media and Film Department. I’m so pleased that his work is recognized at the state level.”

“This was an important competition and our COVID Research & Innovation Task Force thanks the many sponsors who made it possible,” said Tom Sadowski, USM Vice Chancellor for Economic Development and member of the Task Force. “In the midst of a pandemic, it was amazing to see such creative minds, with limited resources, at work—the winners of this competition exemplify the type of leadership our community requires in these challenging times.”

Submissions were accepted in two categories—videos, and images—with the top three winners in each category receiving $3,000.

Winning teams come from several USM institutions: Towson University (TU); University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC); University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB); and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

“The task force and the competition judges are grateful to see the creativity and effort from all the entries,” said Laurie Locascio, vice president for research at University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and chair of the COVID Task Force. “These messages about overcoming pandemic fatigue are important. It is gratifying to see the range of participation in this endeavor, with entries from various USM institutions that include undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni.”