Fairmount College Faculty: How Lisa Parcell makes research approachable

Chances are, you’ve mixed up a Betty Crocker cake mix, added Nestle chocolate chips to a
batch of cookies or sprinkled Morton salt onto your popcorn.

But can you recall the last advertisement you’ve seen for any of these products?

Lisa Parcell

Lisa Parcell

The ubiquity of these household items goes unquestioned by most, but not by Lisa Parcell, Betty and Oliver Elliott associate professor for the Elliott School of Communication.

“When they hear what I research, most people just smile,” Parcell said. “A paper looking at, say, the history of bran cereal and constipation isn’t seen as very academic. But it’s approachable, and that’s what I love about it.”

As graduate coordinator of the Elliott School, Parcell values research that makes academia more inviting to first-year master’s students.

Journals value it, too. Last October, the American Journalism Historians Association recognized her article, “Coming in the back door: Women’s entry into advertising through the brand test kitchen,” with the Maurine Beasley Award for an Outstanding Paper on Women’s History.

“The fact that you can take something that we consider so common and make it into a real
research paper that gets respect – that is just phenomenal,” Parcell said.

Media history comprises half of Parcell’s research agenda. She devotes the other half to
operating The Research Partnership in the Elliott School alongside Kansas Health
Foundation Distinguished Director Jeff Jarman.

In 2023, the partnership generated approximately $200,000 by conducting proprietary
studies for private clients to improve marketing strategies, determine customer
satisfaction, launch new products and communication strategies. These funds support
student employment within the partnership as well as continue the operation of research
projects with private partners.