State of Visual Evidence Symposium

We invite experts in the field of visual communication to discuss the current challenges and opportunities that synthetic media pose for the contemporary media environment, and how we can utilize visuals as data to answer social scientific questions.

Opening Remarks: 3-3:15 p.m.
Melissa Tully, Sang Jung Kim, Alex Scott and Bingbing Zhang

Keynote 1: 3:15-4:15 p.m.
Speaker: Bryce Dietrich 
Moderator: Sang Jung Kim
Topic: Video-as-data; Seeing Racial Avoidance on Virtual Streets
Speaker Bio: Dietrich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University. He is also a Research Scholar at the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor of Social Science Informatics at the University of Iowa and a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School and Northeastern University.
Dietrich's research uses novel quantitative, automated, and machine learning methods to analyze non-traditional data sources such as audio (or speech) data and video data. He uses these to understand the causes and consequences of non-verbal political behavior, such as vocal inflections and walking trajectories, especially in relation to descriptive representation and implicit gender/racial bias. Underlying this research is a love for high-performance computing and a genuine desire to make "big data" more accessible, while his substantive interests are firmly grounded in American political behavior at both the mass- and elite-level.

Keynote 2: 4:15-5:15 p.m
Speaker: Cindy Shen 
Moderator: Bingbing Zhang
Topic: Perception, mechanism, and intervention of visual misinformation 
Speaker Bio: Cuihua (Cindy) Shen is a professor of communication at UC Davis and the co-director of the Computational Communication Research lab. Her recent research focuses on computational social science and multimodal (mis)information in AI-mediated environments. She is the past chair of the Computational Methods Division of the International Communication Association, and the founding associate editor of the journal Computational Communication Research, as well as the associate editor of Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and Facebook. She is a recipient of numerous top paper awards from ICA as well as a Fulbright US Scholar Award. 

Keynote 3: 5:15-6:15 p.m.
Q & A with T. J. Thomson 
Moderator: Alex Scott
Topic: Impact of AI generated images & visual misinformation 
Speaker Bio: A majority of Thomson's research centers on the visual aspects of news and journalism and on the concerns and processes relevant to those who make, edit, and present visual news. He has broader interests in digital media, journalism studies, and visual culture and often focuses on under-represented identities, attributes, and environments in his research. Thomson is committed to not only studying visual communication phenomena but also working to increase the visibility, innovation, and quality of how research findings are presented, accessed, and understood. Thomson has obtained more than $1.32 million in external research funding from a number of organizations, including the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Australian Research Council, the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist, the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, and the International Visual Literacy Association. He has also been awarded research fellowships in China and Germany.

Closing Remarks: 6:15-6:30 p.m.
Sang Jung Kim, Alex Scott and Bingbing Zhang

Symposium Co-Sponsors
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Visual Media Lab would like to thank the symposium co-sponsors for their support of this event:
Office of the Vice President for Research
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Communication Studies
Department of Cinematic Arts
SPARTA Lab - Department of Computer Science
Department of Political Science
Public Policy Center
The Iowa Initiative for Artificial Intelligence

Monday, April 8, 2024 3:00pm to 6:30pm
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Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Jacob Mayer in advance at 319-335-0510 or