The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bryan Bowman ’18 (journalism) named a UMass Rising Researcher

UMass Amherst Rising Researchers 2017Photo credit: John Solem for UMass Amherst
Monday, December 11, 2017

-- Via UMass Research Next

Brian Bowman UMass AmherstJournalism major Bryan Bowman ’18 is one of six UMass Amherst students to be honored as a Rising Researcher. Bowman holds the distinction of being the first undergraduate student to have a byline in The Conversation, an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. His interest in learning about the relationship between the press and the exploitative and brutal penal and labor practices that built the modern South and its economic, political, and social systems spurred an ambitious research project launched with support from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences’ LeBovidge Undergraduate Research Award.

As the commonwealth’s flagship public research university, UMass Amherst provides a unique opportunity for students to conduct hands-on research early in their academic careers.


His original research was documented in the article "Exploiting Black Labor After the Abolition of Slavery" co-authored with his advisor, journalism professor Kathy Roberts Forde. The article was published in the February 6, 2017 edition of The Conversation as part of its Black History Month series, and was republished by U.S. News & World Report, the Associated Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, and other news outlets. The article also led to an interview segment with Roberts Forde (“Exploitation of Black Labor after Slavery”) on the syndicated radio program Top of Mind with Julie Rose, which aired February 27, 2017, also part of Black History Month.

Building on these results, Bowman’s second project focused on finding a meaningful case study to demonstrate how the press and convict labor interacted in a community across time. He and Roberts Forde presented a preliminary paper based on this research at the Media & Civil Rights History Symposium at the University of South Carolina in March. They are preparing to submit their paper to the peer-reviewed journal Journalism History in December.

“Bryan’s deep curiosity, dogged research, strong writing, and commitment to the highest professional standards of both journalistic and historical work have made him an exceptional research partner. I’m very proud of all that he has accomplished in our work together,” says Roberts Forde.

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