One of the things I've learned about working with private industry is that academia doesn't always move fast enough for marketing purposes and that business people don't have any idea how slow science can move. Of course resources can make a big difference, and I am grateful to Napoleon Fireplaces for the support they provided for us to replicate our 2014 study with their electric fireplace. This project has gone faster than our original study, which took 5 years from inception to publication, but it's been a year since Napoleon got us the funds and can't wait to hear what we've been up to. How do we find a happy medium? We make a promo video for the company to send to its annual conference and share where we are now, data were have also now been published as an abstract in the American Journal of Human Biology. Actually, the advertising agency Hoffman York that has Napoleon as an account and recommended highlighting the health benefits of electric fireplaces found and liaise with me. They brought a crew to town and filmed the ad.
There are two sides of this that I want to highlight. This is the kind of ad or promo that a student interested in film or communications might do as a project, so it's a great way to inculcate interdisciplinarity in a lab and in training students. It then has a mutual benefit of highlighting the project and work of the student researchers and provides a learning experience for the student doing the film. The idea of doing an ad for the Fireside Relaxation Study came up last year from Hoffman York, but it was actually Journalism & Creative Media major and HBERG member Miriam Anderson who first began such a project and came up with the idea independently. MIriam had been in the process of filming when the semester ended and our schedules changed. I hope to reconnect and finish the piece for both of our sakes in the near future and share the finished product here and our other socials.
The other side is that working with private industry means there is funding specifically for marketing and people who can produce such ads quickly, on behalf of the company. This ad is being produced in addition to the funding and fireplace they provided. In both cases, I think it's important to engage the public in various culture ways with scientific findings. I don't make any money from working with Napoleon. The fireplace they donated sits in a small office in my lab, where our experiment takes place. This is applied anthropology and one means of making an impact on our world through our discipline.
Christopher D. Lynn
I am a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama with expertise in biocultural medical anthropology.