Laura Ruel is an associate professor of design, user experience and interactive media for the school’s visual communication sequences.

Since 2009, she has been the executive producer of UNC’s Powering a Nation project, a student-created, interactive media site that explores the implication of U.S. Energy use.

Her research interests include examining user behavior and cognitive processes in the age of interactive media. She uses eyetracking technologies to explore these issues, and is part of the FDA’s Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science research at UNC.  In addition, she conducts practical usability and eytracking research studies for the news media. She also was a project leader for the Poynter Institute's Eyetrack III research, a study that examined online news consumer behavior in the digital age.

Before coming to the School of Media and Journalism in July of 2004, she was the inaugural executive director of the Edward W. Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media, an educational organization in the School of Communication at the University of Denver.

She is the founder and original coordinator of the Society for News Design's Best of Digital Design competition.

 Before joining the academic world in fall of 2000, she worked for more than 15 years in the journalism industry as a reporter, editor, designer and manager at a number of newspapers and magazines including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Omaha World-Herald and the Denver Rocky Mountain News.

Laura has taught journalism at the University of Denver, Creighton University and the University of Maine, and was part of a faculty team who trained the Web staff of China's Guangzhou Daily News Group in 2001 and 2005.

She is a past board member of the Society for News Design and the 2015 recipient of the Edward Vick Prize for Innovation in Teaching.  She also is the recipient of local, state, national and international awards for her reporting and design work. 



  • M.A., University of Missouri
  • B.A., Colgate University