AACSRE Announces 2019 Class of Emerging Fellows

The Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research and Education (AACSRE), in an effort to fuel the next generation of study for on-premise signage, has announced the Emerging Fellows for 2019-2020. The 2019 class of Emerging Fellows consists of three distinguished individuals with a broad capacity for research and passion for signage.

Since AACSRE’s establishment in 2015, the organization has worked to define and implement an Emerging Fellows Program with a focus on expanding the thought leadership impacting on premise signage.

The three diverse disciplines being highlighted with this class are:

  • Aesthetics and Design issues in Marketing (Ngoc Minh “Rita” To),

  • Design pedagogy, visual identity and culture, dimensional typography in urban context, cross disciplinary practices and environmental dimensional graphic design (Muhammad Nafisur Rahman),

  • Disfluent Fonts in billboards and advertising (Ruomeng “Ru” Wu)

AACSRE’s Emerging Fellows Committee is chaired by Dr. Steven Kopp of the University of Arkansas. Dr. Kopp commented, “This year AACSRE’s Emerging Fellows class consists of an exemplary early-stage scholar along with two continuing Fellows. The Emerging Fellows program continues to identify and support innovative approaches to research impacting signage and wayfinding. AACSRE applauds the research efforts of these individuals and looks forward to their contributions and body of work.”


Ngoc Minh “Rita” To is a doctoral student in marketing at the Bauer College of Business. Her research interests focus on aesthetics and design issues in marketing. Currently, she is investigating how different aesthetic elements influence consumer self-brand connection as well as how hidden meanings behind logo designs can influence brand perceptions. As part of her dissertation, she seeks to examine how visual cues can prompt consumers to participating in more prosocial actions. Prior to her Ph.D. program, Ngoc Minh (“Rita”) To holds a Bachelor of Business (Honors) from the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. Oversight for Ngoc Minh (“Rita”) To’ research will be provided by the faculty chair, Dr. Vanessa Patrick-Ralhan. Dr. Patrick-Ralhan is the Bauer Professor of Marketing for the University of Houston. Her most recent accolades include Best Paper award for the inaugural SMU-LVMH Luxury in Asia conference (2016); the LeRoy and Lucille Melcher Faculty Excellence in Service Award by the Bauer College of Business (2015-16) and Cougar Chairs Leadership Academy, University of Houston (2016).


Muhammad Nafisur Rahman is currently pursuing Doctoral studies in architecture, at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Muhammad is an active graduate research assistant at Communication in the Urban Environment (CUE). His research interests are design pedagogy, visual identity and culture, dimensional typography in urban context, cross disciplinary practices and environmental dimensional graphic design. His current research work focuses on large letterforms in the urban environments and signage as urban artifacts, urban typography, visual identity through urban public space and image making. His research explores the influence of environmental typography and visual identity on the built environment of rapidly developing urban commercial streetscape.

Prior to this ongoing research work, he worked as a branded environments designer at Perkins &Will and designer at HDR Architecture, both in Chicago. Rahman was involved in teaching architectural design studios at different levels during his teaching at BRAC University, in Bangladesh since 2012. As a practicing designer, educator and photographer, Rahman has an ability to integrate his background in architecture with graphic design as an intuitive fusion. His strong skills in composition and typographic manifestations were acknowledged—both in practice and academia. His works consist of various architectural interior and branded environment projects, exhibition design, promotion materials, brand designs, experimental typography, identity and wayfinding, book publications, poster design, etc. Rahman has also developed his own passion and character in spatial photography, visual abstraction— his works have been showcased in different exhibitions and bagged numerous awards.

At UIC School of Design, he taught ‘Design Photography’ and ‘Color Theory’ courses. He was involved in conducting a month long design workshop at the University of Evora, Portugal, under European Union Mobility Research Scholarship in 2011.

Muhammad Nafisur Rahman holds M.Des. in Graphic Design from University of Illinois at Chicago, UIC in 2014 and B. Architecture from BRAC University, Bangladesh in 2007. He also completed ‘Typography and Design’ summer certificate workshop at the Basel School of Design, FHNW, Switzerland in 2013.

Ruomeng “Ru” Wu is a Ph.D. candidate in marketing at University of Cincinnati and a visiting assistant professor at James Madison University. Her research interests include consumer inference based on signage and graphic designs. She is currently studying how contrast colors on signage influence consumers’ perceptions of disfluency and their decisions, as well as how facial expressions on logos and ads can influence judgment and choice. She has presented her work at various conferences such as Society for Consumer Psychology and Association for Consumer Research. Her work is forthcoming in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Signage and Wayfinding and the Journal of Business Research. She also has papers under review by major marketing and business journals. Prior to her Ph.D. program, Ru received a Bachelor degree in Business Communications at Sun Yat-sen University, China.

Her research topic is: Disfluent Fonts. She will conduct research which highlights the importance of fonts in billboards and advertisements in the way that it impacts the awareness of missing information.

More information about the Emerging Fellowship Program and the backgrounds of the 2019 Class of Emerging Fellows are available on our website, www.aacsre.org and any questions or comments can be directed to Patty Herbin, Executive Director.

AACSRE looks forward to working with Ngoc Minh “Rita” To, Muhammad Nafisur Rahman, and Ruomeng “Ru” Wu and welcomes them as the 2019 Class of Emerging Fellows.

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