Through strategic communications, Marcom aims to enhance the visibility and reputation of our college locally, nationally, and globally. Our team crafts compelling messages and narratives to highlight the exceptional people and work within our institution. We showcase research breakthroughs, aid advancement efforts, connect with the media, and foster meaningful connections among our stakeholders. 

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Types of support

  • Communications Strategy: Create and manage comprehensive strategic communication plans (including coordinating planning with other units such as the University of Illinois Foundation)
  • General Communications: Craft presentations, emails, newsletters, publications, and more 
  • Executive Communications: Create communications on behalf of unit and institutional leadership, including remarks
  • News Releases/Features: Craft and execute media pitches; write news releases and advisories for media; write feature stories on noteworthy students, faculty, and alumni
  • Media Relations: Create a public relations strategy and maintain relationships with the media; track media hits/mentions/features; coordinate interviews/on-air appearances and post-event follow-up; provide media training for stakeholders
  • Crisis and Issues Management: Create and execute Emergency Communications strategy; plan for how to handle a reputational issue/problem

Communications Team

Claire Benjamin

As Director of Communications, Claire Benjamin enhances the visibility of the college and helps build connections among stakeholders. She provides leadership to the science writing team, develops and executes internal and external communications, oversees media relations, and bolsters recruitment and donor engagement efforts. Claire brings extensive experience in communications and media relations as well as a passion for the College of ACES, which is her alma mater. Previously, she served as the associate director of communications for the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and in a variety of communications and science writing roles at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. She is a double Illinois alum, earning a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a master’s degree in advertising.

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Lauren Quinn

Lauren is a scientist-turned-communicator with a passion for telling compelling stories about scientific discoveries and the people who make them happen. As a media communications specialist, she uses multi-pronged communications strategies to engage the media and the public to ensure research informs, inspires, and benefits our society. Lauren is the primary point of contact for the news team to field scientific media requests and assign stories. She also oversees distribution strategies and media training opportunities. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and botany from the University of Montana and went on to earn her doctorate in botany from the University of California, Riverside. She was a CSIRO postdoctoral researcher in Australia before returning to her home state of Illinois as a postdoctoral research associate for the Energy Biosciences Institute and Department of Crop Sciences. She also served as a technical writer for the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center before joining the College of ACES as a science writer where she has demonstrably increased the reach of research breakthroughs.

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Marianne Figge Stein

Marianne Figge Stein brings nearly 20 years of experience and expertise in public relations, science writing, and copy editing to her role as a media communications specialist. She publicizes research discoveries from a wide range of disciplines in the College of ACES. Marianne holds a master’s degree in Scandinavian literature and languages from the University of Copenhagen and another in advertising from the University of Illinois. She also has a doctorate in marketing from the University of Southern Denmark. Previously, she worked at Leo Burnett as a research associate and at South Dakota State University as a publications editor and writer. She joined the University of Illinois as a communications specialist, working in our publications division before moving over to the science news team.

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Kylie Corral

Kylie is the team’s first science writing intern. She is studying creative writing and political science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the College of ACES, she was part of the editorial team at the student-run newspaper, The Daily Illini. She was also a content writing intern for Venator Performance Marketing.

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