Undergraduate Student Research

At the School of Communication and Information, undergraduate students have the opportunity to work alongside our esteemed faculty and immerse themselves in scholarly research projects. These projects allow students to attain in-depth knowledge about topics of interest to them, understand the methods behind robust and reliable research, and better prepare for graduate school study. They also encourage SC&I students to think broadly and ask big questions that are relevant and critical to present-day society.

Each year, SC&I hosts the Undergraduate Research Fair, a poster display and showcase of research projects done by individual and groups of undergraduate students. This event gives our faculty and the SC&I student body a chance to witness the hard work undergraduate students put toward their research projects.

Here is a list of 2010 Undergraduate Research Fair participants:

Leonora Fallon, Communication, Class of 2010

Peer Influence in the 21st Century: Virtual vs. Face-to-Face

With the popular profusion of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, are mechanisms of peer influence any different from those as we have traditionally understood them in face-to-face context? Is peer pressure any more salient in the virtually mediated world?

Rohan Thakkar, Nayantara Choudhary, Jessica Cavall, Arianna Aldebot, Noah Ruede, Communication, Class of 2010

Food Assessments at the Family “Ceremonial” Dinner Table

The group’s inductive study of videotaped Thanksgiving, Easter, and Passover dinners suggests that food assessments such as compliments and complaints have consequences for the relationships between family members. Descriptive research of family “ceremonial” meals, paying particular attention to food complaints, enables an explanation as to why is it that, despite the fact that complaining is unlikely to be beneficial to a relationship, food complaints are often made.

Amanda Lanza, Communication, Class of 2011

Peer Interventions in Traditional and Virtual Settings

This project is about the effectiveness of peer interventions in traditional and virtual settings. It compares the outcomes of prior research and which type of intervention will work best. It aims to find the best form of intervention: traditional, virtual, or a combination.

Sophia Liu, Communication, Class of 2010

Business IS Personal: A Qualitative Study of Guanxi at a Multinational Financial Organization in China

Networks and relationships are an important part of business; and in China, this couldn’t be truer. In China, this relationships is called guanxi and although there is no direct translation, it is very similar to the relationships we develop in the U.S. through networking. The current study analyzed the cultural differences and causes in guanxi  in the business world in China and the U.S. and tries to answer one seemingly simple question: What is the difference between relationships in the U.S. and China and how do characteristics of culture play a role? The specific theoretical underpinnings used to analyze culture were Hall’s high- and low-context and Hofstede’s individualism vs. collectivism. Data was collected in the form of approximately 10 interviews and personal observations while working at a multinational financial organization located in Beijing, China. The grounded method approach and the constant comparison method was used to draw out three specific categories: 1) sarcasm and humor in the workplace; 2) expression of formality in the workplace; and 3) directness of communication in the workplace. These categories were then used to demonstrate the overall finding that in China, business is personal.

Ian Jennings Jablonowski, Information Technology and Informatics, Class of 2012

A Novel Interface to Represent an Event Based on User-Contributed Video

A single event is often documented by multiple contributors and from multiple perspectives using handheld devices. However, the shared video on current systems is poorly organized. This project proposes a system to better represent an event by organizing all shared video recording in a unified interface and also to utilize a method based on audio fingerprints in order to synchronize video footage of an event. In addition, tools have been developed to gather relevant videos, plot video on a timeline, and segment the timeline into titled clusters. Using social networking tools as well as video data, the research enabled the building  of a better interface for exploring and presenting a multiperspective depiction of an event. Displaying event video in one interface created a better understanding of the event as a whole.

Amy Tran, Biology, Class of 2012

Wish upon a Cup of Sake: Food as Symbolic Communication in Japanese Culture

The purpose of this study is to address how food represents symbolic communication in Japanese culture as well as to explain the correlation between Japanese Americans’ collectivism and the knowledge of symbolic meanings on specific Japanese food. Twenty first-generation Japanese from the U.S. and twenty second-generation Japanese Americans will complete a set of twenty interview questions. If a Japanese American is less collectivistic in nature, then he is not as familiar with the collectivistic practice of food symbolism; he would probably not know symbolic meanings behind traditional Japanese food served during celebrations.

Krystal Ladao, Communication, Class of 2010

Games for Change

A growing amount of evidence demonstrates that video games can be used effectively to influence behavior in positive ways. This projects looks at the correlation between interactive games and civic engagement. Interactive games can be used to not only educate about civic engagement but to bring about social change as well.

Asraa Mustafa, Journalism and Media Studies, Class of 2010

News Media Framing of the Conflict in Jammu and Kashmir

This research project investigates how the way news media from different localities frame terrorism incidents that occur in the South Asian territories of Jammu and Kashmir may reflect and/or shape the public opinions of their audiences and the foreign policies of their country or region of origin.