Current Student Resources

Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research opportunities in the College of Communications allow students to gain experience in their specified field of study while earning course credit. By working with faculty members in COMM 494, students will learn hands-on research skills such as coding, website/project management, website design, database searches, creative writing, analytical writing and more.

Opportunities are offered every semester and students may apply by contacting the faculty listed with the project that best fits their skills and needs. Faculty members are looking for exceptional students who have a desire to learn and grow in their communication field. Students who enroll in COMM 494 to assist faculty members with research are required to complete the university's Scholarship and Research Integrity requirements.

Undergraduate Research at Penn State

COMM 494 Application for Undergraduate Research Credits

Advertising/Public Relations Related Research Opportunities

Science of Science Communication: Boundaries and Dimensions

Details

One to two students needed to conduct a content analysis of academic research focused on science communication. There is growing interest among communication scholars in how people come to know what is known about science (global warming, nanotechnology, immunization/vaccination, etc.). In fact, enough work has been done in this area that we have an established new field: the science of science communication. This study seeks to bring some clarity to this new field in terms of what issues are being studied, and what about those issues is considered important. The goal is to provide context to guide future research efforts. 

Expected Tasks

Students will be trained to analyze research articles and code them for specific content. The articles will be from the journals Science Communication and Public Understanding of Science, dating back 10 years.

Necessary Skills

Good reading and organizational skills a must; understanding of research methods (COMM420 or equivalent) a strong plus.

Student Benefits

 Students will become adept at analyzing and interpreting social science research articles learn to conduct a content analysis, and learn a lot about current topics in science communication.

Timeline

Fall 2014 and Spring 2015

Contact 

Lee Ahern
814-865-8314
laa182@psu.edu

Sustainability Communication

Details

1-3 credits. The project will look at the way companies and nonprofits are communicating about the environment.

Expected Tasks

The student who works on this project should be familiar with sustainability/environmental topics and have a passion for environmental communication. Specific tasks will include coding and writing. Training will be provided.

Contact

Denise Bortree
814-865-1274
dsb177@psu.edu

Public Relations, Advertising and Health Promotion

Details

One or two students needed for an ongoing study of health promotion in the college setting. (1-3 credits)

Timeline

Ongoing

Expected Tasks

Assist with data collection, management, and analysis

Student Benefits

Students have the opportunity to develop a working knowledge of the role of research in developing messaging strategies.

Ann Major
814-865-3069
amm17@psu.edu

Film-Video and Media Studies Related Research Opportunities

Documentary Filmmaking

Details

Three to four student have an opportunity to work on one or more documentaries with award-winning filmmaker Boaz Dvir. His documentaries focus on ordinary people who become trailblazers under extraordinary circumstances. They include Jessie’s Dad, which captures Mark Lunsford’s transformation from an uneducated truck-driver to a savvy child-protection activist and was named Best Documentary at the 2011 ITN Film Festival in Los Angeles; Discovering Gloria, which paints the portrait of a highly innovative inner-city schoolteacher; and A Wing and a Prayer, which tells the virtually unknown story of World War II-veteran aviators who risked their lives and freedom to prevent a second Holocaust in 1948. 

Timeline

Ongoing

Expected Tasks

Tasks vary and are customized to each students’ skills and career goals. They include, but are not restricted to, research, writing, photography, videography, editing, graphics and promotion.

Necessary Skills

Strong filmmaking or journalistic skills.

Student Benefits

Improve filmmaking or journalistic skills, gain practical experience in documentary filmmaking, have an opportunity to earn a film credit.

Contact

Boaz Dvir
904-307-9075
bcd14@psu.edu

Documentary Filmmaking

Details

Get hands-on experience with award-winning documentary and narrative filmmaker, Pearl Gluck. Opportunities include experience in research and development, production, post-production, or marketing for fiction and non-fiction projects. Gluck’s work blends fiction with nonfiction addressing issues of identity, faith, and sexuality. Her films includes “Divan," an autobiographical documentary film which was developed at the Sundance Lab, “The Turn Out,” a film about a trucker who is drawn into the world of sex trafficking, and other films which have screened at festivals such at Cannes’ Cinefondacion, Starz Denver Film Festival, the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, and the Wexner Art Center. Gluck teaches Screenwriting, Directing, and Producing.

Expected Tasks

Students will have the opportunity to explore areas of their own interests including storytelling, producing, directing, cinematography, editing, post-production audio or color correcting, social media outreach, and digital or print marketing. 1-3 credits are available.

Necessary Skills

Good communication skills, self-starter, and dependable. Depending on the tasks, previous experience with software and/or equipment.

Student Benefits

Students will meet with Gluck and discuss interests. Students will get hands-on experience in the areas of interest and could possibly earn a film credit.

Contact
Pearl Gluck
pxg28@psu.edu

Generation Gap in Social Media Use

Details

Working on the generation gap regarding social media use, including using mobile media devices such as iPad and smartphones. Specifically we like to see if there is a generation gap between the old and young regarding IT innovation, credibility of online information, online privacy and multitasking. You may also join our projects on how information flows may empower vegetable farmers and vendors. This project introduces the optimization of information flows in local vegetable supply chain as a strategic tool for agricultural development, especially vegetable production, in Chengdu, China. One or two students to join our team on this project.

Necessary Skills

Students must have an avid interest in information and communication technologies

Student Benefits

Opportunity to learn how social scientists work on research projects that have practical implications.

Contact

Bu Zhong
814-865-1023
bxz11@psu.edu

Journalism Related Research Opportunities

Currently no opportunities available.

 

Telecommunications Related Research Opportunities

Internet Marketing

Details

One student needed to research legal issues and controversies related to marketing on the Internet.

Timeline

Ongoing

Expected Tasks

Research current Internet marketing rules and regulations and recent cases and controversies related to Internet marketing.  Examples include rules regarding collecting information from children, spam, data collection and user privacy, use of trademarks, etc.

Necessary Skills

Interest in advertising and marketing regulation and/or interest in Internet law.  Prefer student who has completed COMM 320 and COMM 381 or COMM 403 or COMM 417 or COMM 492

Student Benefits

Improve research skills and develop knowledge of Internet law and marketing regulation.

Matt Jackson
814-863-6491
mattj@psu.edu

Ethics Research

Details

One student needed to research and write ethics assignements and case studies for classroom use.

Timeline

Ongoing

Expected Tasks

Research and write case studies based on ethical dilemmas and controversies within telecommunications.  Examples include  controversial content (sex, violence, stereotypes, political bias, invasion of privacy, etc.), technology (hacking software, eavesdropping equipment, sweatshop labor, copyright infringement, etc.), and business practices (sharing customer data, targeted marketing, intrusive tracking, deceptive billing, price fixing, etc.).

Necessary Skills

Good research and writing skills.  Must have completed COMM 100 or COMM 180.  Background and interest in ethics preferred.

Student Benefits

Improve your skills in research and writing, possible authorship credit, develop knowledge and understanding of media ethics and problems related to telecommunications

Matt Jackson
814-863-6491
mattj@psu.edu

General Research Opportunities