College of Humanities and Social Sciences 2020-2021 Projects

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  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Maygui Jean, anthropology

    2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Roger Otway, psychology

    • Health Disparities: The Impact of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality on Health Outcomes

      Our main goal is to live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, being sick is a part of life. Whether it is a sudden acute injury or a long drawn out chronic condition or a serious life limiting disease, we will all experience the consequences of illness in some capacity. While illnesses can be reduced to their biological causes and clinical treatments, there is much more to being sick. Social factors, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, and even issues like age, religion, and geography, also play an important role in promoting health and preventing disease. Moreover, social determinates of health, or conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age, significantly affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

      My research projects are very multidisciplinary, combining aspects of biology, psychology, sociology, public health, nursing, statistics, human services, education, business, etc. These projects aim to shape how people think about and eliminate health disparities through investigating how social, economic, environmental, cultural and lifestyle factors contribute to differences in morbidity and mortality within certain populations and communities. I currently have three large-scale National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded projects specifically looking at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality on chronic conditions utilizing both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Additionally, I investigate how social issues related to systemic racism, poverty, sexism, and homophobia contribute to lack of appropriate healthcare access. I work with both patients and healthcare providers to identify and combat barriers to care for many underserved populations. My research projects also include research questions related to ethical decision-making, cultural competency, health literacy, and behavior change. Because you cannot separate mental and physical health, my projects focus on both as well as the influence of physical health on mental health and vice versa. Given the current opioid crisis, I also try to integrate the impact of substance use disorders on many health outcomes, which is even further compounded by issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Since KSU is located at the crossroads of urban and rural living, I also stress how geography contributes to people's experiences with health and illness.

      In addition to collecting both qualitive and quantitative data to better understand health disparities, I am also interested in actually developing and implementing new programs and approaches to promote health, prevent disease, and ensure health equity. This includes self-management interventions, educational programs, and policy improvements. Instead of being restricted to a traditional laboratory, the world is my lab. My research collects data from real people in the real world, allows us to pivot our research questions depending on the findings, and supports interventions and programs that will benefit people right now, contributing to a healthier world.

      • To describe the complex relationships between race, class, gender, sexuality, and geography and how these relationships contribute to health disparities.
      • To assess the impact of health disparities and inequalities on quality of health status and overall health outcomes through qualitative and quantitative research methods.
      • To examine potential strategies for better understanding health disparities and working toward health equity by developing and testing new and more effective interventions and programs.
      • Review relevant literature about the topic and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of previous research and how this can inform our current research plans.
      • Assist in the refinement of research questions and development data collection tools to investigate health disparities.
      • Assist with the data collection by administering surveys and conducting interviews with research participants about various aspects of health disparities as well as analyze the data to determine findings (this includes learning new data analysis software for both qualitative and quantitative analysis).
      • Assist in the development of new and more effective health interventions and programs by providing feedback.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Hannah Sexton, psychology

    • In Search of the Sexual Assault "Red Zone" OR Childhood Trauma and its Role in Future Violence

      First-Year Scholars will have the opportunity to work on one of two research projects depending on their interests.

      In Search of the Sexual Assault "Red Zone"

      Previous studies of sexual assault among college students suggest that undergraduate students are at particularly high-risk for experiencing such violence during the beginning of the academic year. However, the debate regarding the size and boundaries of this so-called "Red Zone" have yet to be identified. In other words: when does this critical risk period for sexual assault begin and end? Your work on this project will help answer this question and strengthen efforts to prevent sexual assault at institutions of higher education across the country.

      Childhood Trauma and its Role in Future Violence

      Experiencing childhood trauma (e.g. child abuse) has been well-documented as increasing risk for a range of negative physical and mental health outcomes. As a result, billions of dollars have been used to create and deliver programming which reduces the impact of trauma exposure among youth. Additionally, recent research suggests that experiencing repeated trauma during childhood increases risk of being victimized and using violence against others by up to 700%. However, previous work has hindered development of prevention strategies by assuming that all types of trauma have identical impact. This research project asks: does exposure to different types of trauma in childhood change risk of being victimized and using violence against others? Your work on this project will help answer this question and strengthen efforts to prevent violent outcomes for survivors of childhood trauma.

    • First-Year Scholars will develop the following skills through work on either project:

      • Using electronic databases to locate peer-reviewed journal articles
      • Academic Writing
      • APA formatting
      • Using statistical software (e.g. SPSS)
      • Writing and delivering academic presentations
      • Working collaboratively with supervisors and peers
    •  First-Year Scholars will typically engage in the following activities each week:

      • Attending and participating in lab meetings
      • Reading peer-reviewed journal articles relevant to the project
      • Assisting with academic writing
      • Assisting with data analysis
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Bailey Walton, anthropology

    • KSU Mapping Project

      This project is all about Kennesaw State University. We have two beautiful campuses that we want to visually represent with maps and graphics especially focused on the history and growth over the years. This project might appeal to various majors, such as GIS, geography, anthropology, history, English, sociology, architecture, etc. The student does not need prior knowledge of GIS, mapping or graphic design. They will potentially work with another undergraduate student in a team, so they can learn from each other, facilitated by the professor.

      The first year scholar will do research using primary and secondary sources about KSU's history and facilities. They will create maps and graphics using the ArcGIS mapping programs and a platform such as or Adobe Spark to create visuals and infographics.

      The outcome of the project will be a poster including maps and graphics created throughout the length of the project (fall and spring semester) with various smaller deliverables along the way.

    • The student will learn how do research using primary and secondary sources about KSU's history and facilities:

      • They will create maps and graphics using the ArcGIS mapping programs and a platform such as or Adobe Spark to create visuals and infographics.
      • They will learn to work on a research project with a professor to prepare them for graduate studies.
      • They will focus on the two campuses - Kennesaw and Marietta, but also the KSU field station and other properties such as the building in Paulding county or even the facility in Montepulciano, Italy.
      • The student will meet with the faculty member on a weekly basis.
      • The student will do readings related to KSU's history, growth and development since its inception.
      • The student will then create maps and visuals of the original campus (both campuses and other properties) and will show the growth with animations (time slider maps).
      • The student will create a poster and present it at the April spring symposium at KSU and also present at a local event or regional conference.


  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Anya Kurup, biology

    • Building a Fandom of Korean Popular Culture in Owl Nation: A Corpus-based Approach to the Korean Wave

      Whether with Parasite’s winning Oscars or BTS’s record-breaking music, the Korean Wave (“Hallyu”) is not a local or regional culture any longer but has become a swell in the global ocean and has influenced international pop culture. A variety of content of the Hallyu, including popular music, films, dramas, webtoons and digital games, provides an array of multiple modes of text as well as a diverse range of cultural contexts. These authentic texts can be systematically or randomly collected and electronically stored as a “corpus” and serve as a valuable source for second/foreign language (L2) learning. The purpose of this research is to analyze text samples from a variety of content of the Korean popular culture and create a dictionary with the entry for words from corpus data through the lens of corpus analysis using an available corpus tool with a goal to assess their uses and relative frequencies. More specifically, using a corpus-based linguistic approach to analyzing a set of randomly selected authentic text samples from the Hallyu content, First-Year Scholars of this research will: (1) identify which words in the Hallyu content text of their choice are most frequent; (2) create entries of the words in a dictionary based on their relative frequencies; (3) revisit their perception of the Hallyu; (4) expand their interest in the Hallyu; and (5) contribute to enhancing cultural diversity and intercultural competence across the Owl Nation. This research is expected to contribute not only to the participating First-Year Scholars’ research skills and linguistic knowledge of culturally rich corpus data when they work with authentic texts of Korean pop culture but also to future L2 learners’ use of tools and techniques of corpus linguistics to discover certain rules of language use and linguistic patterns and their vocabulary knowledge of specific frequency levels, which is one of the best predictors of L2 reading comprehension.

    • Students will be able to develop the following skills through this research:  

      1. Working with authentic texts of Korean pop culture as corpus data
      2. Using tools and techniques of corpus linguistics to analyze data
      3. Creating a digital dictionary based on frequency levels 
      4. Writing a research abstract/paper 
      5. Delivering presentations at various academic venues/channels
      6. Enhancing cultural diversity and intercultural competence
      1. Selecting authentic text samples from the Hallyu content
      2. Identifying which words in the Hallyu content text of their choice are most frequent
      3. Creating entries of the words in a dictionary based on their relative frequencies
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Lauren Deaver, biology

    • How is Social Media Impacting the Experience of a Global Pandemic?

      The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11 when the U.S. had seen barely 1000 cases and 37 deaths. We saw exponential growth in cases, and by March 17, months-long shelter-in-place mandates were implemented. People were thus forced to adapt to a new normal, including how to work or study from home, maintain relationships, and even understand the crises the world found itself in. This study aims to examine how people used social media differently during such a global upheaval. In turn, we are interested in how that social media use impacted relationship formation (think online dating), relationship termination (think break-ups or friendships ending, unfriending on social media and in real life), mental health (did too much social media use make people have more anxiety, for example), health behaviors (did they socially distance? Wear masks?), and even coping behaviors. We think that the use of social media during this time had a huge impact on not only these outcomes, but also how people experienced eye opening events (seeing friends post racist things, or conspiracy theories), support, isolation, fear of missing out (FOMO), or even the feelings of “you’re being dumb” when seeing others being social. In other words, in such a time of social isolation, our only connection to the outside world may have impacted a lot about our personal world in unexpected ways, and we want to know about it.

    • Students will have the opportunity to learn every step of the research process:

      • drafting a concept
      • formulating research questions and hypotheses
      • survey creation, the IRB process (the Institutional Review Board to make sure projects are ethically sound)
      • survey or interview distribution
      • data collection
      • Data analysis using statistical software
      • manuscript production
      • preparing for and submitting to a conference
      • the conference experience
      • presenting their research

      Students will also be able to fine tune their writing skills, work on learning APA formatting, and critical thinking skills as they apply their own anecdotal experiences to see if there is "something to it" research wise (that is, is what you see everyday in your own life a common thread across the US population?).

      Students will also grow their communication, teamwork, and collaboration skills, as they would be working on a team to complete this project. Both are skills highly sought after by employers, as noted by Forbes every year.

    • Students will be expected to (depending on stage of the project):

      • Attend weekly meetings (virtual or not)
      • Read and compile peer reviewed journals pertaining to the topic
      • Assist with data collection
      • Assist with the data analysis
      • Assist with writing the manuscript
      • Prepare for conference submission
      • Prepare for conference presentation
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Katrina Clark, modern language and culture

    • Computer-Assisted Analysis of Word Frequency in Language Learning

      Try reading these sentences where [x] indicates a word you don't know:

      [x] than [x] of [x] who [x] in [x] as [x] since [x] [x] and [x] [x]. [x] [x] children and teenagers, [x] than 80% [x] they [x] a [x] [x] of [x] to their [x] [x] and feel [x] by their [x].

      Could you summarize the text? This is what it feels like to understand only 50% of the words. Now try again with 90% comprehension:

      More than half of those who arrived in Germany as [x] since 2015 work and pay [x]. Among [x] children and teenagers, more than 80% say they have a strong sense of [x] to their German schools and feel liked by their [x].

      Could you summarize it now? And could you guess the missing words or quickly look them up in a dictionary?

      When learning a foreign language, one encounters many new words. Research suggests that learning the 1,000 most frequently used word families in German facilitates comprehension of approximately 70-75% of written texts and up to 90% of spoken language. The most widely used introductory German textbooks, however, introduce a mere 530-640 of the 1,000 most common words on average, thus reducing learners' comprehension by almost half. Complicating matters, these traditional textbooks select vocabulary based on thematic sets (such as all the fruit names), meaning that between one-third and one-half of the words in these textbooks are not commonly used. Which word, for instance, do you hear more frequently in your daily conversations: "pineapple" or "there"? While these "little" words may seem less important, it's hard to become fluent without mastering almost all of them.

      Situated at the intersection of foreign language education, linguistics, and the digital humanities, this research project assesses the effectiveness of the first word-frequency based German textbook der | die | das, developed by Dr. Jamie Rankin at Princeton in 2016 and adopted at KSU in 2019. Since its original launch, this innovative curriculum has not been evaluated via a controlled research study due to the small size of student cohorts and lack of control groups at the pioneering institution. This project seeks to validate Rankin's novel approach in the first study of its kind, with the potential to impact curricular design in additional languages and at various curricular levels across the U.S.

      No prior knowledge of German is required to participate in this project, though experience with learning any second language, strong knowledge of English grammar, and/or interest in machine learning are helpful. In this phase of the study, we will analyze data already gathered from two groups of KSU students (old vs. new curriculum) in terms of reading comprehension. We will compare both groups' English summaries of a German reading text with a word-for-word English translation. We will employ machine learning tools and content analysis, which is the systematic, consistent coding of words to produce statistically verifiable, quantitative analysis of written texts.

    • Literature Review:

      • Identify peer-reviewed journal articles using academic databases;
      • Read, summarize, and evaluate academic journal articles for relevance and knowledge gaps;
      • Write a comprehensive literature review in collaboration with faculty member and/or peers;
      • Format writing using APA style.

      Data Analysis:

      • Input and code quantitative and qualitative data for data analysis;
      • Organize and analyze demographic and educational survey data using Excel;
      • Compare control and intervention group vocabulary data in English;
      • Set up automated vocabulary analysis tools using open source topic modelling software (MALLET and/or Voyant).

      Scholarly Writing & Presenting:

      • Co-write academic presentation;
      • Present research findings at KSU, NCUR, and/or as co-presenter at regional conference such as SCOLT (Southern Conference on Language Teaching) or AATG-GA chapter (American Association of Teachers of German);
      • Develop professional etiquette, presentation skills, and strategies for responding to difficult questions at a conference.

      Professional Skills:

      • Develop skills related to time management and planning, communication, teamwork, and creative problem-solving;
      • Identify and evaluate potential external funding sources (i.e., grants).
      • Meet weekly with faculty mentor (in person or virtually) to report on task completion, collaboratively plan next steps, and discuss research ideas and machine learning tools as a team;

      And make progress on one additional task each week (depending on current project phase):

      • Independently review relevant journal articles, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and describe their relevance to our current research in written and oral format;
      • Assist in the refinement of research questions and methods after reading and discussing Measuring Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition together with faculty member;
      • Input, organize, and analyze demographic and educational survey data to develop statistical and descriptive profiles of each learning group and to identify promising trends for further analysis (for instance, the role of learning another language such as Spanish or taking foreign language classes online in students' reading ability in German);
      • Evaluate, setup, and use open-source topic modelling software (MALLET and/or Voyant) to analyze vocabulary comprehension in terms of word frequency, coverage, variety/breadth, and sophistication;
      • Create a poster, PowerPoint, or draft presentation for the KSU Symposium of Scholars, NCUR, or, as co-presenter, at a regional or national conference.
      • Write 1-2 reflections on the research experience, including a letter to a future First-Year Scholar.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Cymone Parker, psychology

    • Using Tools in Affective Neuroscience to Study the Social Brain

      This project takes a neuroscience approach to study human perceptions about social groups and their relation to learned fear behaviors. With the changing composition of racial groups in America comes a greater need for understanding the nature of interracial conflicts and its consequences within a diverse community. Scientists are increasingly turning to physiological methods to study interracial experiences. Goals for this project are to use tools in affective neuroscience to characterize physiological responses to interracial facial cues in order to shed light on the biological basis of race-based conflict. Findings from this study may have important implications for understanding social behavior and provide a potential biological explanation for the emergence and maintenance of social biases and human predisposition for xenophobia.

      Affective neuroscience, the study of the neural basis of emotion, is a fast-growing, interdisciplinary field that is uniquely suited for integrative scholarship. Emotion is a result of both biological and psychological processes that may be measured at multiple levels using various research techniques. This research program draws from multiple disciplines, including psychology, biology, and sociology. Because of the highly interdisciplinary nature of this project, student investigators may learn to incorporate knowledge from many levels (from molecules to behavior) to solve complex social problems.

    • Students will first receive training in research ethics and the protection of human subjects. Students will then receive training in the collection of different types of data, depending on their interests and strengths. This may involve learning how to conduct behavioral experiments, measure physiological responses, collect saliva samples, assay biomarkers, and administer surveys and cognitive tasks. Along the way, students will explore the key findings in the field, determine important gaps in the literature, and develop research questions to address these gaps. They will also learn how to use statistical software to analyze and report data. Finally, they will learn how to present key data in a poster or oral presentation.

    • Students will first log into a virtual lab training course on D2L and remotely complete weekly tasks. The training modules will include video walkthroughs and instructions, lab manuals, key literature, and various assessments to track learning. After completing virtual training, students will undergo hands-on training in the lab with human subjects (1 hour per week). They will meet with the faculty for 1 hour per week to discuss their experience and progress.

  •  2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Kimberly Gomes, psychology

    • Examination of Predictors of Resilience in Military Personnel

      Studies examining resilience as a protective factor typically occur following trauma exposure. Data were collected 1,000 deploying military medical personnel who were then tracked through their deployment and upon their return to their home station. The present project will analyze various psychological and social factors related to resilience and trauma exposure across the deployment cycle.

    • In this project, the student will learn basics of research including conducting and writing literature reviews, learning basic statistics, and making APA style tables. The primary outcome will be earned authorship on a presentation and/or publication.

    • The student will meet with the faculty member weekly.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Francisco Orozco, biology

    • The National Association of Colleges and Employers defines an internship as "a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. . . .giv[ing] students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections . . . giv[ing] employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent" ("Position Statement" NACE). The American Association of Colleges and Universities and employers universally recognize that internships are valuable, even essential, experiences for college students with upwards of 96% of hiring managers opting to hire students with one or more internships on their resumes over those who do not. Yet, we are living in a changing world due to public health and economic concerns, especially during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted the global economy as well as internships. This has also brought up forward concerns for college students and employers about how to structure workspaces, who to recruit, and what jobs will exist in the future. There is a need to not only understand the scope of the changes to college internships in recent history as well as the landscape and opportunities for the future.

      Building on the research of Global Workplace Analytics, an organization that collects data about telecommuting and remote work, this project will consider current data that approximately 43% of the global workforce does a significant amount of work from home as well as predictions that over 30% of the US workforce will continue working offsite fulltime into the year 2021 . . . and into the future. This study seeks to understand the changes in student internships, discern trends for the future, and ascertain how to support students and employers engaged in remote internships. Through an IRB-approved research protocol with surveys and student interviews the project is guided by three key questions:

      1. What were the experiences and perceptions of KSU student interns during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those performing remote internships?
      2. What preparation and/or support would have strengthened their experiences, and how can this be incorporated into student internship courses?
      3. What is the likelihood of more remote internships in the future?

      The research gathered will be disseminated through a scholarly publication, including a journal article and book proposal about college internship program design. The student will learn how to develop survey instruments, conduct interviews, and analyze data. The student will also become an expert on the tools and practices that will help students thrive in remote work internships and jobs. The data is essential to help faculty and administrators, as well as students and employers, understand how to modify internships for the future. In short, if more employers will be hiring remote workers, students need to be prepared to work from home, understand how to get those jobs, and know how to succeed outside of traditional office spaces. In addition, more information is needed about best practices for remote internships and the future of the college internships.

      • Contrast the differences between onsite and remote internships for college students;
      • Outline best practices for remote student internships -- where to find them, how to prepare for them, and what to expect.
      • Articulate knowledge about the changing work environments from onsite internships and employment to remote and virtual settings;
      • Employ writing and research skills to produce surveys, interview questions, and conduct data analysis regarding college internships in both onsite and remote spaces;
      • Collect data through recorded interviews of interns and employers about college internships;
      • Use electronic survey instruments to collect data about internships using remote tools;
      • Employ writing aids and style guides for editing and dissemination of written projects;
      • Recommend and use a range of technological tools for working remotely and to communicate with others;
      • Identify viable sources for research about internships and the job market for college students;
      • Share new knowledge gathered about the expectations of employers and best practices for students and university faculty and administrators as it relates to college internships in the era of remote work.
    • This project has several parts. Each week the student and I will meet via Teams to go over the project agenda. The agenda will serve as a weekly guide for the goals of the project (much like a syllabus). Specific tasks will include the following tasks spread over the term of the project:

      • Review online job advertisements for college internships and create a spreadsheet of data and information;
      • Familiarize themselves with relevant terms about internships and remote work through secondary research and literature review analysis; update annotated bibliography of sources;
      • After learning to build a Qualtrics survey, the student researcher will help create a survey for distribution to student interns about their experience and analyze the results;
      • Assist with conducting interviews of students and analyzing data (as well as managing the research materials);
      • Participating in data collection from employers about their experiences and expectations working with student interns remotely;
      • Developing summaries of data and best practices for dissemination at conferences and in publications.
    • Dr. Lara Smith-Sitton, Department of 
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Le'la Calixte, history

    • Curating the Past: Using Digital Modules to Teach about World War II and the Holocaust

      The first-year student(s) will work with the team at the Department of Museums, Archives & Rare Books (MARB) to develop several digital modules related to World War II and the Holocaust. They will conduct primary and secondary research, develop a concept statement, design an Adobe Spark module, participate in peer review, and participate in focus groups with K-12 and university audiences. They will also have a chance to present their module to a K-12 or university audience with a MARB mentor. This is an excellent opportunity for them to explore a range of fields from historical research to design to audience development. MARB has an excellent track record for mentoring students and engaging them in high-impact practices from internships to capstones. First-year students would benefit from engagement with our creative, diverse, and innovative team.

    • Students who complete this project will:

      1. Develop their research skills, learning the important distinctions between primary and secondary sources.
      2. Understand the importance of digital education in the fields of public history and Holocaust studies, especially as it has been impacted by COVID-19.
      3. Learn how to curate digital modules using Adobe Spark, mastering basic design skills.
      4. Participate in peer review with a team of historians, educators, archivists, and curators.
      5. Learn how to conduct a focus group related to their work.
      6. Present their module to a K-12 or university audience in partnership with a MARB mentor.
    • The students will work with the MARB team to complete the outcomes above. This semester schedule will be repeated in the second semester.

      • Week 1: Select a topic and meet with the MARB team.
      • Week 2: Review existing digital modules and complete a workshop on Adobe Spark.
      • Weeks 3-6: Conduct primary and secondary research.
      • Weeks 7-9: Design Spark Adobe module, with guidance from MARB curatorial and education team.
      • Weeks 10-11: Participate in peer review of module with MARB team.
      • Weeks 12-13: Participate in focus group where they present their work.
      • Weeks 14-15: Present their module to a K-12 or university audience in partnership with a MARB mentor.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Anna Anderson, psychology

    • Perceptions of COVID-19 among Religious Leaders: Implication for Health Messaging in Faith Communities

      The purpose of this study is to examine perceptions of COVID-19 among faith leaders, specifically:

      1. What is the prevalence of religious interpretations of COVID-19 (the illness as a result of sinful behavior, as a sign of the coming end of times/day of judgement, the illness as a test from God, karma, etc.)?
      2. Where do faith leaders turn to for information about COVID-19?
      3. What protective health behaviors are faith leaders engaging in to avoid contracting COVID-19 and what is their perceived risk of contracting the disease given their community role?
      4. How do faith leaders translate their own beliefs and external messaging into communications for their communities? To what extent do they view health communication as a responsibility within their position?

      This study will use anonymous surveys to examine perceptions of COVID-19 and health behaviors related to COVID-19 among faith leaders from various faith backgrounds. The second phase of the study will utilize virtual focus groups to discuss in depth how health policy and religious policies, as well as theological interpretations of illness and suffering intersect to impact how faith leaders communicate information regarding COVID-19 to the religious communities they lead. This mixed method approach seeks to gain descriptive evidence of the prevalence of religious and spiritual interpretations of the disease, as well as understand how these interpretations shape faith leaders' messaging, particularly health information and meaning attributions shared with their communities. This study will use a multi-modal, mixed methods approach. Initial descriptive research to measure perceptions of COVID-19, health protective behaviors used by faith leaders, and how they communicate with their communities during social distancing will be collected through an anonymous internet-based survey. This survey will be distributed directly to faith leaders via email and through religious community hierarchy (for example, a District Superintendent may be requested to share the survey link with their pastors, or an imam may be asked to share the survey with other imams). Additionally, participation will be solicited via Social Media, specifically Facebook by posting on the Investigators page, and sharing on pages dedicated to religious communities.

      The second phase of the study will involve conducting 4 different focus groups with 6-8 participants through Zoom. These focus groups will last approximately 40 minutes and allow for in-depth discussion of:

      1. how religious perspectives, public health policy, and other factors influence how faith leaders view Covid-19 and interpret the suffering caused by this illness
      2. how these interpretations translate into public communication with faith followers
    • By the end of this project student will:

      1. Complete the CITI Certificate in conduct research with human participants.
      2. Gain experience in conducting internet-based surveys.
      3. Demonstrate the ability to effectively moderate focus groups.
      4. Gain skills in transcription and analysis of focus group data.
      5. Articulate study findings in a public forum.
    • Students will work each week on the different stages of the project with their mentor from IRB application to participant recruitment, data collection, and data analysis and preparing the findings for dissemination.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Cristy Kennedy, interactive design

    • Messages Gone Viral: How Infographics about COVID-19 Spread on Social Media

      Have you ever wondered why people share some visuals about COVID-19 online and not others? What makes a good message about COVID-19 to share on social media? Come and work with Dr. Doan to find out! You'll learn about what visual design principles encourage people to engage with health information online by gathering a collection of charts, graphs, and infographics from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You'll use nVivo, a software available through the university, to collect and tag these images. Next, you'll learn to sort these social media posts to understand what types of written messages (encouraging behavior like mask wearing, sharing statistics, etc.), visual design tools (like color, contrast, typography), and types of posts (an infographic, a chart, etc.) are engaged with most online. After we make our research categories into a formal codebook, you'll learn how to conduct inter-rater reliability, a way of testing our codebook with outside users to make sure that it makes sense outside of the original coding. Then, we'll write about, and hopefully publish, our results to help designers, public health officials, and people who run social media campaigns use our work to design more engaging posts about how to help people understand and stop the spread of COVID-19.

      • Understanding and evaluating social media posts about COVID-19, especially which features make an engaging public health message.
      • Categorizing, evaluating, and practicing written, visual, and digital communication strategies.
      • Gathering a database of COVID-19 charts, graphics and infographics.
      • Sorting our database according to the type of graphic and the type of message.
      • Assisting Dr. Doan in testing our sorting categories with external raters to check our categories' reliability.
      • Finding existing literature about COVID-19, social media, and public health messaging.
      • Writing about and publishing the results of this study to share with other researchers.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Journey Wilder, anthropology

    • Dating Archaeology Sites: Assessing Indus Civilization Sites and Related Chronologies

      The Indus Civilization was an early complex society that spanned across India and Pakistan roughly five thousand years ago. The residents built the first cities and established long distance trade and exchange networks that spread thousands of miles. Over the past century, dozens of Indus and related archaeological sites have been excavated, but only a few have been dated through radiocarbon samples. The dates from these sites shape the way that we think about the timing of certain events like the construction of the first cities, the spread of long-distance trade and exchange networks, and even the impact of periods of climate change. But many of those samples were originally analyzed decades ago using older methods. Since radiocarbon analysis has changed significantly over the decades, it's time to re-analyze those dates. In this project, a team of students will work with the Project Director to re-examine and re-analyze dates from Indus Civilization and related sites using newer methods of analysis. Together, we will compile a list of sites that have been dated through radiocarbon, assess the quality of those dates, and re-calibrate the dates using new methods. The result will help us understand which Indus sites were occupied at the same time and could have participated in the same social and economic networks. We will also be able to tell which sites might have been affected by documented periods of climate change and how developments like urbanization occurred.

    • No prior knowledge of archaeology, radiocarbon dating, or the Indus Civilization is required. Students will learn about the Indus Civilization and some of the major sites that have been excavated. They will also have the chance to learn how archaeologists date sites and use data from old excavations as well as how radiocarbon analysis works. Broader skills that students will gain include:

      • how to collect data from primary sources
      • how to assess quality of old data sets
      • how to work with Excel
      • how to work collaboratively and contribute to a team research project
      • how to present research results in oral and written form

      Interested students will also have the option to present results at the Georgia Academy of Sciences annual meeting in the spring semester.

    • After being trained in radiocarbon dating methods, students will be assigned a set of sites to investigate. They will:

      • read original archaeological site reports and other publications to collect details about dates
      • enter details into a database
      • decide which dates should be discarded
      • meet with research team weekly to present their finds for that week and give feedback to other team members
      • re-run dates using analytical software
      • make charts and tables to show the revised set of dates for assigned sites.
      • provide the Project Director with general assistance for the project.

      This research may be conducted virtually.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Sydni Zackery, biology

    2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Diana (Danny) Wilson, criminal justice

    • Rare Book Exhibit Research and Curation

      The Bentley Rare Book Museum holds 10,000 rare books and manuscripts from the 16th century to the present day. The Curator develops exhibits and programming based on research on the collection. Collecting areas include early science and medical texts, maps, chant manuscripts, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Harlem Renaissance, literary movements, cookery, children's books, maps, and first editions of British and American authors. Students will assist the Director and Curator in researching aspects of the collection and developing programming, exhibits and outreach materials.

    • Students will engage and gain hands -on experience with rare books, maps and manuscripts; learn how to conduct research on rare books; and assist with programming elements such as social media posts, blogs or videos.

    • The Curator will select texts to be researched; students will work directly with the materials and conduct research using online and library resources. Students will write reports with their findings and/or create materials under the supervision of the Curator.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Jackson Call

    • "Top 10 Literary Myths"

      As part of an ongoing Digital Humanities project, we will be creating a new entry for my educational video channel dedicated to literary scholarship.  The channel, “Tube O’ Theory,” currently has over 1,650 international subscribers on YouTube alone (  It is also broadcast on Vimeo.  The most recent entry, for example, is a walkthrough and “close reading” of Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use.” These are not mere “talking head” videos: they are tightly scripted and carefully crafted visual productions.  

      The project we will be working on is an attempt to make the channel more accessible to a broader audience with a video on “Top Ten Literary Myths.” No specialized knowledge or skills are required, but the project will involve some training in Photoshop,, and the Adobe Premiere Pro video editor.  The student’s primary task, however, will be to research images and film clips that will be relevant to the video’s discussion of literary matters ranging from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the question of “subjective” interpretation, Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote,” and dystopian fiction.  Whereas previous entries in the channel have had a methodical pace -- mostly due to the complex issues of literary and linguistic theory they elaborate -- this production will have a much faster tempo and more comic tone.  But because the final product will still be about half an hour in length, the faster pace and longer script will require many more images, clips and special visual effects than are usual for the channel.

      This project will primarily be of interest to students interested in both literary studies and the technical challenges of bringing such research to a general audience in an engaging way.  

    • Aside from basic skills in research, literary analysis and digital literacy, the student joining this experiential learning project will learn an important aspect of multimodal composition: how to make both rhetorical and analytical statements using words and images in concert. They will also come away with the practical skills of creating and manipulating images, coordinating them with a scripted soundtrack, and editing video.

    • The studen's weekly duties will be to meet with me once (remotely) to discuss the project's current "scene" and literary subject, and then to find, collect, modify and create relevant visual material in the intervals between meetings.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Gabrielle Jones, media and entertainment

    • Women Genre Writers in Film and Television

      In this project, students will research women’s work in writing for film and television. Students will research some of the top-ranked films (and series) in each decade and the genres where women have found the most success. Students working on this project will be searching for interesting women writers whose work was influential, well-received, or in some way intriguing in retrospect, but whose names are not commonplace to those who create, consume, or analyze film and television.

      Student scholars will compile genres or categories of films or television shows that women often wrote for (e.g., soaps, afterschool specials, teen movies, rom-coms, romance) and gather information about the most compelling women from each decade.

      This is an excellent opportunity for students with an interest in film and television, screenwriting, or women’s representation in media to explore online archives and obtain critical research skills. Students should be comfortable working independently and under faculty supervision and should be willing and eager to conduct most research on their own.

      *Here are some interesting statistics about women’s work writing for film and television in the past few years:
      •2018: women accounted for 16% of all writers working on the 250 top-grossing films.
      •2019: women accounted for 19% of all writers working on the 250 top-grossing films.
      •2017-2018: women accounted for 25% of all writers working on broadcast network programs
      •2018-2019: women accounted for 35% of all writers working on broadcast network programs

      *Data from San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s Celluloid Ceiling Report and Boxed-In Report.

    • Students will learn how to:

      • Conduct scholarly research using online archives and databases
      • Compile data in an organized, easily accessible format
      • Critically analyze films and television shows (and their screenplays)
      • Review previous research and synthesize findings
      • Summarize research findings in written and oral presentations
    • Weekly duties may include:

      • Locating and reviewing previous research on women screenwriters
      • Conducting new research through online databases and archives
      • Viewing and analyzing films and TV shows, or reading screenplays
      • Compiling research and summarizing findings
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Mireya Garcia-Cortez, political science

    • Joking, Juries, and Jurisprudence: Informal Communication in a Formal Workplace Setting

      This project explores the use of humor to cope with workplace stress, particularly the legal profession. For the purpose of this project, the legal profession has been narrowed to the courtroom. Furthermore, we are interested in how judges, court reporters, and attorneys communicate to cope. The courtroom is a tense workplace. Humor has long been studied as a coping mechanism in a variety of demanding and emotionally draining work scenarios. The litigation field (courtroom law) has a high burnout rate. This project would frame an argument that informal communication and humor serve as survival skills to persevere in a challenging profession.

    • The student will...

      • gather library sources via databases or stacks.
      • demonstrate an effective research article summaries
      • gain basic knowledge of the day to day courtroom workplace
      • distinguish qualitative data collection methods (i.e. document analysis, interviewing, observations, and surveys.)
      • create a poster and present at the KSU symposium and submit to present at the Eastern Communication Association Undergraduate Scholar Conference
      1. gather literature and documents for analysis
      2. observe court proceedings
      3. analysis and conversations about lessons learned
      4. meet weekly to assess progress and set goals for the next week
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: HyunJin (Eunice) Baek, psychology

    • Self-driving cars are coming but you still need driver-training programs

      [Summary: Self-driving cars are already on the road. However, they are not perfect. Human drivers are still responsible for monitoring the driving status of the vehicle and step in when it is necessary. Therefore, experts point the importance of research on effective monitoring of the driving status by human drivers and smooth transfer of control from a vehicle to the driver. In this driving-simulator project, we will examine how human drivers behave when self-driving cars are malfunctioning. Specifically, we will identify (1) the signs of malfunctioning/incapability of the self-driving cars that are frequently missed by human drivers and (2) undesirable responses that human drivers make when they attempt to regain control of the vehicle. Finally, we will (3) generate a list of recommendations for a driver-training program that improves the monitoring/handling ability of drivers.]

      Developing a driver-training program for safer use of motor vehicles has evident importance considering the noticeably high fatality on the road: for example, an average of 101 people was killed in motor vehicle crashes per day in 2018. Motor vehicle fatality is also the leading cause of accident death among adolescents. This research project was developed to reduce fatality on the road in the era of self-driving cars.

      A self-driving car is a vehicle that can sense its environment and perform the dynamic driving task with little or no human input. As an example of the self-driving technology, a driverless-taxi service has been commercialized in the Phoenix metropolitan area since December 2018. As expected, the technology has been developed with a promise of offering safer and convenient travel. However, such promises have been betrayed by fatal crashes and unexpected handover of vehicle control from the car to the human driver especially when the driving conditions are difficult to handle.

      In the field of aviation, although the autopilot technology has been developed decades ago, human pilots are still required to monitor the status of the airplane and step in when it is necessary. Similarly, human drivers of self-driving cars are expected to recognize the signs of malfunctioning/incapability of the car and skillfully step in when it is necessary. However, there is not enough research for improving such abilities of human drivers.

      In this project, we will examine how human drivers behave when self-driving cars are malfunctioning using driving simulators with a steering wheel and brake/accelerator pedals. The simulators will present various scenarios of malfunctioning/incapability of the self-driving technology on computer screens where each scenario includes unique signs of the malfunctioning. Participant drivers will be asked to monitor the driving status of the car and step in when they believe it is necessary.

      We will identify 1) the frequently missed signs of malfunctioning/incapability of self-driving cars and 2) desirable/undesirable reaction patterns of human drivers when they unexpectedly step in and control the vehicle. Finally, we will 3) generate a list of recommendations for developing a driver-training program that improves the drivers ability to recognize critical signs of incapability of self-driving cars and how to react in such scenarios.

    • By participating in the project, the first-year scholars will:

      • Learn the basics of programming language for building a self-driving-car simulator that could be also useful for generating any computer-based experiments*.
      • Have hands-on experiences of collecting and analyzing data from human participants.
      • Have experience of presenting the data via conferences or research papers.

      *Regarding the first learning outcome, students will learn a game-programming language called Unity. Unity is one of the most widely used programming languages for 2D/3D video games as well as virtual-reality games. Notably, many psychological experiments and video games have commonalities (e.g., presenting target objects on a computer screen and scoring human performance based on speed and accuracy). Therefore, the benefits of learning this game language are not limited to a certain domain such as computer science. Students from social sciences would find the value of learning this specific programming language and conducting human experiments using the language. Therefore, the project welcomes students from any fields who want to work on safer use of the self-driving technology that requires interdisciplinary efforts.

    •  There are predetermined monthly goals as shown below. Student scholars will set weekly goals individually to achieve these monthly goals. Their progress will be evaluated by the faculty throught weekly meetings:

      Stage 1 (approximately 2 months):

      • Completing online training in ethics
      • Assisting in the completion of IRB proposals
      • Searching databases to identify relevant research
      • Reading and evaluating research articles
      • Writing article summaries

      Stage 2 (approximately 3 months):

      • Familiarizing themselves with the programming language (Unity and C#)
      • Reading manuals / taking online tutorials for the software packages
      • Writing brief reports / make brief presentations on software and techniques

      Stage 3 (approximately 3 months):

      • Facilitating data collection
      • Performing data analyses using statistical software
      • Assisting in the reporting of results (e.g., poster presentation)

      *The scholars will complete a reflection of their experience both mid-way through a semester and at the end of the semester.