Media Effects Research Group – 2018

Posted by on Nov 27, 2018 in Cover Stories, MEL Notes Blog | 0 comments

The Media Effects Research Group is designed to provide students with the research skills necessary to conduct both scholarly and professional work in the mass communication field. This year’s team consists of three graduate students, Anthony Ciaramella (first-year Ph.D.), Rachel Italiano (first-year Ph.D.) and Hope Hickerson (first-year master’s). The group is led by Manship School faculty advisors Dr. Meghan Sanders and Dr. Chun Yang.

What motivated you to join the research group?

Rachel: I joined the research group because I wanted to learn more about media effects and running experiments. As a first-year PhD student, I want try different things and learn as much as I can, and I thought that joining the Media Effects research group would be a good place to start!

Hope: As a new graduate student, I was looking for ways to get involved to help me figure out what area of communication I want to focus on. Plus, the Media Effects Lab sounded so cool that I had to give it a shot!

Anthony: I am interested in media effects research, so I joined the group. I think it’s a great way to work on papers outside of class and hopefully get work published. I want to be a professor, so I think its good experience to see what the process looks like and get to work closely with professors. Getting to attend different conferences and showcase your work is another reason why I joined.


What projects are the research group currently working on? 

Rachel: Right now we’re working on a project involving socially conscious media, such as the Black Panther movie. We’re envisioning this as a three-part process that starts with a survey and then moves to experiments. We just finished submitting two extended abstracts for the first two parts of the project to a conference. The survey part of the process is also currently up and running, so we’re well on our way to completing our project!


What is the process for developing a new project?

Rachel: We started this project by just bouncing around different ideas during one of our meetings. Dr. Sanders and Dr. Yang guided the discussion and had some ideas to start us off as well. After we settled on the idea of socially conscious media, we spent several meetings hammering out the details, especially the design of the project.


How has the research group benefitted you in your personal academic endeavors? 

Hope: As a newbie that hasn’t taken all of the research and theory classes yet, the research group has been super enlightening and making me aware of how much I have yet to learn. It’s helped me to see that there are so many aspects of communication; way more than I anticipated. It’s exciting.

Anthony: The research group is a great way to learn about the publication process. It has given me great insight into how to collaborate on academic work with others. Once I start applying for jobs, I’m confident my work in this group will benefit me as an applicant and in my own academic career.


How do the faculty advisors contribute to the group? 

Anthony: Dr. Sanders and Dr. Yang are great. They help guide the process along and make sure we stay focused; their experience is invaluable. They help delegate the work for the group and point us in the right direction if we get stuck. They are the perfect combination of help while not being overbearing so we are still learning a lot individually.

Hope: They are instrumental in the forward movement of the group. They are also very open to feedback and ideas and gave us the autonomy to guide the research focus of the group.


What is the most challenging part of being in the research group? 

Hope: Not knowing all of the research lingo, structure, or designs yet. I sometimes feel like the little kid sister running behind my older and wiser siblings, but no one makes me feel out of place or that my ideas don’t have merit just because I’m brand new in the program.

Anthony: The research group is a fun challenge. It’s an extra-curricular so there is more work outside of class. I think it’s important to balance the workload, but it’s a ton of fun. I personally need to work on my academic writing, so I think that is the most challenging part, but also why I joined the group. I know being in the group will help make me a better researcher.


Why should students consider joining the Media Effects Research Group?

Rachel: In general, I’d encourage other students to join any research group. It’s a great way to learn new things and apply them in a more relaxed setting than a classroom. Research groups are also good ways for students to collaborate with others and build their networks, which will help them in their future endeavors.

Hope: It’s a great way to get to know other students and professors in a way that wouldn’t be afforded to you only in a class setting.

Anthony: It’s a fun process getting to create research and watch it grow from where the idea starts. It looks great on a resume, you get to attend conferences and hopefully have your work published. Everyone in the group contributes something. It’s a great group of people to work with and we are doing some exciting stuff. We like to have fun too.


If you are interested in joining MERG, please contact:

Dr. Meghan Sanders –

Dr. Chun Yang –

Original photo by Thomas William.