Communication Studies

Faculty Mentor: Amanda Nell Edgar

Faculty Mentor's Department: Communication & Film

Contact Information: 785-826-7024; anedgar@memphis.edu

Project Description: Dr. Andre Johnson and Dr. Amanda Nell Edgar are beginning work on a follow-up project to their award-winning book, The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. This project will continue their work interviewing members of the Black Lives Matter social movement to understand their thoughts, motivations, understandings, and strategies.

They are seeking an undergraduate research assistant who can help to schedule and conduct interviews over the phone. An additional research assistant may be hired to help transcribe the audio interviews.

Requirements for Student Applicants: For scheduling and interviewing -- the applicant does *not* need previous experience or training in interviewing, but should be personable and enthusiastic, and a good conversationalist. Applicants should also be well organized and able to set and stick to a schedule. Applicants should have some interest in Black Lives Matter.

For transcription -- the applicant should be a fast typist and reasonable good with technology.

Application or Interview Process: Interested students should submit a general work resume, a cover letter explaining their interest in the project

Hours per Week the Student Will Work: Flexible

Starting Date: January 2021

Method of Compensation:  Volunteer

Faculty Mentor: Miriam van Mersbergen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Faculty Mentor's Department: School of Communication Sciences and Disorders - Speech Language Pathology

Contact Information: Miriam.van.Mersbergen@memphis.edu; 901.678.4474

Project Description: We all have experienced the phenomenon where we can know a person's state of being just by listening to their voice.  The voice is a powerful communicator of our thought and emotions and when it cannot effectively transmit this information, communication breakdowns occur.  The Voice Emotion and Cognition Laboratory investigates the relationship between emotional and cognitive processes and voice production. The laboratory has on-going projects investigating the neural responses (measured with brain waves or electroencephalography) individuals have when they make vocal mistakes. Understanding how individuals react to their own mistakes can lead to a better understanding of how people develop voice disorders. In addition, the laboratory actively studies how individuals perceive themselves by the sound of their voice and how individuals rate the amount of effort it takes to use ones voice.  Understanding these processes can help those with difficulties using their voice and assist those who use their voice heavily (like teachers) in optimizing their voice use.

Requirements for Student Applicants: This laboratory employs psychological paradigms and measures and is well-suited for the psychology student or students studying cognitive neuroscience.  In addition, students with biology, communication, sociology backgrounds, music and theater majors and minors- particularly those with an interest in voice are well suited for work in this lab. Students interested in the application of biomedical engineering products or gaining clinical skills measuring physiological data (i.e. pre-med) are also welcome. Skills required for this lab include the ability 1) to communicate effectively with participants, 2) to learn data organization and processing techniques using Excel, SPSS, and R, 3) to organize schedules for participants, and 4) engage in research training through CITI and other on-line tutorials.  GPAs higher than 3.0 are preferred.

Application or Interview Process: Students should submit a cover letter, letter of reference from one faculty member who was their primary instructor, and unofficial transcripts.  Following the review of application materials, a personal interview may be set up to assess level of interest and fit in the laboratory. Hours per week the student will work: 10 hours per week minimum.  If the student wishes to work more than 10 hours per week, this should be mentioned in the cover letter.

Start Date: Ongoing

Method of Compensation: Volunteer

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joy Goldsmith

Faculty Mentor's Department: Communication

Contact Information: 706-994-6983; jvgldsmt@memphis.edu

Project Description: HIV prevalence in Shelby county, TN is drastically high compared with the national average. Memphis is currently number 8 in US urban centers in the acquisition of HIV. HIV prevalence can be at least partially attributed to low health literacy. Health literacy is defined as "the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions" (CDC, 2017). In this project, we aim to enhance individuals' health literacy and mitigate the acquisition rate of HIV by providing peer-to-peer education about PrEP (an HIV prophylactic medication). In a team partnership with LeBonheur Community Well Being, we are collecting data throughout the spring of 2018 to explore how peer education is perceived and whether or not the interaction leads participants to pursue HIV testing and medical care. The honor student will be integrated into the research team and assist in project oversight and data processing. This project is expected to have 300+ participants and produce two manuscripts and two national presentations.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Strong interests in healthcare and/or health communication, or social science research.

Application process: Cover letter and unofficial transcripts.

Hours per week the student will work: 10h/w or by negotiation

Start Date: Immediately

Method of Compensation:  Volunteer

Name of the Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sachiko Terui

Faculty Mentor's Department: Communication

Contact Information: 901-678-3171; sterui@memphis.edu  

Project Description: Health literacy is one of the core interests in health communication and public health due to its strong correlations with quality of care and health outcomes. CDC (2017) defines health literacy as ""the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions". Patients with lower health literacy tend to experience lower quality of healthcare, stay longer in hospitals, and face adverse health outcomes compared to their counterparts. Our current project addresses the issue of health literacy, its definition, and how it is measured. More specifically, we examine how communication among multiple stakeholders relationally influences patients' and their caregivers' health literacy. We have been conducting in-depth interviews with patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals since the fall of 2017. The student will have opportunities in collecting and analyzing interview data. Central to this project are several cross-disciplinary relationships that converge in the Center for Health Literacy and Health Communication, housed in the Communication Department. Community Partners and core faculty are team members that will interact with the honor student who may serve on this project. 

Requirements for Student Applicants: Strong interests in healthcare and/or health communication, or social science.

Application process: Cover letter and unofficial transcripts.

Hours per week the student will work: 20h/w or by negotiation.

Start Date: Immediately.

Method of Compensation:  Volunteer

Name of the Faculty Mentor: Andre E. Johnson

Faculty Mentor's Department: Communication

Contact Information: ajohnsn6@memphis.edu  

Project Description: My current and ongoing research project focus on collecting and editing the speeches and writings of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915). My research aims to introduce Turner to scholars of (African) American public address and a research assistant will help me in three major ways. First, a research assistant will assist me on the current collection and publication of the "Literary Archive of Henry McNeal Turner (Mellen Press). Second, a research assistant will assist me with the publication of a "Turner Reader." Tentatively titled "The Press, the Platform, and the Pulpit: The Speeches and Writings of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner. Third, a research assistant will assist me in maintaining a digital archival platform. Titled the Henry McNeal Turner Project, the aim here is to collect not only the speeches and writings of Turner but writings and research about Turner

Skills: Comfortable with social media application and online research platforms. Interest in African American rhetoric and the Black Church is preferable.

Hours per week: 15

Starting Date: Immediately

Method of Compensation: Volunteer

Name of the Faculty Mentor: Craig Stewart

Faculty Mentor's Department: Communication

Contact Information: Craig.Stewart@memphis.edu 

Project Description - This project is a study of the discourse of populism in U.S. political communication. There are two major components. First is a computational textual analysis of political speeches in recent U.S. presidential campaigns. The research assistant will be involved in creating custom dictionaries for this quantitative analysis. The second is a qualitative analysis, particularly focusing on Donald Trump's speeches and comments during the 2016 campaign. This will involve qualitative coding of these texts using the web-based tool Dedoose.

Requirements for Student Applicants - Communication, English, Psychology, Political Science, or Sociology majors. Coursework in research methods. Junior or Senior standing.

Application or Interview Process - Cover letter, resume, contact information for references from two professors

Hours per week the student will work - 10 hours/week

Start Date - Immediately

Method of Compensation: Volunteer