While many students opt to take a break from academics over the summer, three School of Media and Communication students are working on research or creative projects as part of the Diamond Research Scholars Program.
The program, overseen by the Temple University Provost’s Office, requires that students participate in the two-day Undergraduate Research Institute, devote ten weeks during the summer to develop a research project in their area of interest under the direction of their faculty mentor, and complete the project during the fall semester while registered for an independent study/research course.
A taxing project
Shilpa Soundararajan, a senior from Narberth, Pa., is a double major in communications and political science. As her majors might hint, she’s fascinated with the relationship between government and the news media and how the one entity can directly impact the actions of the other. Soundararajan feels this symbiotic relationship has shown itself in Philadelphia, with city council twice voting down a tax on soda.
Her research, which is just beginning, starts with a question: What was the news media’s role in the failure of this tax proposal? She is collecting as many news clips as she can from newspapers, TV outlets and the internet. While she hasn’t yet analyzed the coverage in depth, Soundararajan already has noticed a trend in the media coverage.
“For the most part, it’s neutral, but there was a large focus on the protests,” she says, resulting in more of the negative impacts of the tax being covered.
She’ll expand her research later this summer by interviewing government officials.
This is Soundararajan’s first major research project—a task she wanted to take on to see how much she liked the process to see if a higher degree might be in her future.
“I wanted to get as much experience in as many fields and in as many places as I can,” she says.
Writing a pilot
While Soundararajan is busy analyzing the writing of others, media studies and production major Kaitlin Reilly from Syosset, N.Y., is focused on writing her own work.
With aspirations to one day become a television writer, Reilly is penning a pilot for a yet-to-be titled mystery show.
“I started off initially wanting to write a family drama — but I realized quickly that the subject on its own felt a little ‘done.’ I started looking at current programming and what interested me,” Reilly says. “I started reading other pilots. I realized that many of the shows that I was attracted to built themselves around a mystery. There were still intense familial relationships, but they plot was more intriguing than what I initially wanted.”
Throughout the writing process, Reilly will be examining other creative works.
“This includes reading other television pilots, but also includes reading books and watching films and TV shows,” she says. “Basically the idea is to see how people took similar concepts and what they did with them. I want to build upon what is already out there, but also create something original.”
Research built around interests
The third SMC Diamond Scholar, media studies and production major Kathryn Antonelli, a senior from Cranston, R.I., is working with Associate Professor Jack Klotz on a project entitled “Producing Representations: Independent Bands and the Recording Process.”
“My project is concerned specifically with exploring how Philadelphia-area independent artists make choices about how to represent themselves through their music in recorded format versus at their live performances,” she says.
An honors student, Antonelli was inspired to take on the project by her research methods course with Professor Laura Levitt.
“She encouraged me to try doing research within my intended field of music engineering and production rather than follow a random prompt, and so I ended up finding a sort of budding area of inquiry into the study of the production process itself, rather than the study of music theory,” she says.