Texas Tech University

Spring 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference

College of Media & Communication

April 4, 2019

Undergrad Research Fair Whittenburg Presenting

Three undergraduate students from the College of Media & Communication were recently selected to participate in the 11th Annual Texas Tech University Undergraduate Research Conference, April 2-3.

Sydney Brammer, a senior communication studies major from Lake Jackson, Texas, Taylor Plate, a junior public relations major from Allen, Texas, and Cari Whittenburg, a senior communication studies major from San Angelo, Texas, were chosen to present their research at this year's conference with subject areas ranging from human trafficking to political storytelling and the Mob Museum.

Undergrad Research Fair Cari Whittenburg
(Cari Whittenburg presents her research at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference.)

“We like to think that being engaged in research, in general, is a transformative experience for our students,” said Glenn Cummins, Ph.D., associate dean for research and grants in CoMC.

“For some of them, it sparks an interest or passion for something they may not have known about. A lot of students don't know what research looks like in communication, so taking part in this conference really helps broaden their horizons,” he added.

Undergraduate research conference
(Taylor Plate speaks with a conference attendee.)

Whittenburg, one of the CoMC representatives, agreed. 

“This has been the greatest undergraduate experience,” she said. “I have been able to learn so much about rhetorical criticism and have had a great time studying this space.”

Taylor Plate CoMC Student
(Taylor Plate presents her research at the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference.)

Each student was mentored by a CoMC faculty member. Whittenburg was partnered with Brian Ott, Ph.D., professor of communication studies and director of the TTU Press. 

“I think the URC provided undergraduate students with an invaluable opportunity to present their research in a public forum. Research is intended to contribute to knowledge and (it is) crucial that we share that knowledge,” he said. “It is especially rewarding to see an undergraduate student engaged in that kind of work.” 

Hosted by the Center for Transformative Undergraduate Experiences and one of the largest events of its kind in the nation, this year's conference was part of a weeklong celebration of research, innovation and startups, according to the website.

More than 300 students from across campus were invited to participate and share research in their specialties, which included poster and oral presentations, artistic performances and visual art exhibits.   

Undergrad Research Fair Whittenburg and Cummins
(Cari Whittenburg, a senior communication studies student speaks with Glenn Cummins, Ph.D., the associate dean for research and grants in CoMC.)

For those undergrads who would like to get involved next year, Cummins suggested talking to their instructors and asking questions. 

“That's all research is — asking questions and then finding answers,” he said. “Some students do work directly one-on-one with a faculty mentor; some work in teams. It can take a lot of forms, and communication research covers so many topics. There are many ways for students to gain first-hand experience.” 

Whittenburg agreed.

“The only way I could have had this experience was because I got help from Dr. Ott who mentored me throughout the process,” she said. “Professors at Tech want to see their students succeed and will help them accomplish their goals.”


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