Some students presenting work at the 14th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on Saturday at the Kansas Union chose some very sophisticated academic topics.
Posters scattered around the Union addressed issues such as “Mechanical Analysis of Poly (Ethylene Glycol) Diacrylate and Agarose Interpenetrating Network Hydrogels.”
But communications studies and journalism senior Morgan Cheeseman went a different way, designing her project around the hit TV show “Jersey Shore.”
“Anything you’re interested in could be turned into a research topic,” said Cheeseman, who was selected as one of three students to present their research at the beginning of the symposium.
The goal of the event, said Mark Daly, associate director of undergraduate research, was to bring together a wide range of university topics.
“We have everything from aerospace engineering to painting,” he said.
Cheeseman’s unique research examined the communication effects of “Jersey Shore” and she found that viewers often weren’t necessarily watching for the show’s artistic qualities. Rather, they didn’t want to be left out in certain social situations.
“One of the primary motivations for watching ‘Jersey Shore’ is to be able to talk about it,” she said. “If they hear someone talk about it and they can’t contribute, they feel excluded.”
Participating in the symposium helped her learn about the technical aspects of research, Cheeseman said. She’ll be taking a sales consulting job when she graduates in May and doesn’t plan on continuing her research into the show, but she said she hopes that other researchers may take up where she left off.
“I want to leave my mark somehow,” she said.