Rachel Berson, a junior communications studies and political science double major, and Grace Rogers, a junior communication studies major, will both present their undergraduate research at this year's National Communication Association convention. The Klein College of Media and Communication students, who are close friends, are both previous student participants in Temple University's Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity (formerly TURF-CreWS) and DePauw University's National Undergraduate Honors Conference for Communication and Theatre.

Berson's research interests include social and political activism and rhetorical criticism. Two of her papers have been accepted to the convention, with one to be discussed in a panel and the other to be presented in a poster session. Her panel research focuses on a video of Richard Spencer, an alt-right publisher, getting punched by a protester. The video plays "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen, which Berson argues suggests an alternative point of view about the punch that differs from mainstream media. Her poster session centers on a content analysis of media that portrays characters on the autism spectrum, for which she watched television shows including The Big Bang Theory and The Good Doctor.

Berson says it was not easy to determine what research she wanted to do, but relied on her interests. She came across the Spencer video on Twitter, while her idea for studying autistic characters came to her after watching a show recommended to her by her mom.

"I had a really hard time coming up with these topics," she says. "[But] I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to do something that was a little bit outside of the box."

Similarly, Rogers focused her research on stereotypes. Her paper, which will be presented in the same poster session as Berson's, is a content analysis of stereotypes of Asian Americans in 21st century television. She conducted her research by watching one episode of three different television shows that feature Asian American actors. She credits writing her paper to getting her interested in research, and is excited to network and learn more about research from the convention attendees.

"That's definitely something I'm looking forward to, is getting to meet other students who are interested in the same possible careers goals that I am, the same types of research that I am," she says. "I'm also looking forward to expanding my knowledge of different communications graduate programs that exist." 

NCA is the largest scholarly association dedicated to the study of communication. The NCA convention will be held from November 14-17 in Baltimore, Maryland.