As an aspiring communications professor, I am constantly on the lookout for the next research project I can take part in. It’s not just to build my CV (although that does account for some motivation); I also love to learn. I first decided to go into journalism because someone told me that when you’re a journalist you’re a life learner. So I tried being a journalist, but soon I realized that many of the stories that I wanted to write weren’t really story ideas; they were research ideas. Once accepted the idea that I missed homework and would rather spend my days researching, I applied for a master’s program in mass communications at Brigham Young University. And I love it. My research interests include social networks, technology and culture, critical theory, computer mediated communication, political communication, qualitative research, intercultural communications, health communication, media effects, quantitative research, and media ecology. (Is that everything?)  

Below I will include some of the research I’m involved in.

Master’s thesis: The Visual Communication of Asian American Influencers’ Identity on Instagram

While much of Asian American media research covers film, television, blogs, and YouTube, little to no research looks at new social media platforms and Asian Americans’ use of them. Thus, I am analyzing through content analysis the predominant features of Asian American mega influencers’ (more than one million followers) visual communication on Instagram to understand what visuals communicate to a wider audience. This research will provide insight into how to reach Asian Americans through images on Instagram—be that by nonprofits, governments, or marketing agencies.

Representing Race: The Race Spectrum Subjectivity of Diversity in Film

This research paper was inspired by Coco, The Black Panther, and Crazy Rich Asians collectively for the racial representation of the actors. Because of the hype, I wanted to know how people felt about this issue. I co-authored this paper and am now preparing it for the Q methodology conference.
Abstract: Racial representation in Hollywood is a hot topic—one that will persist as long as the United States exists as a diverse society and the media pushes the agenda. In recent years, after the social media activism of #OscarsSoWhite, actors of color have been more visibly recognized for their contributions in Hollywood. In order to understand how people from all major racial groups in the United States feel about racial representation in film, this study employed Q methodology to assess the motivations, attitudes, and opinions of individuals on this issue. Four factors were identified: (1) balanced critics, (2) storyline devotees, (3) tolerant learners, (4) grounded advocates. These four groups of people with common opinions on diversity in film represent a spectrum on perceptions of race, from colorblind to anti-racist. This study provides context rather than theoretical arguments on the perceptions of and implications of a diversifying Hollywood. 

The Globalization Framing of World Leaders’ Views on Immigration on Instagram

After studying global communication, I co-authored a paper on how world leaders (Jair Bolsonaro, Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump) frame themselves on Instagram when it comes to immigration. Do they frame themselves as globalists or as nationalists? Through understanding this framing of these world leaders, potential immigrants are provided a fuller picture of the immigration environment of the country (beyond solely what the media portrays). Currently, this paper is being prepared for a conference. 

Brazilian Immigrants in American: Mental Health Communication Online

This project is more of a pet project, one that I will be gathering data for in Fall 2019. When I worked in mental health, I saw how difficult it was for both native English speakers as well as immigrants to navigate information about healthcare and benefits. In addition to that, I learned there are cultural stigmas that keep immigrants from seeking mental health resources. Thus, to bridge the gap, I plan to complete research on understanding how immigrants access and perceive mental health communication online so that I can (in the future) create a non-profit organization that provides general information on the U.S. healthcare system (specifically related to behavioral health) and more culturally-focused information dealing with stigmas toward mental health. I plan to start with Brazilian immigrants due to my experience with this population. 

The Appeal of Using GIFs for Communication Purposes

Our society is moving toward digital communication but still desires to replicate in-person communicative action—and GIFs are one way people do that. But why do people like using GIFs? It’s not just because they’re funny, if that’s what you were thinking. Much of the current GIF research relies on the analysis of GIFs as texts rather than on the input of the general population that uses GIFs. Thus, using Q methodology, my co-authors and I discovered three distinct groups of GIF users based on similarities in attitudes, opinions, and motivations. Currently, I am preparing the paper for the Q methodology conference. 

Sexting: Parental Communication With Children & the Third-Person Effect

I am a research assistant for a large data project on the state of sexting as viewed through the lens of parents. Sexting is not a new concept, but it has gained traction since 2012 and become a larger issue in middle schools and high schools. The resulting research papers will cover topics that can provide parents with context on how their perceptions about sexting could result in a lack of understanding about sexting, which could in turn affect whether they provide their children with information on sexting (and related issues such as cyberbullying, privacy issues, and legal implications).

Project M.E.D.I.A.

Project M.E.D.I.A (Media Effects on Development from Infancy to Adulthood) is a longitudinal research study in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University (Sarah M. Coyne, Project Director). It’s aim is to understand how digital natives are affected by growing up surrounded by the media. I have contributed by co-writing one paper and am currently editing other papers derived from this data set.