Student Research and Creativity Conference

Communication as a discipline is ever-evolving. By engaging in research, creative, and professional activities, you are at the forefront of these changes. This forum not only showcases what you have learned in your classes or student clubs, but also celebrates the role that you, as students, scholars, and artists, are playing in this evolution.

Student: Alexis Abramo
Major: Television & Film Arts
TitleHue Perspective
Class: COM 340 Photojournalism
Faculty Mentor: Michael I. Niman
Note: Alexis asks that you view the webpage at your own pace as you listen to this audio file (mp3, 5.27MB).

Student: Omar Avent
Major: Journalism
TitlePKG Students in Quarantine
Class: COM 338 Electronic News Reporting
Faculty Mentor: Ellen Notarius

Student: Stephanie Delo
Major: Public Relations
TitleSchooling During COVID-19 (PPT, 6MB)
Class: COM 340 Photojournalism
Faculty Mentor: Michael I Niman

Student: Teddi Hastreiter
Major: Media Production / Philosophy
TitleBeing (Nature in Pandemic Times)
Class: COM 340 Photojournalism
Faculty Mentor: Michael I. Niman

Student: Elijah Hirschfelt
Major: Media Production
TitleTransfiguration Church Renovation (PPT, 31MB)
Class: COM 340 Photojournalism
Faculty Mentor: Michael I. Niman

Student: Peter Kazmierczak
Major: Communication Studies
TitleImplementing Covid Regulations at Local Music Businesses (PDF, 35MB)
Class: COM 340 Photojournalism
Faculty Mentor: Michael I. Niman

Student: Jennie Mauk
Major: Journalism
TitlePKG Artist Murals
Class: COM 338 Electronic News Reporting
Faculty Mentor: Ellen Notarius

Student: Jenna Maul
Major: Communication Studies
TitleQuarantine Thanksgiving (PDF, 41MB)
Class: COM 340 Photojournalism
Faculty Mentor: Michael I. Niman

Name: Joseph Morganti
Major: Journalism
TitlePKG Music Industry Struggles
Class: COM 338 Electronic News Reporting
Faculty Mentor: Ellen Notarius

Name: Angelea Preston
Major: Journalism
TitlePKG Womens’ March
Class: COM 338 Electronic News Reporting
Faculty Mentor: Ellen Notarius

Name: Jonathan Schultz
Major: Journalism
TitlePKG Small Business Impact
Class: COM 338 Electronic News Reporting
Faculty Mentor: Ellen Notarius

 

Student: Andrew DiMartino
Major: Journalism 
TitleTrump’s Rhetoric in the Oval Office: The Influence of the 45th President (PDF, 168KB)
Class: SPC 333 Race, Class, & Gender in Media
Faculty Mentor: Michael I. Niman

Student: Branden Rivers
Major: Communication Studies
TitleThe Rise and "Fall" of White Supremacy, the Culture Wars, and the Gleam of Diamond Joe (PDF, 900KB)
Class: SPC 333 Race, Class and Gender in Media
Faculty Mentor: Michael I Niman

Student: Ashley Adams
Major: Data Science
Title: Apple Watch v. Garmin: Which One Runs Better?
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

Training for a half marathon takes dedication, accuracy, and improvement. As I am training for my second half marathon, I often look for ways to measure my dedication, accuracy, and to improve my performance day by day and week by week. I depend on my Apple Watch to measure different variables during and after runs. For example, the distance I run a day and at what speed is important for training to ensure I am not only building endurance but decreasing the amount of time it takes to complete each mile. To maximize my tracking accuracy, I conducted research that analyzes runners’ reviews and comments from YouTube videos comparing the Apple and Garmin fitness watches and tweets from Twitter from everyday users of the products. I collectively scraped 1,500 comments between Twitter and YouTube. Combing through these, I was able to breakdown the scraped comments into four main categories and labeled them positive, negative, or neutral based on their content. From the research and analysis, I was able to conclude that the Apple Watch technology is behind and lacking when compared to Garmin. However, from a holistic approach the Apple Watch is more suitable for everyday use and is the market leader. I believe that Apple will catch up to Garmin’s technology and depending on your preferences this analysis will breakdown which watch suits you better.


 

Student: Elise Addeo
Major: Communication
Title: The True Cost of Recycling in Buffalo
Class: COM 447 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

How much does income level affect the amount of recycling that a household does? Based on previous research, products that are manufactured with their carbon footprint in mind are more expensive in nature.  While eco-friendly products are shown to be more expensive, people with the intention of reducing their environmental impact are more likely to recycle. In many towns, it also costs a fee to have your recycling collected. From this information it seems that these measures may be preventing lower-income families from reducing their environmental impact. This study will examine the amount of recycling that is done by a household based on their income levels. This study will use open data available on income levels in Buffalo, NY, as well as the amount of recycling by pound that is also tracked on Open Data Buffalo. At the time of preparing this abstract, I believe that the higher income households will recycle more than the lower income households. From this study, the audience can expect to have a better understanding of how money might be affecting households from reducing their carbon footprints.


 

Student: Uwasota Ayanru
Major: Data Science
Title: Is Artificial Intelligence Becoming Unethical?
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

This research focuses on the implementation of artificial intelligence in our everyday lives. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a relatively new branch of computer science. A tremendous amount of effort has gone into research associated with understanding biological systems, analyzing data to identify trends or genetic information that would predispose someone to a particular disease, analyzing data to help businesses make better decisions for the companies, or even just developing practical applications of AI since the year 2000. The goal of this science is to help make our everyday lives and tasks much simpler. However, we must be careful with creation of artificial intelligence especially when it comes to how well it can begin to predict information. The research that is being done will give us a better understanding on where most people stand today based on the sample taken. Social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter were used for this project. Comments were gathered from posts and videos that spoke upon the topic of artificial intelligence, more specifically machine learning. The research concluded the importance of not violating people’s privacy. Certain information does not need to be collected. We need to monitor and stick to exactly what we said we were going to use the machine learning model for. Lastly the big issue lies with the people in charge that requested these models be created.


Student: Alantay Bell
Major: Business Administration
Title: Race, Class, and Gender in Political Campaigns
Class: SPC 333 Race, Class, and Gender in Media
Faculty Mentor: Michael I Niman

This paper explores topics from the 1800s to the present regarding to how race, gender, and class affect Americans through political campaigns. For centuries people of color rebelled against oppression and have been vilified and abused by the criminal justice system, including through biased police enforcement and other forms of systematic/institutionalized racism. For the victims, these centuries of trauma could then turn into self-hate, with victims believing that they are the problem and/or threat. At the same time, women’s voices are silenced, undervalued, and their bodies objectified. There has never been a woman president and there is a historic lack of women senators, members of congress and, until 2020, there has never been a woman as vice president in the United States. Muslims/Arabs do not get the opportunity to live the way they want without facing bigotry and stereotypes. Undocumented immigrants are threatened with exiled and/or separation from their families. Mexicans are falsely accused of crime. African Americans are derided as “dangerous.” My paper explores the impact of political campaigns on our understanding of these issues and also shows how each social class is locked in and very seldom will poor people make it to the upper-class divisions. Furthermore, privilege is determined by race for certain things such as housing and/ or job applications. My work shows how racist behavior is taught to make Americans hate, fear, and isolate instead of uniting as a nation. When the United States persists to use favoritism, discrimination, “whiteness” over knowledge is when the gap extends. Looking at recent campaigns, my paper examines how candidates use their platforms for racist or anti-racist acts which determine how Americans choose their leaders.


Student: Vishal Brar
Major: Data Science
Title: The Equality of All: Black Lives Matter in Professional Sports
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty mentor: Ann Liao

This research aims to discover the public reaction of the “Black Lives Matter” movement through social media. The main source of data used for this study will be comments made by Stephen A. Smith, who is a prominent figure in professional sports journalism. His stance is very dominant and takes direct aim at “white privilege.” Based on this, I hypothesized that the general sentiment will be mostly negative or mostly positive as is the case with most dominant political stands. The two social media platforms that were used to gather the general public’s comments were YouTube and Twitter.  The comments from YouTube and Twitter were extracted using Python code. A total of 750 comments were analyzed, which consisted of 500 from YouTube and 250 from Twitter. The comments were categorized by sentiment as either positive, neutral or negative based on keywords. Furthermore, the comments were also categorized by common themes which helps with assessing the public’s notion on BLM. The results show that user engagement across the platforms was 2.5 times higher than an average Stephen A. Smith social media post. It was also noted that both the BLM movement and the 2020 Election may have caused a more negative sentiment than should be expected from the general public.


Student: Evelyn Ezquerro
Major: Communication
Title: Ariana Grande and her provocative side
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

Women, and particularly women in music, are more susceptible to negative comments when they produce more provocative music or a more provocative image than male artists. For my case study, I decided to analyze the comments surrounding Ariana Grande’s new single and music video entitled “Positions.” The single is on the more provocative side than other music Grande has put out before whether it was a collaboration or by herself. I wanted to see if the comments had any negative sentiments or if the comments were positive, empowering and/or uplifting. I chose this as my topic because Ariana Grande usually ends up receiving negative backlash if she does anything more mature or grown up so I wanted to examine the comments and sentiments about her new single to see if that statement would still stand. For my research I wanted to determine if a majority of people left positive comments on her music or if a majority left negative comments, and if people supported her move toward a more mature song and more mature lyrics. I analyzed a total of 824 comments across YouTube and Twitter in order to help determine if the majority of sentiments were positive or negative.
 


Student: Tiffany Fuzak
Major: Non-degree
Title: Data suggests positive messages can win hearts and minds
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty mentor: Ann Liao

As social media becomes more and more central to our economy, it has also become a vital part of any marketing and public relations strategy. Non-profit organizations (NPOs) have no choice but to employ this highly technical medium. Though social media campaigns can be less expensive, organizations must first know how to use this medium technically and strategically. Much is available online to learn the technical side, however, there is still very little information about best practices for specific types of organizations such as NPOs. This study offers NPOs some helpful insight into what is working for one of the most successful NPOs in the country.

Most significantly, in a medium that is often known for its negative and politically divisive messages, the data in this study demonstrate that positive and wholesome messages and images can be just as effective. Over 80% of Barn Sanctuary messaging related to animal advocacy or fundraising did not leverage celebrity or the popularity of the founder and the television series. Most of the Barn Sanctuary’s Twitter and YouTube activity contains cute or fun animal photos or stories. The organization does sprinkle both media with information about animal cruelty and pleas for donations, however this study found that the social media campaign is clearly more concerned with cultivating a love for farm animals and those who care for them. And this approach seems to be equally effective.


Student: Zale Gaskin
Major: Political Science 
Title: Media, Intersectionality, and the Trump Campaign
Class: SPC 333 Race, Class, & Gender in Media
Faculty Mentor: Michael I. Niman

In 2016, Donald Trump shocked the world when he won the United States presidential election against longtime politician Hillary Clinton leaving the world to wonder how he could have done it.  Four years later, the Trump campaign has decided to use similar tactics in hopes of winning re-election. This research analyzes how The Trump Campaign, alongside the media, used the intersectionality of race, religion, gender, and class on top of respectability politics, in its effects on the results of the presidential election in 2016 and how those results will possibly look in 2020. I further analyze how tweets from the president, his supporters, and FOX News in particular contribute to the election results. I find that the Donald Trump and the media used white fear, white masculinity, classism and religious values in electoral politics to his advantage in hopes of running a successful reelection campaign


Student: Maurice Johnson
Major: Communication
Title: Black Reparation: We Demand to be Appreciated
Class: COM 447 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

Throughout history there had been many debates on whether or not African Americans should receive reparations for slavery. Calls for Black reparations have become more insistent during these trying times. In a recent book, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen wrote: “Racism and discrimination have perpetually crippled black economic opportunities.” The offenses cited include slavery, legal segregation under Jim Crow, and more contentiously, “ongoing discrimination and stigmatization.” Many people look at African American reparations as hurting the white community, but reparations are not about punishing white Americans, nor are white Americans the ones who would pay for them. It does not matter if your ancestors engaged in slavery or if you just immigrated here two weeks ago. Reparations are a societal obligation in a nation where our Constitution sanctioned slavery, Congress passed laws protecting it and our federal government initiated, condoned, and practiced legal racial segregation and discrimination against Black Americans until half a century ago. And so, it is the federal government that should pay, since other ethnic groups were redeemed reparation after going through some form of mass hate crime (genocide, slavery, etc.).


Student: Sakib Khan
Major: Data Science
Title: Happiness Is Above All
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

This study examined factors that are important for a country’s happiness. The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It contains articles and rankings of national happiness based on respondents’ ratings of their own lives, which the report also correlates with various life factors. Data were collected on the 2017 World Happiness Report. Tests were conducted using IBM SPSS. Results show that Norway was the happiest country in 2017, the richest regions in the world were North America and ANZ (Australia and New Zealand), and correlations on how factors like GDP and satisfaction with life affect happiness. Furthermore, key aspects of a country’s happiness, such as social support, healthy expectancy at birth, generosity, perception of corruption, positive affect, and negative affect, were analyzed. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.


Student: Lauren Krug
Major: Communication
Title: Cuties and How the Public Views It
Class: COM 447 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

This case study explored the response the public had towards the Netflix film Cuties on YouTube and Twitter. The Cuties movie had great controversy following the release of it, and it became a trending topic on social media. This study used 250 comments on the Cuties movie trailer on YouTube and 250 tweets on Twitter using the keyword “Cuties Movie.” Data was collected by scraping the tweets and YouTube comments using Python code, and the data was analyzed by their sentiment and themes. Unsurprisingly, 65% of the YouTube comments were negative and 39% of the tweets were negative. However, 6% of the YouTube comments were positive and 27% of the tweets were positive. This was very surprising as most of the feedback appeared to be negative at first glance. The remaining tweets (34%) and comments (29%) were labeled as neutral. The YouTube comments were divided up into 6 different categories/themes: legality, sexualization, likes/comments, cancel Netflix/Cuties, emotional reaction, and other. The tweets were categorized as legality, sexualization, cancel Netflix/Cuties, emotional reaction, opinion, controversy, and other. The highest percentage of tweets were categorized as emotional reaction at 26%. The highest percentage of comments on YouTube were categorized as other at 33%. Based upon the feedback that the public provided, it appears that it would be in Netflix’s best interest to remove the film.


Student: Jacob MacKinnon
Major: Data Science
Title: The User Influence: Predicting Elections
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty mentor: Ann Liao

The second Presidential debate just concluded, and with so much bias in the news it is hard to determine who had the better outcome. Thankfully, with easy access to social media outlets like YouTube and Twitter, we can extract user comments to help get a better understanding. Ideally, the presidential candidate with the best social media feedback would have had the best debate results and end up winning the presidential election.

Two media outlets were used to conduct the research, Twitter and YouTube. The research started by looking at overall YouTube comments from the last debate, then concluded by analyzing Twitter comments under the hashtag ‘Debate2020.’ The two YouTube videos came from CNN and Fox, two opposite political news stations. The hypothesis is that each video would have conflicting results (favoring each political party), allowing Twitter to be the un-biased outlet.

A total of 850 comments were analyzed, 250 from each YouTube video, and 350 from Twitter. Of the comments, 529 comments were about Biden with 341 being positive. A 64.4% positivity rate. Of the comments, 321 comments were about Trump with 206 being positive. A 64.1% positivity rate.

After analyzing 850 comments, Joe Biden appears to be the slight favorite over Donald Trump. Since presidential debates have such a big impact on the outcome of the election, I am predicting that Joe Biden will win the presidential election in a close race over Donald Trump.

 


Student: Sky Stage
Major: Data Science
Title: Analyzing YouTube Comments for Campaign Resonance and Reverse-Engineering Glossier’s Marketing Persona through General Social Survey Data
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

Glossier is a skincare brand, and its marketing approach is to mine the social media comments of its followers for new product ideas. A case study was conducted to perform the same but for advertising campaign effectiveness instead of product ideas.

The result was that the democratic approach was valued both ways. Not only it was effective to poll customers for product ideas, but customers also enjoyed seeing this inclusivity in the advertising for said crowd-sourced offerings. The mined YouTube comments showed that customers value the “representation of diversity and real people” and the “use of affordable products.” Glossier’s campaign on YouTube creates a sense of community and acceptance, which generates a desire for customers to create social media content around their Glossier experience, effectively making a micro-influencer out of every buyer.

General Social Survey data were analyzed to find correlations between the number of social media apps used, total time spent on the internet in a week, subjective class identification, income level, occupation, age, gender, and values to reverse-engineer the target audience and marketing persona set by Glossier. The company's advertising and product development is heavily focused on social media consumption and is mainly done through digital marketing, so the correlations between the aforementioned variables will help determine who their target audience is. The data will be limited to survey respondents from the year 2016.


Student: Erika Swiatowy
Class: Data Science
Title: Kamala Harris’s Political Policies and Her Social Media Presence
Course: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

Senator Kamala Harris has been elected as the 46th Vice President of the United States. She is the first woman, the first African American, and the first South Asian-American to become Vice President in the history of the United States. She is an active member of social media with accounts on platforms such as YouTube and Twitter. Through these, she shares current events and her political views. Before and after the election concluded, her content was scraped in order to analyze how her policies affect her social media presence. The analysis also included the general public’s reaction to her and her victory. For this case study, 1,249 comments were scraped from YouTube and Twitter using Python code and collected in Microsoft Excel for analysis. Python code was used to conduct word counts on the data; it was also used to perform a Twitter sentiment analysis of the keywords “Kamala Harris” to gather the Twitter community’s reaction to Harris and the election result. Microsoft Excel was used to perform sentiment analysis of comments collected from two of Harris’s YouTube videos. Overall, reaction to her was generally positive. Although she faced criticism for her past as an attorney general and for her race and sex, a majority of the comments appeared grateful for her historic success.


Student: Robert Taltos
Major: Communication
Title: The Social Media Reaction to Joe Biden’s Presidential Win
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty mentor: Ann Liao

My proposal for a final project is the scanning of different social media channels to see their reactions regarding the presidential win of President Elect Joe Biden. This project is a continuation of my case study report that was submitted over the midterm. The idea is to find out how truly divided the country is on social media and what role social media platforms have played in helping to create that divide. I do believe YouTube will be an important platform to scan because it is one of the most popular social media platforms in use today. I feel that it is important to understand the role that modern technology plays in our society. We often think of social media as a harmless means of communication, but I believe that it can be quite the opposite. I believe that the divisive rhetoric can only lead to further division of the United States, the fuel for a raging fire if you will. I feel that this is an important area to research with data tools.


Student: Chasity VanEvery
Major: Communication
Title: Doggface208 Viral TikTok Video
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

Who knew riding a skateboard, drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice and singing Fleetwood Mac would make a world in a state of panic, relax and remember the simple pleasures in life? 2020 has not been the greatest for most, especially on our mental health, all thanks to Ms. Rona (coronavirus). When Doggface’s (Nathan Apodaca) car broke down and forced him to jump onto his skateboard, drink some cranberry juice, and jam some Fleetwood Mac, and act like he had no care in the world, it sent him into worldwide fame overnight (thanks to TikTok) and shot FleetwoodMac back into the top 10 albums after four decades of initial album release. How could something so simple gain so much attention? Simple, the world misses simplicity. Through my research, I analyzed 700 social media comments using Python from two different social media sites and coded the comments based on positive, negative or neutral and what people spoke about most regarding the video; “simply needing” the positivity in their life, made reference to the cranberry juice or made reference to the song playing. Overall, 44% of comments referenced how much “they needed” the positivity in their life and 43% of comments not being applicable to the research questions formulated for my study. In conclusion, I think studies like what I have completed here will help companies better understand what will work in these unpredictable times and how simple and uncomplicated things need to be to get a clear and positive message into the world.


Student: Austin Wangler
Major: Data Science
Title: A Modern-Day Election: Social Media’s Response to Mail-In Ballots
Class: COM 587 Communication Data Analytics
Faculty Mentor: Ann Liao

In 2020, it seemed that America was at a constant state of unrest as the nation faced a multitude of momentous issues including becoming an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is with these issues why Americans were so motivated to vote in the 2020 US Presidential Election, making voter turnout the highest it has ever been in any other US Election before. Leading up to the election, Donald Trump and many prominent Republican figures claimed mail-in ballots to be fraudulent and illegal. As polls began to close and mail-in ballots were shown to be in favor of Biden, Trump held a press conference further solidifying these conspiracy theories.

In the paper I analyze social media posts and comments circulating the topic. The first source used for analysis were comments posted under a YouTube video of the President’s press conference. The second source used was a sample of tweets obtained when searching for “mail-in ballots.” In either sample, there were people who agreed with Trump on the topic at hand (15.5% of YouTube comments and 37.8% of tweets). This group often echoed the same speculative points that the President used in his press conference, offering no evidence but only possible motivation behind voter fraud. Of the data collected, a larger proportion denied the accusations and offered reasonable explanations behind mail-in ballots swaying towards Biden (54% of YouTube comments and 38.4% of tweets).

In the paper, I also look into the sentiment of both the comments and tweets as well as their overall contents using word counts. The findings show the dangers of spreading misinformation and the power that a president’s words have on the American people.