Grady students to present research at CURO Symposium

On April 4, two Grady College undergraduate students, Ireland Hayes and Josie Lipton, will be presenting their research at the CURO Symposium, an annual event highlighting undergraduate research at the University of Georgia. 

Held by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, this year’s symposium will take place from April 4-5 at the Classic Center in downtown Athens and feature both oral and poster presentations from UGA students. It is the first CURO Symposium since 2019 to be held in person. 

Ireland Hayes presents “Making the News: Rural Georgia Influencers”

Hayes, a third-year journalism major from Folkston, Georgia, will be presenting her research on how small communities throughout the state without traditional news coverage, like a daily paper or local news station, are filling those gaps. 

“I’m looking mostly at Facebook groups, talking to the administrators and moderators of the groups to see how they view themselves and how they decide what goes on and what might get taken off of the pages,” said Hayes, who has been working with Karin Assmann, assistant professor of journalism, as her mentor.  

Ireland Hayes sitting outside of Grady College working on her computer.
Hayes, who is from a mostly rural area in southern Georgia, said her hometown receives Jacksonville news. (Photo: Jessica Gratigny)

“When Ireland heard that I was working on a study about rural information networks here in Georgia, she asked if she could participate with her own set of research questions,” Assmann said. With her Qualitative Research Lab, Assmann hopes to support more students like Hayes and Lipton, as well as graduate students interested in doing this kind of research with her. 

“It’s exciting to see our student journalists wanting to engage with larger questions about the future of the industry and journalism’s role in society,” Assman added. “CURO is a great way to support these emerging scholars as they take their first steps into research.”  

“Dr. Assmann has been very helpful in getting me into that research mindset and teaching me how to conduct research, guiding me through that as I start this first project,” said Hayes. 

With first-hand experience living in a Georgia news desert, Hayes’ ultimate goal is to identify what impact Facebook groups and rural influencers have on news-starved communities. She is evaluating if Facebook groups are used out of necessity or if they are desirable. 

While her research is ongoing, Hayes intends to use the results to develop a pilot information pipeline system that is ideal for these rural news deserts. 

“That is the end goal of all of this,” said Hayes. “How can we create something to fill that need for reliable local information that is more fact-checked and standardized?”

Ireland Hayes' poster displaying her research.
Ireland Hayes’ poster displaying her research. (Created by Ireland Hayes.)
Josie Lipton presents “One Town, One Newspaper: A Case Study of Information Routines Among Citizens of Oglethorpe County, Georgia”

Lipton, a third-year journalism major from Seattle, is also studying news deserts. However, her research focuses specifically on Oglethorpe County, an area that recently had its local 148-year-old newspaper, The Oglethorpe Echo, revitalized thanks to a partnership with Grady and its students. 

Josie Lipton works on her research while sitting outside of Grady College.
Lipton, a third-year student, hopes to attend law school in the future. (Photo: Jessica Gratigny)

“UGA joined the project as a way to take over the paper and make sure that people in Oglethorpe County still have a news source, but they do still only have the one paper. So, my research, to sum it up, is about finding a balance between where people are getting their official news and how the community supplements that,” explained Lipton. 

And where do they turn? Again, the answer is Facebook. 

“You hear this association between Facebook and news and you immediately get goosebumps as a journalism major,” said Lipton. “But, it is really not as bad as you think.”

“It is a lot of smaller groups that function just to discuss what is going on in the community,” she added. “I found that a lot of people who are in charge of the big groups are like newsmakers. Because they’re informed on what is happening in the community, they use Facebook as a platform to keep other people informed.”

Lipton dissected the types of posts and topics discussed on Oglethorpe County Facebook news groups and determined that the topics “pets” and “events” comprised 56 percent of all content. She also interviewed the administrators of Oglethorpe County’s Facebook groups and found that residents view Facebook as a tool to get immediate access to information. 

“By the time a story came out in the Echo, it was already old news. Having Facebook groups allows for more immediate access…to things going on in the county,” Stephanie Maro, the administrator of the Facebook group Oglethorpe County Local News, told Lipton during her research. 

Lipton, who is also mentored by Professor Assmann, and whose research will contribute to Assmann’s ongoing project, thanks both Assmann and Kyser Lough, an assistant professor of journalism, for help and inspiration with her research. 

“Of course I thank Dr. Assmann,” said Lipton. “Dr. Lough has also been really helpful. He wasn’t directly involved in this research project. But just by taking his classes, I’d say he was really helpful in terms of encouraging me to see people how they are. I took his photojournalism class, and that really helped me get over my anxiety when approaching people.”

Josie Lipton's poster. Created by Josie Lipton.
Josie Lipton’s poster displaying her research. (Created by Josie Lipton.)

Both Hayes and Lipton will be presenting their research on posters in the Grand Hall of the Classic Center from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, April 4. 

#GradyGrit: Meet Thomas May

What made you choose EMST as your major?
I’ve always wanted to end up in a writer’s room for TV, so when I transferred to UGA, I knew that I would apply for admission into Grady, and furthermore, into EMST. I remember being really excited that Grady actually had a program dedicated to that type of storytelling because it seems to be a bit of a rarity, even though it’s growing everyday.

What are your career aspirations with your Grady major?
Writing for television or working in television development. I think being on either side of the table would provide for some really interesting and fulfilling opportunities to tell the types of stories you want to tell. But honestly, more bluntly and simply, just to make a career out of telling stories that people want to hear, whatever the format and whatever the platform.

What has been the best advice you’ve received or learned from a Grady teacher or class?
3210 with Biddle will definitely have a lasting impact on me. I don’t know if I’ll ever direct again, but I wanted to put myself outside my comfort zone and try it, and I’m really glad that I did. I’m not a very authoritative person, or really even very talkative, so there were a lot of times where I had to sort of go beyond my nature for the final product. But my crew was awesome and invaluable, and Biddle’s advice never fails to pull you towards something better. It was one of those really tough things that makes you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to the second you’re done with it.

How do you think Grady majors stand out on campus?
I think everyone in Grady has worked really hard to get where they are, and they know it, so there’s a certain amount of confidence that I think people notice. On top of that, there’s a lot of passion in Grady. Everybody really wants to be here and cares about the stories they’re telling and the work they’re doing. Also, though this one might be pretty obvious, the communication of ideas really does stand out. We all know how to get across what we’re trying to say.

What did you study during CURO and why?
I studied the Peabody Archive under the direction of Dr. Taylor Miller. Our catalyst was finding and curating a list of really cool or unique programming that we have in the archive, and the research sort of evolved into building a foundation for future research. Once we had found our programs and paper artifacts, we started to build topical concentrations around those as examples for the type of research that could be done using the archive. There’s a lot of unique capabilities that it has to offer, not just because of the rarity of the programming, but because of the context that such a complete collection provides. If you’re curious about the viewer responses or funding information for a particular program, a lot of times the entrants provided that information to the jury when they submitted decades ago. But anyway, we got to explore a huge variety of programming, so it was really an enriching experience. Dr. Miller gave me a lot of freedom to look into topics that drew me in, but also guidance when I really needed it.

What has working at the archive taught you? How do you use your skills that you’ve learned in Grady there?
First and foremost, it’s taught me that archives are underestimated, or at least they were by me. I think in our age, we’re very quick to assume that we can find all of the information on a topic with a few Internet searches and a digitized version of a program to follow. But there’s such an incredible wealth of programming and context that’s made available and preserved because of archives that we might not even know about otherwise. I’m given a lot of opportunities there to put to use skills from Grady coursework, whether it be providing input on what pieces of stories we include in educational compilations or descriptions of footage from the archive.

What was your role like on the Peabody Student Honor Board and how did it impact you?
That was really special. Having the opportunity to select the Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards with my peers, and with the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Jones, was really meaningful, but it was all pulled together when we got to meet and talk with all of the recipients in New York. It was a constant reminder that people are telling incredible stories in innovative ways, a reminder that I think was never undervalued against the backdrop of what often felt like a world that would much rather focus on other stories at the time. Dr. Jones also really cares about recognizing stories on platforms that a majority of award-bestowers and the like haven’t really caught up with yet, and by examining those stories with a demographic of people that know those platforms really well: college students. I think that was the biggest impact on me: a reminder that even though you often feel like because of your age you have less to add to an academic discussion, sometimes you might actually have more.

Favorite movie quote?
This excerpt from Sam’s speech in The Two Towers because LotR and storytelling:
“…It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why…”

What are your summer plans?
I’m spending my last summer in Athens. I’m taking my final two Grady classes online and will continue to work at the archive. I also just finished a feature-length script that I plan to spend my summer preparing for competitions. I hope to write a lot. It’s something that’s always hard to make time for, but I think this summer will be a good opportunity for that.

Any Netflix/Hulu recommendations?
A Young Doctor’s Notebook and The Last Kingdom (both on Netflix)

Grady students share research in CURO presentations

A deep-dive looking for hidden gems in the Peabody Awards Collection; an examination of how criminal defendants are portrayed in the media prior to trials; and an evaluation of attitudes by millennials toward LGBTQ couples in advertisements…these are just a few of the research projects Grady students are conducting through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities this spring.

This year’s CURO Symposium takes place April 8-9 at the Classic Center and will feature oral and poster presentations from UGA students, including 12 Grady College students.

“You don’t have to be a science major to be a CURO participant,” Sierra Brown, a third-year advertising major said about a common misperception about the program. CURO is open to any undergraduate student who has a faculty-mentored research project.

Brown, who is also a CURO assistant, began her studies at UGA as a science major and switched to advertising. She said CURO provides her a stage to still pursue her interest in science, but to also explore topics relevant to her future career.

“I think it’s a really interesting professional development opportunity,” Brown said. “I am looking for internships and jobs now and I feel like doing research is something that really diversifies your profile. It proves that you did in-depth research to learn about your industry and what people care about.”

Here is a closer look at a sampling of the research projects from Grady students:

A sample of the ads that were shown to subjects to determine brand attitude in Sierra Brown’s research.

“#AdsAsAdvocacy: Exploring the Relationship between Brands’ Pro-LGBTQ Social Media Posts and Consumer Behavior” — Brown has been working with Glenna Read, assistant professor of advertising, to research attitudes of socially-conscious millennials. A set of four advertisements were shown to subjects via social media: some portraying LGBTQ couples and some portraying heterosexual couples. Questions were asked about attitudes toward the brands, to see if there was a difference in the attitude toward one brand over the other because of its imagery. Care was given in creating these messages and making them seem authentic.

Brown found that her research ran counter to her assumption that millennials would be equally accepting of LGBTQ advertising images, and there was not as much acceptance as expected.

Overall, it was a big learning experience for Brown about how people respond to ads with LGBTQ imagery and how their responses relate to their expressed values. She looks forward to continuing this line of research in the future, maybe next time adding some variables about race or adding psychophysiology variables, where people say they will behave in one way but act in another.

“I was surprised at how non-intimidating the process turned out to be,” Brown said about her CURO research.

Brown will present her research on a poster.

“Analyzing the Peabody Archive” — Exploring the archive of Peabody Award entries has been a familiar theme in Thomas May’s college experience. What started in a class on television history with Taylor Cole Miller, the Peabody Media Center Academic Director, grew into serving on the Peabody Student Honor Board. Last summer, May started working part-time as a senior student archival assistant at the Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Libraries.

May has combed the archives looking for hidden gems, as well as uncovering themes through the 78 years of archived entries. A special emphasis about how local programming can be preserved is part of May’s research.

Thomas Miller reviews some Peabody archive materials from the ABC show “Walk in My Shoes” from the 1960s. Photo: Sarah Freeman

“The main goal is to present different ways that the archive can be used for research,” May, a fourth-year EMST student said.

Through his work, May has examined themes ranging from how farming has evolved in Nebraska to media portrayals of the Soviet Union during the Cold War and how American ideals have been affected.

Along the way, May has found some rare footage of Lucille Ball in a pre-“I Love Lucy” broadcast and a signed copy of “This I Believe” by Edward R. Murrow.

May, who is focused on a career of television development and writing, said the research has provided some historical significance and awareness for his future career.

“To a large degree, this gave me a better understanding of all the programming that is already out there. I think if you don’t have a great understanding of programs that have already been made, there is the possibility of repeating the same content over and over.”

May, who is a CURO assistant, will give his oral presentation April 8 in a block of time between 1:25 and 2:15 p.m.

“The dialectic between the First and Sixth Amendments” — For third-year journalism student Ashley Soriano, CURO presents an opportunity to blend her career aspirations of journalism and law.

“This research is helping me get a base knowledge of the legal system,” Soriano said. “It is giving me a leg up in the academic field, but it is also fulfilling my interests.”

Soriano’s research takes a look at freedom of the press guaranteed in the First Amendment and relating it with the right to a free trial, outlined in the Sixth Amendment. Soriano’s research studies how trials are covered through platforms like podcasts and social media and examines how media affects the public’s perception of defendants before trials. Her faculty mentor is Jonathan Peters, assistant professor of journalism, and expert in First Amendment principles.

“You need the media to cover a trial because it’s important for people to know about it, but you also need a defendant to have the right to a fair trial,” Soriano continued.

Soriano concluded by explaining that this is a great program that expands the education of students beyond the classroom.

“UGA provides these opportunities for you, financially or otherwise, and it’s important you take advantage of them. Don’t just stay in the classroom, get outside of it.”

Soriano will present her research at 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. on Monday, April 8.

The Grady students participating can be found below, along with their faculty mentors in parentheses and the title of their research:

Mennah Abdelwahab (K.C. Clay*) “Human Rights in Tamil Nadu: Analyzing the Presence and Reporting of Physical Integrity Rights Abuses”

Hannah Brown (Bart Wojdynski) “You’ll Never Believe How These Clickbait Links Affect Your Attention!”

Sierra Brown (Glenna Read) “#AdsAsAdvocacy: Exploring the Relationship between Brands’ Pro-LGBTQ Social Media Posts and Consumer Behavior”

Jayda Hill (Nate Evans) “Lessons Learned: The Effects of Colorism, Ethnic Identity, and Brand Familiarity on Consumers’ Advertising and Brand Related Outcomes”

Thomas May (Taylor Cole Miller) “Analyzing the Peabody Archive”

Zachary Pareizs (George Contini*) “Developing a Queer Sensibility and Artistic Identity” andn“The Impact of Translation on Theatrical Performance”

Sydney Phillips (Sherell McArthur*) “Modern Pregnancies and their Tie to a History of Hate”

Taylor Potter (Anne Gilbert) “Physical Disability Representation in Theater, Film, and Television”

Charan Ramachandran (Bart Wojdynski) “Outlet for Opium: Content Analysis and Eye Tracking Data on Tweets about the Opioid Crisis”

Hannah Rucker (Silvia Giraudo*) “Primary Outcome of Youth Obesity Undergraduate Research and Extension (YOURE) Fellowship”

Ashley Soriano (Jonathan Peters) “The dialectic between the First and Sixth Amendments”

Ashlynn Webb (Maryann Gallagher*) “Reclassifying Rape as Discrimination: The Risks of Applying Title IX and Post-Secondary Education Policies to the Military’s Response to Sexual Assault”

* Faculty mentor is not affiliated with Grady College

In addition to the faculty mentors listed above, James Hamilton and Michael Cacciatore are mentoring participants who are not Grady students.


Grady students present at 2018 CURO Symposium

The Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities invites students to be involved in the annual CURO Symposium, an event that highlights excellence in undergraduate research at UGA. At this year’s Symposium, 14 Grady College students will present their research.

The CURO Symposium allows undergraduates to showcase their research and creative works through oral and poster presentations. The presentations will take place at the Classic Center on Monday, April 9 and Tuesday, April 10.

This year’s Grady students have been mentored by the following Grady faculty: María Len-Ríos, Juan Meng, Taylor Cole Miller, Ivanka Pjesivac, Leara Rhodes and John Weatherford.

“For my undergraduate students, designing and conducting research pushes them to develop problem-solving skills at a practical level,” Meng said. “It is critical for students to understand how to use research to solve communication problems, improve the effectiveness of communication or open up new opportunities for future communication. Attending the CURO Symposium to showcase their original research helps them understand the role of research in developing communication strategies and see that their research efforts have been valued.”

The Symposium begins April 9 with four concurrent oral sessions at 11:15 a.m. followed by a welcome and keynote address. The Monday session ends with the poster session and reception. On Tuesday, the Symposium concludes with five concurrent oral sessions.

Olivia Tompkins, a fourth-year public relations major, will showcase her work at the poster presentation.

“I am very appreciative of being selected and thank CURO for giving research opportunities to every college at UGA and giving undergraduates a chance to showcase their work on a higher platform, not limiting us to just the classroom,” Tompkins said. “Sometimes people’s attention gets caught up in scientific research and they forget that there are so many more types of research out there. Research feeds into the reason why UGA prides itself in being an institution representative of higher education. I enjoy being able to represent the effort of hard working Grady undergraduate students.”

The Symposium includes presentations from 575 undergraduate students who are conducting research with 330 faculty members from 78 departments.

UGA buses marked “Special Event” and with a “CURO Symposium” signs in the front window will provide transportation to the Classic Center with stops at the Georgia Center, the Tate Student Center and the Arch.

Below is a list of Grady College students and when they present their oral and poster presentations.

 Oral Presentations

Presenter Title Date/Time Location
Mauli Desai Preventing the Arbitrary Killing and Kidnapping of Journalists Tuesday


Room A
*Shannon Duffy Reese-Hancock Housing Research Collaboration: Documenting Displacement in the Reese-Hancock Corridor




Room A
Allison Krausman (primary presenter)

Wellie Delmer (secondary presenter)

Who’s We: A Documentary Study on Gentrification in Atlanta Tuesday


Room A


*Noelle Lashley

(primary presenter)

Brandon Janeway Eryka Johnson (secondary presenters)


Examining the Impacts of Virtual Reality Journalism




Room A
*Reilly Megee JODD: The Creation of the Journal of Digital Design




Room A
Charlotte Norsworthy Building the Language: Analyzing the Development of Virtual Reality as a Journalistic Medium




Room A
* Emma Protis


No Longer Used: Designing Non-Exploitative Communication Methods to Represent Survivors of Human Trafficking Monday


 Room I


Poster Presentations

(all poster presentations will be on Monday, April 9, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.)

Presenter Title Poster Number
*Lyndsey Jackson


The Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility on Purchase Habits of College Consumers Poster 25


*Jillian Jones


The Impact of Beauty Vloggers on the Purchasing Decisions of Millennial and Generation Z Female Consumers


Poster 26
Lacey O’Brien


Shop ‘til You Drop: A Closer Look at Millennial Shopping Habits Online vs. In-Store


Poster 27


Emily Starling


Let’s Make it a Popularity Contest: University Health Centers or Outside Health Services


Poster 28


Caroline Tompkins


A Major Decision: The Decision-Making Process of Choosing an Undergraduate Major


Poster 29


Olivia Tompkins


We Can’t Get No Satisfaction From Instagram… Or Can We? Poster 30


Hannah Weeg A Study of the Consequences of Social Media on the Mental Health of College-Aged Millennials


Poster 31


*Names noted are CURO research assistants