Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Department of Communication faculty members are the founders or co-founders of many multi-disciplinary research labs and centers, including: Center for Deliberative Democracy, Political Communication Lab, Political Psychology Research Group, Stanford Social Media Lab, The Change Lab, The Human Screenome Project, and Virtual Human Interaction Lab. These labs involve undergraduates and graduate students from multiple departments, extending the reach of the discipline.
Journalism classes increasingly generate collaborations across campus, including Big Local News and the Stanford Journalism and Democracy Initiative. Undergraduates writing about public affairs may see their stories shared on the department’s Peninsula Press website, taken up by KQED or SFGate, or even circulated by national outlets. Classes on data journalism and computational journalism are attracting both STEM and non-STEM majors, leading some to intern at outlets such as ProPublica and Reuters.
Professor Jennifer Pan and her group conduct research on media and politics. There are opportunities for undergraduates to do qualitative research such as content analysis and quantitative research such as writing code for data scraping and training machine learning models. For examples of past projects, see http://jenpan.com/.
Assistant Professor Gabriella Harari has a research lab that studies how people’s personalities get expressed in the physical and digital contexts of everyday life. Professor Harari welcomes students to her lab who want to contribute to interdisciplinary research projects at the intersection of communication, psychology, and computer science. Students in the lab contribute to research examining what digital media technologies (e.g., social media, smartphones, wearables) reveal about people’s behavioral patterns and psychological states.
Professor Jon Krosnick’s Political Psychology Research Group involves undergraduates in all phases of their research work. PPRG studies the psychology of political communication by conducting laboratory experiments, field experiments, experiments embedded in surveys, and high-quality national surveys of representative samples of American adults. The team has examined the impact of candidate name order on election outcomes, the role that pre-election polls play in influencing the outcomes and interpretations of American elections, the steps that researchers can take to be sure that pre-election polls and other surveys yield accurate measurements, changes in American public opinion on global warming, and more.
Professor Jeff Hancock and his group conduct behavioral, survey and computational research on social media and psychology. There are opportunities for undergraduates to do qualitative research such as content analysis, behavioral research such as running participants in experiments, and quantitative research such as writing code for data scraping and training machine learning models. For examples of past projects, see https://sml.stanford.edu/.
Undergraduates at The Change Lab contribute their own research interests and life perspectives while developing advanced research projects alongside a collective of graduate students, post-docs, and faculty. Founder of the lab, Professor Nilam Ram, directs research on intensive longitudinal data and modeling the dynamics of how individuals’ emotion regulation, media use, environmental exposures, and well-being change over time and across the lifespan. The Change Lab is often engaged in analyzing the large repositories of smartphone data collected in The Human Screenome Project, a project in collaboration with Communication Professor Byron Reeves. Undergraduates can work on preparing large scale datasets for analysis, developing data visualizations, discovering new phenomena through data analysis, and regularly presenting and publishing those discoveries. Design tasks include building websites, interactive visual and sonic displays, and creating compelling identities and material for the lab’s community outreach.
Professor Jeremy Bailenson’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) has spent the last 20+ years studying the effects of virtual reality on human beings. Current areas of research are VR in education, representations of the physical self (avatars) in VR and AR, and the effects of time and space in social VR settings. If you are interested in being a part of the lab you can find more information on the VHIL website or contact VHIL lab manager Brian Beams at firstname.lastname@example.org.