Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Several Department of Communication faculty members maintain research laboratories where they explore cutting-edge questions.

Research laboratories

Undergraduate students in all years of study have involved themselves in research labs through group study courses and individual directed study. Both approaches enable students to earn academic credit. Students also can gain employment as research assistants in these or other laboratories. 

C-square lab
Computational Communication Research Lab (Martin Hilbert and Cindy Shen)

The digital revolution has not only revolutionized human communication, but also the way we can study it. As the massive digital footprint becomes increasingly available with tremendous granularity and precision, we are able to address core questions in communication studies in new ways. In the Computational Communication Research Lab (C^2 lab or C-square lab), Professors Martin Hilbert and Cindy Shen focus on using digital trace data and computational social science methods to examine fundamental questions in communication.

D.I.C.E. lab
Dynamic Interactions in Cognition and Emotion lab (Narine Yegiyan)

D.I.C.E. lab logoProfessor Narine Yegiyan studies how people process mediated messages under situations of emotional and cognitive overload in her Dynamic Interactions in Cognition and Emotion (D.I.C.E.) lab. She is specifically interested in how mediated message structure and emotional tone affect how people feel about the message and what they learn from it. Lab investigates advertisements, news stories, narratives, and other genres both in print, audio-visual as well as on-line forms. In DICE lab students can learn basics of audio-visual editing, methods of behavioral data collection using MediaLab software, and methods of psychophysiological data collection using Biopac tools. 

VICTR lab
Virtual Interaction & Communication Technology Research lab (Jorge Peña)

Professor Jorge Peña studies the uses and effects of interactive technologies the Virtual Interaction & Communication Technology (VICTR) lab at UC Davis. They employ empirical methods to understand how people think, feel, and communicate in virtual environments (e.g., video games, simulations). The VICTR LAB is interested in understanding how the design features of video games and virtual environments affect online and offline experiences, and how virtual experiences can be leveraged to improve our lives. 

Mentorship

All Department of Communication faculty members serve as mentors for students, and many offer opportunities to undergraduates to participate in research. We encourage students to consult individually with faculty members in their areas of interest.

Professor Bo Feng studies social interactions that occur in face-to-face or mediated settings. Her recent research focuses on supportive interactions in virtual communities, examining how people engage in the strategic seeking and provision of various forms of support (e.g., comforting, advice) and the complex individual and group level dynamics involved in the process. She works closely with undergraduate students, mentoring them on independent studies and honor’s theses. She also directs research teams that provide hands-on research experience to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Professor Laramie Taylor studies the way entertainment media use shapes and is shaped by social perceptions and relationships in the Media Involvement and Effects Laboratory. Undergraduate students in the lab participate in ongoing projects documenting patterns of media content and exploring the effects of that content. Each year, a few experienced seniors collaborate with Dr. Taylor to design and implement their own experiments, surveys and content analyses.

Professor Nicholas Palomares social interaction from a social-cognitive perspective. His research involves studying aspects of language and conversation among interacting individuals while they try to achieve their goals and understand each other. He involves undergraduate students in the research process by having them assist with assorted projects. Although many undergrads focus their research involvement by collecting and processes data, they are encouraged to be involved as much as they want during the research assistantships. He has also advised undergraduates in pursuit of their own research interests, primarily through the honor thesis program. Professor Palomares also teaches a summer abroad program in London that focuses on gender and communication.

Professors Martin Hilbert and Cindy Shen run directed group studies with undergraduate students about different aspects of the digital age. In parallel (and follow up) of Prof. Hilbert's online course on Digital Technology and Social Change, students set out to gain first research experience by collecting and analyzing evidence about innovative aspects of the digital data footprint, including social media, laws and the impact of algorithms in our everyday life.