Penn Supports Communication Majors' Honors Thesis Research

Through the Senior Honors Thesis course, Annenberg Communication majors have the opportunity to conduct a primary research study on a communication related issue over the course of two semesters, overseen by course instructor Kim Woolf, and a faculty advisor of the student’s choosing.

Three of the students enrolled in the course – Julia Becker, Rebecca Lopez, and Sally Shin – received funding for their research through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) and the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy.

Becker is investigating how pro-immigration, anti-wall, and anti-Trump activism manifest in public street art. For her research project entitled, “Street Art at the Border: Exploring Anti-Trump Graffiti and Artwork at the U.S.-Mexico Border,” Becker received the Undergraduate Grant from the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. Additionally, as an Undergraduate Research Fellow for the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication (CARGC), Becker will receive funding this semester for research expenses.


Julia Becker, pictured above, is studying street art, some of which is pictured top left.

Under the supervision of Professor Marwan M. Kraidy, Becker will conduct a textual analysis of anti-Trump street art at the U.S.-Mexico border. Through her research, she plans to examine how non-commissioned, often illegal art on the street is transformed beyond a temporary, geographically situated, cultural aesthetic into a digital medium which promotes resistance.

Becker has used the funds from the Mitchell Center grant to travel to the border communities of San Diego/Tijuana and El Paso/Ciudad Juárez to collect images of street art for her study. At the end of the semester, she will be presenting her research project at the Mitchell Center.


Rebecca Lopez presented her thesis research at the CURF symposium on February 1.

Lopez was awarded the Fall 2017 Ruth Marcus Kanter College Alumni Society grant from CURF for her project entitled “Beyond 'Bad Hombres': Examining Online News Media Effects on Attitudes Toward Latinx Immigrants.” Her research examines the historically negative framing of Latinx immigration and how this influences audiences in the current political climate.

Under the supervision of Research Scientist Emile Bruneau, Lopez is studying how news media portrayals of Latinx immigration affects viewers’ attitude towards immigrants, support for immigration policies, and political action. As an experiment, she will randomly assign participants to a positive, negative, neutral, or no-video control group and then survey their relevant attitudes. On February 1st, Lopez presented her research proposal at CURF’s 2018 Undergraduate Spring Research Symposium.


Sally Shin presented her thesis research at the CURF symposium on February 1.

Shin was awarded the Board of Managers and Presidents Undergraduate Research grant from CURF. She also received a research grant from the Cinema and Media Studies Department. Under the supervision of Annenberg alumnus and Lecturer Eran Ben-Porath (Ph.D. '08), Shin's research project, “Role of Emotions on Virality of Online Video Advertisements,” will focus on the role of emotions in the social transmission of online video marketing messages.

In a two-part study, Shin will first conduct a content analysis to examine the impact of valence and saturation of emotions on the number of shares of an online video advertisement. Then, in an experiment, she will test whether the relationship between specific emotions and virality is mediated by arousal. Shin also presented her research proposal at CURF’s 2018 Undergraduate Spring Research Symposium.