Students are exploring ideas and interests through research at Michigan State University
By: Chris Hybels
When thinking about college research, academics dressed in bright-white lab coats staring into microscopes may come to mind. At Michigan State University, the reality is very different, with research on everything from consumer behavior to social media influencers.
In the Department of AD+PR, dozens of students are conducting research every day exploring different topics related to the field. One such students is Joe Herrada, a master’s advertising and public relations major, who is currently working on his thesis about influencer marketing.
“My thesis is testing if the frequency a social media influencer posts sponsored content affects their trustworthiness and credibility,” said Herrada. “It is juxtaposed with their level of popularity which has already been show to influence trustworthiness.”
Herrada said he became interested in research after being inspired by the faculty in the department.
“We really have a star-studded faculty who inspired me to ask questions never asked before,” he said. “Most importantly, they are willing and able to help me develop my critical-thinking and problem-solving as I ask those questions.”
The AD+PR faculty has also attracted the attention of students outside of the department, like Anvita Suneja. Suneja is a junior neuroscience major in the Lyman Briggs College and also a mentee of AD+PR associate professor, Dr. Saleem Alhabash. Most recently, Suneja helped conduct a study about social media usage and user motives.
Since the completion of the study, she has started conducting her own research, with the supervision of Alhabash.
“Currently, I am working on an amalgam of projects that have do with COVID-19 and our perceptions of others in a virtual setting,” said Suneja.
Although her intention is to attend medical school, the Department of AD+PR has helped develop Suneja’s passion for research.
Her mentor, Alhabash, says he believes students like Suneja and Herrada are pushing the faculty and MSU in the right direction.
“Increased interest in research by students in AD+PR is something we should capitalize on as faculty and an institution,” said Alhabash. “Engaging students in research is the hallmark of a research-intensive university and having students excited about research is something that keeps us going as researchers and an institution.”
As a top-100 research university worldwide, research is at the core of Michigan State University and the Department of AD+PR. Faculty and students are working side by side to develop questions and find their answers.