Posted April 20, 2015

Forum showcases undergraduate research across disciplines

Joseph V. Labolito
Undergraduate students showcased their research during the daylong Temple Undergraduate Research Forum-Creative Works Symposium (TURF-CreWS) on Thursday, April 16.

A 2014 Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial featuring “America the Beautiful” being sung in different languages created a wave of negative backlash on social media. But it also inspired Temple Spanish major Taylor Kaminsky, Class of 2016, to develop a research project focusing on whether such anti-multilingual reactions influence the language attitudes of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community.

Kaminsky, who did her project through Temple’s Diamond Research Scholars Program, was one of nearly 150 undergraduates who showcased their research and creativity during the daylong Temple Undergraduate Research Forum-Creative Works Symposium (TURF-CreWS) at the Howard Gittis Student Center on April 16.

Now in its 22nd year, TURF-CreWS is a celebration of undergraduate research at Temple, and this year’s event featured projects from nearly every discipline in each of Temple’s undergraduate schools, colleges and divisions, according to Emily Moerer, assistant vice provost for undergraduate studies.

The students did presentations, performances or posters on topics ranging from ocean acidification, fighting in ice hockey, pay inequality for coaches of women’s sports, and online radicalism and terrorism, to the rhetoric of commencement speeches, acting for film, interpreting jazz, the success of Korean pop bands, 100 years in corsetry and iris recognition in Android phones.

“Part of the act of creating knowledge is also communicating it,” said Moerer. “So we want to give our students the opportunity to showcase and communicate the wonderful work that they’ve accomplished under the mentorship of Temple faculty.”

Moerer said that the presentations at TURF-CreWS are a combination of research performed in the classroom as part of a course and projects that were done through one of Temple’s university-wide undergraduate research programs such as Diamond Research Scholars, Creative, Arts, Research and Scholarship (CARAS), and Temple Merit Scholarship Educational Enhancement Stipends. Students were nominated by their faculty mentors to present at TURF-CreWS.

“This event gives the Temple community—and particularly undergraduate students—an idea of what excellent undergraduate research is,” she said. “Hopefully, it will encourage other students to want to get involved in research and participate in TURF-CreWS in the future.”

For her project, “This is America: Speak ‘American,’” Kaminsky worked with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood to examine what factors impact the reported use of Spanish by Puerto Ricans and whether negative multilingual messages influenced the attitudes of Puerto Rican community members. She found that the negative messages had a positive effect on older community members by increasing their pride and desire to speak their native language.

“It showed me that for the older generation, speaking Spanish is an integral part of their identity,” said Kaminsky, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

She said the research experience was probably more influential to her than any class she took at Temple. “The biggest thing I take away from this project is not just learning research methodology, but how do you make it relevant and accessible to the community to help them,” said Kaminsky.

Over the past decade, Temple has increased its investment in undergraduate research from approximately $150,000 to more than $2 million.