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The 2019 USC Annenberg Graduate Fellowship Research and Creative Project Symposium

Throughout the past year, Annenberg Graduate Fellows combined creativity and research to explore various topics in communications. Last week their work came to fruition at the annual USC Annenberg Graduate Fellowship Research and Creative Project Symposium where Annenberg Graduate Fellows showcased their innovative and cutting-edge communications research.

Ph.D. students preparing for E-poster presentation.

The Annenberg Symposium is the final event in a yearlong program for Annenberg Fellows in the School of Cinematic Arts, the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the Viterbi School of Engineering. Throughout the year, Annenberg Graduate Fellows have collaborated on projects and research.

“The symposium is important because it gives students a chance to collaborate with other students outside of their discipline,” said Kate Tegmeyer, Assistant Director of Graduate Programs. “This gives them a chance to bring outside perspectives and expertise to a project they might not have had otherwise.”

In their collaborative efforts, Ph.D. students presented research in film and animation screenings, as well as E-posters. A wide array of topics were displayed, ranging from the implications of “Google Doodles,” to examining the effects of music on human emotions. Students were proud to present their research to attendees, as they learned about various topics.

One project titled “Paper Crowns,” was a short film by Sean Smith (School of Cinematic Arts) and Briana Ellerbe (Annenberg) that analyzed the diversity in children’s media. Inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem “Life doesn’t frighten me at all,” the film tells a story of a girl named Charly Gold, who must decide if she will fight for her dream of being a poet or let it die in the “land of broken dreams.”

“Growing up we never saw television or film characters, superheroes or lead actresses, that reflected our image,” said Smith. “We need more diversity in children’s media and creative ways to tell those stories. It’s not just about putting minorities on-screen, it is also about creating positive images and experiences that represent us as more than a stereotype.”

Sean Smith presenting “Paper Crowns.”

There were many powerful projects like “Paper Crowns.” Students worked for the majority of the school year in preparation for the symposium. Many students, both undergraduate and graduate, attended the symposium to see their peers’ research. It also gave attendees the opportunity to ask any questions about pursuing a Ph.D.

“The symposium is also a great opportunity for students across the university to come see their student colleagues’ research, whether it is an undergraduate who is considering a masters or Ph.D., or a current Ph.D. who is curious about the research being conducted outside their discipline,” said Tegmeyer.

The “Snap Yourself” photo booth.

The symposium ended with a light reception, and presenters and attendees took home photos from the “Snap Yourself” photo booth.