Transylvania conference spotlights first-year students’ research passions

Transylvania University last week hosted its 19th annual First-Year Research Seminar Conference, an event that showcases faculty-nominated student research projects.

All first-year students are required to take the FYRS class during winter term to learn the process behind writing a college research paper. More than that, it’s a class that allows students to closely research a topic they’re passionate about.

At the recent conference, these passions were obvious during presentations of what they researched for the class.

For instance, Brie Alsip gave a talk titled “Are the Kids Alright?: An Analysis of the Effects of Social Media on Adolescent Depression, Anxiety, and Self-Presentation.” As a psychology major, she claims she was drawn to this topic because her major has taught her something that has been reflected differently in society: She says social media has more of a positive effect on adolescent behavior than people realize, and she wanted to prove it.

Similarly, Nyah Mattison gave a critique of sorts in her presentation, “Jim Crow Rebranded: Digital Minstrelsy in ‘Post-Racial’ America.” She explains the history behind minstrelsy and how it has transformed into what is known as digital minstrelsy in this age of technology. Her research effectively claims America cannot be deemed “post-race” while digital minstrelsy exists. 

On a lighter note, Railey Abell presented her research, “Puppets or Professionals?: An Investigation of the Concept of Authenticity Within the Genre of Boy Bands.” Abell explains that boy bands are indeed authentic and are plagued by false notions that exist in society and the music industry. She also claims her research is applicable to other fields — not just the music industry.

With a wide array of presentations given each year — this time there were 20 — it’s clear that FYRS is a great opportunity for students to explore what they’re passionate about and transform it into a work of research.


Annebelle Klein is a Transylvania senior double majoring in writing, rhetoric, and communication and French.