CSU’s Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity (CURC) is an annual event that showcases the creativity and scholarship of undergraduate students across various disciplines. The showcase culminates in a closing ceremony that recognizes all participants and honors award winners.
This year, CURC’s showcase was held on Thursday, April 20. Out of over 500 CSU students, three communication studies majors won awards:
- Excellence in Liberal Arts Research and Art: Bry Gross, “The Youth Mental Health Crisis Is Affected by Social Media Usage”
- College honors (College of Liberal Arts): Robert Swerer, “Dangers of Texting and Driving”
- College honors (College of Liberal Arts): Coehen Sperry, “Spider-Man 3: The Bastard Child of a Trilogy, Or a Misunderstood Reflection of Our Lives?”
Robert Swerer and Bry Gross are both seniors, and Coehen Sperry is a junior. During the final week of classes last week, we were able to talk with Gross and Sperry about their award-winning research.
“The Youth Mental Health Crisis Is Affected by Social Media Usage”
Bry Gross’s poster investigated the concerning effects that ubiquitous social media has on mental health, especially for youth.
“My question was ‘Do social media platforms have a correlation with the rising mental health crisis?’” Gross said. “To reach my conclusion, I pulled from past research papers that I have written on the subject, as well as monitoring my own social media usage for one week and reporting what I felt while using the platforms.”
He was encouraged by our Ph.D. student and instructor Michelle Matter to participate in CURC. This was his first time at the showcase, so he wasn’t sure what to expect. “Presenting to the judges was a lot more fun than I expected, as they were all very easy to talk to. It felt less like a presentation, and more like I was having a conversation with them,” he says.
“Spider-Man 3: The Bastard Child of a Trilogy, Or a Misunderstood Reflection of Our Lives?”
This was also Coehen Sperry’s first time participating in CURC. “I had a blast! All the judges were so nice,” he says. “It was a great opportunity for me to practice my more interpersonal presentation skills.”
Sperry’s poster examines the 2007 superhero film Spider-Man 3, directed and written by Sam Raimi. “The allegory of the venom suit representing substance abuse allows the viewer to gain clarity of the bigger picture in the film. One that tells the story of a man who succumbs to his deepest and most selfish desire to avoid feeling powerless like the people he tries to save every day,” Sperry explains. “Genre in films is more than just a category. It can help an audience appreciate more than just the story and promotes people to look deeper into a film for greater significance and meaning to themselves.”
We are so proud of all three of our award-winning undergraduate researchers—Bry Gross, Coehen Sperry, and Robert Swerer—and grateful to the College of Liberal Arts for recognizing their achievements.