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April 15, 2018 : Ohio University Lancaster Students Selected for Research Conference

by Sarah Shy


Four Ohio University Lancaster communication majors have be selected to present their research at the 2018 Eastern Communications Association (ECA) Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Emma Caldwell will be presenting her research “Communication in the Diffusion and Adoption of Ultraviolet Light and Waste Water Treatment” and three students Alissa Allman, Joshua Olivieri and Julie Welsh will be jointly presenting “Face-to-Face vs. Computer-Mediated Communication: Bridging Closeness Between Friends” On April 27 and 28 at the ECA Undergraduate Scholars Conference.


“The Undergraduate Scholars Conference had well over 250 paper submissions, so this is quite an accomplishment considering our four students competed with many other students from colleges and universities across the Eastern region of the United States,” said Candice Thomas-Maddox, Professor of Communication Studies for Ohio University Lancaster.


EmmaEmma Caldwell is an Athens Highschool graduate. She is a full-time college student, coaches swimming lessons to local children, and has recently started her own ASL interpreting agency.  Caldwell credits her love of ecology, biology and science to her parents—both retired with Ohio Department of Natural Resources.


“I have always been very interested in conservation and environmental management practices. I supposed you could say my love of science stems from them (Caldwell’s parents) and their influence.” Caldwell said.


The interest in ultraviolet light was sparked by Caldwell’s mother. Her mother works for Athens Soil and Water as an education coordinator and does work for the city of Athens. One of the projects her mother has been working on is with storm and wastewater. Conveniently, when Caldwell chose her research topic, Athens County Wastewater Treatment Plant received grant money to upgrade their systems in which they planned to change the systems from chlorination, to ultraviolet light.


Caldwell choose this topic because it was something few people have already done. While doing preliminary research, Caldwell found that there was very few information that has been done in the field of environment and communication. Because of this lack of research, she was unsure of what her findings would be. Even so, Caldwell was eager to figure out how a technology, such as ultraviolet light, which was discovered in the nineteenth century, was only now gaining traction and visibility. The most significant discovery she found with the diffusion of ultraviolet light wastewater treatment, was the reason it didn’t gain much traction. It’s a rather expensive proposition to switch.


“When counties and municipalities that can barely afford to keep and maintain their roadways, it’s almost impossible to expect them to spend over a million dollars on a wastewater treatment plant system.” Caldwell said.


Athens is relatively early in its adoption of this technology. Ultraviolet light was discovered almost 200 years ago and its ability to kill bacteria was discovered in 1877. Since very few other places are utilizing this type of treatment, Athens county is ahead of the game. It’s possible Athens eco-friendly atmosphere is attributed to its advancement.


Caldwell said that research and time spent studying communications will support her major, but in a more focused sense, being able to identify communication theories in “non-typical” scenarios, will open up and allow other students to see the communication field in a much broader sense. Students will see how communications effect each and every person and can chose to research things that are “outside of the box”.


After graduation, Caldwell will be moving on to West Virginia University to be apart of the communication graduate program. After she receives her master’s, she plans to get her PhD or work in the disaster relief management field with companies like FEMA, Homeland Security or Red Cross.


Caldwell will be giving her presentation in Pittsburgh on Friday, April 27th. She hopes her presentation will lead her to networking with other people in the field of Communications.


Alissa Allman, Joshua Olivieri, and Julie Welsh had already been close friends when they decided they were all interested in people and how they interact face-to-face verses online. They wanted to find out if there was a difference in the way people communicated and formed friendships and relationships through face-to-face interactions verses online.


“I speak mostly for myself when I say that I had hoped to find face-to-face communication proved to foster closer relationships, but that wasn’t the case. We found no difference between those who primarily communicated face-to-face or online.” Olivieri said.


The research they did supports their majors because the project revolves around communication and how people interact between each other whether face-to-face or online.


allisa“We found after the research was conducted that there were so many more elements that future researchers could consider. It is a topic I feel strongly about, and I have always been interested in how people communicate with each other. That is a big reason why I chose communications for my major.” Allman said.


Allman attended East Knox High School in Howard, Ohio. She is a junior at OUL with a major in Communications. She has worked part-time during semester and fulltime during summer at American Power Hoist. She plans to finish up at OUL and possibly move onto graduate school.


“This paper has sparked my interest in graduate school. I’m very passionate about communications and I hope to continue in a career field where I can apply my communication degree.” Allman said.


Each student is unique bringing their own ideas to their project making it distinguished among the many other students competing with them.


Olivieri was home-schooled and his current work involves online blogging. He has past work with South Central Power Company through a paid internship. In the near future, he plans to be a PR specialist, buy a house, and keep accomplishing his goals.


“I want to keep succeeding and achieving new heights where many people while I was growing up, told me that I could not do.” Olivieri said.


julieWelsh is a Lancaster High school graduate and she will be graduating from OUL Spring 2018 with her Bachelor in Communications. She has been working part-time for five years at Four Reasons Bakery and Deli in downtown Lancaster, Ohio. She is also a member of Lambda Pi Eta, Phi Theta Kappa, and Alpha Phi Omega.


The Undergraduate Scholars Conference was founded by Dr. Jim McCroskey and Dr. Virginia Richmond. Prior to his passing in 2012, Dr. McCroskey was the most published communication scholar in the world. Both Dr. McCroskey and Dr. Richmond led scholars in the communication discipline with their impressive numbers of research publications. While they were extremely accomplished scholars, they sponsored the first Eastern Communications Association Undergraduate Scholars Conference approximately ten years ago after recognizing the importance of mentoring undergraduate research and introducing students to academic research conventions. Since then, the two-day conference has grown to attract more than 300 students from colleges and universities from the Eastern region of the United States.


“The USC has a special place in my heart because it was founded by my dissertation advisers—Dr. McCroskey and Dr. Richmond.” said Thomas-Maddox.


Caldwell will be giving her presentation in Pittsburgh on Friday, April 27th. Allman, Olivieri, and Welsh will be presenting on Saturday, April 28th 10:30am at the Omni William Penn Hotel for the 109th Annual Eastern Communication Association Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.