Professor Stacy Smith talks to a student at the Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative office.
USC Annenberg

Research Opportunities

As a student at USC, seizing the opportunity for research experience should be a key priority during your college career. The ability to engage in real research with a faculty member at USC can open doors to a wide variety of new opportunities including to help strengthen your career path and resume, allow you to work more independently, and gives you the opportunity to build meaningful and personal relationships with Annenberg faculty. Dozens of research projects are conducted by our faculty each year.  This page is devoted to helping you establish contact with professors who are seeking assistance with their research projects.

Listed below are the current research opportunities available to undergraduate students:

Content Analysis of Popular Films: Examining Character Portrayals   
Brief Description:
 COMM 494 Research Practicum (#20739) is offered by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (Professor Stacy Smith) for students to join cutting edge and highly visible research projects. Students will learn how to assess and measure the equity, inclusion and diversity of characters in popular media content (films, television, music). This course may be taken for 2–4 units and provides firsthand experience in the research process, demonstrating how content analyses in the field of communication are conducted. Training will occur for several weeks during the first half of the semester. Thereafter, students evaluate programs and collect data during their individual lab time. Open to all majors and class standings.

Faculty Member: Stacy Smith 
Term: Fall, Spring and Summer 
Contact Information: Kate Pieper ( 
Twitter: @Inclusionists

Perceptions of the Academic Major of Communication   
Brief Description: COMM 494 Research Practicum (#20738) is offered by Professor Ken Sereno to assess how non-communication majors perceive the academic major of communication and communication students and how communication students perceive the academic major of communication and their fellow students. This course may be taken for two units only. These semester students will be refining the survey instrument, gathering survey responses, analyzing the data statistically and, hopefully, have time to write up the results. The goal is to have a study that can be presented at an international, national or regional communication convention or conference.

Faculty Member: Ken Sereno
Term: Fall 2018 (Meets every Wednesday from 3:30 – 5:20 pm in ASC 202-C)
Contact Information: Ken Sereno ( 

The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture (IJPC), a project of the Norman Lear Center 
Brief Description: The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture, a project of the Norman Lear Center at USC Annenberg, investigates and analyzes - through research and publication - the conflicting images of journalists in film, television, radio, fiction, commercials, cartoons, comic books, music, art, video games, poetry, drama, etc. - demonstrating their impact on the public's perception of newsgatherers by utilizing student interest and expertise.

It was founded in 2000 by Joe Saltzman, a professor of journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication. Today, the IJPC website ( and the IJPC database are considered definitive worldwide sources for this subject and are used on a daily basis by scholars, students, and professionals who want to do more research in this area. 

Students will work with Saltzman on the IJPC database and various research projects. There is, however, no salary involved. JOUR 490 or 590 credit is a possibility, but no other financial compensation. 

Faculty Member: Joe Saltzman
Term: Annually – Students may inquire at any time
Contact Information: Joe Saltzman ( 
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