For the First Time, Hollins Students Take Top Spots at Research Forum

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Learning (IEL) at Hollins University

Megan David ’18 and Emili McPhail ’18 have earned an unprecedented achievement for Hollins.

The communication studies majors won first and second place, respectively, at the 16th annual Student Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF), held at Lynchburg College on March 17.

The Lynchburg College website says SURF “brings together undergraduate students from colleges in the region to present original undergraduate research. The students’ original research and oral presentations are evaluated by a panel of judges and awards are given. The students gain valuable experience in doing research and get insight into the possibility of pursuing their research interests in graduate school.”

In addition to Hollins and Lynchburg, participating institutions include Liberty University, Longwood University, Radford University, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College.

David captured the top prize with her paper presentation, “Oh the Places We Have Gone: The Interplay between Study Abroad and Social Media.” McPhail’s second-place paper, “Parasocial Relationships with Celebrities: Finding Meaning with the Famous,” also focused on social media. Both papers were based on the students’ individual senior theses, which were completed under the guidance of Associate Professor of Communication Studies Chris Richter.

Sponsored by Associate Professor of Communication Studies Lori Joseph, Hollins communication studies students have participated in SURF since 2013 and have consistently earned honors.