Psychology student and Social Science Scholar Nicole Jedding wins UURAF Grand Prize

July 16, 2018 - Liz Schondelmayer

On June 18, Nicole Jedding received an email telling her that her presentation for the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum had not only placed best in its category – but best overall.

“I had spent hundreds of hours watch and reading and writing, so to earn this prestigious distinction makes all the missed sleep and yelling at Excel worth it!” Nicole said.

UURAF is an annual competition that brings together the best undergraduate researchers to share their studies with fellow MSU students and staff. UURAF is broken down into many different categories due to the broad range of majors and topics included, but for the top prize, competitors are separated into two categories: Social sciences, arts, and humanities; and STEM-related fields.

Of all of the presentations included in that first category, the UURAF judges decided Nicole’s was the best. For her efforts, she not only won major bragging rights, but a $500 check, too.

Part of what made Nicole’s project stand out was her passion for her topic. Nicole chose to study how the presentation of drug abuse and addicts in the media shaped public opinion on drug-related issues.

“How the media affects our perception and interpretation of events such as drug crises and can influence the response is critical to helping avoid misrepresentation in the future,” Nicole explained. “The reasoning behind my study was that it’s one-of-a-kind. Most articles discussing the topic made assumptions based on the plural of anecdote, and no one appeared to have tried to quantify the media’s misrepresentation before.”

On top of being an all-star researcher, Nicole is also a member of the Social Science Scholars Program, which has joined in her in celebrating her big victory.

“Nicole Jedding’s study of the media’s depiction of drug users is about the most important and sophisticated piece of undergraduate research I have ever seen,” said Program Director Dr. John Waller. “We are thrilled to have Nicole in the Social Science Scholars Program and look forward to her continuing to flourish as a researcher.”

Nicole’s study could have a lasting impact on the way the media covers drug crises in the future, and she is excited to continue and expand her study. “Hearing that I’m not wasting my time and that others are also interested in what I’m passionate about gives me a boost of energy, and I’m excited to continue the project! The platform that UURAF provides MSU undergraduates is such a wonderful asset for the university,” Nicole said.