The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Student Research Showcase provides opportunities for faculty and undergraduates


The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Marketing held its third annual Student Research Showcase this past Friday on April 8. Undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of business and marketing gained valuable research experience while working with faculty.

Dr. Joanne Cao is the lead faculty for the event as an assistant professor at the School of Marketing. Cao says the event was inspired by a need for undergraduate students to share their research and form a community of research between students and faculty.

In addition to the career experience and personal development, Dr. Cao hopes that students could make a difference in the larger field. 

“It’s a great opportunity to contribute to academia and literature,” Cao said.

The showcase is part presentation, part competition. Undergraduate and graduate students gave presentations on their research projects, which were judged by members of the faculty. 

Each presentation lasted five minutes, followed by a round of questions. The projects could be as early as proposal stages or completely finished, and cover a variety of disciplines under the College of Business. 

This year was the showcase’s largest, with 18 research projects students from both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses. 

Students also had the chance to win cash prizes. This year’s winners were as follows: Landon McFarland for Best in Proposal, Robbie McDonald for Runner Up for Best in Proposal, Faiyaz Hussain for Best in Final, Abigail Douglas for Runner Up for Best in Final and Ka’lon Duncanson for People’s Choice.

Southern Miss juniors present their research proposals. (Photo Courtesy of Joanne Cao)

Hussain is a graduate assistant at the Trent Lott National Center. His project was on the economic impacts of the Mississippi aquarium. It was one of the projects he was assigned as part of his work at the Lott Center.

Hussain says the difference between graduate and undergraduate research is resources.

 “I think it’s just about the tools you have at your disposal and how much you want to do it,” Hussain said.

Hussain presents his project about the economic impacts of the Mississippi aquarium (Photo Courtesy of Kelly Dunn and Ana Cortes)

The showcase came to be when faculty members at the College of Business saw the value of research and wanted to give undergraduate students the opportunity to participate. 

A committee of students and faculty from each school in the College of Business worked with sponsors to put the event together. This was the first year the showcase was held in person since the pandemic began.

In addition to the presentations, two seniors in the Honors College gave longer presentations defending their theses. 

One of them was senior marketing major Lauren Beverly and member of the committee that put the showcase together. She worked on the project for about two and a half years with her faculty advisor, Dr. Jayme Foster. 

Beverly says the relationship between students and faculty is essential. 

“Marketing, our faculty, says, ‘we want you to research what you want to research – so go find something to research.” Beverly said. “The students really lead the whole process.” 

Her advice to fellow student researchers or those who may end on the research path in the future?

“Find something you’re passionate about – it makes it a lot easier,” Beverly said. “And reach out to faculty.”

Cao echoes that sentiment. 

“Be curious,” Cao said. “If you’re interested in doing research, start asking those questions and connect with a faculty member.” Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.”

Correction Note: The original version of this story ran that the College of Business and Education Development hosted the showcase. This has been corrected to say the School of Marketing. Also, Cao is an assistant professor in the School of Marketing, not Leadership.

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