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The Scoop on Dog Poop: Grad Student’s Research Informs the Public

Posted on November 13, 2015 7:00 am by Nash Dunn

Photo credit: Don Burkett. Photo retrieved via Flickr and shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

Photo credit: Don Burkett. Photo retrieved via Flickr and shared under a Creative Commons license. Click for more information.

When it comes to dog poop, everyone has an opinion.

“It’s gross,” is a common critique, both from the unwilling-to-pick-up pet owner and the passerby who plants his or her foot in Fido’s droppings.

“It’s gross, but it’s your responsibility to clean it up,” is another frequent response, perhaps from the neighborhood poop police or the average concerned citizen.

Clodagh Lyons-Bastian is well aware of the dog poop conversation in Raleigh.

After noticing more and more of her neighbors lamenting about unpicked-up poop, Lyons-Bastian decided to research attitudes and behaviors around dog waste removal while earning her master’s degree in communication this year. Now the recent graduate and public speaking lecturer is sharing her findings, both with area residents and a municipal advisory board, to help create a cleaner city.

At the core of her study was a citywide survey of nearly 1,000 residents, whose responses showed that a lack of resources may be the largest impediment to picking up. In fact, more than 60 percent of respondents said if they didn’t clean up after their pet, it was because they didn’t have a bag or receptacle.

That common response was much different than the one respondents gave for why others didn’t pick up. When asked why they thought their neighbors didn’t remove waste, most respondents guessed it was “too much trouble” or that “no one would notice.”

Lyons-Bastian said that finding is consistent with the fundamental attribution error — a social psychology phenomenon she had studied in her graduate work. The fundamental attribution error occurs when people attribute the action of others to personality traits rather than to external factors that might be at play.

“That in itself shows that there is some kind of disconnect going on,” Lyons-Bastian said. “If people who pick up aren't communicating with those who don't pick up, they may make assumptions. 'She's lazy ... or just nasty,' they may assume.

“Also, communication could help circulate information about resources,” she continued. “Simply knowing that your neighbor does care would go a long way.”

A draft of one of several prototype signs Clodagh Lyons-Bastian is creating appeals to community responsibility.

A draft of one of several prototype signs Clodagh Lyons-Bastian is creating that appeals to community responsibility.

Lyons-Bastian’s research also found that residents are most compelled by positive appeals in signage, such as personal responsibility and community inclusion. Threats and educational information work, she said, but the more specific the better.

“A sign that reads, ‘You’ll be fined,’ may not be as effective as one that says, ‘You’ll be fined $500,’” she said. “‘Waste spreads disease’ may not be as effective as wording that notes a specific disease.”

Lyons-Bastian has presented her findings to citizen advisory councils and other groups throughout the city, and continues to do so. She also shared her study with the Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board, of which she’s a member.

Lyons-Bastian is now creating several prototype signs based on her research that she will make available to the Parks board and neighborhood communities. The next step is to conduct field testing and see where they’d work best in the community. Lyons-Bastian said the advisory board is also considering adding more infrastructure for dogs, such as dog parks and other off-leash areas.

To see the full results of Lyons-Bastian’s study, “The Raleigh Scoop: Attitudes and Behaviors in Dog Waste Removal,” click here.

Internship Involves Lying in a Hammock ... and Much More

Posted on November 9, 2015 6:41 am by dlleeder

Briana Ullman

Briana Ullman interned this summer with hammock manufacturor ENO.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences encourages students to participate in internships that help them explore career options and acquire real-world experiences. In this Q & A, Briana Ullman demonstrates the power of proactive research in acquiring internships, and shares how her internship provided new skills, knowledge and insights.

Briana Ullman is a sophomore Communication major with a concentration in public relations. She found a summer internship after her freshman year, thanks to some curiosity, proactive communication, and self-advocacy. Take-away: Sometimes all you have to do is ask!

How did you locate your internship?

I found my internship by complete chance.  My parents gave me a DoubleNest Hammock as a present, and my dad mentioned that the company, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Inc.(ENO), was based in my hometown of Asheville, NC. The company is an industry leader in packable travel hammocks and other outdoor accessories. I thought it would be great experience to work for a company that makes something I love. So I did a little digging on LinkedIn and found the page of ENO's marketing coordinator. I sent her an email introducing myself and asked if there were any summer internship opportunities available. I was amazed when she said yes!  I interviewed in May and began working at my dream job as a PR and marketing intern.

Describe the internship.

ENO hammock

Briana Ullman modeled ENO's hammocks during her internship.

I worked about 20 hours a week from May to August managing social media, creating original content, editing and publishing entries for the company's blog, and contacting media about promoting or reviewing our products. I saw how the company works from taking product photos (and lying in a hammock for some photo shoots!), managing the distributor access site and vendor portals, and interacting one-on-one with customers. I connected with writers from newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, leading industry magazines, and high-profile blogs, and became familiar with Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and WordPress.  I learned something new every day!

How did your internship relate to your major, your career goals, and your personal interests?  

My internship perfectly coupled my love for the outdoors and my desire to learn more about my major.  My favorite thing about ENO is that their products can motivate anyone to get outdoors and enjoy themselves. It's fun to see where people will hang their hammock. Not only did I learn what a day on the job looks like in the public relations field, but I got to explore what it's like to represent a company that its consumers are so passionate about.  It was absolutely inspiring, and made me even more excited to continue along my career path.

What did you learn?

I found that the best way to find success in what you do is to learn as much as possible.  I tried to take on as many tasks as I could each day to gain experience. Even though it involved asking a ton of questions and sometimes getting frustrated when a task was difficult, I feel that I made the most out of my experience at ENO because I learned everything I could.

What were some of the challenges?

Some of the challenges I faced were struggling to learn how to work programs that were totally foreign to me and getting frustrated that I couldn't grasp them right away. But now that I have so much more experience under my belt, I'm grateful that I was thrown into these new situations and had to learn quickly.

What were some of the rewards?

My work with ENO has given me so many rewards both personally and professionally. I learned about one of my favorite products, how the brand interacts with their customers, and the outdoor retail industry as a whole. I expanded on existing skills and discovered new skills that are critical for public relations work. I reaffirmed my love for what I study, and gained experience in the workplace by interacting with an incredible staff. I couldn't feel more rewarded by this experience.

This Q & A was conducted by Dara Leeder, director of student recruitment and retention in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Student of the Month: Mackie Raymond

Posted on November 6, 2015 7:00 am by dlleeder

Mackie Raymond

Mackie Raymond, Student of the Month

Meet Mackie Raymond, Humanities and Social Sciences Student of the Month

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Class:  Sophomore

Major:  Communication Media

Minors:  Arts Entrepreneurship; Music Performance

Sample Courses:

  • Introduction to Communication Theory
  • Explorations in Creative Writing
  • Practical Arts Entrepreneurship


  • Communication and Marketing Intern, 826DC (Washington, DC nonprofit), summer 2015
  • Performer, State Chorale men’s and women’s choir
  • Arts NC State Representative, NC State Student Center Board of Directors
  • Performer and backstage crew member, University Theater
  • Trainer and peer educator, NC State Women’s Center
  • Vice President, NC State’s Positive, Loving, Empowered Advocates of Sexual Education (P.L.E.A.S.E)
  • Proctor, Scribe and Access Assistant, NC State Disability Services Office
  • Volunteer, Student Government Diversity Outreach Department
  • Actor, Raleigh Room Escapes (off-campus performing arts group)
  • Resident, Arts Village


Dean’s List

Why did you select the College of Humanities and Social Sciences?

In my junior year of high school, I loved humanities courses such as history and English. I felt that these subjects were downplayed at NC State because Engineering was held up as the university’s unparalleled major. But I reached out to some professors here and visited with them, and saw what a high-quality education the college had to offer.

What has been your favorite Humanities and Social Sciences course?  Do any individuals stand out as making a difference for you?

I really liked American Literature I with Dr. Denise Heinze. The professor knew the material through and through, and she conveyed tremendous enjoyment of it. Also, Amy Sawyers, who is ARTS Outreach Coordinator for ARTS NC State, has helped inspire me to get involved in many campus arts activities.

What has been your greatest challenge so far?

Building a consistent support system.  It is difficult adjusting to a new environment, and you have to figure out what clicks with different groups of people. With some, you talk about academics, and with others, about personal issues. It takes a while to find your niche.

What advice would you give incoming students?

Search for involvement outside the school setting in the Triangle area as well. Don’t be nervous about asking for help if you have any problems. Also, set up “anticipatory support.” Know that you will likely need to lean on people down the road and will want to be around those you trust.  Seek relationships beforehand so you have a support network in place.

Dean’s Scholar program expands

Posted on October 28, 2015 7:41 am by Nash Dunn

Aspiring to be osteoarchaeologists, federal prosecutors and museum curators, the latest cohort of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Scholars have big plans for the future.

Thanks to contributions from college donors, the seven recipients of this year’s Dean’s Scholar Award can also plan on being something else — experiential learners.

In addition to upping the total amount of the annual freshman merit award, the college is expanding what the scholarship includes. Compared to the $1,000 tuition scholarships students have received in past years, Dean’s Scholars will now receive $4,000 — $2,000 for freshman year tuition and $2,000 for experiential education during their junior or senior year.

“By increasing the amount of the award and expanding its purpose, we hope to not only help our outstanding students pay for their education, but also encourage them to study abroad, conduct research or fulfill their entrepreneurial goals,” said Jeff Braden, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Using funding from its enhancement fund, the college created the Dean’s Scholar Award in 2012 to give top high school seniors another reason to make NC State their first choice. Since then, the college has recruited candidates to the program each year, inviting top achieving high school students to a special reception in the spring.

Eligible candidates must be accepted into a Humanities and Social Sciences major and demonstrate excellence in the classroom. Invitees often have a math and critical reading SAT score of at least 1300, a weighted GPA of at least 4.4, and a class rank in the top 10-12 percent.

Several of this year’s Dean’s Scholars say they arrived at NC State with hopes of studying abroad, so the expanded scholarship will help pay for their learning overseas. For other students, the funding will come in handy for specific research projects they have in mind.

Meet the 2015 Dean’s Scholars:

Megan Angevine, international studies

Angevine, of Cary, enjoys learning about languages and cultures, which led her to major in international studies, minor in Spanish and possibly add a second major in statistics through the Alexander Hamilton Scholars Program. International studies majors are required to study abroad, so Angevine said the Dean’s Scholar Award will offset her travel costs and allow her to save money for the trip. After graduating, Angevine plans to spend a year in the Peace Corps before moving to Washington, where she hopes to land a job at the Smithsonian or the United Nations.

Marissa Brinkman, psychology

Long fascinated by the human mind and patterns of behavior, Brinkman said NC State’s Department of Psychology provides an outlet to expand her knowledge of a broad and diverse field. In addition to helping her pursue her studies freshman year, the Dean’s Scholar Award will help her conduct specialized research when she’s a junior. Brinkman, who is from Cary, said she doesn’t have any specific plans after graduation, but plans to use psychology wherever her career takes her.  

Sarah Crawford, psychology

With interests in both the human mind and law enforcement, Crawford plans to study forensic psychology with the long-term goal of becoming a federal prosecutor. Since she also aspires to work overseas, Crawford, a Raleigh native, is considering pursuing a minor in international studies or a foreign language. She said the Dean’s Scholar Award will assist her in studying abroad.

Jessica Kronz, anthropology

With plans to study anthropology and bioarchaeology at NC State, Kronz hopes to better understand how to interpret messages instilled in skeletons. Kronz, of Clayton, said the Dean’s Scholar Award will help her and her family pay for tuition and will also provide an opportunity to study abroad. Her long-term career goal is to travel as an osteoarchaeologist, uncovering skeletons and lending her expertise to archaeological teams around the world.

Sandhya Kumar, political science

Kumar’s love for debating and discussing current events with her friends and family led her to major in political science at NC State. The Dean’s Scholar Award will help her fund research and study abroad as she expands her knowledge of the field. After graduating, the Cary native hopes to work for a nonprofit or start-up company before applying to graduate school.

Cate Rivers, English  

Rivers, of Raleigh, chose to study English with a literature concentration because reading is one of her favorite things. She said reading literature allows her to experience events and embrace perspectives that she would not otherwise likely encounter. Receiving the Dean’s Scholar Award is not only validating and encouraging, she said, but also makes her dream of studying abroad and earning a doctoral degree more feasible. While she’s not sure what she wants to do after graduation, Rivers said she plans to stay in academia, either as a professor, teacher, museum curator or a fiction writer.

Alyssa Vincent, English

Vincent, of Charlotte, considered several majors at NC State, but ultimately decided on English with a concentration in creative writing. It’s something she can pursue for hours and hours with interest, she said. With plans to double minor in art and design and technical and scientific communication, Vincent said the Dean’s Scholar Award is ideal for assisting her goals, current and future, known and yet-to-be-known. After graduation, Vincent said she can see herself going to graduate school, becoming a freelance writer or novelist, or writing in the science sector.

To support the Dean's Scholar program, visit the Humanities and Social Sciences enhancement fund giving page.

Study Highlights How Former Drinkers Navigate Social Drinking Situations

Posted on September 29, 2015 7:58 am by Nash Dunn

Photo credit: Edson Hong. Photo retrieved via Flickr and shared under a Creative Commons license.

Photo credit: Edson Hong. Photo retrieved via Flickr and shared under a Creative Commons license. 

A small, qualitative study published in the journal Health Communication highlights a wide variety of approaches that former problem drinkers take to determine how and whether to tell people in social situations that they don’t drink.

“The findings tell us that former problem drinkers can find it tricky to navigate social situations where alcohol is involved, and makes clear it’s important to support those who aren’t drinking and not push non-drinkers to disclose their reasons for not having a drink,” says Lynsey Romo, lead author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University.

For the study, researchers interviewed 11 former problem drinkers, who had been sober for between one and 19 years. The work was part of a larger study on how all non-drinkers – not just recovering problem drinkers – navigate social events where alcohol is being served.

“We found that former problem drinkers still want to be social, of course, but that they had to find ways to determine whether to disclose their non-drinking status to others,” Romo says. “Study participants said they felt the need to weigh how much they should tell other people. Essentially, they assessed the risk of being socially stigmatized if they were open about not drinking or about being in recovery.”

Many study participants reported trying to avoid the issue altogether, either by “passing” as a drinker (holding a cup but not drinking) or by simply turning down offers a drink without saying why.

If asked directly, some would make excuses for not drinking – citing health problems or being on medication that didn’t allow them to drink alcohol. Some would try to use humor to change the subject.

However, most participants noted that they make a point to stress that it was okay for others to drink around them.

A few study participants – particularly those who had been sober for a longer period of time – reported being open about their history of problem drinking, particularly if they thought it would defuse a situation that threatened their sobriety or if they thought it would help others that may be struggling with problem drinking.

The paper, “‘Coming out’ as an alcoholic: how former problem drinkers negotiate disclosure of their nondrinking identity,” was published in Health Communication Sept. 11. Co-authors of the paper were Dana Dinsmore at the University of Arizona and Tara Watterson, a former NC State graduate student who is now at the University of Kentucky.

Note: This is a guest post by Matt Shipman at NC State News.