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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Nathian Shae Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Digital Media and Associate Director of the School of JMS, works in SDSU's Media, Identity, and Communication Innovation Research Lab. (SDSU) Nathian Shae Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Digital Media and Associate Director of the School of JMS, works in SDSU's Media, Identity, and Communication Innovation Research Lab. (SDSU)

SDSU School of Journalism And Media Studies Opens New Research Lab

The media, identity, and communication (MIC) innovation research lab is focused on intersectional identity in media, entertainment, communication, and pop culture.
By Ryan Walsh

The Media, Identity, and Communication (MIC) Innovation Research Lab is the brainchild of Nathian Shae Rodriguez, associate professor of digital media and associate director of San Diego State University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies at the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (PSFA). This novel lab was opened Jan. 23 after Rodriguez was awarded the Inaugural SDSU Presidential Research Fellowship.

Rodriguez created the MIC Lab to assist his research in critical cultural media and to help foster innovative research using creative media technology. 

“It was important for me to bring this lab to SDSU because I didn’t really see any research spaces in JMS, or even PSFA at large, for people who were doing critical cultural research in media or communication,” Rodriguez said.

This state-of-the-art research lab is open to faculty, students, and staff across JMS and PSFA who are doing research into intersectional identity in the media, entertainment, communication, and pop culture. 

“I want people to be able to come into the lab and learn how to be, not just critical researchers for media and communication, but also critically media literate,” Rodriguez said. “It was important that this space be one where I could help nurture and mentor scholars and scholarship that was intersectional, intentional, and transformational.”

Located on the fourth floor of Adams Humanities, the lab provides researchers with media technology supporting creative research methodologies and data analyses such as interviews, content and textual analysis, multi-screen observation, python, EnVivo, Qualtrics, and SPSS. With wall monitors, Apple Airplay, podcasting equipment, in-home simulation space, and gaming consoles, the MIC Lab also provides a space for students and faculty to research and produce podcasts, children’s media, sports media, pop culture studies, and video game studies.

Since the lab is brand new, Rodriguez is looking forward to starting on new projects with faculty and students, specifically those in their undergraduate years.

“I want students to get a deeper understanding of media representation and identity, but also to have those tangible hands-on experiences that are going to make them more understanding of what research is and help them get to where they want to be in their academic or professional career,” he said.

Two students are currently working as lab research assistants as part of the Weber Honors College Research Fellowship Program. They will have the opportunity to have their names included in a published research paper.

Over time the lab will grow into additional endeavors. 

“I am excited as this lab really helps to push things forward and establishes us as innovators who are bringing together faculty and students from a range of disciplines and perspectives into one place to work collaboratively on projects that look at the intersection of media and identity,” JMS Director Temple Northrup.

Lab projects include a podcast focused on JMS alumni playfully called Where Ya At? In spring the lab will partner with JMS faculty to host an oral history project on San Diego Spanish-language journalists, an LGBTQ streaming guide, and a first-generation needs assessment. 

The lab will also collaborate with students on projects focused on the state of Asian American representation in television, bisexual stereotypes in film, Latinx journalism, and pop culture.

“I grew up always hearing my immigrant grandfather saying: you grow and move forward in life with one hand in front of you pulling yourself up, and the other hand behind you reaching out and pulling others up with you,” Rodriguez said. “This is what this lab is for me.” 

The MIC Lab hosts its grand opening on March 1.