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Roadrunner Research: Communication Students Present at ECA

by Liz Mendicino ’26

Four undergraduate students caught the “current” and rode the research wave at the 2024 Eastern Communication Association (ECA) annual convention. Sara Hosbach 24’, Joseph Santana 25’, William Jackson 25’, and Melissa Glasson 24’ each had their research accepted for poster presentation with mentorship provided by Dr. Satarupa Dasgupta, associate professor of communication in the School of Contemporary Arts.

The 115th annual convention was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The ECA is the oldest professional communication association in the United States, with a deep and highly achieved history in research, theory, and teaching. The 2024 convention theme, Currents, served as a metaphor for how ideas are the currents that shape disciplines in this contemporary world, as well as a physical reminder of the convention’s location along the Charles River. 

“I think everyone was a bit nervous initially, and we went over the presentations and posters many times,” Dasgupta said. “When the time came for the presentation, our students were definitely the experts in their chosen topics! They answered many questions from the audiences including the faculty from other institutions and the ECA evaluators with great finesse. Even the ECA program planner, and current president, congratulated them on their presentations!” Dr. Dasgupta serves as the chair of the health communication division at ECA and of the feminist and gender studies division of the National Communication Association

Roadrunner Research

Sara stands next to her research poster at the ECA conferenceTo Be Free But Not to Bleed Free: America’s Inequality in Menstrual Product Access

Sara Hosbach 24’ chose the topic of her paper because as a transfer student, she has worked both at her previous school, Brookdale Community College, and at Ramapo to advocate for women and increase access to menstrual products. “There is a strong apprehension on talking about menstruation and part of our work was to dismantle this,” Hosbach said. “Since this is a matter that has been so important to me throughout the years, when I received the opportunity to present on behalf of it, I knew I had to.” At Brookdale, Hosbach was the president of Women in Learning and Leadership, where she helped provide free menstrual products in school bathrooms and educate students on toxic shock syndrome. At Ramapo, as Vice President of Leadership in Alpha Phi Omega, an Admissions Ambassador, a Student Government Association Senator, and Head of Entertainment for Relay for Life, it is clear that creating change and being a leader is just part of Hosbach’s day-to-day life.

Joseph stands next to his research poster at the conference.The Pink Invasion: How Gender Plays a Role in The Films We Watch

When Joseph Santana 25’ wrote his paper discussing the need for more women behind the camera in the film industry, the impact of the Barbie movie, and the prominence of the male gaze in the film industry, he was not expecting it to take him to Cambridge. “I really had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and decide what I really wanted to talk about, since the paper wasn’t finished,” Santana said. For him, the most rewarding part of the process was pulling everything together and creating a paper he was proud of. Santana, as a Global Communications major with a minor in Film, is additionally working on a fellowship with Professor Dasgupta.

William stands to the right of his research poster at ECA.The Importance of Fentanyl Test Kits: Why We Need to Make Fentanyl Testing Kits Available and Legal on a Federal Level 

“There’s a lot of value in coming from a writing background, not a lot of people are writers,” William Jackson 25’ said. As a Communication Arts major with a concentration in Journalism, much of his previous writing has been for the Ramapo News as the Sports Editor. When encouraged to submit a paper to the conference, he jumped at the chance. He wrote his paper on the need for fentanyl strips at the federal level, along with the need to destigmatize said practice. Despite Journalism being a small program at Ramapo, he values the opportunities and resources that it has given him and the support of the faculty.

Melissa stands next to her research poster at the conference.No Child, But Some Adults, Left Behind: Navigating Higher Education with Special Needs

For Melissa Glasson 24’, the most rewarding part thus far was receiving her acceptance letter to the conference a mere month after applying. After heavily deliberating the intense competitiveness of being accepted to such a prestigious conference, hearing back so soon was extremely fulfilling. Glasson, who wrote her paper on how higher education institutions can improve the experiences of students with learning disabilities, is excited for the new experience and grateful for the mentorship of Professor Dasgupta. “I was drawn in by the competitiveness in getting accepted to attend and its location,” Glasson said. “I have never been to Boston or Cambridge, so the travel experience outside of New Jersey sounded interesting and exciting.”

Emily stands at the podium and Dr. Dasgupta stands in front of a screen that projects the thank you slide from their research presentation.Technology-mediated communication interventions for Generation Z victims of violence: Modalities, preferences, access and the road ahead

Along with Emily Melvin 23’, Dr. Dasgupta was able to present her own co-authored work at the convention. Dasgupta’s research focuses on risk reduction program development among commercial sex workers, prevention of sex trafficking, rehabilitation of sex trafficking survivors in international settings, and intimate partner violence support service provision among immigrant communities. She has mentored students to attend various communication conferences, and noted that ECA is a phenomenal and enriching experience for students to present their research, alongside being highly competitive. “Looking at their happy faces made my day! These conferences have allowed them to dream of graduate school and many other wonderful things to come in the future!” she said. “I feel uniquely privileged and humbled to help them go for that dream!”

Check out a day in the life of Sara at the conference, and follow @RamapoCollegeNJ while you are at it!


Sara, Melissa, Joseph, and William stand inside the ECA poster presentation room at the convention.The Eastern Communication Association allows students majoring in communications to creatively express and present their research, bringing together like-minded individuals from across the Eastern conference. Featuring a wide array of paper topics, research fields, and higher education institutions, the ECA allows for students and mentors alike to engage on important communications topics and issues. To learn more about majoring in communication, visit the School of Contemporary Arts website. To learn how to become involved in research and presenting at ECA, do not hesitate to email Dr. Dasgupta, one of Ramapo College’s most dedicated mentors to students.