Lindsey Wright never considered herself a writer and dissecting the symbolism behind characters and settings in a book was the last thing she wanted to do.

Then the Florida native took a writing and rhetoric class. Soon afterward, the Burnett Honors College scholar had switched her major.

“I’ve come to see that the more traditional acts of writing, such as writing a book, aren’t the only acts of writing that are of value,” Wright says. “Literacy practices like posting on social media and creating infographics are also important for us to think about as writing, and part of what I’ve enjoyed within my major is considering how these practices impact our identities and how our identities impact these practices.”

That reflection and a class assignment led Wright to conduct the research she is presenting at this year’s Student Research Week. Her project is “The Sound of Identity: Audios and Hashtags as Nexuses of Practice on TikTok.”

“Essentially, my research looks at how audios and hashtags work on TikTok, as opposed to other social media platforms such as Twitter, and how our identities intersect with these practices,” she says. “There isn’t a ton of research out there yet on TikTok, and I think it’s valuable to look at this specific app because so many people are using it, especially young people. It’s important for us to understand how we interact in digital spaces such as TikTok and why we do the things we do so we can better understand ourselves and how our world is shaped.”

For Wright, research’s value goes beyond the educational experience.

“Research is important in order for us to make informed progress and to grow not only as individuals but as a society,” she says. “It’s important to have the research to back up important decisions, so we need to do research to make sure the information we need exists.”

Her work has also earned national attention. Wright will be presenting her poster virtually at the Council on Undergraduate Research’s Posters on the Hill 2022 event in Washington, D.C., next month. Hundreds of posters are submitted for consideration and only 60 are selected each year.

Not a bad way to finish her undergraduate career. In addition to her bachelor’s degree, she expects to complete minors in linguistics and political science this May. She’s still deciding where she’ll attend graduate school to complete a master’s degree in writing rhetoric and composition.

Until then, she is focused on Student Research Week, Posters on the Hill, wrapping up her studies and tutoring at UCF’s University Writing Center. In her spare moments she says she hangs out with her dog Zero and reads sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Check out Wright’s research project during the Student Scholar Symposium this week. The symposium is part of Student Research Week, which is free, open to the public and ongoing in the Student Union this week.