FSU College of Nursing Student Ashley Thaler Showcases Research on TikTok at Psychology Conference


Ashley Thaler, a junior nursing student at Florida State University College of Nursing, recently captivated audiences at the Society of Personality and Social Psychology annual conference in San Diego, California. Thaler’s presentation, which delved into adolescents’ interaction with the social media giant TikTok, shed light on the profound impact of digital media on youth behavior and mental health. 

Thaler’s research journey began during her sophomore year when she joined a project exploring adolescents’ engagement with TikTok. With relentless dedication, she immersed herself in interviews and data analysis, culminating in her presentation at the SPSP conference.

Reflecting on her experience, Thaler expressed, “Attending SPSP grew my confidence to hold academic conversations with peers and potential employers. I learned how to be adaptive in answering questions on the spot. This can be transversed to interview skills, and I now feel more confident speaking clearly and confidently about my work and accolades.”

Thaler recognized the significance of undergraduate research, stating, “As a nursing student, it can be easy to feel like we are not in a scientific field of research, we are not biologists or chemists working in a lab. But I want to encourage my peers that we have important perspectives and ideas to add to research.”

Thaler’s mentor, Dr. James Whyte, assistant dean for research and the director of PhD in Nursing Science Program, provided insights into the motivation behind sponsoring Thaler’s participation in the SPSP conference. “We are attempting to foster broader research involvement among our undergraduate nursing students, with the goal of pushing more of them towards careers in nursing science. Thus, the presentation aligns closely with our goal of exposing more of our students to formal research settings.”

Dr. Whyte also stressed the importance of undergraduate research in preparing students for future academic pursuits, noting, “Undergraduate research is generally considered the gateway to graduate study. Students who engage in research early on are more likely to be successful in graduate school.” 

In discussing the College of Nursing’s support for undergraduate research, Dr. Whyte outlined various initiatives to encourage student research involvement. “We have stressed programs like Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, honors in the major, and conference attendance support. We hope to build a research-intensive culture amongst our undergraduate students gradually.”

Thaler’s success at the SPSP conference is a testament to the valuable opportunities available to undergraduate students at the College of Nursing and their commitment to fostering a culture of research and innovation.

For more information on Ashley Thaler’s research and undergraduate opportunities at Florida State University, please contact Dr. James Whyte at jwhyte@nursing.fsu.edu.