Held in conjunction with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration, the third annual Diversity Research Showcase featured oral and poster presentations from MSU undergraduate students and provided space for them to present their work, or work in progress, on issues of diversity that advance inclusion with peers, faculty and staff.

Kelly O’Brien, Kailey Konkle and Jiayu (Jade) Liu received the Best Preliminary Research Award at the showcase event.

At the event, three Broad Spartans, Kelly O’Brien (B.A. Hospitality Business ’20), Jiayu (Jade) Liu (B.A. Hospitality Business ’20) and Kailey Konkle (B.A. Hospitality Business ’21), received the Best Preliminary Research Award and $300 in prize money.

“Winning the prize was honestly a great surprise,” Konkle said. “Our presentation was — and is still — a work in progress. So, to get recognized for the work we’ve done so far was great and really made me excited for what more we could do.”

The team presented research on early career hospitality industry employees’ perceptions of gender equality as well as findings from examining accessibility in the hospitality industry.

“This was such an exciting experience for us. It was all of our first times doing any kind of formal research,” Konkle said. “So, to see it all come together into two projects was really cool.”

Liu added, “Our next step is to have conversations with people who have a disability and understand their needs to increase their enjoyment when traveling and dining. Based on their needs, we hope we can make some suggestions [to improve] the hospitality industry.”

The team was advised by MiRan Kim, associate professor in The School of Hospitality Business. “It was clear to understand what they were talking about as they had a great understanding of their research topics,” she said. “They also answered questions in detail and professionally. In particular, it was my great pleasure to see them enjoy the research and presentation.”

O’Brien added, “I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of researching and presenting. This project has made me go outside of my comfort zone and grow as a person.”

The event was made possible by sponsorship from the Honors College, the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and the MSU Libraries and the Undergraduate Research Office. Visit MSUToday to read about other award winners from the showcase.