student and faculty member smiling at camera
Suzette's exploration of human-horse non-verbal communication and Jason's study on mental health in baseball shed light on intersections within their fields.

Congratulations to UTPB communication students Jasson Hemmerling and Suzette Trujillo for successfully presenting their research papers! Jasson and Suzette presented at the 34th Undergraduate Honors Conference held by the Southern States Communication Association this earlier this month in Frisco. 

Suzette presented her auto-ethnography study on human-horse non-verbal communication. Suzette has met and trained many horses throughout her lifetime using different non-verbal cues that make them move. In the presented research, she introduced the video-recorded excerpts from her training sessions with four horses - Baby, April, Valentina, and Tesuke – and demonstrated how horses and humans effectively accommodate their “language” to interact with each other. Suzette hopes to develop her ideas around human-horse relationships as a part of clinical therapy in her future career. She also has the title of Miss Rodeo Sand Hills Teen and serves the community as an ambassador for the rodeo. 

“I’ve been around horses for years so that my sister calls me a horse girl, which I now take as a compliment,” said Suzette. 

jasson_hemmerling.jpgJason discussed his recent study titled “Addressing Mental Health in Baseball: The Role of Coaches in Supporting Players” based on his own experiences of playing baseball. He has played baseball at UTPB and Ottawa University and found that the coach-player relationship plays a critical role in each player’s mental health and the team’s performance. However, Jasson says that mental health studies done on college baseball players remain limited, and most current research focuses on the effects of COVID-19. For this study, Jasson went through the training for studying human subjects and received approval from the UTPB Institutional Review Board, and currently in the process of recruiting interviewees. As an expected finding, at the conference presentation, he suggested open communication and inclusive language to build a positive team culture and support college baseball players’ mental health. 

After graduating from UTPB, Jasson and Suzette plan to continue their research at a graduate school this fall semester. Their conference presentations were supported by the Falcon Research & Educational Opportunities (FREO) Award, funded through the Division of Student Affairs and Leadership. The award is designed to encourage students to get involved in research and educational opportunities (conferences) to enhance their university experience.