Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 09:15
Tomika Steele says the UQ Summer Research Program is rewarding.
Tomika Steele says the UQ Summer Research Program is rewarding.

Taking and sharing photographs on Instagram can increase people’s awareness of what is going on around them, according to one research project from The University of Queensland's Summer Research Program.

Applications for the UQ Winter Research Program are now open, offering students the opportunity to complete a short-term research project under the supervision of an established researcher.

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) student Tomika Steele worked for 10 weeks in the School of Psychology, with supervisor Dr Stephanie Tobin, an experience she said was “rewarding”.

“We investigated the effects that taking and sharing photographs on Instagram has on people’s attention, well-being, life satisfaction and appreciation,” Ms Steele said.

“In the act of taking and sharing pictures, people actually paid more attention to what was happening around them, which is contrary to the popular belief that social networking distracts people from their surroundings.”

“These preliminary results provided an interesting glimpse into the relatively unexplored area of photography on social networking sites and has led to plenty of ideas for follow-up studies.”

Over the past five years more than 2100 students have signed up for the UQ seasonal research programs, with 499 students getting involved in the most recent 2013-2014 summer program.

Ms Steele said she heard about the program through friends and wanted to gain research experience before her Honours studies this year.

“My responsibilities included conducting literature searches, helping set up the study, attending lab meetings and recruiting, emailing and paying participants.”

“Not only did I gain invaluable research experience that will help me in Honours, but lab meetings gave me the chance to engage with other students and researchers and learn more about their field through their work.”

Ms Steele recommended the program to others and plans to continue working with Dr Tobin for her Honours thesis.

“It is a fantastic way to learn about the research process and gain skills and experience in the field that will help you both academically and professionally.”

Dr Tobin said it was not just students who benefitted from participating.

“Benefits for researchers include having bright students available to work on various research projects and potentially being able to work with those students after the summer program,” Dr Tobin said.

She advised applicants to do background research before contacting a potential supervisor and to “play up your strengths in your application”.

Applications for the Winter Research Program are open until 4pm, Friday 4 April.  Further information is available at

Media: Georgia Mitchell at UQ Advantage Office (07 3346 0626 or