Philadelphia, PA - This past April, senior undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences Jack Martorano ’23 was invited to present his research at the second annual Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Northeast Network (REEESNe) Conference at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Martorano’s research paper, “The 21st Century Augmented Reality Battlefield,” considers the power of social media in shaping interstate and intrastate conflict in the ongoing war in Ukraine, and in the 2020-21 Belarus protests.
A double-major in politics and international studies with minors in Italian and Russian, Eastern European & Central Asian studies (RECAS), Martorano, through analysis of various digital assets related to both conflicts, came to the conclusion that “social media is not just a tool, it represents the construction of an entirely new reality that has real impacts on the trajectory of conflicts. Instead of focusing on which sides were advantaged or disadvantaged by social media, I considered the role transformations that occurred on both sides as a result of communication technologies and how the conflict dynamics changed to adapt to the digital atmosphere.”
At the REEESNe Conference, Martorano gave a brief presentation on his project to a group of students, professors, and outside spectators. He also chaired a panel focused on the war in Ukraine, introducing other presenting students.
“This was a very rewarding experience that allowed me to further indulge my intellectual curiosity and meet other like-minded students from around the Northeast,” said Martorano, a Staten Island, N.Y., native.
Created through Yale’s MacMillan Center in December of 2020, REEESNe is a group comprised of institutions and individuals along the Northeast corridor and neighboring areas that facilitates information-sharing and collaboration in order to advance teaching and learning about the REEES area, with a primary focus on the undergraduate and master’s levels.
The competitive two-day conference featured panels of students’ scholarly papers as well as presentations on their experiences with study abroad and internships, alumni career panels, a keynote lecture, collections visits, concerts, and more.
Professor of history and director of the RECAS program at Fairfield David McFadden, PhD, worked closely with Martorano on this project and described Jack as "a very serious student — one of the best I have ever worked with. He also has a range of interests.”
At Fairfield, Martorano founded Fairfield University's Student Crystal Ball for Politics, a nonpartisan club dedicated to predicting the results of state and national elections. He served as vice president of the Russian Club and was a Humanities Institute student fellow for 2021-22, producing a lengthy research project on the Metaverse and its social and temporal impacts.
For the past three years, Martorano has also been a resident assistant in Jogues Hall, and most recently served as an RA for the Honors LLC in Jogues as a member of the Honors Program (and a Magis Scholar) throughout his time at the University. Additionally, Martorano served as treasurer of the RA/CPA Council (RACC), and is a member of the following honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Mu Gamma, Gamma Kappa Alpha, and Pi Sigma Alpha.
Recently, Martorano received three awards at the College of Arts and Sciences’ Award Ceremony: Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in International Studies, Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in Italian, and the Orin L. Grossman Award for his work in Russian, Eastern European & Central Asian Studies.
“Throughout my time at Fairfield, I have made a strong effort to take advantage of all of the opportunities that are available,” Martorano said. “I am very grateful to the entire Fairfield community, especially to the distinguished faculty and staff, for their tireless work and dedication to the student body.”
Martorano also said that he felt Fairfield has provided him with the necessary skills and connections to excel in the real world. After graduation, he’ll begin a full-time position with the HMG Strategy management consulting firm in Westport, Conn., a global platform for innovative insights, business growth, and career ascent.
Learn more about the undergraduate research experience at fairfield.edu/research.