Deen Freelon is an Associate Professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. His research covers two major areas of scholarship: 1) political expression through digital media and 2) data science and computational methods for analyzing large digital datasets. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 journal articles, book chapters, and public reports, in addition to co-editing one scholarly book. He has served as principal investigator on grants from the Knight Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has extensive experience in computational methods for social science research, including text preprocessing, computational description, network analysis, machine learning, and open-source research software development. He has written research-grade software to calculate intercoder reliability for content analysis (ReCal), analyze large-scale network data from social media (TSM), and collect data from Facebook (fb_scrape_public).
Daniel Kreiss is an Professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Kreiss’s research explores the impact of technological change on the public sphere and political practice. In Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama (Oxford University Press, 2012), Kreiss presents the history of new media and Democratic Party political campaigning over the last decade. Prototype Politics: Technology-Intensive Campaigning and the Data of Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2016) charts the emergence of a data-driven, personalized, and socially-embedded form of campaigning and explains differences in technological adoption between the two U.S. political parties. Kreiss is an affiliated fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and received a PhD in Communication from Stanford University.
Alice E. Marwick
Alice E. Marwick is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Faculty Affiliate at the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, and Faculty Advisor to the Media Manipulation Initiative at the Data & Society Research Institute. She researches the social, political, and cultural implications of popular social media technologies. In 2017, she co-authored Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online, a flagship report examining far-right online subcultures’ use of social media to spread disinformation, for which she was named one of 2017’s Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. She is the author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age (Yale 2013), an ethnographic study of the San Francisco tech scene that examines how people seek social status through online visibility, and is co-editor of The Sage Handbook of Social Media (Sage 2017). Her current book project examines how the networked nature of online privacy disproportionately impacts marginalized individuals in terms of gender, race, and socio-economic status.
Tressie McMillan Cottom
Tressie McMillan Cottom is an award-winning author, professor, and sociologist, whose work has earned national and international recognition for the urgency and depth of its incisive critical analysis of technology, higher education, class, race, and gender. She is an Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and a faculty affiliate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. McMillan Cottom earned her doctorate from Emory University’s Laney Graduate School in sociology in 2015. Her dissertation research formed the foundation for her first book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (The New Press 2016). With hundreds of thousands of readers amassed over years of writing and publishing, McMillan Cottom’s columns have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Dissent Magazine. Her most recent book, THICK: And Other Essays (The New Press 2019), is a critically acclaimed Amazon best-seller that situates Black women’s intellectual tradition at its center. THICK won the Brooklyn Public Library’s 2019 Literary Prize and was shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award in nonfiction.
Shannon McGregor is an Assistant Professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Her research addresses the role of social media and their data in political processes, with a focus on political communication, journalism, public opinion, and gender. McGregor’s published work examines how three groups – political actors, the press, and the public – use social media in regards to politics, how that social media use impacts their behavior, and how the policies and actions of social media companies in turn impacts political communication on their platforms. Her work takes up diverse methodologies like surveys, experiments, and large-scale computational and network analysis, as well as qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, to understand politics in socially networked digital spaces. McGregor’s work has been published in top journals like the Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Political Communication, Journalism, and Information, Communication & Society, and she is the co-editor a book (with Dr. Talia Stroud), Digital Discussions: How Big Data Informs Political Communication.
Francesca Tripodi is a sociologist and media scholar whose research examines the relationship between social media, political partisanship, and democratic participation, revealing how Google and Wikipedia are manipulated for political gains. She is an Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and an affiliate at the Data & Society Research Institute. She holds a PhD and MA in sociology from the University of Virginia, as well as an MA in communication, culture, and technology from Georgetown University. In 2019, Tripodi testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on her research, explaining how search processes are gamed to maximize exposure and drive ideologically based queries. This research is the basis of her book, which is under contract with Yale University Press. She also studies patterns of gender inequality on Wikipedia, shedding light on how knowledge is contested in the 21st century. Her research has been covered by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Columbia Journalism Review, Wired, The Guardian and The Neiman Journalism Lab.
Postdoctoral Research Fellows
Yvonne M. Eadon
Yvonne M. Eadon conducts research at the intersection of conspiracy theory scholarship, information seeking and behavior, online misinformation and disinformation, and archival studies. Her dissertation, titled "'They Are the Conspiracy Theorists, Not I': Mapping the Research Selves of Counter-Establishment Researchers," examines the research practices and self-concepts of people who research UFOs, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the missing 411 phenomenon.
Nanditha Narayanamoorthy’s work draws from a combination of computational and qualitative methods to understand the relationship between technology and democracy and rethink digital governance for marginalized communities in the Global South.
As an interdisciplinary scholar at the intersection of Critical Digital Studies, Gender Studies, and Social Justice, she investigates the role that platforms play in centering vulnerable groups online. She studies digital activism to examine how gendered, religious, and ethnic minorities employ social media platforms to create and perform their political identities. She also investigates how these marginalized communities are targeted by state-sponsored digital hate that undermines democracy.
Qunfang Wu’s research lies at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and social justice. As a technological activist researcher, she strives to challenge how socio-technical systems enable the construction and propagation of inequalities and advocate for design justice perspectives and practices. Qunfang received her Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. She earned her B.S. in Information Management and System and M.S. in Information Science from Peking University.
Qunfang’s dissertation “Conversations About Crime: Re-Enforcing and Fighting Against Platformed Racism on Reddit” unpacks how Reddit users engaged in discourse frames that both re-enforced and fought against racism, and the interactions and moderation on Reddit were mediated by overt and covert racist ideologies. Her work has been published in the ACM Human-Computer Interaction (CSCW), the ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), the ACM Transactions on Social Computing (TSC), the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), and the International Conference on Digital Government Research (DG.O).
Yiping Xia is interested in news engagement and disinformation. His research employs qualitative and mixed methods, focusing on contexts and meaning-making. Combining in-depth interviews and the news diary method, his dissertation takes a lifeworld approach to the study of news engagement, with fieldwork conducted in the Chinese-Canadian community in Toronto. Dr. Xia received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with minors in Sociology and STS.
Graduate Research Assistants
Parker Bach is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a CITAP Research Assistant for Dr. Shannon McGregor. Parker researches online cultural politics, with particular interests in political humor, youth politics, and the American Right. His research incorporates both qualitative and computational methods.
Bridget Barrett is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and studies new media in political advertising. Bridget is interested in the intersection of digital marketing and politics, like how technologies developed for the commercial advertising industry impact political messaging online.
A disabled veteran of the U.S. Army, Erik Brooks is a 4th-Year Ph.D. student in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research is focused on the intersection of political polarization and society, the origins and effects of increasing political hostility in the U.S., and the role that media may play in this phenomenon
Kiara Childs is a Ph.D. student AAUW Dissertation Fellow in the Department of Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research explores the intersection of Black women’s digital and beauty culture across Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube.
Aashka Dave is a Ph.D. student in UNC’s School of Information and Library Science. She is interested in media ecosystems, disaster and risk communications, mis/disinformation, mental health, and feminist organizing. Aashka holds an M.S. in comparative media studies from MIT and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Romance languages from the University of Georgia. She has previously worked at the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media, the Harvard Kennedy School, and The Associated Press.
Katherine (Katie) Furl is pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Broadly, her research focuses on gender, media, and inequality. In past research, Katherine has employed qualitative and computational methods to examine how rhetoric and discourse in male supremacist online communities perpetuate social inequalities. In her dissertation work, Katherine is interested in exploring the ranking and quantification of physical appearance and beauty online.
Heesoo Jang a Ph.D. student at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before coming to UNC-Chapel Hill, she worked at SNU FactCheck Center, the first and only fact-checking platform in South Korea. Through her research, she aims to address the multifaceted impacts of AI systems and digital platforms on people and society, focusing on the aspects of politics, power, and ethics. She is passionate about her research because of its implications for democracy.
Daniel Johnson is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. He was a journalist with the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2016-2017, has worked in public relations, and has written for Slate, The Hill, and Task and Purpose. His current research focuses are on how social media is being used for positive mental health purposes, and on how information warfare tactics are being used domestically and internationally.
Daniel Malmer is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park fellow in the Media and Communication program at UNC-Chapel Hill. He uses computational methods to study online radicalization, extremism, and conspiracy theories. Prior to UNC, Dan had a long career in software development in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Courtlyn Pippert researches the relationship between media and history. Specifically, she is interested in the ways that depictions of American historical events and figures in popular media offer particular ways of thinking about the historical past. More broadly, she is interested in the power popular media has to shape people’s understanding of the world around them.
Evan Ringel is a Ph.D. Park fellow at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. He holds a J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law and an M.A. from Hussman. Evan’s research focuses on the intersection between the First Amendment, civil rights, and government regulation, especially at the state and local level.
Carolyn Schmitt is a master’s student in theory and research and a Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. Previously, she worked in communications at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and was a researcher on their Public Discourse in the U.S. 2020 Election project.
Elaine Schnabel is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication at UNC Chapel Hill. Her research investigates how gender, race, and religious identity are communicatively constructed in ways that intensify hatred and exclusion. She is currently examining Christian place-making in the United States, analyzing the role of church buildings in creating a normative sense of what it means to identify as Christian.
Zari Taylor is a graduate student in the Department of Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. She studies the intersection of beauty, race, the internet, and racial capitalism. She is particularly interested in modern-day forms of techno-minstrelsy that animate the influencer industry, and its relationship to beauty capital, algorithms, affordances, and racial disparity within the industry.
Noelle Wilson is a JD/MA dual degree candidate at University of North Carolina School of Law and UNC School of Journalism and Media, expected to graduate in 2024. She is interested in issues at the intersection of law and communication technology.
Administration & Staff
Katy Peters is a civic technologist and nonprofit entrepreneur, who co-founded Democracy Works, a nonpartisan, nonprofit that works to make voting a simple, seamless experience for all Americans. She has been recognized as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” in the field of law and policy and as a Champion of Democracy by the National Priorities Project.
Peters’ belief in better democracy has taken her from campaign organizing in Southeast Missouri to a master’s in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government to political rights monitoring in Afghanistan. Her previous experiences include positions with the National Democratic Institute and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security.
During her tenure at Democracy Works, she led the development and launch of TurboVote, an election reminder and voter registration tool that now serves more than 7 million voters in partnership with 175 colleges, several national nonprofits, and corporations that include Snap and Google. She also led Democracy Works’ acquisition of the Voting Information Project, a national open data collaboration that publishes official state polling locations and ballot data.
Gary Marchionini is the Dean and Cary C. Boshamer Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS). An expert in human-information interaction, interface design and testing, and digital libraries, he has published over 200 articles, chapters and, reports in a variety of books and journals. He has received grants or research awards from the National Science Foundation, Council on Library Resources, National Library of Medicine, Library of Congress, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kellogg Foundation, NASA, The National Cancer Institute, Microsoft, Google, and IBM among others. His professional contributions have been recognized by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology (2000) and the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Award of Merit (2011), the association’s highest honor. His current interests and projects are related to interfaces that support information seeking and information retrieval, and issues arising from data science and ubiquitous information.
Andrew Crist is a research application developer, data scientist, and entrepreneur. He co-founded Piedmont Data Points, a consultation firm that worked to transition Nasdaq’s Center for Board Excellence into the cloud computing space and continues to conduct analyses, offer software support, and create new products for Nasdaq. Piedmont Data Points also works with The Center for Digital Humanities at the University of Kansas to create natural language processing tools and online applications. Crist’s primary research interests include the impact of social media and financial technology on society. He has held positions as a data scientist at XPO Logistics, as a researcher at the University of Kansas, and now supports the work of researchers at CITAP.