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The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) is pleased to welcome its 2022-2023 cohort of faculty, postdoctoral, professional, and graduate student affiliates. This year’s affiliates represent institutions spanning the Research Triangle and the globe, ranging from North Carolina Central University to the University of Coimbra (Portugal), Kristiania University College (Norway), University of Johannesburg, and Oxford. They bring expertise in mis- and disinformation, health communication, surveillance, public policy, far-right media ecosystems, and more.

In our research, CITAP explores technology as it’s embedded in societies structured by economics, race, politics, culture, and more. Common themes found in our work include:

  • Political processes & movements: Politicians, activists, and civil society organizations use information technology to advance political goals at the local, national, and global level. Our work addresses connections between technology and political mechanisms like elections, advertising, journalism, and news to better understand what such shifts mean for the political landscape.
  • Democracy & (in)equality: The rise of digital communication both threatens and supports social justice and democracy across the globe. We explore how sociotechnical interactions impact equity, justice, and diversity.
  • Mis- and disinformation: False and misleading information generates revenue and power for its creators while undermining public trust. CITAP frames disinformation as a system of knowledge production frequently tied to identity-based hierarchies. We seek to understand how mis- and disinformation campaigns are created and spread and how they can be counteracted.
  • Platforms, networks, and infrastructure: There is a growing awareness of the relationship between communication technologies and the power dynamics that shape society. CITAP works to unearth and explore these dynamics through studies of social platforms, networks, and network infrastructure within broader economic and cultural contexts.

Together with CITAP faculty, staff, and returning affiliates, this year’s affiliates will collaborate and explore how we use data and technology to build community, exercise power, and make sense of the world.

“The best part about CITAP is the interdisciplinarity. The affiliate community brings together faculty, students, alt-ac scholars, and other smart people to think about complex ideas and work on research problems collaboratively,” said CITAP senior researcher Francesca Tripodi “The connective thread between our work is our goal to make a real-world impact, to reach audiences outside the ivory tower.”

New community members

Faculty & Postdoctoral affiliates

Iuliia Alieva is a 2nd-year Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where she works at the Center for Informed Democracy and Social Cybersecurity (IDeaS) and the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS). Her professional and academic interests are focused on research about disinformation, computational propaganda, state-funded disinformation operations, and political communication.

Chelsea Butkowski is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Digital Culture & Society within the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. She studies how people use everyday media technologies and practices to forge a sense of self and identity. Chelsea’s work focuses on the personal politics of digital storytelling and media representation in shaping online communities.

Alexandra Chassanoff is an Assistant Professor at the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University. She studies and teaches courses in cultural heritage informatics – specifically community-driven digital cultural heritage. She completed her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Information Science at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Joseph Bak-Coleman is a computational social scientist and Associate Research Scholar at the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security at Columbia. His research focuses on understanding how collectives cope with uncertainty. He is particularly interested in understanding what makes collective decision-making work and how it can go awry. He earned his Ph.D. at Princeton University.

Stewart M. Coles is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research examines how people develop their understanding of social issues related to identity. He is especially interested in the political effects of entertainment media and how evaluations of media’s political relevance are related to how people select and respond to media content.

Brian Creech is the Associate Dean for research and graduate studies and an Associate Professor of journalism in the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. His research takes a critical look at the technology and journalism industries, with a focus on institutional power and public discourse.

Larissa Doroshenko is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Communication and an Affiliate Faculty in Network Science Institute, both at Northeastern University. Her computational research projects focus on “the dark side” of online media: populism, nationalism, and disinformation campaigns. She received her Ph.D. degree in Communication Arts (Political Communication) with a minor in Political Science (Comparative Politics) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Elizabeth Dubois is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and a member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society at the University of Ottawa. Her work examines political uses of digital media including media manipulation, citizen engagement, and artificial intelligence. She hosts the Wonks and War Rooms podcast where political communication theory meets on the ground strategy. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford.

Tyler Easterbrook is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Composition, Communication, and Rhetoric at Methodist University. His research centers on conspiracy rhetoric, social media, and rhetorical methods for studying digital content. Professor Easterbrook’s work on link rot and conspiracy theories recently appeared in M/C Journal. Professor Easterbrook received his Ph.D. in 2021 from UNC-Chapel Hill and is excited to return as a CITAP affiliate.

Michael Eng teaches in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University and is a faculty affiliate in the Program in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, offering courses in data and information ethics, as well as in gender, media, and popular culture. His work deals with the intersection of aesthetics and politics from the standpoint of the philosophy of race and gender.

Jessie Barton Hronesova is a Marie Curie Global Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill and Ca’ Foscari Venice, Italy. She was previously an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oxford Department of International Development. Her research focuses on post-war dealing with the past in Central and Southeast Europe and the new wave of victimhood politics linked to populism and nationalism across the region. She holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford.

Madeline Jalbert is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington. Her work primarily focuses on factors that impact judgments of truth and risk, as well as how these judgments play out in naturalistic contexts. She completed her Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Southern California.

Bente Kalsnes is an Associate Professor at the Department of Communication, Kristiania University College. Her research interests include political communication, social media, disinformation, and platform power. She is also a member of a Nordic think tank, appointed by the Danish Ministry of Culture, which will examine technology companies’ influence on democracies in the Nordic region and suggest solutions to challenges in the digital public spheres. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Oslo.

Jessica Mahone is the Research Director of the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media (CISLM) at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. She received her Ph.D. in mass communication, specializing in political communication, from the University of Florida, M.A. degrees in communication and sociology from East Tennessee State University, and a B.A. in religion from King College.

Ruth Moon is an Assistant Professor in Media & Public Affairs at Louisiana State University. She studies journalists and the constraints and incentives that shape their work, particularly in countries with strong governments and limited technology infrastructure. She has master’s degrees in communication from UW and in political science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

David Morar is a researcher and public policy professional who has done work throughout the spectrum of technology policy issues, both nationally and internationally. Dr. Morar is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at NYU Steinhardt and a Fellow at the Digital Interests Lab, as well as a Visiting Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans Bredow Institute. He is Associate Editor for the Journal of Communication Technology.

Ashley Muddiman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, as well as a Faculty Research Associate with the Center for Media Engagement. Her research explores media effects, specifically those related to digital politics and political incivility. She also enjoys using innovative methods to address the challenges of studying social media content. She earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Aspriadis Neofytos is an Adjunct Lecturer of Strategic Communication in the Department of Museum Studies at the University of Patras. His research interests are in strategic communication, crisis management and communications, nation branding, public diplomacy, strategy, information warfare, psychological operations, fake news, disinformation, character assassination, and rhetoric. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of International and European Studies of the University of Piraeus.

Gabriel Nicholas is a Research Fellow at the Center for Democracy & Technology where his research focuses on automated content moderation and data governance. He is also a joint fellow at the NYU School of Law Information Law Institute and the NYU Center for Cybersecurity. He holds a MA in Information Management and Systems from the UC Berkeley School of Information.

Luise Papcke is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Classical Liberal Institute at the New York University School of Law. A political theorist by training, she received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 2020. In her research, she draws from the history of political thought to analyze the nature and dynamics of nascent digital subjectivity and the challenges it poses to ‘traditional’ liberal democratic ideas about individuality and autonomy.

Jonathan Peters is the chair of the Department of Journalism in the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where he also has a faculty appointment in the School of Law. His research focuses on First Amendment and media law, and his work has appeared in journals published by the law schools at Harvard, Berkeley, NYU, Virginia, and North Carolina, among others. 

Dan Hiaeshutter-Rice is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations at Michigan State University. His research explores how variations in technology and affordances shape political campaign communication, how identity shapes the information that we are exposed to and believe, and how various cues change perceptions and evaluations.

Jared Schroeder is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His research focuses on free expression and emerging technologies, particularly regarding how we conceptualize the space for democratic discourse in the networked, AI era. He received the Harry W. Stonecipher Award for Distinguished Research on Media Law and Policy in 2022.

Sagorika Singha is a researcher and teacher. She is currently a Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS), Bochum as well as a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). She completed her Ph.D. from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her research focuses on new media forms, mobile media cultures, and subcultural politics.

Scott Timcke is the author of Capital, State, Empire: The New American Way of Digital Warfare and Algorithms and The End of Politics: The Shaping of Technology in 21st Century American Life. He is a Research Associate with the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Change. He has held fellowships with the Centre for African Studies, University of Leeds, and the Center for Advanced Internet Studies.

Arthur D. Soto-Vásquez is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Texas A&M International University. He studies the relationship between digital media, popular culture, and identity making. His current projects cover U.S. Latinx political identity, misinformation, influencers, and consumer culture.  He received his Ph.D. from the American University and is from El Paso, Texas.

Heather Suzanne Woods is a scholar and teacher of digital rhetoric. She has been researching the relationship between technology and culture for nearly a decade. Heather’s research projects focus on rhetorics of innovation and emerging technology. Heather’s research has been featured in Wired, The Atlantic, CBC’s Spark, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and more.

Shan Xu is an Assistant Professor of Public Relations & Strategic Communication Management at Texas Tech University. Her interests include how people make media choices and how that influences their physical health and psychological well-being. She publishes in journals in communication and cross disciplines, such as Health Communication and Computers in Human Behavior, and has won research awards and grants.

Lauren Zentz specializes in the study of language use in contexts of online communication, political activism and news media, and the relation of such language use to nationalism, politics, and identity work. Her recent work takes an interest in how political activists and members of the news media make use of social media platforms in constructing individual and group identities, forming sociopolitical movements, and conveying news stories.

Melissa Zimdars is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media at Merrimack College in North Andover, MA. She is the co-editor of the book Fake News: Understanding Media and Misinformation in the Digital Age (MIT Press, 2020) and author of Watching Our Weights: The Contradictions of Televising Fatness in the Obesity Epidemic (Rutgers University Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in Television & New Media, Feminist Media Studies, Popular Communication, and The Washington Post.

Professional affiliates

DeVan Hankerson is the research manager at the Center for Democracy & Technology. Over the last several years, DeVan’s research has focused on disinformation, especially targeted race and gender based online abuse. Her upcoming research aims to measure the impacts of disinformation on women of color in public life. DeVan has also developed research on digital access issues for students with disabilities.

Benjamin Lennett is a tech policy researcher and writer focusing on digital platforms and democracy. He is the editor of Recoding.tech, a website, and newsletter that seeks to help policymakers understand what’s wrong with Big Tech and what types of policies can create better outcomes for democracy.

Lorcan Neill is a recent graduate of The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs where he received his master’s degree in media and strategic communication. His research interests lie at the intersection of platforms, power, and online resiliency.  He currently lives in Washington, DC where he works in public sector consulting.

Graduate student affiliates

Peter Andringa is a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford (Exeter College), where he is studying an MSc in Social Science of the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute (2021-22) and a master of Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government (2022-23). He is interested in the intersection of journalism, platform policy, and law, exploring how structural conditions of the internet facilitate or inhibit accountability journalism. He studied at UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A., Journalism & Computer Science) and Duke University as a Robertson Scholar.

Sérgio Barbosa is a Ph.D. student in the program “Democracy in the Twenty-First Century” linked to the Centre for Social Studies (CES) at the University of Coimbra. He is also a FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) Fellow. His research interests include the emerging forms of political participation vis-à-vis the possibilities afforded by chat apps, with emphasis on WhatsApp for digital activism and social interaction, focusing on WhatsAppers, Digital Sociology, Digital Activism, and Digital Literacy.

Sakshi Bhalla is a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois’s Institute of Communications Research. Broadly, she looks at how media environments and political environments influence each other. Her research examines news structures with particular attention to the rise of misinformation. She also looks at how audiences construct news/media repertoires and what that means for being politically informed.

Bethany Bowra is a Ph.D. student studying American politics at Florida International University. Her research focuses primarily on the presidency, Congress, and the interactions between the two in a digital world. Her survey work has also been featured in news outlets around the country, and she currently contributes to Times Radio as a U.S. Politics Analyst.

Jaclyn Carroll is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at Boston College specializing in deviance, communication, and health culture. She is currently completing a dissertation on wellness influencers and online health coaches, focusing on their migration toward extremist beliefs and their spread of institutional distrust and covid-era misinformation. Her work interrogates new frontiers of expertise and the limitations of platform regulation.

Carl Colglazier is a Ph.D. student at Northwestern in Technology and Social Behavior, an interdisciplinary program in computer science and communication. Carl researches sociotechnical information systems from both a top-down (rules, governance) and bottom-up (networks, communities) perspective.

Diana Freed is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer and Information Science at Cornell University. Her research interests are in human-computer interaction, security and privacy, technology policy, and digital health. She also develops tools and resources to improve digital literacy to enable individuals to make informed choices regarding technology use and to improve understanding of digital risks and harms. Diana leads the Youth Tech Safety Project at the Cornell Social Media Lab.

Shedrick Garrett is a Ph.D. student in the Developmental Psychology program at UNC-Chapel Hill. He received his B.S. in Psychology and Neuroscience with an area of emphasis in Behavioral Neuroscience from West Virginia University. Garrett’s program of research explores the role of digital media on positive youth development and socialization experiences.

Nicholas Gerstner is a Ph.D student in the Department of Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill.  As a media and cultural studies scholar, he explores the cultural politics of commonsense narratives of controversial topics like vaccination, abortion, and identity politics. His dissertation traces a techno-cultural history of “polarization” that describes how an idea once limited to the study of electromagnetism has now become a common and apparently obvious way to describe difference and disagreement.

Edith Hollander is a Journalism and Media graduate student at UT Austin. She is interested in the confluences of social movements and consumer culture in digital environments and in critically investigating disinformation using the tools of cultural studies and qualitative methodology.

Patrick R. Johnson is a Ph.D. student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa whose work centers on finding a pathway toward more just and equitable futures in journalism and media practice. Patrick is also deeply passionate about teaching and the role of journalism schools in the professionalization of their students. LGBTQ advocacy is core to their personal mission and identity.

Evan R. Jones is a Ph.D. student at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research investigates space, place, and abandonment as communication phenomena. He is currently writing a dissertation on the adaptive reuse of decommissioned shipping containers and the processes of placemaking.

Kaitlin Joshua is Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is interested in the intersections of women’s & reproductive health, culture, media, technology, and stories. Before studying at UNC, Kaitlin received a B.A. in Medicine, Health, and Society & Economics from Vanderbilt University.

Allison Koh is a Ph.D. researcher at the Hertie School’s Centre for International Security in Berlin. Koh’s dissertation research investigates the “grey areas” of digital transnational repression targeting individuals in exile and diaspora communities, with a focus on pro-regime activity from non-democratic contexts published on Western media platforms.

Robin Lange is a second-year Ph.D. student at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. Robin is interested in the processes by which hate speech spreads through social media and the role brokers play in this spread. Robin has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Gennie Mansi is a Ph.D. student in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. She is interested in creating more just and equitable technology by creating educational pathways for people to develop computational skills. She’s especially interested in doing this through classroom technology for marginalized populations, especially immigrants.

Adarsh Mathew is a master’s student at the Knowledge Lab of the University of Chicago. He is a computational social scientist working to straddle the worlds of sociology, network science, and machine learning. His current work focuses on Reddit, where he tries to measure influence and describe the behavior of ‘elite’ users in a multi-community context.

Muira McCammon is a Ph.D. student at Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies the production of state visibility, organizational memory, and government communication on social media platforms. Her broader research agenda examines the relationship between sovereignty, communication, and information flows, with a particular focus on what is concealed and why.

Sean Rutherford McEwan

Brooke Molokach is a Ph.D. student in Communication at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on the role of epistemic humility as a source of resilience against disinformation. She is also interested in the narrative-based mechanisms of disinformation and how these narrative features can exploit affective polarization, perceived inequalities, and the salience of group identity. Brooke holds a B.A. in English from Yale University and M.A. in International Affairs from American University.

Ayana Monroe is a Senior Chancellor’s Science Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is double majoring in Computer Science and Information Science, with a minor in Cognitive Psychology. Currently, her research focuses on increasing the transparency of systems that reduce friction in the everyday lives of various users while also creating or expanding ways in which users can interact or participate in their creation.

Pratik Nyaupane is a Ph.D. student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. As an interdisciplinary early career scholar, his research interests are broadly at the intersection of technology, data, and justice, where he investigates how marginalized groups and social movements utilize technology and media for political change. He holds an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University in Informatics.

Jess Rauchberg is a Ph.D. student (ABD) in the Department of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University. Writing at the interstices of cultural studies, human-computer interaction, philosophy of communication, and crip theory, Jess pursues a research program investigating disability and social media user experiences.

Daniel Russo is in their second year of Ph.D. studies in the Department of Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. They’re interested in the historical, material, and philosophical underpinnings of contemporary socio-political relations. In particular, they study enlightenment and modernist thought in relation to issues of particular vs. universal domestic policy, representative vs. direct democracy, moralistic vs. pragmatic strategy, and reform vs. revolution.

Mariana Sánchez Santos is a Ph.D. student in the School of Communication at American University. She holds a BA in International Relations from ITAM in Mexico City and a Master of Arts in Political Communication from the University of Leeds, UK. Her Ph.D. research focuses on political communication, elections, and technology in Latin America.

Arjun Sawhney is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at Queen’s University at Kingston. He is currently studying jurisprudence, political philosophy, and the social impacts of artificial intelligence. Arjun’s work explores many areas in philosophy and has most recently focused on the impact of policing algorithms on Indigenous communities.

Reed Van Schenck is a Ph.D. student in Communication and Rhetoric at the University of Pittsburgh and a graduate Assistant coach at the William Pitt Debating Union. Their research focuses on reactionary rhetoric and online subcultures with a particular focus on young right-wing content creators in the United States.

Felix M. Simon is a communication researcher and Leverhulme Ph.D. Scholar at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and a Knight News Innovation Fellow at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. He also works as a research Assistant at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ). He graduated with a BA in Film and Media Studies as well as English Studies from Goethe-University Frankfurt, and he holds an MSc in Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford.

Hamsini Sridharan is a Ph.D. student at USC Annenberg. She studies historical and contemporary entanglements of digital technologies with environmental imaginaries and speculative futures, asking how such entanglements shape the critique, contestation, and governance of technology. Hamsini holds an MPA from the USC Price School of Public Policy as well as an MA in Anthropology from Columbia University.

Morgan Wack is a Ph.D. student in Political Science at the University of Washington. His research is focused on the nexus of new technologies and democratic backsliding. In addition to his research, he serves as a Research Associate at the UW’s Center for an Informed Public (CIP), as a graduate fellow for the Center for Environmental Politics, and as a Junior Fellow at the Electoral Integrity Project.

Adrian Wong is a Ph.D. student and FLAS fellow in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, he is interested in processes of digital transformation with a focus on Chile-China relations and was able to conduct preliminary research toward his dissertation this summer 2022 with a Tinker Field Research Grant.

Kaicheng (Kevin) Yang is a Ph.D. candidate in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington. He is interested in computational social science and network science. Particularly, he analyzes social media and medical claims data to identify inauthentic actors and adverse behaviors and studies their implications for online information ecosystem and public health.

Returning

Faculty & Postdoctoral affiliates

David Ardia is an Associate Professor of Law at the UNC School of Law and serves as the faculty co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. He also holds a secondary appointment as an Assistant professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Before joining the UNC faculty, he was a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he founded and directed the Berkman Center’s Digital Media Law Project.

Enrique Armijo is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Elon, and an affiliate fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project, teaches and researches in the areas of the First Amendment, constitutional law, torts, administrative law, media and internet law, and international freedom of expression. Professor Armijo’s current scholarship addresses the interaction between new technologies and free speech and has been published in law reviews and peer-reviewed journals.

Chad Bryant is a Professor of History and an Adjunct Professor in the Curriculum for Global Studies. He is interested in forms of mystification, disinformation, and conspiratorial thinking in early twentieth-century Europe and how they relate to questions of belonging. Bryant’s latest book is Prague: Belonging and the Modern City (Harvard University Press, 2021).

Shanice Jones Cameron is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her areas of interest are media studies, critical health communication, and Black feminist thought. She researches Black women’s health and well-being digital networks.

Victoria “Tori” Smith Ekstrand is an Associate Professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and is currently serving a three-year term at the UNC Graduate School as the Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education. Her research has focused on critical and interdisciplinary perspectives in media law and free expression, with research on anonymous speech, campus free expression debates, the trademarking of social movement hashtags, online accessibility issues for people with disabilities, and problems with regulating online political advertising.

Kirsten Eddy is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and a senior researcher with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She studies the interplay of journalism, politics, and digital media, with a focus on moral and civic media and political discourse. Kirsten obtained her Ph.D. in media and communication from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Melanie Feinberg is an Associate Professor at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC-Chapel Hill. Melanie is a classificationist: she studies the selection, description, and arrangement of collections of things. Or, put another way, Melanie studies the design and implementation of datasets. Melanie’s book, Everyday Adventures in Unruly Data, will be published in October 2022 from MIT Press.

Jennifer Forestal is the Helen Houlahan Rigali Assistant Professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago. She is a political theorist whose research examines the relationship between digital technologies and democratic politics; she has written on topics like platform design and governance, digital culture, and misinformation. She is the author of Designing for Democracy: How to Build Community in Digital Environments (Oxford University Press, 2022) as well as the co-editor of The Wives of Western Philosophy: Gender Politics in Intellectual Labor (Routledge, 2021).

Amelia Gibson is the Associate Director for the University of Maryland’s Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC). Beginning Fall 2022, she will also be an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies. Previously, she was an Associate Professor and Director of the Community Equity, Data and Information Lab (CEDI) at UNC’s School of Information and Library Science.

Paul Elliot Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh.  His work interrogates the centrality of white masculine victimhood rituals on the US right. His book, I the People: The Rhetoric of Conservative Populism in the United States, came out this year with the University of Alabama Press, and charts how conservatives have defined ‘the people’ to successful political ends since the mid-20th century.

Rachel Kuo is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She writes, teaches, and researches race, social movements, and digital technology. Previously, she was a 2020-22 Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life and 2021-22 Visiting Scholar at Duke University’s Asian American and Diasporic Studies program and Siegel Endowment Research Fellow. She has a Ph.D. and MA in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University, and a BA in Journalism from the University of Missouri.

Lee McGuigan is an Assistant Professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. He studies the history and political economy of advertising, media, and information technology. His book, Selling the American People: Advertising, Optimization, and the Origins of Adtech, will be published by MIT Press in 2023.

Rachel Moran is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for an Informed Public (CIP) at the University of Washington. Her research explores the role of trust in digital information environments and is particularly concerned with how trust is implicated in the spread of mis- and dis-information. Rachel received her Ph.D. degree from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.

Iva Nenadić is an Assistant Professor in Journalism at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and a Research Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. Iva is also a member of the European Digital Media Observatory and within the EUI’s Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom she coordinates and supervises the implementation of the EU-wide Media Pluralism Monitor in the area of Political Independence. Her research focuses on models of platform governance in the area of freedom of expression and media freedom. Iva holds a Ph.D. in Communication Science and has a decade of professional experience in journalism.

Matt Perault is the director of the Center on Technology Policy (CTP), a professor of the practice at UNC’s School of Information & Library Science, and a consultant on technology policy issues. He previously led the Center on Science & Technology Policy at Duke University and was a professor of the practice at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Matt holds a law degree from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in Public Policy from Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University.

Caitlin Petre is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University. Her work uses qualitative methods to examine the social processes, organizations, and actors behind the digital datasets and algorithms that increasingly govern the contemporary workplace. Petre’s book, All the News That’s Fit to Click, is a behind-the-scenes look at how performance analytics are transforming the work of journalism, from the New York Times to Gawker Media.

Meredith L. Pruden is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication and Media at Kennesaw State University, as well as a Fellow with the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism. Meredith spent the 2021-22 academic year working as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) after earning her Ph.D. in Communication from Georgia State University. Meredith’s interdisciplinary, methodologically agnostic research is rooted in feminist media studies and uses a combination of quantitative computational and qualitative techniques to explore and critique male and white supremacy, far-right politics, and extremisms.

Madhavi Reddi is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media and is an incoming Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at York College of PA. Her scholarship demonstrates the importance of thinking critically about underlying questions of racial/cultural difference and power in the fields of communication, cultural studies, and Asian American studies. Specifically, she researches identity and representations of South Asian Americans in entertainment media and politics.

Amanda Reid is an Associate Professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Law, and Faculty Co-Director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. Her interdisciplinary legal scholarship analyzes meaning-making, including how we make, create, and interpret cultural artifacts around us. She graduated with high honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and she earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

Aaron Shapiro received his Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently Assistant Professor of Technology Studies in the Department of Communication at UNC–Chapel Hill. His research examines the cultural and economic impact of new media technologies and infrastructures.

Alex Worsnip is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research interests are primarily in epistemology and the theory of rationality, with particular recent attention to applied and political epistemology.

Professional affiliates

Kyle Ashburn is a recent graduate from the M.S. in Information Science program at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC-Chapel Hill. His master’s paper focused on topic modeling the social media Parler. Academically, he focused on analytics with a secondary focus on misinformation. He was a 2021 REMS Fellow at the University of Michigan where he worked on integrating social justice and data science into an intermediate python programming course.

Scott Babwah Brennen is head of online expression policy at the Center on Technology Policy (CTP) at UNC-Chapel Hill where he leads the Center’s work on online expression, misinformation, and political advertising. Before joining CTP, Scott was a senior policy associate at the Center on Science & Technology Policy at Duke University.

remmah is a public-interest technologist with a focus on applied interface research. Her current projects include the design and implementation of fact-checking tools, digital literacy apps, and other civic software.

Laura March is an instructional design manager for the University of Missouri System (Mizzou, UMKC, UMSL, MS&T). She is a learning experience designer, trainer, and web developer with more than ten years of experience designing accessible online environments and teaching virtually. Laura received her Ph.D. from the School of Information and Library Science at UNC-Chapel Hill where she was a 2021 Digital Innovation Fellow.

Sasha Pierre-Louis

Graduate student affiliates

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.

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.

Rachel Davis is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the University of Kentucky with expertise in critical criminology, digital sociology, gender inequalities, and sexual labor. Her current research project is a digital ethnography of an online community of sugar babies. Her ultimate goal is to further the movement for social justice locally, nationally, and globally through education and activism.

Margaret E. Foster just completed her MA in Media & Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill and will be starting her Ph.D. in Communication at Cornell this fall. Her interests include gender-based violence, epistemic justice, and digital geographies.

Lauren Garcia is a Ph.D. student in Sociology and a Praxis Fellow in the Scholars Lab at the University of Virginia. She studies race in digital space. Recent work includes a project on platform affordances, race talk in Facebook groups, and the alt-right digital media infosphere.

Rohan Grover is a Ph.D. student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. His research focuses on critical privacy studies, platformization in political communication, and the transnational field of digital activism. Before Annenberg, Rohan worked in product, tech, and digital strategy in digital news and politics. He earned an MA in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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.

Isaac Kimmel is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. His dissertation project uses a mixed-methods approach to study how preexisting cultural identities and value schemas shaped the official response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, using a dataset taken from the Twitter accounts of congressional and gubernatorial students in the 2020 US election. More broadly, Isaac’s interests include computational methods, qualitative methods, collective memory, cognition, religion, critical realism, and the interaction between culture and new media.

Melody Kramer is the Director of Communications for both the Carolina Population Center and Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill, and an MLIS student at UNC-Greensboro. She is also a frequent contributor to journalism-related publications. Mel is particularly interested in digital archiving workflows, the non-profit and public media news ecosystems, and looking at the third-party tools that newsrooms use to make content decisions.

Lan Li is a Ph.D. student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Information and Library Science. Her research explores how technologies – such as AI and online labor platforms – shape how we find and conduct work, and its implications for workers and skill development. Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill, Lan worked as a programmer developing digital learning tools.

Andrea Lorenz is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research interests include local news, political communication and campaigns at the state and local level, and women in journalism and politics. She holds a BA in International Studies from American University and an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Pranav Malhotra is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on the social impact of communication technologies, particularly the use of mobile phones and social media. His work has been published in Social Media+Society, Journal of Computer-mediated Communication, International Journal of Communication, and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

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.

Danilo Reuben-Matamoros is a Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds School of Media and Communication. His current research focuses on online civility. Prior research interests include social media and the ethnographic study of advertising in Costa Rica. Danilo is a former lecturer of sociology and social science research methods at the University of Costa Rica’s Schools of Sociology, Public Health, and Library and Information Sciences.

Sarah Nguyễn is a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington Information School and earned their ALA-accredited master’s in Library and Information Science degree from UW iSchool. Currently, Sarah contributes to the NSF COVID-19 Rapid Response Research with UW’s Center for an Informed Public about the misinformation and discourse about masks during the pandemic, the misinformation crisis within the Vietnamese diaspora during the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, and privacy encryption of sensitive data.

Shanetta Pendleton is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. Shanetta’s current research focuses on the perceived authenticity of corporate social advocacy and digital activism. She is also interested in researching issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academy and in the public relations industry.

Contia’ Prince is a two-time graduate of Elon University, where she completed her B.A. in Cinema & Television Arts and her M.A. in Interactive Media. She is currently a Park doctoral fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism & Media interested in how black women use media to construct both their identities and definitions of “blackness” as well as the resulting effects on their self-perception and self-esteem.

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.

Jacob Smith is a Ph.D. student at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research focuses on the intersection between environmental anxiety and far-right sub-communities. In specific, Jacob studies the emergent strands of eco-fascist thought germinating within the contemporary far-right.

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.

Lingyu Wang is a Ph.D. student at UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS). Their research focuses on digital archives of socially produced artworks and social media images, examining their relations to communities, public memories, and perceptions of the body. Their current research project critically examines archives of social movement arts in the intersection between library and information science, art history, critical media studies, and urban studies.

Ian Williams is a Ph.D. student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Communication. Ian’s research interests concern the connections between design, mass production, and craft movements. He examines both the labor conditions under which these activities occur and the communities which spring up around them.

Fluffiliatespicture collage of dogs & cats

CITAP is also introducing a new “fluffiliate” cohort in recognition of the stress this academic year may bring. We welcome several canine and feline members who contribute to the collective well-being of the community.

Spooky Butkowski is pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of object permanence. His dissertation focuses on the ongoing disappearance of his favorite treats.

Ubi Butkowski is an expert in persuasion and human behavior. He puts his research into practice by finding the perfect combination of plaintive meows to make humans follow him to the kitchen or using a well-placed claw to signify that he’s hungry.

Nona Chassanoff is a 13-year-old basset hound mix who loves snoozing, the beach, and all creatures great and small.

Sir Bianco Doroshenko came to rescue me during the darkest times of my Ph.D. training and continues to brighten my mood ever since. His royal fluffiness ensures you take frequent breaks to play laser tag with him and prepare his favorite dish – boiled shrimps!

Zombie Dubois, Distinguished Purr-fessor, aims to understand human-computer interaction through experimental methods including Zoom bombing and sleeping on keyboards. He is a Research Chair holder.

Darcy Eddy is an active Zoom call participant and a frequent recipient of “who’s the best girl?” awards. Darcy is interested in media portrayals of U.S. presidents’ dogs.

Joe Avanasi-Furl primarily focuses on the optimization of mischief-mongering within his household. He also does a bang-up job distracting his parents from the bleaker aspects of the outside world.

Coco Kramer-Haydon explores the development of canine peer relationships in the context of modern trends in pet toy consumption. Her current project explores the question “If I eat my neighbor dog’s toy, will I still be able to play with said neighbor dog the next day?”

Kong Jang is interested in studying birds and their life traces. She mainly focuses on one research method, which is sniffing. She is passionate about her research because she believes birds are her friends.

Mocha and Rocky Mahone recently formed a research collective focused on skill acquisition and retention in senior canines.

Phoebe Malhotra, like her namesake Phoebe Bridgers, is a student of sad girl music and will smash a guitar if you invite her to perform on SNL. Her current research project is titled Behind on Camera: The Politics of Exposing Your Butthole on Zoom.

Watson March may not be the smartest nor the most pedigreed fluffiliate, but he makes up for all his inadequacies with exceptional cuddles. He will, however, double-cross anyone for peanut butter.

Manny Muddiman enjoys climbing on the couch to look out the window, chasing after squeaky toys, taking long runs around Kansas City, and then napping on piles of pillows.

Stevie Nicks would like to suggest that all academic conferences be held at the beach, her new favorite place. She will gladly serve as a reviewer for your manuscript, so long as you compensate her with a toy (preferably a squeaky duck).

Sancho Panza’s research aims to disrupt and distract his housemates (DeVan & co) from accomplishing any significant amount of work during the day. His demands for attention, pets, kisses, and cuddles have been lauded by a distinguished panel of his peers (the outside cats in the neighborhood).

Sully Saint Pendleton considers himself a puppy justice advocate, fighting for longer walks and unlimited cheese. He is currently advocating for treat policy reform to amend policies and procedures that require puppies to perform tricks for treats.

Brooks Peters is a treat enthusiast whose current work focuses on peanut-butter cookies. In his free time, he enjoys growling at swaying pine trees and making prolonged eye contact with family members.

Joni Ringel is a husky-coonhound mix intent on studying the relationship between longer walks and increased happiness. She loves belly rubs and lying on her parents’ legs while they work.

Laika Van Schenck studies the effect of prolonged sunlight exposure upon the fur of domestic cats in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She earned the nickname “Anklebiter” through blood, sweat, and tears – but not her own.

Gus Schroeder was a border collie when he was an 8-pound, six-week-old puppy being fostered by a local animal rescue group. He is not. He might be a landseer. It doesn’t matter. He’s a 120-pound member of our family.

Bertie “Chewie” Simon studies cat-fluencers. However, his main research interest is around the distribution of power in German households, with an emphasis on intra-familiar hierarchical structures reinforcing feline superiority.

Hickory Sridharan’s scholarly interests include bringing feline continental philosophy to bear on problems of human-cat communication such as “sit” and “paw,” as well as multispecies engagements with house plants and spiders.

Gilmore Cepero-Zentz specializes in canine sleep research using collar biometric apps, with a particular focus on the optimal length of afternoon nap for canine well-being. In his spare time, he chases cats and lets small humans climb all over him.

Dolly Zimdars is a recently adopted rescue dog who goes to doggy school twice a week to learn some manners. She enjoys playing grrr, eating her breakfast in the car, and barking at motorcycles.

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