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 Associate Professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 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 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.
Zeynep Tufekci is an Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and a faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. She was previously an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. She is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and regularly writes columns for the New York Times, WIRED, and Scientific American. Her book, Twitter and Teargas: The Ecstatic, Fragile Politics of Networked Protest in the 21st Century (Yale 2018), examines the dynamics, strengths, and weaknesses of 21st century social movements. Originally from Turkey, and formerly a computer programmer, she became interested in the social impacts of technology and began to focus on how digital and computational technology interact with social, political, and cultural dynamics. She has become a go-to source for media outlets looking for insights on the impact of social media and the growing influence of machine algorithms. She has given three TED Talks and frequently delivers keynote addresses at academic and tech conferences.
Senior Faculty Researchers
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.
Administration & Staff
CITAP Executive Director
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.
Joanna Burke is a program administrator with a background in the cultural sector. A classical vocalist by training, she holds master’s degrees from the Jacobs School of Music and the O’Neill School of Public Affairs at Indiana University. Her top areas of professional interest are public arts, humanities, and interdisciplinary learning, and she has held positions across a variety of organizations and functional areas, including museum education, festival management, and fundraising. Most recently she worked at UNC’s University Development Office as an analyst specializing in relationship management.
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.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Rachel Kuo researches and writes on race, social movements, and digital technology. Her research engages contemporary debates about activism and corporate and state governance of data-driven technologies through racial and colonial histories. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CITAP and holds a PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. Her current manuscript interrogates the concept of ‘solidarity’ across media objects and platforms and demonstrates how technologies enhance and foreclose possibilities for political organization across uneven racial and class differences. She is a founding member and current affiliate of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies and also a co-founder of the Asian American Feminist Collective. Her writing has been published in New Media and Society, Journal of Communication, Routledge Companion to Asian American Media, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, Open Democracy, and Everyday Feminism.
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 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. Prior to his time at Harvard, he was assistant counsel at The Washington Post, where he provided pre-publication review and legal advice on First Amendment, news gathering, privacy, intellectual property, and general business issues. His research focuses on examining the impact of new information technologies on law and society, particularly the role that government and private intermediaries play in shaping the environment for speech and how legal and social forces affect these actors.
Enrique Armijo, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor of Law, 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. He also has provided advice on media and internet law reform to governments, stakeholders and NGOs around the world, including in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Most recently, he has worked on media and communications reform projects in Myanmar (Burma) for the U.S. Department of State with Annenberg’s Center for Global Communications Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His commentaries on these and other topics have appeared on NPR’s On the Media, Voice of America, and other news and print outlets.
Joe’s creative and professional work, as well as his research, focuses on diversifying and disrupting strategic communication, public relations and advertising. He often examines under-explored types of publics, such as minority and niche communities. Though the industry sectors he examines are diverse – from politics to entertainment – the objectives of his work are the same, as he seeks to create a better understanding of the diversity of publics, improve the way we measure and evaluate efforts, and disrupt the tactics we then use to reach diverse publics. Thus, whether it’s examining different strategic tactics that organizations have used when considering LGBTQ publics or informing the financial community about how to better use digital tools to reach investing publics, all of Joe’s work falls into this timeline of using public-focused approaches to improve measurement and tactical approaches in PR and Advertising. As a creative-track faculty member, Joe has demonstrated how modern strategic communication can diversify its tactics by distributing his work across many types of venues and mediums. He has been published in professional outlets, such as IR Update, PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics, the Institute of Public Relations, The Conversation, as well as traditional academic journals, such as PR Inquiry, The Charlotte Law Review, Journalism History, The Journal of Homosexuality, The Journal of Consumer Marketing, and The Atlantic Journal of Communication.
His work has received national and international attention. Cabpolitical, which focuses on these questions from a political data perspective, which publishes during election years, has obtained national press, and has led Joe to be an on-air analyst for elections and frequent data commentator. Other work has demonstrated how video and media tools, such as documentaries, can be used to bring about social change for community organizations that reach out to such diverse communities. His feature documentary, Writing My Own Happy Ending, won honors, such as “Best Overall Film.” He currently serves on the Institute of Public Relations’ Measurement Commission. He previously served on the National Institute of Investor Relations’ Research Board. Joe’s professional career began in Los Angeles after obtaining a BFA from Chapman University, and he has since obtained a J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law and a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to his strategic communication work, he maintains his law license in the state of North Carolina.
Neal Caren is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before coming to Carolina, he received his Ph.D. from New York University and completed a two-year postdoc at the University of Michigan. His current research is on contemporary US social movements and the uses of media data for understanding movement processes. His work has appeared in journals such as the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Social Problems, and the Annual Review of Sociology. He teaches graduate courses in computational social science, with a focus on collecting and analyzing text data with Python. He is also editor of the interdisciplinary social movements journal Mobilization, the premier journal of research specializing in social movements, protests, insurgencies, revolutions, and other forms of contentious politics.
Victoria “Tori” Smith Ekstrand is an Associate Professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Before coming to Carolina, she was an associate professor in the Bowling Green State University Department of Journalism and Public Relations and an affiliate faculty member of BGSU’s American Cultural Studies department. A former senior executive for The Associated Press, Ekstrand’s research began as an investigation into the hot news doctrine, a part of unfair competition law that protects ownership of the facts of news for a limited period. That research resulted in the publication of her book, News Piracy and the Hot News Doctrine: Origins in Law and Implications for the Digital Age (LFB Scholarly, 2005). Her most recent book on the subject, Hot News in the Age of Big Data: A Legal History of the Hot News Doctrine and Implications for the Digital Age (LFB Scholarly, 2015), looks at the history of the doctrine and its impact on protections for discrete bits of information in the age of Big Data.
Alex Worsnip is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a core faculty member in UNC’s Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) program. He works primarily on normative questions about rationality – under what conditions do beliefs and other states of mind count as rational, and how ought we to manage our belief-forming processes in order to be rational agents and responsible citizens? Recently, he has been working on the ways these questions apply in concrete, socio-political contexts: thinking about, for example, habits of media consumption, lay beliefs about climate change, the rational response to political disagreement, and the tension (if any) between deference to expertise and active democratic participation. He has published in leading philosophical journals such as the Journal of Philosophy, Ethics, and Mind, and in public-facing venues such as Prospect and The Point. He has also held fellowships at UNC’s Institute for Arts & Humanities and the University of Colorado’s Center for Values and Social Policy. At UNC, he teaches a large introductory course entitled Knowledge and Society, and is currently working on turning the lectures from this course into a lively textbook for introductory students and lay readers.
Graduate Student Affiliates
Kirsten Adams is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a graduate research fellow with the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. Her research examines the intersection of journalism and political communication, with a focus on moral and civic discourse in (increasingly polarized) democratic life. She employs a number of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches to answer critical questions about the contemporary political and media environments. Before returning to academia, she worked as an editor at Gallup, as well as in roles in multimedia reporting and news editing.
Jeeyun (Sophia) Baik is a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California. She focuses on issues of privacy, surveillance, and communication law and policy. Through her research, she explores sociopolitical and regulatory consequences of the networked information environment on our everyday lives and people at the margins in specific. Her dissertation examines ways to enshrine data privacy as a civil right, by centering questions around discrimination and inequity in privacy policies and laws being shaped both at a state level (i.e., California) and at a federal level. The project particularly follows coalition-building dynamics across privacy advocacy groups and civil rights communities who are putting forward the frame of data privacy as a civil right in public discourse and rule-making processes. Her work has been published in leading journals such as Telematics and Informatics, International Journal of Communication, and Mass Communication and Society.
Bridget Barrett is a Roy H. Park doctoral fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and studies new media in political advertising. Bridget’s recent research includes a policy analysis of major social media platforms’ differential approaches to regulating misinformation and their policies and capabilities for political advertising. Prior to graduate school, Bridget worked as programmatic media buyer at advertising agencies in Chicago and Los Angeles. Bridget works on the CITAP Digital Politics Project.
Tegan Rae Bratcher is currently a Roy H. Park doctoral fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-CH. She holds a BA and MA in Political Science from West Virginia University. As a doctoral student, her research focuses on the intersection of digital media, race, and politics. Specifically, she analyzes podcasts in attempt to investigate the ways in which Black Americans use media for strategic and political communication. Tegan’s research paper “The New Space of Opinion: Understanding the Role of Black Podcasts in Contemporary Black Thought” won the Top Student Paper Award in the Ethnicity and Race in Communication (ERIC) division for the 2020 ICA conference. In addition to research, Tegan teaches Media Ethics and Principles of Advertising and Public Relations.
Ashley Hedrick is a Roy H. Park Doctoral Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. Ashley’s research focuses on the impact that social norms—such as rape myths, gender role ideologies, victim blaming, and stigma—have on a variety of sexual health issues, including sexual violence prevention, HIV prevention, and human trafficking education. She is particularly interested in how social media and online communities may be used to learn more about the relationship between social norms and health outcomes, especially among adolescents. Her recent work also includes research on: the effects of rape myths and stereotypical gender role ideologies among participants of teen fanfiction communities, online discourse about stigma associated with an HIV prevention drug, adolescents’ victim-blaming responses to educational materials about sex trafficking, and meta-analytic research about the relationship between media consumption and rape myth acceptance.
Daniel Johnson is from Cary, North Carolina, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Appalachian State University in 2013. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in the Media and Communication program at UNC Chapel Hill, with a focus on theory, research and strategic communications.
Daniel’s interest in the communications field began after serving as a Department of Defense journalist during Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, and then as a public affairs officer afterwards. Daniel hopes to pursue a career in educating others in communication techniques and media literacy, and wants to research and refine methods used to prevent radicalization of vulnerable groups.
Laura March (MS, Art Education; MEd, Learning, Design & Technology) is a PhD student at the School of Information and Library Science. She is an instructional designer, trainer, and web developer with more than ten years of experience designing accessible online environments and teaching virtually. Aside from CITAP, she is a member of the Community Equity, Data & Information Lab, the Equity in the Making Lab, and UNC’s Digital Accessibility Advisory Team. Laura’s research interests include digital literacy education and creative uses of technology for inclusive learning experiences. She enjoys painting friends and family in the style of famous works of art, trivia games, and eating far too much pizza.
Michele is a doctoral student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC Chapel Hill. Michele’s research interests include digital media, entertainment industries, and technology – and how those fields intersect with issues of sexual orientation, gender, race, and other forms of marginalization. Her dissertation is centered around the experiences of LGBTQIA+ creators of digital entertainment media. Michele’s research utilizes mixed-methods including semi-structured interviews, participant observation, content analyses, surveys, computational methods, and social network analyses.
Martin Naunov is a PhD student in Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research
explores the psychological underpinnings of illiberal impulses, susceptibility to disinformation, and the role of social identities in explaining political outcomes. Martin holds a BA in Political Science from Middlebury College. Prior to joining UNC, Martin was a 2017-2018 Fellow at the Hearst Media Corporation in New York. Additionally, he has worked as a researcher for USAID in North Macedonia (where he is originally from) and for the Prague Security Studies Institute, researching online disinformation campaigns and foreign non-democratic influence in the Western Balkans.
Madhavi Reddi is currently a CITAP Graduate Research Assistant and a second year PhD student in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-CH. She holds a B.A. in Film and Media Arts from American University and an M.A. in Communication, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University. At UNC, Madhavi studies identity and representation with a focus on the Indian diaspora through the lens of entertainment media, art, and politics. In addition to academics, she is a multimedia artist with backgrounds in Bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance), filmmaking, photography, and tabla (North Indian drum). Madhavi combines her artistic background with her academics to create work that encourages dialogue about the profound role of art, media, and culture in our lives.
Jonathan is a computational social scientist with experience researching social and political discourse online. He is more methodologically driven and works in the realms of natural language processing, machine learning, sentiment analysis, topic modeling, text analytics, and data visualization. Jonathan’s current work is focused on fringe beliefs, conspiracy theories, and disinformation online and how they relate to public political and social discourse. For more information, please feel free to reach out via email or to check out his website at www.JonathanSchlosser.com.