Ph.D. Program Student Bios | Columbia Journalism School

Ph.D. Program Student Bios

2021 Cohort

Stuart Anderson-Davis
 
Stuart’s research focus is on the United States and Great Britain in the 19th century. He is particularly interested in the development of the newspaper industry, and its role in shaping and reflecting the momentous events of the period. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, Stuart worked for 10 years in politics and public relations. Stuart holds a BA in History and Ancient History from the University of Nottingham and an MPhil in Modern European History from Cambridge University. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.
William McIlwain
 
William McIlwain was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where he achieved a bachelor’s of arts in International Affairs at the University of Cincinnati. He also holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Florida International University. Since graduating, McIlwain worked in the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer (diplomat) in various places around the world including Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, and Washington, DC. Currently, he works in documentary filmmaking with a small independent production company, Creativity in Motion/Stage Door Art. He also works independently as a musician. His experience with government and filmmaking spurred an interest in researching political messaging in children’s film. He is excited to attend Columbia Journalism School, where he plans to hone his writing and researching skills with a view to pursue a career in academic research and consulting. 
 
Rose See
 
Rose is interested in how knowledge and identity are produced and contested on digital platforms. Her research centers on how far-right conspiratorial communities constitute their own forms of expertise in opposition to that of traditional political, social, and scientific institutions. As an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, Rose wrote a thesis on the hermeneutic practice of Qanon, a far-right conspiratorial group. Prior to joining Columbia's PhD program, Rose worked as a Conflicts Researcher in the legal industry, where she analyzed conflicts of interest and liabilities for a global law firm.

2020 Cohort

Gwen Aviles
 
Gwen’s work to date has focused on the politics of representation. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, she wrote a thesis examining how women with physical anomalies employed autobiography as a means of protest literature, for which she graduated magna cum laude. Upon graduating, she continued her studies at Northwestern University, where she analyzed the mainland media’s coverage of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and earned a Master’s in Journalism. Gwen plans to investigate newsroom infrastructure, the social identities of journalists, and depictions of race and ethnicity in political coverage for her doctoral research. Prior to matriculating at Columbia University, she worked as a reporter for NBC News, where she wrote about arts and culture, education, and politics. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications, including The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, HuffPost, Forbes and Literary Hub. 
Tessa Ann Bangs
 
Tessa is interested in the digital evolution of collective and cultural memory, and its connection to identity, symbols, myths and ephemera. Prior to joining Columbia’s Ph.D. program, Tessa worked at The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and as a freelancer, specializing in audience engagement and social media editing. She received her B.A. in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame.
 
Paul Berthe
 
Paul is interested in exploring medical disinformation in the digital sphere. His research scope focuses on understanding the virality and credibility of health-related fake news on social media, and their reach in online communities. Prior to Columbia, Paul worked on several projects in West Africa seeking to understand the roots and impact of infectious disease stigma for HIV-positive communities. He holds a B.A. in Economics and International Development from McGill University, and an M.A. in International Development from Sciences Po Paris.
 
Ben Kodres-O'Brien
 
Ben’s main research interests include climate science, political economy, and the history of communication technologies. Before joining the Ph.D. program in Communications at Columbia, Ben worked as a software developer for the Washington Post, and as a data analyst for The New School. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy, both from Virginia Tech, as well as a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from The New School for Social Research.
 

2019 Cohort

Christine Flammia

Christine’s research examines confirmation bias and its influence on reporters and editors in the newsroom. She is interested in how bias shapes the way news is gathered, produced, and disseminated. Before joining Columbia’s Ph.D. Communications program, Christine worked as an editor at Esquire. Her writing has appeared in national outlets including Esquire, Men’s Health, and The Daily Beast. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Journalism.

Ali Raj

Ali researches the political economy of cultural production in Pakistan. He is particularly interested in patronage systems, technologies of reproduction, informality and piracy within the country's music industry. Previously, he was a Postgraduate Reporting Fellow at Columbia Journalism Investigations where he partnered with the Los Angeles Times and the Center for Public Integrity on projects surrounding the impact of nuclear radiation on the singing voice in the Marshall Islands, and climate-related public health epidemics in the United States. Ali holds an M.A. Arts and Culture from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has experience in television, newspaper and magazine journalism in Pakistan.

Alexandria Selman

Alexandria’s research interest is cultural and gender communication in the South. Specifically, her work focuses on how gender dynamics enforced through culture influence sexual violence response and prevention in her home state of Alabama. Prior to beginning her Ph.D., she received a MA in Liberal Studies from Duke University and a B.A. in Communication from The University of Alabama.

Jueni Tran

Jueni's research explores the impact of digital misinformation on democracy as well as the public notion of truth. Through a cognitive science approach, she aims to investigate the distinctive ways in which intuitive and deliberate judgment processes give rise to the human vulnerability to fake news. Ultimately, Jueni hopes to outline possible regulatory measures and interventions that empower news consumers to navigate partisan media environments and make their own reliable judgments. Prior to joining Columbia's Ph.D. program, Jueni worked at Facebook as a partner manager within the company's global business group. She holds a BSc in Psychology from the University College London and a MSc in Social and Public Communication from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

2018 Cohort

Joanna Arcieri

Joanna is interested in the relationship between local media and political machines as well as the intersection of reality television and politics. Prior to joining the PhD program, she worked on political campaigns in Hudson County, NJ and as a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed and Jersey Digs. She holds in MA in Media Studies from The New School and a BA in Film Studies from Mount Holyoke College.   

Eric Armstrong

Eric is interested in the history and sociology of mass media under illiberal conditions, particularly in Indonesia where the lingering aftermath of the 1965 genocide has stifled investigative reporting and eviscerated the country’s political left. Before coming to Columbia, he worked as the associate editor for The New Republic, where he published essays and reporting on a variety of topics including politics, religion, science, and culture. His writing has appeared in a number of national outlets such as Slate, The New Republic, and Fast Company. Eric is also an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning producer on CNN's morning broadcast, New Day. He holds an M.A. from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

Adelina Yankova

Adelina’s research centers on the role college journalists play in news production and combatting “news deserts.” Specifically, she studies college newspapers through an ethnographic lens, examining student journalists’ views of journalism ethics and responsibilities, objectivity, the changing news landscape, and mounting financial challenges. She is also interested in students’ First Amendment rights and issues of censorship and freedom of speech on college campuses. Prior to joining Columbia’s Ph.D. Communications program, Adelina worked in the Wisconsin State Legislature, where she managed constituent relations, researched and helped write legislation. She holds a B.A. degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. in communications from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

2017 Cohort

Cherie Henderson

Cherie Henderson’s research interests include societal stories of illness, disability and end of life, as well as the intersection of death and humor. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia’s Program in Narrative Medicine, where she was also a postgraduate teaching associate and fellow. She also initiated and led writing groups for people treated for cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Previously, she was a suburban bureau chief and reporter at The Miami Herald and a staff editor on the national desk of The Associated Press. She graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin in journalism.

 

Javier Sauras

Javier's interests lie in populism and the rise of fringe movements in Latin America. His work as a journalist has taken him to a dozen countries in as many years, where he has mainly reported on human rights and social issues. In 2017 he was awarded the King of Spain in International Journalism honorary mention in the category of digital storytelling, and is the recipient of three Innovation in Development Reporting grants (2014, 2015 and 2017) by the European Journalism Centre.  Javier's work has appeared in Al Jazeera English, BBC, Der Spiegel, Vice, El País, Repubblica, Die Zeit, Narratively, and The Blizzard, among others.

Javier holds an M.A. in International Journalism from City University of London, and an M.A. in Journalism, Politics and Global Affairs from Columbia Journalism School. When he is not in the library, he is on the road.

Ava Sirrah

Ava is examining how editorial decisions are affected by the rise of native advertising within news publishers. Before joining the Ph.D. program in Communications, she worked at The New York Times as a creative strategist. In this role she was able to see how advertisers were able to create custom sponsorships that leveraged newsroom staff and expertise. Ultimately, Ava hopes to outline regulation that provides readers with transparency as they navigate news that may be influenced by marketers. She also hopes to address some of the ethical challenges this trend poses for editors and reporters. 

 

2016 Cohort

Elena Egawhary

Elena is examining corporate investigation and intelligence firms with a view to understanding the role that such companies have played within wider society over time. Elena holds an LLB from King's College London, a PGDip in Newspaper Journalism (specialising in investigative journalism) from City University of London and an MSc in Financial and Commercial Regulation from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Bernat Ivancsics

Bernat is a data journalist by training, and worked both as reporter covering business and energy in Hartford, CT, and as a content curator and product manager at Microsoft’s MSN News.
Bernat’s research focuses on the cultural and historical patterns of public and private data production and ownership in the United States, as well as the legislative history that informed the public’s relationship to their own public records. In particular, this approach analyzes the means by which data enters the realm of public discourse through the work of journalists in a transformative process by which data is interpreted, assigned meaning, and used as basis for a wide range of social purposes including normative policy decisions or predictive policing and parole sentencing.
After obtaining B.A. degrees in American Studies and Communications, as well as a master’s degree in American Studies at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, Bernat spent a year at Trinity College in Hartford as a political science researcher funded by the Kellner Scholarship, and visited the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, for a semester where he studied the political discourse on the perceived efficacy of the “rentier economy.”
Prior to enrolling in the PhD program in communications, Bernat graduated from the Master of Science program at Columbia’s Journalism School, where he was a student of the school’s first data concentration program and a sponsored scholar of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Angela Woodall

  Angela is interested in the way the news media interact with state power and social norms, especially in regard to perceptions of women, and the effect of digital technology on those relationships.  Before joining the Ph.D. program at Columbia, she worked as a journalist for the Oakland Tribune, winning awards for her reporting about poverty, incarceration policies and demographic change. Her freelance work has been published in the Guardian, Al Jazeera America, More Magazine, the California Health Report and other outlets. While working as a reporter, she also designed civic apps to address the changing role of newspapers and taught digital and online journalism at San Francisco State University. She holds an M.A. in journalism and public affairs from American University in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. in anthropology and sociology from Mills College.

Emilie Xie

For over half a decade, Emilie has centered her research on China. This has led to her making choices including obtaining her B.A. in Journalism and Communications from a Chinese university, Tsinghua in Beijing, and then a M.S. from Columbia Journalism School in order to compare her experiences. She has spent the past few years working at both international and state-sponsored media organizations like China Daily as well as researching for China-related NGOs based here in New York.
      Her current research is an accumulation of all her past decisions, focusing specifically on conspicuous consumption and ostentation that combines the fields of communications, sociology, and East Asian studies.

2015 Cohort

Danielle Tomson

Danielle is a Ph.D. Student in Communications at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. In her academic work, she studies how technology mediated communication affects civic trust, the experience of being “represented” in government, political organizing, and the civic technology community. Thanks to research grants, her scholarship has taken her to Myanmar, Kosovo, Turkey, Georgia, and others.  Danielle was the founding Membership Director of Civic Hall, a community center for civic technology in New York City. Since 2017, she is also co-curator of Personal Democracy Forum (PDF), a conference bringing together experts in tech, politics, media, and government.  Before academia and Civic Hall, Danielle cut her technology teeth as a product manager and innovation consultant for non-profits, government, and corporate clients around the world. She received her B.A. from Yale University in Political Science and grew up on a horse farm in Western Pennsylvania. 

2014 Cohort

Shant Fabricatorian

Shant’s research interests align at the nexus of communication, sociology and political economy, with a particular emphasis on the evolution of the media’s response to the global financial crisis. Key foci of his work include considering the extent to which narratives of neoliberalism and neoclassical economics are embedded within mainstream media frames and investigating ways in which the media works to legitimize those narratives.

He completed a Bachelor of Economic and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney before attaining a Master of Arts in Journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). He subsequently worked as a print and radio journalist and news editor in Australia and east Africa, and later as a teacher in journalism and communication studies at UTS and TAFE NSW.

Alexandre Gonçalves

Alex is interested in the use of computational methods to understand media ecosystems. He has an MSc in Comparative Media Studies from MIT. As a Google Journalism Fellow, he worked at the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. He is currently an associate researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media. In Brazil, he worked as a Science reporter for mainstream media publications and as a software developer.

2013 Cohort

Malwina Lys‐Dobradin

Malwina Lys‐Dobradin’s research focus centers on the relationship between media and civic life. She is interested in how voluntary associations use new and traditional media to engage citizens, advance public discourse, foster government transparency and shape policymaking. Prior to enrolling in the program, Malwina was a founding team member of two pedagogical experiments at Columbia University. From 2006 to 2010, Malwina served as Associate Director for President Lee C. Bollinger's Arts Initiative where she developed President Václav Havel's seven‐week artist residency on the theme of arts and citizenship; created the Columbia Alumni Arts League; launched Arts Global; and worked on numerous other University‐wide arts programs. In May of 2010, she was invited by Dean Mark Wigley to join Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and develop Studio‐X, a global network of research laboratories and cultural centers for exploring the future of cities with locations in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. Malwina holds three degrees from Columbia, a B.A. in Political Science and Creative Writing, a M.S. in Nonprofit Administration and Fundraising Management and a M.A. in Sociology.

2012 Cohort

Joscelyn Jurich

Joscelyn is a freelance journalist and critic who has worked as a reporter, editor and media trainer in Croatia, Bosnia‐Herzegovina and Egypt, and as a print, online and television journalist in the US. She holds an M.A. in Journalism/Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU, an M.Phil. in European Literature from Cambridge University and a B.A. in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. She was a creative nonfiction fellow at the Writers ́ Institute at the Graduate Center, City University of New York in 2010‐2011 and has taught journalism, literature and interdisciplinary humanities courses at NYU and at several CUNY colleges. Her research interests include the history of literary journalism and foreign reporting and the history of photography, visual culture and human rights reporting. She also has strong research interests in the media in transitional justice contexts and in media reform.

2011 Cohort

Andi Dixon

Andi Dixon is a Ph.D Candidate in Communications at Columbia University. Her work focuses on black feminism, contemporary surveillance and digital media and with an emphasis on aesthetics, film studies, photography theory and visual culture.