Ph.D. Program Student Bios | Columbia Journalism School

Ph.D. Program Student Bios

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 examines the intersections between news media, democracy and citizenship. She is interested in how media access and consumption habits affect people’s civic and political behaviors, more specifically looking at socioeconomically disadvantaged and incarcerated populations. She is also interested in how the news can act as an educational tool in underserved communities. 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 University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

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

Efrat Nechushtai

Efrat's research focuses on the changing relationships between news organizations and their audiences in a digital age. She collaborated on research projects with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, studying perceptions of audiences in NYC newsrooms and the integration of digital platforms into newswork. Before coming to Columbia, Efrat spent eight years as editor and writer in the Israeli daily Haaretz, covering business and digital culture and taking part in the newspaper's antitrust campaign. She holds an M.A. in Culture Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and received her B.A. in Social Sciences and Humanities (with distinction) from the Open University of Israel.


Tracy O'Neill

Tracy is the author of the novel The Hopeful, which was long‐listed for the Flaherty‐Dunnan First Novel Prize. In 2015, she was named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, and in 2012, she was awarded the New York City Emerging Writers Fellowship by the Center for Fiction. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Granta,, The Guardian books blog, LitHub,, Narrative, the San Francisco Chronicle, Virginia Quarterly Review, the New Yorker online, and Bookforum. She holds a B.A. in history from Connecticut College and an M.F.A. in fiction from the City College of New York, where she currently teaches. Research interests include the influence of social media on the book review, the sociology of aesthetic values, the history of formal hybridization in the periodical, and the construction of critical authority.

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 BA from Yale University in Political Science and grew up on a horse farm in Western Pennsylvania. 

2014 Cohort

Rosalind Donald

Rosalind is interested in the communication of climate change. Her research focuses on the ways that social, scientific, political and ecological networks manifest climate change in Miami, Florida. Before joining the Ph.D. program at Columbia, she was deputy editor of Carbon Brief, a fact‐checking website focused on climate science and policy in the media. She also worked for several years as a reporter covering global antitrust. She holds an M.A. in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies and a B.A. in French and Spanish from Cardiff University.

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

R.H. Lossin

Before coming to Columbia, R.H. Lossin worked as a librarian and wrote essays on topics as diverse as Iraq's National Library, the artist Sherrie Levine and Facebook's capacity to capture social labor. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Jacobin, Jstor Daily and The Huffington Post and she is a regular contributor to The Brooklyn Rail. She is interested in labor, machine sabotage and the politics of industrial and post‐industrial technology.

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.

Lluis de Nadal

Lluis is interested in understanding the current clash between democracy and technocracy in Southern Europe. He is looking at the relationship between theories of democracy the communication between will and opinion and theories of human nature – the communication between judgment and desire. After receiving a B.A. in Communication Sciences from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, he went on to work for Public Catalan Television, specializing in the convergence between television and digital media. He also founded the popular Catalan band Quart Primera, where he played the drums and the clarinet. Recently, he graduated from the Arts Journalism M.A. program at Columbia University, writing his thesis on an algorithmic theatrical production of Hamlet.

David Noell

David Noell is interested in policy history of communications technology, particularly mass communications policy of religion. He is working on his dissertation, which is a history of American broadcast policy of religion, both domestic and international. He researches how the Federal Communications Commission, the broadcast networks, and international state broadcasters handled religion in the early-to-mid twentieth century. 

2012 Cohort

Gal Beckerman

Gal is currently an editor at The New York Times Book Review. Over the past fifteen years he has worked as a writer and editor, including at the Columbia Journalism Review and the Forward. His first book, When They Come for Us, We'll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), explored the political struggle for free emigration out of the Soviet Union. The book was named one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker and the Washington Post, and received both the 2010 National Jewish Book Award and the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize. His dissertation project explores the history of social media before the internet, from letters to zines—forms of interactive communication that helped incubate radical, new ideas. It will be published as a book by Crown in 2019. 

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 seventh‐year Ph.D. student studying Communications. Her research concerns the intersection of public policymaking and media effects, with special interest in American privacy law, the contemporary history of government secrecy and public policies aimed at securing global cities. Previously, Dixon studied interview‐based research methodologies, completing an M.A. in Oral History in 2011 at Columbia University. In 2006, she received her B.A. in Political Science from Emory University. Her previous work experience includes public media production and reporting for This American Life and Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Madiha Tahir

Madiha Tahir researches liberalism, the politics of recognition and war. Her interests include biopolitics; ethics; religion/secularism; visual politics; and surveillance/public sphere. Her work explores these themes in the context of drone warfare in Pakistan and the surveillance of Muslims in the "war on terror." She holds an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from NYU and an M.S. from the Columbia Journalism School.