Ph.D. Program Student Bios

Yasmeen Ebada
Yasmeen’s areas of research center on historiography. She particularly examines the
history of female journalists within the intersections of feminism, moral injury,
trauma, and gender judo in war and social movements. Before joining the doctoral
program, Yasmeen worked as a freelance reporter in Egypt for various magazines and
newspapers. As an adjunct instructor, Yasmeen taught mass communication courses at
a few universities in Egypt as well. Yasmeen holds a B.A. in journalism and mass
communication from Samford University, an M.S. in journalism from the E.W.
Scripps School of Journalism from Ohio University, and an M.A. in global mass
communication from Leipzig University.

Emma Goldhaber
Emma's research focuses on the impact that journalism and social media platforms can have on the spread of extremist rhetoric. She is especially interested in how discussion of extremist rhetoric through online communication can affect behavior and political polarization. She received her B.A. in Journalism from Temple University. As a master's student in Temple University's Media Studies and Production program, Emma wrote a thesis analyzing how news coverage of the QAnon conspiracy theory shifted after the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Before joining the Ph.D. program, Emma worked as an adjunct professor and freelance content writer.

Neda Jahanbani
Neda is interested in studying media systems, intergenerational and intercultural communication, diaspora, and hegemonic belief systems, specifically in relation to pre-revolutionary Iran. Before joining Columbia’s Ph.D. program, Neda earned her M.A. at New York University, where she wrote her thesis on issues of masculinity in intergenerational Iranian American households. Neda also holds a B.A. from The University of California, San Diego, where her research focused on the pre-revolutionary National Iranian Radio and Television system. In her free time, Neda is an advocate and foster for shelter dogs in New York City.

Romy Ronen
Romy Ronen’s research is focused on representation in popular media, including social media, the news, film, and television. Romy graduated in 2022 from the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary and earned a BA in Film and Media (Columbia) and a BA in Jewish Literature (JTS). She then received her Master’s in Jewish Studies from Columbia University in 2023. Romy is grateful to have received numerous awards for her activities, published Op-Eds, and other written work.

Samuel Earle
Samuel Earle is a journalist and essayist from London. He’s interested in conceptions of public opinion and how the ways we measure it – whether through the press, polling or online – shape contemporary anxieties around democracy, polarization and social media. He has contributed frequently to the New York Times, Atlantic, Guardian, London Review of Books, New York Magazine and elsewhere. He has an M.Sc. in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. His first book, Tory Nation, on the dominance of the Conservative Party over British politics and history, will be out in 2023 with Simon & Schuster (UK).

Kaylee Fagan
Kaylee's research is focused on the impacts of journalism and technology on politics. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, Kaylee was a Research Fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics & Public Policy, where she employed academic methods and open source intelligence techniques to study political disinformation and media manipulation on social media. Kaylee holds a B.A. in Journalism from San Francisco State University and an M.A. in Political Science from Columbia University.

Sheena Miller
Sheena’s research sits at the intersection of comedy, identity discourse, and social movements in the US and Germany. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The New School, an M.S. in Higher Education Governance from the University of Helsinki (Finland), and a B.A. in German, Marketing, and Gender Studies from NYU.

Allie Wong
Allie’s research focus explores how dis/misinformation, conspiracy theories, and radicalization inform domestic extremism, national security, and foreign policy. She aims to analyze the vulnerabilities of certain communities to becoming witting and unwitting proponents of propaganda and rumors, how these communities shape the domestic political landscape, and what can be done about it. She also serves the VP of Mis/dis/mal-information (MDM), Response and Resiliency at Limbik — an information defense company that assesses and mitigates the risk of MDM. Allie holds an M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, an M.A. in International Affairs from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and a B.A. in Human Rights, Peace, and Nonviolent Activism from New York University.

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 B.A. in History and Ancient History from the University of Nottingham and an M.Phil. in Modern European History from Cambridge University. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.

Amel Brahmi
Amel is a French-Algerian-American reporter. Her research focuses on finding ways to unsilence minority voices from the past, the present and the future. In relation to that she is interested in the questions of diversity in the newsroom and is also writing a book about women Imams in America. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, Amel worked for 8 years as a daily reporter in Paris where she published a behind the scene book on the beauty pageant Miss France. She holds a B.A. from Sciences Po Lyon and an M.A. in Journalism from Columbia School of Journalism. 

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 Ph.D. program, Rose worked as a Conflicts Researcher in the legal industry, where she analyzed conflicts of interest and liabilities for a global law firm.

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 energy, political economy, and the history of technology. He is working on a dissertation about the electric power mix. 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.

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 M.A. in Liberal Studies from Duke University and a B.A. in Communication from The University of Alabama.

Jueni Tran
Jueni's research explores the factors influencing the sharing and non-sharing of news on various social media platforms. Using an explanatory sequential design, she aims to investigate the reasons why some cohorts of users engage in while others exclude themselves from the activity of resharing news and thus from shaping the digital information environment. Her research may inform our understanding of platform barriers leading to self-censorship, the human spreading of misinformation, and dynamics that may exacerbate polarization. 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 B.Sc. in Psychology from University College London and a M.Sc. in Social and Public Communication from the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Joanna Arcieri
Joanna's research focuses on tabloid journalism as well as celebrity news and gossip. Her dissertation uses the career of Britney Spears to examine the evolution of celebrity news and tabloids. Specifically, she is studying the #FreeBritney movement and the role of fans as journalists within the movement. Before joining the Ph.D. program, she worked on political campaigns in Hudson County, NJ, and as a freelance journalist. She advised and helped launch the Jersey City Times, a local news startup, in 2019. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed and Jersey Digs. She holds an M.A. in Media Studies from The New School and a B.A. in Film Studies from Mount Holyoke College.  

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.

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.

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 (specializing in investigative journalism) from City University of London and an M.Sc. in Financial and Commercial Regulation from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Malwina Lys‐Dobradin
Malwina Lys‐Dobradin’s research 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.

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.