Ph.D. Program Student Bios

2016 Cohort

Elena Egawhary

Elena is examining journalistic source protection, both its theoretical basis and current practice. She is interested in the threats posed to journalistic sources and how journalists can best protect their sources from these threats. 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

Prior to her enrollment in Columbia, Efrat Nechushtai spent eight years as an editor and writer at Haaretz covering business and digital culture, working in various editing capacities and taking part in Haaretz’s anti‐trust and anti‐corruption campaigns. Having experienced the adoption of social media sensibilities and strategies in a legacy newspaper, Efrat is interested in how the new media environment reshapes the production of news and transforms traditional relationships between journalists and readers. She is also fascinated by the potential impacts of new media on politics as manifested, among other things, by official responses to political conversations taking place in social media and by fledgling initiatives to enhance political participation via internet‐based tools.

Efrat holds an M.A. in Culture Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she studied the politics and poetics of Israeli hip-hop and has taken graduate classes in politics at The New School. She 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, RollingStone.com, The Guardian books blog, LitHub, theAtlantic.com, 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.

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.

Caitlin Shure

Caitlin studies Communications and brains. That is, her research addresses both 1) if and how the brain's natural language can be translated through modern neurotechnology and 2) the ways in which various communities (neuroscientists, journalists, engineers, laypeople) talk about neural activity. More broadly, Caitlin is interested in the life cycle of scientific "facts" and their movement between popular and scientific contexts. Not particularly inclined to move herself, Caitlin holds a B.A. in Neuroscience & Behavior and an M.A. in Science Reporting, both from Columbia. She has written for a variety of scientific and medical publications, most recently contributing to Scientific American Mind. Caitlin currently works as a reporter and content curator for Columbia's forthcoming Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

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 the space of opinion on news platforms, particularly cable news outlets, and their relationship with partisan politics and political movements. He studies the history of particular discourses found on these news outlets, tracing their origins and developments, to better understand those who use them today. His research thus far has focused on the conservative critique of a liberal mass media, tracing the history of this criticism through prominent conservative media figures and politicians. He graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a B.A. magna cum laude in Communication: Media Studies, before earning an M.S. from Northwestern University in Journalism: Interactive Publishing and Business Reporting. He then worked as a sports reporter in Chicago for online news outlets and the Chicago Tribune.

David came to New York to earn an M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. At NYU, he wrote his thesis on how Billy Graham and Carl McIntire, both twentieth‐century conservative radio preachers, contributed to the discourse regarding the liberal bias of the mainstream media. He plans to extend his research towards a fuller understanding of the role opinion plays today in the news, especially the efficacy with which various partisan media informs the electorate. He has a particular affinity for studying the influence of the conservative evangelical movement on partisan media.

2012 Cohort

Burcu Baykurt

Burcu's research interests broadly include cultural sociology, public policy, and media studies. Her dissertation explores social and cultural implications of information technology, especially in cities and local governance. Other research projects deal with the consequences of networked communications in journalism and free speech, the interaction between cultural change and policymaking, and the role of culture in international relations. Before coming to Columbia, she studied Political Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London and completed her MA in Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. 

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. 

Maxwell Foxman

Maxwell Foxman is continuing to explore the nature of digital media in everyday life as a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University. As a Columbia undergraduate, Maxwell's concentration in American Studies provided the foundation for his graduate study of visual culture and cultural studies at New York University's department of Media, Culture and Communication. Focusing on social media and games, Maxwell's master's thesis examined the inherent motivations for engaging in gamified mobile media, specifically how the application Foursquare changed and motivated users' behavior. However, Maxwell's interest in the digital everyday extends beyond gamification. He has used social media as a frame of reference to speak about the environment, dating and even the celebrity spectacle at a number of conferences. While completing his Master's, Maxwell was also a high school teacher at his alma mater, the Rockland Country Day School in Congers, N.Y. where he helped found an Independent Studies program, which focused on students developing their own curricula based on their personal passions. See more about Maxwell.

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

Charles Berret

Charles studies how people use and think about written information systems like books, newspapers and computers. Recent projects have focused on typography, cryptography and data‐driven storytelling as symbolic spaces in which aesthetic and political values are persistently negotiated. This interdisciplinary research draws from the literatures and methodologies of several fields: critical media studies, cultural sociology, digital humanities, linguistic anthropology and social studies of science and technology. Charles is also an avid programmer and was awarded a Magic Grant from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation. At Brown, his team built SearchLight, a tool that enables investigative journalists to pinpoint cases of algorithmic bias in search engine results and advertisements. As a teacher, Charles focuses his work on the development of technological literacies in journalism and other disciplines that once emphasized writing alone. In addition to the Brown Institute, his work has been funded by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and the Knight Foundation. His academic work has been published in the Journal of Visual Culture. Before coming to Columbia, Charles studied journalism at Northwestern and philosophy at Michigan.

Diani Citra

Citra's research interests include media and communication policy and political communication. Regionally, she is interested in Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia. Currently she is working on a research project that explores Indonesia's digital migration policy. Citra received a BSC. from Universitas Indonesia in 2006, and in 2011 an M.A. in Media Studies from New York University, where she studied on a Fulbright Scholarship. Citra was involved in several policy‐making processes in Indonesia, including the Indonesian Broadcast Code of Conduct and the Broadcast Program Standards. Citra also actively writes about media policy for Kompas, one of Indonesia's biggest national newspapers, and several other print media in Indonesia.

Andi Dixon

Andi Dixon is a fourth‐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.