Current Students

MTS students on the market this year

Miya Williams

Miya Williams Fayne
Miya Williams Fayne is a Ph.D. candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program. She received her B.A. in print journalism with minors in sociology and communication and the entertainment industry from the University of Southern California. Williams Fayne went on to earn her M.A. in publishing and writing from Emerson College with a concentration in magazines. She has experience in corporate communications and public relations and prior to attending Northwestern she worked at JET magazine and EBONY magazine. Williams Fayne's research explores the role of the black press in the new media age. She is interested in the implications of evolving production and consumption practices as it relates to the intersection of journalism, digital technology, and culture.

Lillian Boxman-Shabtai
Lillian Boxman-Shabtai is a PhD candidate in the Media Technology and Society program. She holds a BA and MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Broadly interested in the relationship between media messages and their audiences, Lillian’s research focuses on textual and societal aspects related to the concept of polysemy (meaning multiplicity). Her previous work explored the polysemy of humorous email forwards and YouTube parodies. Her dissertation explores the framing and reception of a news story about economic inequality in the US by integrating competing theories of interpretation in the discipline and multiple methods of audience and textual analysis.

Silvia Lovato
Silvia Lovato is a PhD candidate working with Ellen Wartella at the Center on Media and Human Development. Her research focuses on how digital technology enables  children to do things they couldn’t do without it, especially in the use of voice interfaces like Alexa and the Google Assistant by pre- and emerging readers. Previously, she spent close to 14 years at PBS, where she worked with content producers on educational games and oversaw PBS KIDS Digital Products (, including the successful PBS KIDS online and mobile video players. Silvia is a native of Brazil and worked as a journalist for a few years before moving to the U.S. She has a master’s degree in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University.

Elena Rodina
Elena Rodina is a PhD candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program. Prior to coming to Northwestern, Elena received an MA in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Oregon, and a BA in Romanic-Germanic Philology from Kazan State University (Russia). She has worked as an international correspondent and political journalist for a number of major print outlets in Moscow. She is primarily interested in the issues of censorship, self-censorship, political implications of the mass media in Post-Soviet Russia, and comparative analysis of the cultural and political aspects of news production in Russia and the United States.

MTS students

Mohammad Behroozian
Mohammad Behroozian is passionate about studying educational media for wartime. He has studied political science at the American University of Afghanistan and earned his master’s degree in television producing at Boston University on a Fulbright scholarship. Mohammad has nearly a decade of experience in media and communications work.

John J. Brooks
John J. Brooks is a doctoral student in the Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern University, studying with Dr. Nathan Walter. Previously, John completed his B.A. in Theatre/Gender Studies and his M.S. in Health Communication, both at Northwestern. His research primarily pertains to communication in the contexts of health and politics—specifically, the effects of mass media, the spread and correction of misinformation, the persuasive power of narratives, and the impacts of emotion and credibility on persuasion. Most recently, John was the recipient of a Top Paper Award from the NCA Political Communication Division. John's work will also be featured in the American Journal of Public Health and the upcoming International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology.

Eleanor R. Burgess

Eleanor Burgess
Eleanor R. Burgess is a PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program working in Professor Madhu Reddy’s PITCH Lab. As a Fulbright scholar she earned her MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship from University College London. She received her BA in Communication Studies from Northwestern University with a minor in Global Health Studies. Her research investigates the human experience of healthcare technology interaction. Within care settings she explores the user needs of patients, families, and healthcare providers. These inform her design of human-centered solutions to optimize communication, collaboration and learning within healthcare environments. Through analyzing the social and technical aspects of technology design and implementation, she seeks to synthesize best practices of new technology creation within healthcare systems. She has designed for populations including firefighters, doctors, and chronic kidney disease patients and is currently conducting research with care managers to support mental healthcare delivery. In addition to her academic research she actively involves herself in the tech startup scene to learn about the non-academic challenges of technology design and implementation.

Kaitlyn Childs
Kaitlyn Childs is a PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program working in Professor Michelle Shumate’s Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact lab. She’s currently studying perceptions of corporate-nonprofit partnerships using concept mapping techniques. She holds an M.A. in Communication and a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Mike DeVito
Mike DeVito is a doctoral candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program and a Cognitive Science specialist. He currently works out of the Social Media Lab. Mike’s HCI-based research centers around how users adapt to the new challenges that ever-evolving, complex, algorithmically driven technology introduce to social and informational processes. His current research in this area includes explorations of how social media users employ folk theories of algorithmic feeds to guide their behavior and determine self-presentation strategy, how queer populations balance disclosure and stigmatization in online spaces that induce new challenges related to audience management. He currently publishes work on these topics in top-tier HCI venues such as the ACM CHI and CSCW conferences.

Jabari Evans

Jabari Evans
Jabari Evans is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and a research fellow at the Northwestern Center of Media and Human Development. His research focuses on the subcultures that urban youth and young adults of color develop and inhabit to understand their social environments, emotional development and professional aspirations. He explores strategies these youth use for self-expression especially regarding digital media. His most recent work is examining the cultural production and social media habits of youth musicians in the DIY Hip-Hop micro-scene of Chicago. His forthcoming dissertation project, which centers on a Hip-Hop Education program in Chicago Public Schools, has been recognized for awards by the International Communication Association and has been covered by the Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, Rolling Out Magazine, Ebony Magazine and Chicago Crain's Business. He is also a 2019 selection for Microsoft Research New England's Social Media Collective PhD Internship. 

Julia Fernandez
Julia Fernandez is a PhD student in the Media, Technology and Society program working in Dr. Jeremy Birnholtz’s Social Media Lab. Her research focuses on how users navigate complex sociotechnical ecosystems in order to express themselves and make social connections. She is also conducting research regarding popular perceptions of algorithmic systems. Prior to Northwestern, Julia was a Junior Fellow at the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in the Library of Congress’ Office of Strategic Initiatives, working with Dr. Trevor Owens. She received her BA in American Studies from Smith College with a focus in Media and Digital Culture. 

Jeremy Foote
Jeremy Foote is a PhD candidate who works with Aaron Shaw as part of the Community Data Science Collective. His research focuses on understanding collaboration systems, and in particular on understanding how new collaborations get started. He uses computational social science and data science methods to address questions like, "What patterns of communication predict productive, long-lasting communities?" and, "How do people decide which collaborative projects to contribute to?"

Hannah Badal

Hannah Getachew-Smith
Hannah Getachew-Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program working with Dr. Courtney Scherr in the Health Communication Interaction Design Lab to develop interventions for difficult conversations in health. Hannah’s research interests focus on the evaluation of digital health interventions that address health disparities. Trained in public health, she holds an MPH from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Prior to returning to Northwestern, she worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducting research and evaluating national HIV campaigns.

Nick Hagar
Nick Hagar is a first-year PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and worked in audience development and analytics for several digital newsrooms prior to starting his PhD. He’s interested in how media organizations adopt new technologies and studying newsrooms from a business perspective.

Bri Hightower

Bri Hightower
Bri Hightower is a third year Ph.D. student within the Media, Technology, and Society program at Northwestern University and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. She conducts research with Ellen Wartella in the Center on Media and Human Development. Hightower’s main research interests revolve around understanding how technology and media can enhance learning and communication for families with children. During summer 2018, Bri served as a UX research intern at Facebook. Prior to returning to Northwestern University, she conducted research at the Center for Children and Technology, a division of Education Development Center (EDC). When not researching, she can be found mentoring undergraduate students through the Brady Program, reviewing books on her blog, knitting, FaceTiming her niece, and exploring Chicago’s beer scene.

Sohyeon Hwang
Sohyeon Hwang is a first-year PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society Program at Northwestern University. She works with Dr. Aaron Shaw in the Community Data Science Collective and is interested in quantitatively and computationally investigating governance of large-scale, diverse online communities. She holds a BA in Government and Information Science from Cornell University.

Phoebe Jean-Pierre
Phoebe Jean-Pierre is a JD/PhD candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program and the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Her research centers on health communication, both in how we talk about health and some of the legal questions involved. Currently, her research focuses on immigration and where this intersects with the healthcare system. Beyond this, Phoebe is interested in the immigration court system, portrayal of immigrants in the media, healthcare laws, disclosure of medical error, racial disparities in medicine, doctor-patient confidentiality, and ethical and legal issues in health communication. Phoebe holds a BA in Communication and World History from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kerstin Kalke
Kerstin Kalke is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology, and Society program working in Dr. Courtney Scherr’s Health Communication Interaction Design Lab. Kerstin’s main research interests center on how media and technology can be used to promote healthy behaviors. Previous projects focused on the analysis and development of evidence-and theory-based mobile phone apps, social media campaigns, and written material to enhance healthy behaviors in the contexts of breast cancer, mental health, and sexual health. Kerstin holds a BA in English/American and German Studies from the Julius-Maximilians Universitaet in Wuerzburg, Germany, and a MA in Communication from the University of New Mexico.

Lindsay Larson

Lindsay Larson
Lindsay Larson is a fourth-year PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program, working in Leslie DeChurch’s ATLAS Lab. Her research interests include team composition and leadership issues in organizational teams and multiteam systems. Her current research projects focus on the effects of identity and identification on leadership emergence within and between groups. Lindsay holds a BS in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Yena Lee
Yena Lee is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology and Society program. She was born in Korea and grew up in Brazil. She received her B.A. in Media Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her undergraduate thesis on feminist K-pop fans’ connective action on Twitter was accepted by NCA and the Console-ing Passions Conference. She hopes to expand her research on feminist activism by studying collective mobilization online using a critical lens to examine social, political, and cultural connections and disconnections that technologies create.

Breniel Lemley
Breniel Lemley is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology, and Society program. She conducts research in the Center on Media and Human Development with Dr. Ellen Wartella. Her research interests include children’s learning from educational media with a focus on early STEM learning. Prior to attending Northwestern, Lemley worked in the Education Division of SRI International as an Education Research Associate. There, she supported projects funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, George Lucas Education Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in Music from the University of San Francisco.

Maya Lennon
Maya Lennon is a PhD student in the Media, Technology and Society program. She holds a BS in Cognitive Science from Brown University. She works with Dr. Ellen Wartella and Dr. Alexis Lauricella in the Center on Media and Human Development. She is interested in children’s learning from educational media, especially interactive forms of media. She has also researched children’s learning of causal information from song.

Reyhaneh Maktoufi

Reyhaneh Maktoufi
Reyhaneh Maktoufi is a PhD candidate in Media, Technology, and Society at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on science communication, curiosity, and public engagement with scientists. She works at the Nonprofit Network and Social Impact Lab where she studies nonprofit mergers and attitudes toward nonprofit-corporation partnerships. Her working background is mainly in audience outreach in nonprofits, mostly in the field of health. Rey currently enjoys working with different nonprofits such as the Adler Planetarium as a communication workshop facilitator and the Communicating Science Conference ComSciCon - Chicago as an organizer. She also engages in science outreach through writing blog-posts and making science comics.

Will Marler

Will Marler
Will Marler is a PhD candidate in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. Will's research explores issues of technology and marginalization, with a focus on the implications of smartphone and Internet use for people in poverty. Most recently he completed a year-long, ethnographic study of low-income Chicagoans who benefit from a federal program that subsidizes mobile phone and Internet service. His current research explores how unstably housed adults in Chicago navigate social boundaries on Facebook while seeking to expand their reach on the site. Will's publications appear in New Media & Society and Mobile Media & Communication. He holds a BA from Drury University and an MA from Washington University in St Louis.

Mora Matassi
Mora Matassi is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology and Society program. She was born and raised in Argentina, where she earned her B.A. in Communication from Universidad de San Andrés (UdeSA). Prior to Northwestern, Mora received an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard University as a Fulbright scholar. She was research assistant at MIT's Scheller Teacher Education Program and coordinator at the Center for the Study of Media and Society in Argentina, joint initiative between Northwestern University and UdeSA. Her undergraduate thesis (2015), on WhatsApp's "Read Receipt" and "Last Seen" affordances, was accepted at the conferences of NCA and AEJMC. Mora is interested in digital culture and computer-mediated communication.

Joshua-Paul Miles
Joshua-Paul Miles is a PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program studying under Dr. Michelle Shumate. He is a research assistant at the Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact Lab. His main research interests include organizational networks and partnerships, interorganizational dynamics, collective action, and discrimination and equity within networks and organizations. He holds degrees in Corporate Communication and Spanish for the Business Professions, with a minor in Human Resources from Marquette University.

Ivory Mills

Ivory Mills
Ivory Mills is a Law & Science Fellow and dual degree candidate pursuing a PhD in Media, Technology, and Society and a JD at Northwestern Law. With interests in both theory and practice, she investigates international information and communication technology (ICT) market organization and regulation from organizational and interorganizational perspectives. Interdisciplinary in nature, her work draws upon the technological, economic, legal, and social implications of corporate, civil society, and regulatory institutions in the international system, highlighting the challenges ICTs pose for law and policymaking. Her dissertation research explores the international ICT governance network of standard setting organizations (a form of modern transnational private regulation) and international investment treaties (a form of traditional international law), and looks for potential conflicts, such as security, intellectual property, and economic development.

Ashley Niler
Ashley Niler is a Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology, and Society program working with Leslie DeChurch in the ATLAS (Advancing Teams, Leaders, and Systems) Lab. Prior to Northwestern, Ashley earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Labor and Employment Relations, from Penn State. Her research interests include leadership, teams, and multiteam systems. In particular, she explores the relational processes in these systems from a social networks perspective.

Sarah Pila
Sarah Pila is a doctoral candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program working in the Center on Media and Human Development with Ellen Wartella. Before starting at Northwestern, Sarah earned a Master of Arts in Child Study and Human Development from the Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. Before that, she completed her BA in Psychology with minors in Family, Youth, & Community Sciences and Mass Communication at the University of Florida. Her research interests focus on the benefits of prosocial and educational media for young children, particularly in early childhood education.

Sanjana Ramesh
Sanjana Ramesh is a second-year PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society Program working with Dr. Courtney Scherr in the Health Communication Interaction Design Lab. Prior to starting this program, Sanjana received her MPH in health communication and social marketing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Sanjana’s research explores the influence of various factors, including personality, psychosocial factors, and media on the adoption of new and existing health technologies, particularly genetic and reproductive technologies.  

Amy Ross

Amy Ross
Amy A. Ross is a Ph.D. candidate in the Media, Technology and Society (MTS) program. She was born and raised in Costa Rica, where she earned her B.A. in Communications at the University of Costa Rica. She went on to work as a reporter for five years at the country’s main newspaper, La Nación. She obtained her Master’s Degree from the MTS program at Northwestern in 2015. Her dissertation research is situated at the intersection of studies on science, medicine and media, and explores the rise of a proposed new diagnosis known as orthorexia nervosa. Her research interests also include contemporary body-discipline practices as they relate to morality, health and identity.

Thomas Rousse
Thomas H. Rousse studies the intersection of law and technology, with a focus on intellectual property and online communities, as a joint J.D./Ph.D. student. He currently serves as the Senior Online Editor of Northwestern University Law Review. He holds an MSc. in Media, Technology and Games Analysis from the IT University of Copenhagen and graduated from Northwestern’s American Studies program in 2010. His advisor is Aaron Shaw.

Camille Saucier
Camille Saucier is a Ph.D. student in Media, Technology and Society working at the Center Of Media Psychology and Social Influence (COM-PSI) under Dr. Nathan Walter. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Southern California in Psychology and Communication Management respectively, and previously worked as a research specialist with the Norman Lear Center’s Media Impact Project. Her research interests include public opinion formation, attitude change, and decision-making, specifically around science communication. She is particularly interested in the discourse surrounding environmental issues like climate change, and how these messages can be adapted to be more persuasive.

Anne-Marie Singh
Anne-Marie Singh is a third year Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology and Society Program at Northwestern University and is working at the Network for Nonprofit and Social Impact under Dr. Michelle Shumate's advisorship. She has several years of experience working in environmental nonprofits as a communicator and as a science journalist in public media. Her research interests include organizational communication and cross-sector partnerships in the nonprofit sector. Anne-Marie has a M.S. degree in Science Journalism from Boston University and a B.A. in English Literature from Delhi University, India.

Kyosuke Tanaka

Kyosuke Tanaka
Kyosuke Tanaka is a Ph.D. student in the Media, Technology, and Society program, working in Noshir Contractor’s SONIC lab. He is interested in network awareness and cognition. His recent projects explore the factors that explain the errors we make in accurately assessing network ties among individuals in our social network. Kyosuke holds a Master of Social Research (Advanced) from Australian National University, a B.A. in Business and Commerce from Keio University, and certification from the International Business Profession program at Bellevue College.

Daniel Trielli
Daniel Trielli worked as a journalist for more than a decade in Brazil before coming to the U.S. to pursue a degree of Master of Journalism. In his home country, he has worked as an assistant editor at O Estado de S. Paulo, a national newspaper, in charge of making the brige between the city news desk and the graphics department, working with data and visualizations. Later, he became the editor of an experimental project on mobile platforms. During his master’s program at the University of Maryland, he has researched the role of algorithms in society, including how search engines mediated political information during the 2016 cycle. He is interested in researching data and computational journalism, data literacy for journalists and audiences, media literacy and data visualization.

Kalia Vogelman-Natan
Kalia Vogelman-Natan is a PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program working in the Center on Media and Human Development with Ellen Wartella. Her research interests focus on mobile communication and the role of media in the lives of families, specifically the impacts mobile ubiquity has on children, adolescents, and parenting. She holds a BA in International Relations with a minor in English Literature & Linguistics, and an MA in Communication from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Ashley Walker
Ashley Marie Walker is a PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program working with Professor Madhu Reddy. Ashley’s research focuses on sociotechnical ecosystems, privacy concerns and behaviors, and information policy. She is currently studying the factors that effect changes communication technology infrastructure in hospital environments. Prior to Northwestern, Ashley attended the University of Michigan where she received a Master of Science in Information after completing her thesis using offline frameworks from urban planning to understand the evolution of online platforms.

Erique Zhang
Erique Zhang (they/them) is a PhD student in the Media, Technology, and Society program. Their research interests include the cultural production of women of color and transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) individuals. Erique is especially interested in the beauty, lifestyle, and fashion communities on video-sharing and social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, and the ways in which women of color and TGNC content creators in these communities engage with questions about race, gender, and representation. Erique holds a BFA in Studio Art and MA in Visual Culture: Costume Studies, both from New York University.

Renwen (Alice) Zhang
Renwen (Alice) Zhang is a PhD candidate in the Media, Technology, and Society program. Her research focuses on the role of mobile technologies in delivering tailored health interventions. She is also interested in online health communities and peer support among people with mental illness. Alice’s work has appeared on top peer-reviewed journals, such as Computers in Human Behavior and Information, Communication, & Society. She has won awards for her research from the International Communication Association (2018) and the European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (2018).