People

Henry Jenkins (Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Arts)

Henry Jenkins is Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California. He joined USC from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was Peter de Florez Professor in the Humanities. Jenkins directed MIT’s Comparative Media Studies graduate degree program from 1993-2009, setting an innovative research agenda during a time of fundamental change in communication, journalism and entertainment. 

Jenkins has also played a central role in demonstrating the importance of new media technologies in educational settings. He has worked closely with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to shape a media literacy program designed to explore the effects of participatory media on young people, and reveal potential new pathways for education through emerging digital media. 

He is Co-principal investigator on the Civic Imagination project. Jenkins’ most recent books include Comics and Stuff, Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Social Change (with Gabriel Peters-Lozaro and Sangita Shresthova), Participatory Culture: Interviews and By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism (with Sangita Shresthova, Liana Gamber-Thompson, Neta Kligler-Vilenchik, and Arley Zimmerman). He blogs twice a week at henryjenkins.org and co-hosts the How Do You Like It So Far podcast.

Sangita Shresthova (Research Director/Program Director)

Sangita Shresthova is the Director of Research (and Co-PI) of the Civic Paths Group based at the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on intersections among online learning, popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. She is also one of the authors of Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Change (NYU Press, 2020) and of Practicing Futures: A Civic Imagination Action Handbook (Peter Lang, 2020).

Her earlier book on Bollywood (Is It All About Hips?) was published in 2011 by Sage. She is one of the creators of the Digital Civics Toolkit (digitalcivicstoolkit.org), a collection of resources for educators, teachers and community leaders to support youth learning. Her own creative work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), the Other Festival (Chennai), the EBS International Documentary Festival (Seoul), and the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC). She enjoys engaging with diverse communities through her workshops, lectures and projects.

Gabriel Peters-Lazaro (Assistant Professor – Division of Media Arts + Practice at the USC School of Cinematic Arts)

sshresthovaGabriel Peters-Lazaro was an assistant professor of the practice of cinematic arts in the Division of Media Arts + Practice at the USC School of Cinematic Arts where he researched, designed and produced digital media for innovative learning. As a member of the Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) project he worked to develop participatory media resources and curricula to support new forms of civic education and engagement for young people. He helped create The Junior AV Club, a participatory action research project exploring mindful media making and sharing as powerful practices of early childhood learning. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses on digital media tools and tactics, digital studies and new media for social change. He received his B.A. in Film Studies from UC Berkeley, completed his M.F.A in Film Directing and Production at UCLA and received his Ph.D. from Media Arts + Practice at USC. Gabriel (also known as Gabe) passed away in May 2021. His thinking continues to influence and shape our work in many ways.

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Civic Paths Members

Isabel DeLano

Isabel DeLano’s research interests converge on areas of literary studies and feminist theory. Her research mainly focuses on gender violence and literary representations of gender dynamics. Prior to joining USC Annenberg, Isabel graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Psychology and a BA in Literature. During her time at UCSC, she worked as a Research Assistant on a study investigating the ways in which heterosexual women internalize romantic scripts in media, and how this affects their expectations for and acceptance of certain behaviors in their intimate relationships. Her senior thesis converged on a portion of that study which analyzed the popular Netflix series You for its portrayal of romantic ideals and relationship abuse, with her work focusing specifically on ambivalent sexism in the show.

Do Own (Donna) Kim

Do Own (Donna) Kim is a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, and a Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS) fellowship alum. Donna studies everyday, playful digital cultures and mediated social interactions. Her research interests are at the intersections of technology studies, cultural studies, and CMC/HMC. She focuses on uses, boundary-crossingsamanda, and Others in human-technology assemblages. She enjoys mixed methodological and interdisciplinary collaborations. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as New Media & Society, International Journal of Communication, and Mass Communication and Society. She is currently affiliated with the Civic Paths and MASTS (Media as Sociotechnical Systems) research groups.

Prior to joining Annenberg, Donna received her B.A. degrees in Media & Communication and English Language & Literature from Korea University in 2015. She studied at Nagoya University for a year as an exchange student in 2013-14. Donna has lived in five different countries including South Korea, China, Canada, the U.S., and Japan. Her cross-cultural experiences and her advertisement/PR internship at Cheil Worldwide inspired her to pursue her interest in digital communication.

Paulina Lanz

Paulina Lanz is a PhD candidate at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She identifies material culture as a source of memory and nostalgia through the lens of archival and cultural studies. By examining materiality as an archival mechanism for storytelling through spatial-temporal remembrance, the visual and audible aesthetics become stimuli for developing interactions across disciplines. Paulina is a member of the Civic Paths group and involved in research in the Skid Row and Homeless Connectivity Project, and the Mobile Devices Global Mapping Project. She is a founding member and organizer of Critical Mediations, a communication and cultural studies conference.

Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee is an undergraduate student majoring in communication and minoring in applied analytics. She joined Civic Paths in 2021, and is currently working on the Civic Imaginations project. Previously, she helped research diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry at the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. She is primarily interested in studying participation in digital communities, and understanding the evolving nature of digital communications.

Ioana Mischie

Ioana Mischie is a Romanian-born transmedia artist (screenwriter/director) and transmedia futurist, multi-awarded for film, VR and innovative concepts. Fulbright Grantee Alumna of USC School of Cinematic Arts (collaborating with the Civic Imagination Lab / Mixed Reality Lab / JoVRnalism / Worldbuilding Lab), and Alumna of UNATC, advanced the transmedia storytelling field as part of her doctoral study thesis completed with Summa Cum Laude. Her cinematic projects as writer/director have traveled to more than 150 festivals worldwide (Palm Springs ISFF, Hamptons IFF, Thessaloniki IFF), were developed in top-notch international programs (Berlinale Talents – Script Station, Sundance Workshop – Capalbio, Cannes International Screenwriters Pavilion) and awarded by innovation-driven platforms (The Webby Awards, F8, Golden Drum, SXSW Hackathon). She has created franchises such as Tangible Utopias or Government of Children, empowering children to see themselves as leaders and to redesign their society. TEDxBoldandBrilliant speaker, member of Women in Film and Television LA, she teaches wholeheartedly at UNATC and UBB, while leading Noe-Fi Studios (a neuro-VR start-up). Envisioning the world as a neo-creative playground, she deeply believes that storytellers are “the architects of the future” (Buckminster Fuller).

Christopher J. Persaud

Christopher J. Persaud is a PhD student at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where he is also pursuing graduate certificates in Science and Technology Studies and Visual Studies. Broadly, his work explores how media and communication technologies are entangled with identity and popular culture. His research has three (often overlapping) streams: 1) queer media and cultural production, 2) video games and gaming cultures, and 3) online communities and subcultures. He is also a graduate student affiliate with the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies at NYU. Christopher has presented his work at the annual meetings of the Association of Internet Researchers, International Communication Association, and Queerness and Games Conference, among others. His research has been published in academic journals including International Journal of Communication, Social Media + Society, New Media & Society, and First Monday.

Becky Pham

Thi Ngoc Bich (Becky) Pham is a PhD Student at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California. She researches how families, children and youth appropriate new media, and how their media engagement shapes their worldview and lived experience. Her topics of interest include, but are not limited to, parenting and media, transnational families and media, and fandom engagement by children and youth. Her research has been published in the Journal of Children and Media, New Media & Society, Communication Research Reports, and is forthcoming in Transformative Works and Cultures. Becky was born and raised in the south of Vietnam. When she was 19, she moved to Singapore where she studied and worked for 9 years. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences, First Class Honors and a Master of Arts from the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore (NUS), for which she was awarded the ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship and the NUS Tuition Fee Waiver for Graduate Students.

Steven Proudfoot

Steven Proudfoot is a PhD student at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism where he takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying game and fan communities with a focus on MMORPG player practices, cultures, and team dynamics.

Tyler Quick

I’m a fifth-year Ph.D. student at Annenberg under the advisement of Dr. Larry Gross. My research interests are broad and interdisciplinary, but generally aim to uncover the relationship between discourses of identity on social media and political economy. My dissertation project, tentatively titled “#Instagay: The Libidinal Economics of Social Media,” is an ethnographic account of gay men’s sexual practices on Instagram and the relationship between sexual hierarchies and the application’s algorithmic infrastructure. My work employs a variety of qualitative methods, including interviews, archival work, discourse analysis, and on- and offline ethnographic methods. I am inspired by a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, cinema and media studies, political theory, and art history, amongst others. I am always interested in partnerships, constructive criticism, and interlocutors from backgrounds and points of view different from my own, so if you have stumbled across this page after encountering my work, please feel free to send me an email with feedback, questions, or critiques!

Daisy Reid

Daisy Reid is a graduate student in the Comparative Literature track. Her work focuses on contemporary speculative and science fiction, with broad research interests in the environmental and energy humanities; plant theory; posthumanism; materialisms; critical race, queer, and feminist theory; animal studies and affect theory. She received her BA in French and Italian from University College London and also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Amsterdam.

Khaliah Peterson-Reed

Khaliah Peterson-Reed is a PhD student in English Literature. Her research interests coalesce around fan studies–with an emphasis on literary fandom and fanfiction—and contemporary popular literature. She focuses on issues relating to intersectional identity in popular culture, the fanfiction writing community, and fandom. Her work on racebending fanfiction was published in the Journal of Creative Writing Studies. Khaliah is currently working on her dissertation which looks at shame and the respectability politics that police the ways that black female fanfiction writers and readers engage and navigate fan spaces. Prior to attending USC, she earned her B.A. in English at Howard University.

Javier Rivera

Javier Rivera is a PhD student at USC Annenberg. His research interests include Latinx media and popular culture, ethnoracial performance in online space, and how media and technology change our understanding of Latinidad. He completed an MA in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to his MA, Javier earned a BA in Women’s and Gender Studies and a BS in Microbiology also from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jessica Steel

Jessica Steel is a Masters student on the Jungian and Post-Jungian course at the University of Essex. Her research focuses on the intersections between depth psychology, media, politics, popular culture and civic engagement. She is particularly interested in identifying archetypal motifs in popular culture and speculative fiction and how these can be mobilized to promote positive individual and social change. Jessica has also trained and performed professionally as an actress and holds an FdA degree in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts. Additionally she is working on a number of speculative fiction novels as part of her creative practice.

Essence Wilson

Meet Essence! She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology-Honors, and a Master of Art in General Experimental Psychology with Distinction from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Her research interests include multimedia and education.Her research interests align with creating multimedia tools and resources (i.e., media literacy, edutainment, technology) to promote academic success among children of color. During her research endeavors, she has implemented the first Lightboard Studio for her campus to encourage higher retention on difficult subject matters. She has also utilized the Critical Race Theory in understanding educational gaps of those from marginalized backgrounds resulting in the monograph “Beating the Odds: Graduating in 4 Years at CSUN”. She was an instructor for Introductory Psychology at CSUN and due to her teaching accomplishments has received the Roger Moss Teaching Award for demonstrating outstanding teaching skills.