Civic Paths Alumni

Andrea Alarcon

Andrea’s interests lie in the intersection of ICTD and cultural internet studies, as well as transculturalism and multilingualism on the web. She is particularly interested in the appropriation of social media in developing countries, especially as gateways to the web, and the influence of socioeconomic background and entrenched inequalities on the online experience. She received her MSc degree from the Oxford Internet Institute, and her BSc in online journalism from the University of Florida. She also worked as a Research Assistant with Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective. Before academia, she worked as a web producer and editor for the World Bank, and in social media for Discovery Channel in Latin America. She currently writes about digital culture for Colombian mainstream media.

Soledad Altrudi

Originally from Argentina, Soledad Altrudi earned her B.A. in International Relations at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires. She has also completed graduate studies in Political Science and Sociology at FLACSO, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, and earned a Masters of Public Diplomacy at USC. She has worked at USC’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy as a Geoffrey Cowan endowed research scholar, and is also a founding organizer of Annenberg’s Communication and Cultural Studies graduate student conference, Critical Mediations. Her research interests lie at the intersection of media and science and technology, and focus on exploring the various effects that technology has on our environment and daily lives as well as on human/non-human/other entanglements.

Jeeyun (Sophia) Baik

I am a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at UC Berkeley School of Information. I earned my PhD in Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California (USC). My research centers on the politics of technology governance around issues ranging from privacy and surveillance to content moderation and AI. My current research projects examine (1) stakeholder responses to emerging data privacy laws (particularly civil society and advertising industry), (2) rights-based approaches to platform governance (e.g., civil rights, human rights), and (3) online activism for data justice. My work is situated at the intersection of media studies, critical data studies, socio-legal studies, and science and technology studies. My dissertation investigated the civil right of data privacy as a regulatory alternative to address discrimination and structural inequities amplified on digital platforms. In doing so, I closely followed civil society coalitions across digital rights and civil rights organizations who are pushing for data privacy as a “civil right” in the United States. Mapping the civil society perspectives onto the data-driven political economy and emerging privacy laws (e.g., California Consumer Privacy Act), I articulated the limitations of a traditional neoliberal approach to privacy legislation and suggested new ways to envision a more equitable policy framework. I received my Master of Public Diplomacy at USC and my B.A. in International Relations at Seoul National University in South Korea. Prior to the doctoral program, I produced broadcasting news and worked in Public Relations at various media/cultural organizations.

Thomas J. Billard

TJ Billard is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at Northwestern University, where they are affiliated with the Center for Communication & Public Policy and the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. Outside of Northwestern, they are the founding executive director of the Center for Applied Transgender Studies in Chicago, the leading academic organization dedicated to scholarship on the social, cultural, and political conditions of transgender life. Dr Billard’s research spans political communication, the sociology of social movements, and transgender studies, with a primary focus on the relationship between media and the US transgender rights movement. They also conduct research on typography and graphic design, with an emphasis on the role of design in political branding. Prior to joining Northwestern, Dr Billard served as Consortium on Media Policy Studies Fellow and, later, as Archival Fellow at the National Center for Transgender Equality. In these roles, they established the Trans Equality Archive—the single largest collection of transgender political history in the United States—and conducted fieldwork for their forthcoming book, Voices for Transgender Equality: Making Change in the Networked Public Sphere. Dr Billard’s research has appeared in a number of prominent academic publications spanning several fields, including Communication Research Reports, Frontiers in Psychology, the International Journal of Communication, the International Journal of Press/Politics, the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Marketing Theory, Mass Communication and Society, Media, Culture & Society, and Politics, Groups, and Identities, as well as in venues such as the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics and the SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies. Currently, they are co-editing a joint special issue of Frontiers in Psychology and Frontiers in Sociology on “Anti-Transgender Prejudice: Causes, Consequences, and Interventions” with Professor Jeffrey H. D. Cornelius-White and Dr Naiara Ozamiz-Etxebarria, as well as co-editing a volume on public scholarship in communication studies with Professor Silvio Waisbord. Dr Billard received their PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, where they were advised by Professor Larry Gross, and their honors BA from the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University.

Melissa Brough

mbroughMelissa Brough is Assistant Professor of Communication & Technology in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge. Her work considers the role of communication technology in the social, cultural, and political lives of youth and historically disenfranchised groups. Her research has been published in Mobile Media and Communication, the International Journal of Communication, and the Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media, among others. Her book on youth and digital participation is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

Samantha Close

billardSamantha Close earned her PhD in Communication at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include digital media, theory-practice, fan studies, gender, race, and Japanese media. She focuses particularly on labor and transforming models of creative industries and capitalism. Her documentary, I Am Handmade: Crafting in the Age of Computers, based on her most recent research project, is hosted online by Vice Media’s Motherboard channel. Her writing appears in edited volumes and academic journals, such as Feminist Media Studies, Transformative Works and Cultures and Anthropology Now.

Kevin Driscoll

Kevin DriscollKevin Driscoll is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. His research explores popular culture, political communication, and networked personal computing. Some of his recent work explores everyday and emerging uses of social media such as live-tweeting, joking about politics, and spreading rumors. In 2017, he published a technical and cultural history of the French Minitel with Julien Mailland from Indiana University titled Minitel: Welcome to the Internet. Currently, he is writing a book tracing the pre-history of social media through the dial-up bulletin board systems of the 1980s and 1990s. Kevin joined the University of Virginia in the fall of 2016 after working as a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research. He holds a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and an M.S. from Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previously, he taught mathematics and computer science for grades 6-12 at Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Cambridge, MA.

Yomna Elsayed

sshresthovaYomna Elsayed is a researcher of Technology and Ethics at Twitter, Inc. She earned her PhD in Communication from USC in 2018. In 2020, she was awarded the ACLS emerging scholars post doctoral award in Digital Humanities. Dr. Elsayed has researched and published papers at the intersection of technology and society. Her local and international studies looked at how youth turn limitations into creativity using technology and digital arts. She is also interested in how AI and Machine Learning can be used to advance research in the social sciences and humanities in addition to the ethical concerns of using AI in social media technologies.

Michelle C. Forelle


MC Forelle is a Cornell Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow, the first to be based at Cornell Tech in New York City. Her work broadly examines the intersection of law, technology, and culture, with particular interests in materiality, sustainability, and practices of resistance and change. Currently, she is expanding her dissertation into a book project that studies the legal and technical obstacles faced by users, tinkerers, and repair communities working to repair, maintain, and modify software-enabled automotive technologies. She graduated from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2019, where her dissertation utilized a multimethod qualitative approach to examine how copyright presents a legal challenge to car owners and mechanics attempting to do their own repairs, and how those communities responded to that challenge. She has an MA in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University, and a BS in Film, TV, and Radio from Boston University. Her past work has explored the world of credit default swaps in finance, interactive music videos online, and policies of diversity ownership in broadcast media. Born in Venezuela, she now lives in Brooklyn with her partner, kids, and dog named Dr. Waffles.

Liana Gamber Thompson

LianaLiana is Sr. K12 Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services, where she supports K12 schools and districts drive innovation with the cloud. Previously, she was Digital Project and Operations Manager at EdSurge, an award-winning education news organization that reports on the people, ideas and technologies that shape the future of learning, and continued in that role when EdSurge became part of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Before that, Liana was a researcher on youth activism with Civic Paths at USC, Community Manager at Connected Camps, and Program Associate at the National Writing Project. She is co-author of By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism and holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her partner and two kids, where she enjoys baking, crochet, and local politics.

Brooklyne Gipson

Brooklyne Gipson is an Illinois ACLS/DRIVE Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Digital Humanities at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Gipson is an interdisciplinary communication scholar whose areas of research include digital and social media environments, Black feminist digital/technology studies, and the intersection of race, gender, social media, and power. Her work examines how social media platforms facilitate civic engagement within Black communities. Her current research takes an intersectional approach to analyzing how anti-Black discourses manifest themselves in everyday discursive exchanges within Black social media spaces.

Joss Areté Kelvin

Joss Areté Kelvin is an avant-pop multimedia storyteller whose work incorporates digital design, film, music, dance, literature, immersive theatre/nightlife & interactive emerging technology. Born in NYC, they currently live in Britain via the Global Talent “Promising Leader” visa, after graduating with Distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, where they were Editor of the MA anthology. They have directed music videos & contemporary dance films, & their first feature film as director and producer, the festival-premiering Your Friends Close, is currently streaming on Amazon. Their multimedia project, Cassandra, begins with a single & surrealist video & continues with an upcoming novel & EP. They’ve devised immersive experiences throughout Los Angeles, toured as a musician, & produced large-scale creative conferences, including the Transforming Hollywood conference (USC/UCLA) & other future-focused symposiums during their time working for pioneering media scholar Henry Jenkins. Their web design work includes sites for Jeanette WintersonHenry Jenkinsthe Civic Imagination Project, & the award-winning MacArthur-funded Digital Civics Toolkit. Their non-fiction writing has been published in Pop Culture and the Civic Imagination as well as online. Additionally, they work as a creative doula/freelance editor for novelists & screenwriters. They answer to any pronoun & will likely rebel against any box.

Lori Kido Lopez

Lori Kido LopezLori Kido Lopez is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Arts department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also Director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Lopez is the author of Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Cultural Citizenship and Micro Media Industries: Hmong American Media Innovation in the Diaspora, editor of Race and Media: Critical Approaches, and co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Asian American Media. She is a Co-Editor at the International Journal for Cultural Studies. Her work examines race and ethnicity in the media through a cultural studies lens, deploying ethnography and interviews to examine the way that Asian Americans and other minority groups use media in the fight for social justice. Her current research examines Asian American documentaries and digital networks. Dr. Lopez received a PhD in Communication from the University of Southern California, an MA in Mass Communication from Indiana University, and a BA in Asian Studies and Media Studies from Pomona College. She is mixed-race Japanese American and is originally from Portland, OR.

Neta Kligler-Vilenchik

Neta Kligler-VilenchikNeta Kligler-Vilenchik is Assistant Professor of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her work focuses on civic and political participation and expression in the context of the changing media environment, particularly among young people. Neta has published work in leading communication journals, including the Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, International Journal of Communication, Social Media + Society, Computers in Human Behavior, and others. She is a co-author of the book By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism published by NYU Press in 2016. Neta received her Ph.D. in Communication from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.

Alex Leavitt

aleavittI’m an internet researcher, and I hold a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California. In 2016, I was named one of Pacific Standard’s 30 Top Thinkers Under 30. My research is extremely mixed methods, ranging from international ethnographic fieldwork to survey experiments to computational data analysis. Currently, I’m a senior researcher at Facebook, where I lead international research on politics & news, polarization & social conflict, incivility & hate speech, and misinformation & trust. Recently, in 2020, I also helped lead the company’s social science research on COVID-19’s global impact. At the Annenberg School, I studied networked technology and online culture, with a special focus on user-generated content sites. In particular, I looked at social media platforms and multiplayer online games to study how users and players develop emergent practices in these sociotechnical contexts. In my research, I combined traditional ethnographic methods with large-scale statistical data analysis and social network analysis. Various projects used data from Reddit, Twitter, EVE Online, Tumblr, Minecraft, Facebook, YouTube, League of Legends, Foursquare, and more.

Diana Lee

diana leeDiana is a researcher, writer and educational content strategist who builds engaging multimedia resources for learning and teaching. Her extensive research and editorial experiences are in education and technology, society and culture, civic engagement, and health and wellness. Through her work, she aims to harness the power of personal and collective storytelling to improve educational quality, equity and access for people of all backgrounds. She currently leads the research team at EdSurge, an education news and research organization that explores the people, ideas and tools that shape the future of learning. Diana holds a B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley, masters degrees from Harvard University (in Education) and NYU (in Media, Culture, and Communication), and a Ph.D. in Communication from USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Lauren Levitt

I hold a Ph.D. in Communication and a Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of Southern California. My ethnographic dissertation project, supported by a 2020-2021 fellowship from the American Association of University Women, examines how sex workers and sex workers’ rights activists in New York and Los Angeles create non-biological kinship structures and engage in non-capitalist caring and sharing practices to manage criminalization, physical and financial precarity, and social stigma. I have volunteered with the Sex Workers Outreach Project Los Angeles, holding a number of leadership positions within the organization, and I have experience in education and marketing.

Zhan Li

Zhan Li holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, a B.A. in Social & Political Sciences and a M.Phil. in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University (Trinity), as well as a S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT. For his Ph.D. he focused on the organizational sciences and researching the future of scenario planning, a widely used strategic foresight method. At Annenberg, Zhan also helped create the Annenberg Scenario Lab, which focuses on online media innovation in scenario planning techniques for a variety of organizations.

Since graduating from Annenberg, Zhan worked as a foresight practitioner and futurist consultant for various think tanks, businesses, and other organizations such as the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (Zurich), the School of International Futures (London), and the Humboldt Forum (Berlin). More recently, with his London-based management advisory company Actus Partners, Zhan has focused on consulting for venture capital, growth private equity, and ESG/impact investment, including advising on developing funds and joint ventures for innovative technologies as well as for emerging markets globally in regions such as the Caribbean and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Rogelio Alejandro Lopez

Rogelio Alejandro Lopez is a third year PhD student at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where he studies networked social movements, civic media, and youth media cultures. Prior to USC, Rogelio completed his M.S. in Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while also researching media activism, youth media production, and collaborative design at the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media. Working at the intersection of participatory action research and media-making, Rogelio’s work emphasizes community media production for social change, such as solution-oriented video journalism among youth of color with Boston’s Press Pass TV, and participatory and collaborative design of mobile platforms such as Aago and MIT’s Vojo. His ongoing projects include designing technologies for social change, data science approaches for digital activism research, and a historical overview of the civic imagination among Chicana/o youth activists. Rogelio’s technical skill set includes video production, photojournalism, graphic design, collaborative design, and programming in Python. His dissertation is a comparative look into the use of media tactics and cultural production among youth in contemporary social movements to cultivate “civic imagination.”

Azeb Madebo

Azeb Madebo earned her B.A. in Communication and minored in Anthropology and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. As a Ronald E. McNair and Mary Gates Research Scholar, she examined negotiations of Blackness by considering the experiences of East African (specifically Ethiopian) immigrant communities in Seattle. At USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, her research interests and work have centered on Africa (south of the Sahara), topics regarding development, and civic engagement. She’s worked on projects that look at transnational/transracial adoption and surrogacy and the racialized commodification of bodies; the racialization and identity negotiations of East African immigrants in the United States; civic imagination and networked mobilization in Ethiopia and its diaspora; and the relationships between discourses of sustainable development and techno-political governance in Africa. Her dissertation fieldwork and research, funded by USC’s Graduate School Research Enhancement Fellowship, will consider the relationship between imagination, civic engagement, technology, and discourses of development within Ethiopia.

Joshua McVeigh-Schultz

Joshua McVeigh-SchultzJoshua McVeigh-Schultz is a hybrid ethnographer, design researcher, and media maker who recently earned a PhD from the Media Arts and Practice PhD program in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. His research intersects fields of HCI, anthropology, media studies, and design theory, and his dissertation explores the intersection between ritual and design. In 2013, he won an Intel PhD Fellowship for his dissertation research. At MSR New England he studied the role of affordances in a microsocial relationship app, Couple. At Intel Labs’ Interaction Experience Research group (IXR), he researched youth and mobile media and developed UX insights for mobile play. For his dissertation, he explored the intersection between ritual and design in a range of contexts: civic participation, interpersonal communication, and human-object relationship formation. He earned an MFA at UC Santa Cruz’s Digital Arts & New Media program and also completed an MA in Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, where he researched identity performance in Japanese social media. As an undergraduate he completed a BA in anthropology from the University of Chicago. At USC, he worked as a designer in Scott Fisher’s Mobile and Environmental Media Lab, designing speculative interfaces for creative collaboration in VR (among other topics). He has also been a researcher for the Institute for Multimedia Literacy, a member of Henry Jenkins’s Civic Paths research group, and a contributor to the academic blog Culture Digitally. Between his undergraduate and graduate careers, he lived, studied, and taught in Japan and China.

Ritesh Mehta

Ritesh MehtaRitesh Mehta is currently the Co-Director of Programming at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. He has recently been part of the programming teams at two prominent LA-based film festivals, AFI Fest and Outfest. Ritesh also reads for Sundance Institute, works in film/TV development, and has published original articles in Poetics and Transformative Works and Cultures. Ritesh received his PhD in Communication from the Annenberg School at University of Southern California, where he conducted an ethnography of student professionalization in film school and was an active member of the Civic Paths research group in its formative years.

joan miller

joan miller is a doctoral candidate in Communication at the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and a transmedia artist with a broadly interdisciplinary approach. joan’s work focuses on empathy at the intersection of media fandom and politics. Her dissertation – tentatively titled “The Use of Feeling” – explores the ways in which empathy and pathos govern our behavior both in relation to our fandom and to our communities at large. joan is especially interested in themes of kinship, empathic communication and anti-colonialist approaches to producing media scholarship. Currently, her attention is focused on theorizing and prototyping a methodology of fandom studies inspired by Bardic and Griotic traditions of the values and necessities for community storytelling.

Rachel Moran

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington’s Information School. I received my doctoral degree from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalist at the University of Southern California. My research explores the role of trust in digital information environments and is particularly concerned with how trust is implicated in the spread of mis- and disinformation. My research has been published in Information, Communication & Society, Digital Journalism, Journalism Practice, Media, Culture & Society and Telecommunications Policy. I have a BA and an MA in Social and Political Science from Cambridge University and an MA in Political Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London. I am also a Fellow at the George Washington University’s Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics.

Raffi Sarkissian

raffia sarkissianRaffi is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Communication Department at Christopher Newport University. He earned his PhD in Communication from the Annenberg School at USC, where he served as a member and research assistant for Civic Paths. Raffi’s research focuses on media representation and participatory practices around race, gender, class, and sexuality. His current projects look at queer film festival culture and media discourses surrounding the award show industries

Andrew Schrock

aschrockDr. Andrew R. Schrock is a professional academic editor at his company Indelible Voice, and founder of the research consultancy Aloi. He received his Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC. Previously, he taught courses on communication technologies, management, and software engineering at UCF, UCLA, USC, and CSU-DH for fifteen years. He is also known for his book Civic Tech: Making Technology Work for People, journalistic writing in publications like Public Books, and stories on Medium. He is usually a bit too active on Twitter, working on his next book, or cooking up tips for his editing and technology newsletters. When he’s not online, you can find Andrew hiking the wilds of California or playing video games with his daughter.

Paromita Sengupta

senguptaParomita Sengupta was an assistant professor of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) at San Francisco State University. Sengupta had an interdisciplinary background in English, media studies and communication. She graduated with a Ph.D. in communication from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 2020. Her research and teaching focused on the intersection between digital media, popular culture, humor and civic engagement, and she worked with activist organizations both in the U.S. and India to create multimedia projects that increased social consciousness and media literacy. Sengupta tragically passed away in November 2020 and she is dearly missed by Civic Paths.


Benjamin Stokes

Benjamin StokesBenjamin Stokes is a civic media scholar, game designer, and director of The Playful City Lab. He is also an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication, and at the AU Game Center. Previously, he co-founded Games for Change, the movement hub for advancing social change with games. At the MacArthur Foundation prior to academia, Benjamin was a program officer in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. Benjamin has also worked at the UC Berkeley School of Information as a postdoctoral scholar in data science. Design experience in civil society includes leading teams at NetAid/Mercy Corps in global citizenship education. His new book is Locally Played: Real-World Games for Stronger Places and Communities (MIT Press, 2020). Recent collaborations with students include projects on neighborhood storytelling networks, place-based games, participatory design, and play that strengthens cities and communities.

Kari Storla

Kari Storla earned her Ph.D. in communication with a focus in rhetoric from the University of Southern California. She has been teaching at Woodbury University since 2017 and teaches classes in argumentation, public speaking, media studies, and media professions. In addition to Woodbury, she has taught at California State University Northridge, El Camino College, Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Valley College, and the University of Southern California.

Lana Swartz

Lana SwartzI am an assistant professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. Most of my research is about money and other communication technologies. My book, New Money: How Payment Became Social Media was released from Yale University Press in August 2020. My co-edited book, Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff was published by MIT Press in April 2017. I am currently wrapping up a series of papers on the COVID-19 economy, fintech, social media, and the PPP. I am beginning a large-scale project on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). I am also writing a book about scams. I was a 2020-2021 Berggruen Fellow, 2021 Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, and 2020-2021 Visiting Scholar at the Center for Advance Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Previously, I was a Post-doctoral Researcher at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England and a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. I received a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at University of Southern California and an SM in Comparative Media Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chris Tokuhama

After graduating from USC with B.A. in Biological Sciences, Chris began working for his alma mater’s Office of Undergraduate Admission, responsible for coordinating the University’s merit-based scholarship process and 8-year combined B.A./M.D. program. Working closely with high school populations, Chris became interested in issues that ranged from self-harm to educational access and equity, which has helped to inform his current research interests in digital media literacy, learning, and youth cultures.

Chris draws upon his natural sciences training in order to better understand the role of transformative bodies in Gothic Horror, his primary area of research. Particularly interested in the confluence of horror, identity, narrative, gender, media, and youth, Chris currently explores how the eroticization of trauma and wounded bodies acts to articulate cultural anxieties. When not pursuing his studies, Chris enjoys working with 826LA and writing his upcoming chapter on mediated celebrity in The Hunger Games and Philosophy while drinking over-priced coffee.

Rhea Vichot

Rhea VichotRhea Vichot is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Arts and Game Development at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her principal research interests are in online fan communities and their engagement with each other and with content creators across national and linguistic barriers. Her recent work has looked at the player base and developers of Final Fantasy XIVas they have constructed an online contact zone within the virtual world and across various other platforms. In addition, she is pursuing research on the online western revival fandom of Japanese City Pop Music and its use of sehnsucht as well as representations of Gender and Sexual Minorities in manga.

Christine Weitbrecht

Christine WeitbrechtChristine is a Master of Communication Management student at the University of Southern California. She completed her undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Science in Communications, Media and Society at the University of Leicester, England. Coming originally from a strong marketing background, Christine’s area of interest shifted towards transmedia storytelling and fan engagement in her final year at Leicester, and she looks forward to applying this knowledge in the entertainment industry after graduating in August 2011.

Emilia Yang


Emilia Yang is an artist, organizer and scholar. Her art practice utilizes digital media, archives, film, games, performance, and urban interventions for the creation of transnational and speculative feminist media, and transformative justice projects. Yang is completing her PhD in Media Arts + Practice at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

Her more recent project, “AMA y No Olvida, Memory Museum Against Impunity” is a transmedia memory museum that explores participatory forms of mediation for remembering victims of state violence and examines the role of memory in the political imagination. Emilia’s theory-practice work has been published in The Cahiers Des Amerique LatineAda: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and TechnologyThe Additivist Cookbook (Institute of Network Cultures, 2015) in Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Social Change (NYU Press, 2020) and Practicing Futures: A Civic Imagination Action Handbook (Peter Lang Press, 2020). Her artworks have been shown at international venues such as Resistance Biennale in Guatemala, Casa America and International Video Art House in Spain, Le Commun Contemporary Art Building in Geneva, IndieCade Independent Games Festival, Games for Change, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and the Games and the New Media Summit at Tribeca Film Festival.

Sulafa Zidani

As a scholar of digital culture, Sulafa Zidani writes on global creative practices in online civic engagement across geopolitical contexts and languages such as Mandarin, English, Arabic, Hebrew, and French. Zidani is currently working on a book-length study called Global Meme Elites: How Meme Creators Navigate Transnational Politics on the Multilingual Internet. She has also published on online culture mixing, Arab and Chinese media politics, and critical transnational pedagogy in venues such as: Social Media + Society; Asian Communication Research; Media, Culture & Society; International Journal of Communication, and others. She is the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology, The Intersectional Internet II: Power, Politics and Resistance Online. Outside of the academy, Zidani is an accomplished public educator. As a facilitator for the Seachange Collective, she has led workshops on antiracism and social justice for organizations such as NowThis, Gimlet Media, The Onion, and The Writers Guild of America. Her public writing on popular culture and politics has appeared in Arabic and Anglophone publications.

Arely Zimmerman

azimmermanArely Zimmerman earned her Ph.D. in political science at UCLA. Her research on the politics of migration, transnationalism, race, citizenship and activism has been published in Latino Studies and the International Journal of Communication. Prior to joining Pomona College, Professor Zimmerman was a faculty fellow in the department of social and cultural analysis at NYU and a Mellon Fellow in Social Movements at the University of Southern California. She is a co-author of By Any Media Necessary: the New Youth Activism (New York University Press, 2018) which examines the political significance of social media in youth organizing and civic participation. She is currently at work on a book about the political activism of Salvadoran immigrants in the United States.