Graduate Profiles | PhD

Meet the School of Communication graduate students.

Betty Ackah  |  LinkedIn

MA, International Affairs, Ohio University

MA, Spanish Language and Culture, Ohio University

BA (Honours), Political Science and Spanish, University of Ghana

Supervisor: Peter Chow-White

Betty's current research is on the social construction of blockchain technologies. She is particularly interested in the symbiotic relationship between blockchain and the social dynamics of the gender digital divide in Ghana. Her research looks at how an internet based digital technology, so widely celebrated as disruptive and inclusive, will overturn the established knowledge monopolies of the information society to include hitherto marginalized persons. She has diverse research experience as a member of the School of Communication’s GeNA lab, and on projects funded by the IDRC, Ohio University’s Tropical Disease Institute and UNICEF. 


Philippa Adams | Twitter

MA, Communication, Simon Fraser University

Supervisor: Peter Chow-White

Philippa Adams is a PhD candidate whose dissertation research examines the interaction between gendered social media discourses and legacy media texts. Her Master’s thesis examined the production process on the television series Battlestar Galactica. Philippa also works as the Research Manager at the GeNA Lab where she manages a range of quantitative and qualitative research projects.


Carina Albrecht | Twitter

BA, Communication, Simon Fraser University

BSc, Computer Science, Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos

Supervisor: Wendy Chun

Carina's current research investigates how network science, as a data analytics and modelling tool, shapes how we imagine our connections on social media. She is part of the Desegregating Network Neighbourhoods project at the Digital Democracies Institute, where she helps to uncover polarizing mechanisms of network science and inform novel approaches for reimagining social media connections that minimize or counter polarization. Her main goal is to propose intellectual frameworks for building democratic digital environments. Her research areas also include critical data studies, critical algorithm studies, philosophy of technology, and science and technology studies.


Salma Amer | LinkedIn

MS, Journalism, Columbia University

BA, Journalism & Mass Communication, American University in Cairo

Supervisor: Adel Iskandar

I'm a visual storyteller, yoga and meditation teacher, and singer. I've attended the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University on a full scholarship for my MS degree in 2014. This opportunity came after covering Egypt via TV production, documentary films and investigative journalism during the Arab Spring. During my 10-year career, I found myself unexpectedly enjoying the journey of teaching on two fronts: (1) Teaching academically at the Journalism and Mass Communication department as an Adjunct Faculty member at the American University in Cairo. (2) Supporting individuals/communities hone their power through the techniques of yoga and meditation. I find SFU’s interdisciplinary Communications division a nurturing home for my proposed research study. My research looks into how the engagement of people with multi-sensory and embodiment practices tackles trauma and socio-political reform in the Middle East. When I’m not being a nerd, I naturally drift into storytelling, music, yoga, poetry and dance.


Benjamin Anderson

Supervisor: Enda Brophy

Benjamin Anderson's research concerns the intersections of work, neoliberalism, and urban change, especially as this relates to emerging craft economies.


Laya Behbahani

MA, Criminology, Simon Fraser University

BA (Honours), Criminology, Simon Fraser University

Supervisor: Adel Iskandar

Laya is a Sessional Lecturer in Labour Studies and the Director of SFU's Student Experience Initiative. She previously worked at the Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria and served as a researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

Laya’s current research focuses on the narrativisation of slavery, forced labour and human trafficking experiences in the Middle East. Her research has explored the role of the kafala system in shaping the experiences of the migrant work force in the Gulf States, and the policies and politics that govern the interplay between immigration, criminal laws and labour laws. In addition, she has collaborated on projects entailing the application areas of corporate responsibility, such as forced labour and slavery, and business models of forced labour. Laya is a 2020 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar.


John Bermingham | Twitter

MA, Liberal Studies, Simon Fraser University

Supervisor: Shane Gunster

As a former journalist, I have witnessed many of the key events impacting Western Canada, which often revolve around the use of our abundant energy resources. My research looks at how media in this region cover energy issues, with a focus on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. I am interested in comparing how mainstream and alternative media cover the pipeline story, which is so pivotal to Canada’s economic and climate future. I have worked as a business journalist in Ireland, and spent more than 20 years as staff reporter for The Province newspaper, covering beats such as education, Vancouver City Hall, and BC politics. Currently, I teach media and communication at the University of the Fraser Valley.


Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte | Personal Website

Supervisor: Alison Beale

MFA, Interdisciplinary Arts, Simon Fraser University

BFA, Visual Arts, Concordia University

Mariane’s research focuses on cultural and arts policy in Canada and British-Columbia. Her dissertation research considers the relationship between artist-run centres and arts funding bodies and traces the¾sometimes parallel, sometimes intersecting evolution of cultural policies and of artist-driven visual and media arts organizations in British Columbia. Other research interests include the digital turn in arts and cultural policy in Canada and the online distribution of independent Canadian film and video. 


Anthony Burton | Personal Website

MA, Communication & Culture, Ryerson University

BA (Honours), Philosophy, University of Toronto

Supervisor: Wendy Chun

Anthony's research is broadly concerned with the networked development of epistemologies and ideology in technological and datafied environments. His other research interests include digital temporalities and eschatology, computing, masculinity, and the body. His master’s thesis focused on involuntary celibacy, programmatic epistemology, and masculinity under neoliberalism. He is also interested in the research and development of technical tools for digital research.


Layla Cameron | Personal Website

MA, Gender Studies, University of Ottawa

BJ (Honours), Journalism & Human Rights, Carleton University

Supervisor: Zoë Druick

Layla Cameron is a PhD student, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. Her dissertation research focuses on representations of nonnormative bodies in both reality television and activist media through an intersectional feminist lens grounded in fat studies, disability studies, and critical race studies. 



Dylan Chandler

MA, Professional Communication, Royals Roads University

BA, English Literature & Philosophy, The University of British Columbia

Supervisor: Andrew Feenberg 

I work in the philosophy of technology, using critical theory, phenomenology, and pragmatism to study the human relationship to technology through interface and design. My dissertation focuses this broader philosophical discussion of technology through the case of smart voice assistant technology—Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home etc— and relates it to Mark Weiser’s ubiquitous computing and Arthur C. Clarke’s concept of magic. Particularly relevant concepts to my work are: Adorno’s constellations, Merleau-Ponty’s embodiment, technical function, Simondon’s technicity, and social dimensions of technology. My work aims to find strategies for orienting technology away from alienation and toward emancipatory relationships to it. 


Anita Charters

MA, Professional Communication, Royal Roads University

BSc, Cell Biology and Genetics (Arts Minor), The University of British Columbia

Supervisor: Peter Chow-White

I am interested in communication issues in genomics and big data including adoption of technology, bias in algorithms and resulting data, and privacy.  


Stacey Copeland | Personal Website

MA, Communication & Culture, Ryerson University

BA, Radio & Television Arts, Ryerson University

Supervisor: Milena Droumeva

Research areas include: Sound Studies, Radio Studies, Podcasting, Voice and Culture, Gender and Feminist Studies, Media Production, Phenomenology, Canadian Broadcast history, Queer Theory and Culture. Stacey’s SSHRC-funded dissertation research focuses on how gender and sexuality are communicated through audio media such as radio and podcasting, with particular interest in LGBTQ+ and feminist production. 


Emillie de Keulenaar | Personal Website

MA, History of Political Thought & Intellectual History, University College London and Queen Mary University

Research MA, New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam

BA, Liberal Arts & Sciences: Global Challenges, Leiden University College

Supervisor: Wendy Chun

I explore the history of speech moderation in a fringe-to-mainstream web ecology. I am also interested in web political epistemology, particularly the effects of deep disagreements in the production of misinformation. 


Xuezhi Du

MA, Theory and History of Communication, Communication University of China

BA, Journalism, Huaibei Normal University

Supervisor: Yuezhi Zhao

Xuezhi Du’s research mainly focuses on Global Communication, Political Economy of Communication, Rural Communication. Now he is trying to combine these three areas with doing his research on China's media policy and media transformation and its interaction with the world (especially with the Global South countries) under the context of (anti-)globalization.


Belen Febres-Cordero | LinkedIn

MA, Anthropology, Simon Fraser University

BA, Multimedia Journalism, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

Supervisor: Katherine Reilly

Belen is a PhD candidate working on critical health communication, feminist and community-engaged research, and alternative media in Latin America.  Her doctoral project collaborates with women who have migrated from rural parts of Ecuador to the country’s capital city and with local community media to share alternative experiences of wellbeing and collectively consider their relation to structural factors shaping health.


Darren Fleet

MJ, Journalism, The University of British Columbia

BA, History, Simon Fraser University

Supervisor: Shane Gunster

Darren is a writer, artist, and PhD candidate. His research interests include: environmental communication, energy humanities, affect theory, advertising, faith-based social movements, and the cultural politics of fossil fuels in Canada. He is interested in the ways that fossil fuels mediate and define our relationships with the non-human world and with one another. His creative, journalistic, and scholarly work has been featured in numerous publications and forums including Vice, Public, Frontiers in Communication, Journalists for Human Rights, UTNE Reader, Al-Jazeera, The National Observer, The Tyee, The Globe & Mail, Oxygen Arts Centre, Void Gallery, and the Istanbul Biennial of Art.


Julie Frizzo-Barker

MA, Media & Communication, Goldsmiths College

BA, Communications, Trinity Western University

Supervisor: Peter Chow-White

Julie Frizzo-Barker is a PhD candidate whose current research focuses on the social shaping of emerging technologies, through a study of women in the blockchain space. As a research assistant in School of Communication’s GeNA Lab, she has collaborated on a range of projects and publications to do with blockchain, big data, privacy, and genomics. She holds an MA in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London. 


Amy Harris

MA, Communication, Simon Fraser University

BA (Honours), English Literature, University of East Anglia

Supervisor: Shane Gunster

My primary research looks at how communication around climate change represents the inherent risks of sea-level rise and wildfires in BC. I will be looking at how activist groups and mass media use different forms of social media to communicate these risks, how effective those are, and if anything can be done to make messaging more effective. 


Byron Hauck

MA, Asia Pacific Policy Studies, The University of British Columbia;

BA, Philosophy, University of Victoria

Supervisor: Yuezhi Zhao

Byron’s research focuses in on the use of digital media for political participation in nonwestern settings. Most recently he completed six months of ethnographic research over four years in Heyang Village, Zhejiang China, investigating the way that China’s digital transition impacts rural time keeping practices. His dissertation identifies how villagers are using digital technologies to share time with one another and foster a sense of belonging based on comradeship. He is looking to expand this work de-westernizing communication studies with further research on rural engagement with global communication systems to highlight additional practices that contrast with capitalist social organization and can inform emancipatory political engagement.


Andrew Hillan

MA, Political Science, Western University

BA, Political Science, Western University

Supervisor: Rick Gruneau

Research areas: Game studies; Digital media; In-game purchases; Microtransactions; Loot boxes; Media history; Friedrich Kittler; Analog games; Penny arcades; Coin-operated machines; Michel Foucault; Subjectivity; Critical theory; Consumer culture; Identity formation.


Kayla Hilstob

MLIS, The University of British Columbia

BA, Political Science, The University of British Columbia

Supervisor: Svitlana Matviyenko

Kayla Hilstob holds a Master of Library and Information Studies from UBC, where she focused on the political economy of information. Her research interests include automation and labour, media archaeology, political economy of global communication, and their expressions of militarization in a cyberwar framework. Her current focus is on the history of the internet(s) in Canada, and its significance in today's discussions of internet governance, sovereignty, surveillance and cyber conflict.

Tahmina Inoyatova | Personal Website

MA, Communication Studies, Peking University

BA (honours), Linguistics, Russian-Tajik Slavonic University

Supervisor: Adel Iskandar

In her ongoing PhD research, Tahmina is exploring the intersection of identity, memory, and power in the context of post-Soviet cities with a special focus on Central Asia and Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe. More specifically, she is interested in how cities and urban spaces mediate discourses of nationhood, development, and decolonization in Central Asia while being shaped by the forces of nationalism, capitalism, neoliberalism, and globalization. Tahmina’s other research interests include post-socialism and coloniality, decolonial studies, cultural studies, Eurasian studies, post-Soviet media and popular culture. Tahmina has a chapter in the forthcoming edited volume “Mapping the Media and Communication Landscape of Central Asia: an anthology of emerging and contemporary issues”


D.W. Kamish

MA, Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago

BA, English, University of Pennsylvania

Supervisor: Svitlana Matviyenko

Research areas: Working in critical theory, philosophy of technology, and media archaeology, their primary research interests are infrastructure, invention, and postmodernism.


Hoornaz Keshavarzian | LinkedIn

MA, Communications, University of Tehran

Supervisor: Adel Iskandar

Hoornaz ranked first in Iran's Master of Arts entrance exam in 2012 and received her MA in Communications from University of Tehran in 2015. Her current research focuses on digital humanities, networked youth, performative identity, online self-expression and neoliberal selves.


Taeyoung Kim

MA, Visual Communication, Yonsei University

BA, Journalism and Communication, Kyung Hee University

Supervisor: Dal Yong Jin

Taeyoung is a PhD candidate interested in studying the ideological and discursive dynamics of how global and local stakeholders establish their relationships in cultural industries. In particular, his dissertation investigates how the nation-state retains its role and position in the era of neoliberal globalization based on traditions of critical communication studies.  


Woochul Kim | Facebook

MA, Korean Film Studies, Chungang University

MSc, Media, Communication, & Development, London School of Economics and Political Science

Supervisor: Dal Yong Jin

I have worked as a news photographer, journalist, and TV program producer for major broadcast television networks in Korea. I also shared my field experiences with university students as a lecturer in Korea. My interest lies in transnational media and culture, audience participatory culture as a way of preserving identities, and the role of public broadcasters and journalism in a social media era.


Felix Lo

MA, Communication, Simon Fraser University

MEng, BSc, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Supervisor name: Frederik Lesage

Felix’s research concerns the philosophical critique of machine learning and artificial intelligence by looking into the history of computing, cybernetics, and Gilbert Simondon's philosophy of technology.


Alberto Lusoli | Personal Website

MA, Economics & Communication, Università Di Modena e Reggio Emilia

BA, Economics & Communication, Università Di Modena e Reggio Emilia

Supervisor: Frederik Lesage

I am PhD candidate at the School. I applied to SFU School of Communication because I have always been interested in understanding the societal and political dimensions of technology. Currently, I am studying the flexible organization of labor in the Vancouver Creative Industry. My approach is inspired by critical constructivism, Actor-Network Theory and digital empiricism.


Alicia Massie

MA, Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies, Carleton University

BA, Psychology & Linguistics, University of Ottawa

Supervisor: Shane Gunster

Alicia Massie is a Joseph Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholar and PhD Candidate. Her activism and academic work focus on the intersections of gender, labour, and race in late capitalism, as well as investigating Canadian petro-capitalism from a socialist feminist perspective. Beyond her academic work she works as an educator, labour organizer, and community activist.

Rowan Melling

MA, Germanic Studies, UBC

BA, History and Modern European Studies, UBC

Supervisor: Sun-ha Hong

My research explores the intersections between Romanticism, Silicon Valley tech culture, digital media, and neoliberalism. Resistance is also a major issue for me. It was the topic of my MA thesis, which focused on the militant, feminist guerrilla cell, Red Zora. I was born and raised in BC, but have also lived in Montreal, Germany, and California.


Joseph Nicolai  

Supervisor: Jan Marontate

After graduating from the SFU-CUC MA Double Degree Program in Global Communication, Nicolai continued on in the department and is currently a PhD student. In 2016 he held a fellowship at the Academy of Korean Studies and completed a project that located the country’s current shift in promoting rural heritage and its historic relationship to the Saemaul Undong New Community movement. With interests in Global Communication and Critical Theory, his current project at SFU relates to the communication of cultural heritage understood as operating between "imagined community" and "concrete inequality".



Ingrid Opoku-Mensah

MA, Global Communication, Simon Fraser University

MCJ, Communication & Journalism, Communication University of China

BA, Publishing Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

Supervisor: Sarah Ganter

Ingrid's research interests surround the de-Westernization of Communication Studies with a special focus on the need for academic cosmopolitanism. Her goal is to locate sites of African indigenous theory that can be inculcated into the study of Communication. 


Kamyar Razavi | LinkedIn

MiM, Management, Tsinghua University

BA, Journalism, Ryerson University

Supervisor: Shane Gunster

I examine the role of journalism in communicating climate change. Specifically, I am investigating the extent to which a solutions-oriented approach to news reporting can help audiences develop a sense of efficacy, with an eye on mobilizing political action for solving the climate emergency. In addition to my academic work, I am a national news producer with a major Canadian digital and broadcasting outlet.


Ben Scholl

MA, Communication & Social Justice, University of Windsor

BComm, Business Administration, University of Windsor

Supervisor: Dal Yong Jin

Ben situates his research within games studies, with a focus towards esports. His ethnographic research has explored the institutionalization of college esports from the perspective of student-athletes. His attention has been shifting towards moments of place-making, through the emergence of material elements in transdigital assemblages, in competitive gaming, live streaming, and virtual music festivals. More broadly his interests include: games studies, media studies, ethnography, subcultures, institutional work, affect, political economy, and new-materialist cultural theory.

Dongwook Song

MA, Journalism & Communication, Kyung Hee University

BA, Journalism & Communication, Kyung Hee University

Supervisor: Stuart Poyntz

My research interest is widely concerned with media cultural studies, focusing on ideology and discourse theories. In particular, I have conducted research projects on youth-related topics by employing various qualitative methodologies that include in-depth interviews, media representation, ethnographic and discourse analysis. In addition, my interests broadly include subjectivity, Williams' “structure of feelings”, the relationship between structure and agency,(re)articulating the cultural studies with the political economy, the financialization of daily life and the social reproduction crisis in the South Korean context.

Nicole Stewart

MA, Communication, Simon Fraser University

BA, Professional Communication, Royal Roads University

Supervisor: Frederik Lesage

Nicole Stewart studies the domestication of technology, information society, social media, cultural studies, and children’s media and technology usage. As a communication specialist, she has over a decade of experience working as a writer, magazine editor, publicist, marketer, and fashion instructor.


Siobhan Watters

BA, English, University of Waterloo

MA, Theory & Criticism, University of Western Ontario

Supervisor: Andrew Feenberg

Siobhan Watters' doctoral research, informed by Canadian and German media theory, Marxist political economy, and philosophy of technology, posits food systems as communication systems and food as a medium, contrasting food's social function with its function as a commodity in the circuit of capital. Siobhan has published in the Graduate Journal of Food Studies (2015) and has a chapter forthcoming in The Vital Spark: Essays on the Legacy of Frankenstein for Charles E. Robinson.