Graduate Experience


Events, Workshops and Defences

Graduate and school events hosted by SFU School of Communication


PhD Student Profiles


Betty Ackah  |  

Betty is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Her 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. She has an MA in International Development Studies, and another in Spanish Language and Culture, both from Ohio University.

Pippa Adams | Website

Philippa Adams is a PhD student in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Her research focus is on the way audiences in the age of social media interact with and understand popular culture, particularly film and television. Philippa holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Victoria and an MA in Communication from Simon Fraser University. Her Master’s thesis examined the production process on the television series Battlestar Galactica. Philippa works as the Research Manager at the GeNA Lab where she manages a range of quantitative and qualitative research projects.

Salma Amer  |  

I wear several hats to nurture all my angles and to also lead a fulfilling life, if I were to label it. I'm a journalist, 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. This opportunity came after covering Egypt's social awakening through TV production, film and investigative journalism for a few years during the Arab Spring. During my 10-year career, I found myself unexpectedly enjoying the journey of teaching on two fronts: in academia through teaching journalism and production, and in mindfulness through teaching yoga and meditation. It all led me to this point in time, of finding SFU’s interdisciplinary Communications school a nurturing home for my proposed PhD research. My research is socio-cultural based on the political constructs, cultural constraints and the limitations of how we use communication tools. I'm focused on understanding the various manifestations of trauma on the constructive and destructive sides of personal identifications of self and social formations on the ground. When I’m not being a nerd, I naturally drift into storytelling, music, yoga, poetry and dance.

Benjamin Anderson

Benjamin Anderson is a PhD Candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University (SFU), where his research concerns the intersections of work, neoliberalism, and urban change, especially as this relates to emerging craft economies.

Laya Behbahani  | 

Laya Behbahani is an incoming PhD student. She completed her BA with honours and Master’s at the School of Criminology at SFU before completing further course work at the University of Vienna, BCIT and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Laya is a Sessional Lecturer in Labour Studies and a Business & Policy Analyst at Simon Fraser University. 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 Research Associate at the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

Her current research focuses on the narrativization of 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 Middle East, 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.

Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte

Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte joined SFU’s School of Communication as a PhD student in September 2018. Previously, she completed a BFA in visual arts at Concordia University, Montreal (2010) an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies at SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts (2012). In recent years, she has developed overlapping professional practices in the cultural sector as a visual and media artist, independent curator, and writer (with a focus on performative and site-specific practices); activist and organizer in the independent visual and media arts networks; and independent researcher/consultant for umbrella arts organizations. Her artistic and curatorial projects have been presented across Canada as well as internationally as part of the Deformes Performance Bienal (Valdivia, Chile, 2014). She has contributed articles to Inter: art actuel, Decoy, Esse: art & opinions and C Magazine; has published and edited a number of artists’ books; and recently contributed a chapter to Curating Live Arts: Critical Perspectives, Essays, and Conversations on Theory and Practice (Berghahn Books, 2018). Mariane has been actively involved with the Canadian artist-run and independent media arts communities, notably servig as President of the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres (PAARC) in 2016-2018. She has also worked as lead researcher/consultant on various sectoral research and community consultation projects commissioned by the Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference (ARCA), the Pacific Independent Media Arts Alliance (Pacific IMAA), the Canadian Artists’ Representation/Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), and the Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA). She currently sits on the boards of VIVO Media Arts Centre and Aphotic Theatre. Working under the supervision of Professor Alison Beale, her research will look at the impact of changes in provincial and federal cultural policies on artist-run centres in BC.

Layla Cameron | Website

Layla Cameron is a queer fat activist, journalist, filmmaker and PhD student. Her dissertation research focuses on reality television, media literacy, and fat studies. When she isn't studying or working on her next creative project, she can usually be found exploring the west coast in her van, Simone de BeauVan.

Sibo Chen

I am SSHRC Vanier Doctoral Fellow (2016-2019) in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. My research interests include environmental communication, critical discourse analysis, political economy, and energy-society relationship. Currently I am working on my PHD dissertation on public debates over Canada’s fossil fuel sector. For my publications, please see:

Amir H. Ghaseminejad  |  

I decided to pursue my PhD at SFU because it encourages interdisciplinary research, and also because I was attracted to Professor Richard Smith’s enthusiastic interest in Information and communication technologies (ICTS) and their social aspects. My mixed methods dissertation is titled: Variables Relevant to Citizen Participatory Engagement in Technology-Mediated Democratic Systems. I relied on in-depth unstructured interviews and a comprehensive multi dimensional survey, in an attempt to find out the relevance of adaptation of various products of ICTS compared to other political, economic, social, and cultural variables associated with citizen participation.  My research and publications include the impact of ICTs on collective decision making and control, voting systems, media effects, as well as modeling of complex social systems, , science and technology studies, big data, decision support systems, and computational criminology. I have worked in many interdisciplinary research projects at the nexus of social and information sciences at SFU. I have been a researcher at The Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies (ICURS), where I have developed statistical and process models for criminal justice system, and at Interdisciplinary Research in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences (IRMACS), where I participated in healthcare modeling; as well as at the Center for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST), where I studied the impact of broadband Internet on rural and remote communities. I have taught many sections of empirical research methods for communications. I also have taught news media, the public, and democracy; news discourse and political communication; and computer mediated cooperative work.

Andrew Hillan

I started in the PhD program in the School of Communication after finishing an honours B.A. and M.A. in Political Science at the University of Western Ontario. I chose SFU because I knew that I could learn so much from its strong faculty and their wide-ranging research interests - not to mention the much fairer weather on the west coast. Since then I have completed my coursework and comprehensive exams and I am currently working on my dissertation in which I study the history of micro-transactions, loot boxes, and paid downloadable content in video games using a Foucauldian method of media archaeology. I am tracing this phenomenon of in-game consumption to older media such as slot machines, arcades, and trading card games, in order to better understand how it evolved over time into eventually dominating the present-day video game industry through molding the experiences, identities, thoughts, and playing/consuming behaviours of gamers.

Taeyoung Kim

I am a doctoral student in the School of Communication. Since joining the school in 2016, I have studied the ideological and discursive dynamics of the global cultural/creative industries by analyzing government policies and texts of cultural products. In particular, my research focuses on globalization, multiculturalism and the revival of nationalism. I chose SFU because both the school and the city of Vancouver are ideal places to develop my research expertise which are related to transnational cultural spheres. Before entering the school, I studied Visual Communication (MA) at Yonsei University and studied Mass Communication and Journalism (BA) and Political Science (BA) at Kyung Hee University from South Korea.

Tara Mahoney | 

Tara is completing her PhD in communication at Simon Fraser University,  specializing in new forms of participatory political culture in Canada. Tara has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Calgary,  a master’s degree in media production from Ryerson University, and a certificate in civic engagement and dialogue from Simon Fraser University.  She is co-founder and creative director of Gen Why Media.

 Joseph Nicolai  

After graduating from the SFU-CUC Communication Dual Degree M.A.Program, 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".


Kam Razavi

Kam is a PhD candidate and journalist. His research looks at the role of the news media in society. Kam is working on a PhD dissertation examining the nexus of journalism and effective communication around the issue of climate change. Specifically, he is looking at the extent to which a solution-oriented approach to climate change offers an improvement over conventional news narratives and frames, with respect to the requirements of effective climate communication.

Nicole Stewart

Nicole Stewart is a PhD student in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University where she studies the domestication of technology, information society, social media, cultural studies, and children’s media and technology usage. Nicole received her BA (Professional Communication) from Royal Roads University and her MA (Communication) from Simon Fraser University. As a communication specialist, she has over a decade of experience working as a writer, magazine editor, publicist, marketer, and fashion instructor.