Graduate Profiles | PhD

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'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

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.

John Bermingham

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 B.C. politics. I have a Master of Arts, Liberal Studies degree from SFU. Currently, I teach media and communication at the University of the Fraser Valley.

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 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. You can read more about Layla at

Stacey Copeland

A media producer and Ph.D. student in the School of Communication, Stacey came to Simon Fraser University for its critically engaged feminist and sound oriented communication scholarship. She received her Master of Arts from the York-Ryerson joint Communication and Culture graduate program where she studied with a focus on radio production, sound studies, media culture and gender studies. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson University with a minor in English and a specialization in audio production for radio, music and film. It was during her Master’s work that she co-founded FemRadio, the Toronto, Canada based feminist community radio collective. She is always open to new radio, sound art, film, music and research project ideas! Her current research addresses the circulation and production of gender and sexuality in radio and podcasting. Some areas of scholarly interest include feminist media, oral/aural histories, radio studies, queer theory, media history, phenomenology, and sensory ethnography.

Darren Fleet

Darren is a writer, journalist and PhD candidate at the SFU School of Communication. His research interests include consumer culture, faith-based social movements, environmental discourse and the cultural politics of energy in Canada. Before undertaking a PhD, he was part of the editorial team that launched the #occupywallstreet meme into the world, sparking much of his current research direction. Prior to that, Darren completed an MA in Journalism at UBC and worked as a media trainer with Journalists for Human Rights. His work has been featured in numerous publications and forums, including: Vice, Public, UTNE Reader, Al-Jazeera, The National Observer, The Tyee, The Globe & Mail and at the Istanbul Biennial of Art.

Julie Frizzo-Barker  |  

Julie Frizzo-Barker is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Her 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. 

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.

Alberto Lusoli  | 

I am PhD candidate at SFU School of Communication. I earned a Bachelor and a Master in Economics at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. 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.

Research Blog

 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.

Siobhan Watters

Siobhan Watters is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. She holds a Bachelor's degree in English Literature (University of Waterloo, 2010) and a Master's degree in Theory and Criticism (Western University, 2014). Informed by Canadian and German media theory, Marxist political economy, and philosophy of technology, her doctoral research 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.