Participants 2016


Alena Macková

Mgr. et Mgr. Alena Macková works as a junior researcher at the International Institute of Political Science and at the Institute for Research on Children, Youth and Family at Masaryk University in Brno. There she actually works on project Horizon 2020 – an international project focusing on participation of young people in Europe. She has a Master’s degree in Sociology and Political Science from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Masaryk University. There she studies in a doctoral degree programme (Political Science). She also contributes to a Czech Science Foundation research project dealing with political communication and new media in Political Communication Research Group (PolCoRe) at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague. Her research interests include political communication and (new) media, political participation and media practices and cyberactivism.


Aliaksandr Ruzhantsou

Aliaksandr Ruzhantsou is a PhD student at the department of Political Science and Sociology at Scuola Normale Superiore. After graduation with honors in 2010 in a BA Program in History at Minsk State Pedagogical University in Belarus, he has pursued his career in the Internet, Media and Communication sector as a project manager administrating various projects. In 2013 Aliaksandr has been awarded Erasmus Mundus scholarship for MA Program in Political science at University of Warsaw. After a successful graduation he has been admitted to the PhD program at Scuola Normale Superiore site in Florence with a full scholarship. During 2014-2015 he has participated in Summer schools and various courses in Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences, Conflict studies, EU studies.
His research interests are affected by both a research path and previous professional careers in IT and Media field. The research interests include New media, Social movements and Collective action, Institutions, Democratization and Transition in Post-Communist countries. In particular, in his PhD thesis he intends to study the effect of the Internet in (de-) mobilization of various groups of population in Maidan mass protests in Ukraine in 2013-2014.


Chrysi Dagoula

Chrysi is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield. Chrysi earned a BA with distinction in Mass Communication and Media Arts (Journalism) from the Queen Margaret University of Edinburgh and also holds a BA in History and Archaeology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Additionally, she holds a MA in Journalism and New Media from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Her MA dissertation, entitled ‘Journalism in the social media era’, examined the relationship between journalism and the internet (and especially social media). Furthermore, it examined, through an extended research on Twitter, how media in Greece use this platform.
In Chrysi’s PhD work she aims to examine the uses of social media in the present political dialogue as well as the democratic potential of them, to discover the new ways that media cover the elections and how they embrace social media and especially microblogging. She looks at how journalists’ roles are formed in this new context, how media outlets manage to face the new challenges and how the audience responds by measuring the level of engagement and participation. Finally, she examines which are the implications of these advancements for the Public Sphere concept.


David Coppini

David Coppini is a doctoral student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Wisconsin – Madison. He holds an M.A. from the University of Bologna in Social and Political Communication. His main research interests are: 1) Impact of new media technologies on participation and information gaps, 2) Political campaigns in the era of social media, 3) Perceptions of wealth and income inequalities, 4) Media representations of marginalized groups and health inequalities.


Dawn Wheatley

Dawn Wheatley is a PhD student in the School of Communications in Dublin City University. She has a BA in journalism studies and MA in political and public communication, and has worked as a production journalist and subeditor for a number of news publications in Ireland. Her primary research area is the sourcing of news, and how this is related to journalism production routines. Her PhD looks at online news coverage of health policy issues in the Irish media; it considers the role of powerful and elite sources in shaping coverage, and how this relates to changing work pressures within an online journalism environment. She is also involved in the newly established Institute for Future Media and Journalism in Dublin City University.


Desiree Schmuck

Desirée Schmuck is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna since October 2014. She received a scholarship of the University of Vienna for her dissertation project “The effects of right-wing populist political ads on explicit and implicit attitudes” supervised by Jörg Matthes. Her main interests focus on right-wing populism and political advertising, the effects of political communication on (young) people’s attitudes as well as on environmental advertising. Together with her supervisor Jörg Matthes she has already published two articles out of her Master and her PhD thesis on the effects of right-wing populist political ads in Communication Research and Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. She has also presented her work at international conferences such as the International Communication Association (ICA) and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). In addition to her dissertation project, she is currently working in the research project ‘FacePolitics: Social Media and Participatory Politics for Adolescents’ together with Jörg Matthes and Raffael Heiss, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.


Desiree Steppat

Desiree Steppat accomplished her BA and MA degree at the Universities of Cologne and Muenster, she then started her PhD at the University of Zurich in 2015. During her studies she had insights in different fields of the media profession as she functioned as a PR officer for several public institutions, worked for a regulatory body for the protection of minors in the media and conducted an internship at a political foundation. She is currently working as a research and teaching assistant at the Chair of Prof Frank Esser for “International and Comparative Media Research” at the University of Zurich. Her research interests involve political communication, comparative research methods, media use for (political) information and in particular the occurrence of (partisan) selective exposure in different media environments. The latter also constitutes her PhD project.


Filipe Resende

Filipe Resende is a PhD Student in Sciences Communication at the School of Human Sciences of the Catholic University of Portugal. He is also a Junior Researcher at the Research Centre for Communication and Culture (CECC) of the Catholic University of Portugal (UCP). He is developing his work within the research line “Media, Technology and Contexts” with an FCT scholarship. His interest areas are journalism, political communication, public relations and media technology. He holds a Social and Cultural Communication degree and a Master in Political Communication.


Ivo Bosilkov

Ivo Bosilkov is a first year PhD candidate at the University of Milan, as a part of the project NASP, in the program Political Studies, following the academic path Public Opinion, Political Communication and Political Behaviour. His background is communication sciences, with a Bachelor degree from the Faculty of Language, Culture and Communication at the South East European University in Tetovo, Macedonia, and a joint Master degree from Aarhus University and the University of Amsterdam in the Erasmus programme Journalism, Media and Globalization. His specialization is European Politics/Political Communication from the Graduate School of Communication in Amsterdam, where he graduated on the topic ‘How much is Macedonians’ attitude on EU integration contingent on the perception of EU member Greece’. In between his degrees he worked as a professional TV journalist at a national television in his country. Currently he is working on a paper comparing the visibility of EU and national political actors regarding the migrant crisis in Macedonian media. His topics of interest are migration, EU integration, public opinion, media framing, and national identity.


Jana Bernhard

Jana Bernhard grew up in a family who loved to discuss every day. She soon discovered her passion for political thinking and communication (especially news journalism). At 14, she decided to focus her education on Media and Communication studies. She attended a local high school (Softwearpark Hagenberg) with a focus on this topic. After completing her A-levels she moved to Vienna, in order to study political science as well as media- and communication science at the University of Vienna. In Communication she started early to specialize in TV and Radio as well as historical communication research. This changed in her last year, when she met Prof. Gil de Zúñiga and Prof. Boomgaarden, who introduced her to theoretical and quantitative research. In Political Science she focused on Europeanization studies and racism theory. After completing her Bachelor Programs in the required minimum time she was accepted into the English Research Master “Communication Science” and assumed a position as the student assistant of Prof. Boomgaarden.


Kara Wentworth

Kara Wentworth is a feminist science studies scholar and doctoral candidate in UC San Diego’s Communication Department and Science Studies Program.
Building on feminist engagements with science and technology, her work asks questions about the politics of knowledge and difference in more-than-human material worlds. She uses a mix of ethnography and experimental video-based methods across multiple projects. While many ethnographers of science study practices in scientific laboratories, her research sites include not only laboratories but also teacher training programs, standardized assessment tools, community gardens, and over the last five years, slaughterhouses. Her newest project is a collaboration with community organizers and scientists to document new projects in which public universities are working to engage local communities through science communication. Going beyond an “engagement” model, these projects seek to embed democratic decision making in the fabric of new scientific research so that communities are in the driver’s seat developing research questions and making new demands on the university. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary group of faculty at UC San Diego, she is working to launch a science communication course sequence for undergraduates and graduate students.


Kristina Sawyer

Kristina M. Sawyer holds a Master of Arts in Emerging Media Studies at Boston University’s College of Communication, and a Bachelor of Science in Film and Television Production at BU. Her graduate thesis research focused on mobile health (mHealth) wearable devices, gamification, and social networks (from the theoretical perspective of self-determination theory).
Kristina has experience conducting quantitative and qualitative research methods, and has completed coursework in the areas of communication law and policy, gender and ethnic representations in media, network analysis, communication theory, and journalism. As a graduate teaching assistant, she lectured undergraduate students on topics of research ethics and survey methods.
Kristina’s research interests include digital games, virtual and augmented reality, cognitive processing of media, motivation, gender and cultural representations in media, network visualization, big data, privacy, and communication policy. She will begin her PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the division of Communication Studies in fall 2016.


Linn Sandberg

Linn Sandberg is currently enrolled as a PhD student at the University of Oslo, department of media and communication since Feb 2015. In her PhD project she examines how digitalization and the growth of social media affect representative democracy and democratic values that are traditionally viewed as providing legitimacy to political decisions. Within this research field, some argue that social media increases responsiveness, participation and accountability, whereas others claim the opposite or deny any (new) political implications. In the research project she will conduct several empirical studies testing competing hypotheses about how digitalization weakens or strengthens the position of representative democracy today. More specifically, it will examine the impact of social media on opinion formation, participation, and representation.
Academic interests: Linn havs a broad interest in the emergence of new social and political cleavages and the implication of digitalization on party and voter behavior. Methods for extracting and analyzing data from social media are also part of her academic interest.
Background: MA in Political Science with a major in Public Administration, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Before starting the PhD program, she was a research assistant at the political science department in Gothenburg where my research focused on xenophobic opinions and political parties.


Lorena Lamin

Lorena Lamin holds a degree in Social and Cultural Communication from the Portuguese Catholic University and a Masters in French Literature and Civilization from the Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris III on Émile Zola’s influence on cinematographic realism, under the supervision of Professor Emeritus Philippe Hamon. She recently started her doctoral research in Communication Sciences at the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon, with a full doctoral scholarship awarded by the FCT, on transmedia activism and the political value of new forms of entertainment, as tools for social change.
She published a paper on transmedia and street art in the Academic Journal In Circulation (McGill University, Montreal) and participated in the ECREA 2015 Pre- Conference with a paper on gamified narratives for social change. In parallel to her academic research, she works as a freelance translator and collaborates with a Portuguese NGDO, for which she participated in volunteer missions in Portugal and Kenya.


Louisa Imperiale

Louisa Imperiale has an impressive track record as a career fundraiser, political operative, and tech entrepreneur. Her research is situated at the intersection of technology and political communication with an emphasis on championing campaign finance reform. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Louisa coordinated major donor fundraising for the Republican Party, serving as the Director of the Republican Regents and Team 100 programs for the Republican National Committee and as Director of Development for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In addition, Louisa has extensive campaign experience, having served as Finance Director for a $30M Senatorial race and a $100M Gubernatorial campaign, and as Deputy Finance Director for a Presidential campaign in 2012. She holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree, both from The University of Alabama, and attended the Executive Masters in Leadership program at Georgetown University. She is also an alumnus of the American Council of Young Political Leaders and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. She is a frequent public speaker and commentator on the topics of politics, entrepreneurship, technology, leadership, strategy, marketing, communication, fundraising, and the need for campaign finance reform. After 15 years of living in DC, Louisa considers herself a proud Washingtonian, and enjoys taking advantage of the District’s cultural institutions with her husband and two young children.


Marlene Kunst

Since April 2015, Marlene Kunst has been a research associate at the division “Media Use Research” at the institute of media and communication studies of the Free University of Berlin. Her position implies lecturing (seminars this semester: “Digital Citizens” and “Introduction into Empirical Communication Research”) and carrying out research projects within the field of ICT and polit- ical communication. In the seminar “Digital Citizens” who are carrying out a representative CATI-survey on mobile media and political participation, which is also a cooperation project with colleagues in Kenya and Ghana. Much of her time is currently devoted to writing a pro- posal for external grants for the “Digital Africa”-project of the division.
Beyond that, Marlene is a PhD-candidate in an early stage, focusing on the impact of ICT on political participation during election periods in Germany, Kenya and Ghana. She holds a Master’s degree in Media and Political Communication (Free University of Berlin) and wrote my master thesis on “The Potential of Digital Media for International Development Assistance. ICT4D in the Light of Modernization Theory and the Capability Approach”. During this time she became increasingly interested in the participatory potential of ICT and international communication research, which have become her main fields of research.


Michael Bossetta

Michael Bossetta is a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen specializing in populism, Euroscepticism, and new forms of political engagement on social media. His overarching interest is in how these phenomena – separately and together – affect the quality of liberal democracy in the European Union and United States.
Michael’s PhD project approaches populism as a social practice, where crisis narratives are constructed and performed before an audience. The project examines how political actors in different national contexts (UK, SE, DK, and the US) perform crisis while claiming to represent a homogenous ‘people’ in highly pluralized societies. Furthermore, his project aims to test the effect of populist messages on the public through the conduction of experiments.
In his other research he explores the role of media, both offline and online, in contributing to the rise of Euroscepticism. In a collaborative project with Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (Lund University) and funded by the Wahlgrenska Foundation, for example, Michael is researching whether Eurosceptic parties contribute positively to European integration by increasing the saliency of Europe in national public spheres.


Miriam Hernandez

Miriam Hernandez is a Ph.D. Fellow in the Media and Communication Department at City University of Hong Kong. Her research interests are related to political communication, media agenda building, content and framing analyses. She is particularly interested in the influence of exogenous societal elements on the evolution coverage of the immigration issue in the United States, and what triggers its importance in electoral campaigns. Miriam’s second area of attention includes the media representation of social problems in Hong Kong and the media presence of China in Latin America countries. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Media and Political Analysis from the Graduate School of Public Administration and Public Policy at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico. Before joining City University of Hong Kong, she previously worked in the educational administrative sector in Mexico.

Nicholas Robinson

Nicholas Robinson is a doctoral student in political communication at the School of Media and Communication at Temple University. His research centers on the effects of unconventional political messaging strategies and tactics from radical or historically marginalized groups. He is particularly interested in the agenda-building strategies of protest groups on social media and the effects of traditional news media coverage of protesters and radical political organizations. His ongoing research projects include a study of news coverage of athletes engaged in political protest and an analysis of the influence of social media on journalists’ coverage of anti-police brutality protests. Before enrolling at Temple, Robinson worked on several political campaigns in the United States and coached the Whitman College debate team to a national championship.


Olebogeng Selebi

Olebogeng Selebi is a 24 year old PhD student, researcher, and BCom Communication Management lecturer at the University of Pretoria South Africa. Her research focus is primarily on political communication, intercultural communication and development communication.She has also been invited to speak at academic and corporate events, broadening her motivational skill set to tackle the needs of mature, professional audiences. She was most recently invited to speak at the Albertina Sisulu Executive Leadership Programme in Health (ASELPH) where she provided training on organisational branding to medical professionals ranging from doctors to pharmacists and CEOs of hospitals from around the country. The training focused on branding in developing communities. The ASELPH programme provides executive-level training and support to build the capacity of leaders and managers who drive health system transformation in South Africa.
She is currently on the corporate rebranding advisory board for HESA (Higher Education South Africa), where she assists with the development of a new brand and policy for the organisation. HESA represents all 23 public universities, comprehensives and universities of technology in South Africa and is a Section 21 non-profit company (NPC). HESA is a membership organisation that is non-statutory and voluntary.
She is also participating in a project run by the Department of Business Management, Division: Communication Management at the University of Pretoria. The aim of this project is to improve stakeholder relations at the GCIS by providing communication and policy training to GCIS management.
Before her time as a lecturer, she worked as a consultant at Arcay Burson-Marsteller, a communication agency. The accounts that she worked on are as follows:

  • McDonald’s
  • The Giving Organisation (International NPO)
  • Kentz (Engineering, mining and construction company)
  •   Huawei (Telecommunications company)
  • Turner (Broadcasting company responsible for TCM, Cartoon Network, Cartoonito and Boomerang)
  • CNN
  • Telkom Mobile

Ms Selebi recently attended the Graz University International Summer School that resulted in a book chapter that will be published by Graz University Press. She has also recently submitted a book chapter that will be published in the SAGE Handbook of Public Affairs. The title of chapter is “Political and public affairs communication in South Africa”.


Ori Tenenboim

Ori Tenenboim (M.A., Tel Aviv University) is a doctoral student in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. Tenenboim previously worked in the Israeli news industry, serving as the head of the news desk and a news editor at Walla!, a popular website. His last position at Walla! was editing a mini website that provided political coverage and analysis for the 2013 general elections in Israel. Tenenboim’s areas of study are political communication, participatory journalism, and social media. His work on user engagement with online news has been published in Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism.


Per Oleskog Tryggvason

Per Oleskog Tryggvason is a first year PhD student in at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Gothenburg. His ongoing PhD project is broadly speaking about opinion polls and how polls are affecting different political actors such as citizens, politicians and journalists. This is an elaboration on his M.A thesis where he studied how Swedish politicians evaluated the effects of opinion polls on different aspect of the political processes of their own parties. At the moment Per is working with what will be his theoretical framework and designing the survey experiments that he plans to use as the main empirical material in my dissertation. His academic background is in political science where he has his B.A from 2011 and his M.A. from 2013, both from the University of Gothenburg. During both Per’s B.A and M.A. studies his main interests has been on methodological issues in general and quantitative methods in particular. Between 2013 and 2015 he worked as a research assistant at the SOM-institute and as an Assistant Research Administrator within the Swedish National Election Studies Program (SNES).


Raffael Heiss

Raffael Heiss is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Communication since October 2014. Together with Jörg Matthes & Desirée Schmuck, he is working in the research project ‘FacePolitics: Social Media and Participatory Politics for Adolescents’, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. His research interests include media framing, digital communications and political participation


Rainer Freudenthaler

Rainer Freudenthaler is a PhD student at the University of Mannheim. His research interests include Online Communication, Public Deliberation, and Political Communication. During his master’s studies he participated in the master’s project investigating the effects of the “seen function” on Facebook on users’ behavior, which resulted in a paper published in “Computers and Human Behavior”.


Raquel Trindade

Raquel Trindade is a PhD Student at Faculty of Human Sciences, Catholic University of Portugal. She just finished her Masters Degree in Political Communication in the same university, with an investigation of the media coverage of the Portuguese Parliament, with summa cum laude. She is also a Junior Researcher at the Research Centre for Communication and Culture (CECC) of the Catholic University of Portugal (UCP). Her interest areas are journalism, political communication, public relations and media technology.


Roberto Mincigrucci

Roberto Mincigrucci is a Ph.D. student in “Politic, policy and globalization” at University of Perugia. He is a member of Unit of Perugia in EU project (Seventh Framework Programme) “Anticorruption Policies Revisited. Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption” [Anticorrp].


Thomas Schmidt

Thomas R. Schmidt studied philosophy and political science at the University of Vienna and literary nonfiction at the University of Oregon. He holds master’s degrees from both institutions. In 2005, Thomas received a Fulbright scholarship and studied at the New School in New York City. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon and Oregon Humanities Center Graduate Fellow.
Prior to his academic career, Thomas was a reporter for Kleine Zeitung, Austria’s second largest daily newspaper, the monthly narrative magazine Datum, and ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation). In spring 2012 Thomas was awarded a Transatlantic Media Fellowship by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C.
In his dissertation, Thomas examines how institutional changes in the American newspaper industry led to the emergence of a novel news regime, fundamentally changing the way in which newspapers covered current events, political processes and social issues. As graduate research assistant at the University of Oregon’s Agora Center for Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement, Thomas is currently working on a study to map the digital media ecosystem in Portland, Oregon.


Trang Pham

Trang Pham is a PhD Candidate in Communication Studies at the Department of Communication, Media & Film, University of Calgary. Originating from Hanoi, Vietnam and having worked in the capital city as a reporter for five years before pursuing her graduate studies abroad, Trang is very interested in researching how digital media may bring democracy and freedom in her communist country. Trang’s dissertation focuses on how different groups of users shape broadband Internet in rural Vietnam while they exercise their democratic rights and require the technology to respond to their wider spectrum of needs. She explores collective agency of the farmers; who account for about 70 percent of the country’s population, both in their close-knit and well-established communities for hundreds of years and in a newly-and-fast-expanding Internet-mediated setting; in bringing about democratic changes in the 94- million-people country. The conceptualization of collective agency mediated by Information Telecommunication Technology (ICT) is a promising research terrain as it presents an important gap in the literature especially in the capability approach and critical constructivist studies.


Valeria Bianchi

At present, Valeria Bianchi is a second year student at the “Social and political change” PhD program of the University of Turin. Graduated in communication at the University of Pavia, with a dissertation on the election campaigns of the Second Republic in Italy.
She worked at the Osservatorio of Pavia as a media analyst and collaborated to the cross-national project KCCS (Key Concepts Comparative Study). She also collaborated to the national research project “Come cambia la rappresentanza politica in Italia nel ciclo elettorale 2013 – 2015” (The changing political delegation in Italy in election cycle 2013-205).
Valeria attended several national congresses about political communication and political science where she had the opportunity to present papers about national and European elections campaign on television. She is the author or co-author of articles on the same topics in national journals including “Comunicazione Politica” and “Quaderni dell’Osservatorio elettorale”.
Her research interests lie in the area of electoral studies and political communication; in particular, they are focused on campaign effects, election media coverage and media effects. Currently, Valeria is working on local election campaign in Italy, candidates’ image and frame and agenda building processes.


Young-Eun Moon

Young-Eun Moon is a master’s degree student at Ewha Womans University in the Division of Media Studies. Her research interests converge on political communicaiton, media history and ethics in journalism. In her recent paper, presented at the the IAMCR pre-conference, Montreal, Canada, July 2015, she examined crowd-sourced journalism by comparing it with traditional journalism using quantitative content analysis. Also, she presented a paper named “The Institutionalization of Modern Journalism in South Korea during the Japanese Colonial Period” in the history section. More recently, she is studying the relationship between news media and politics in Korean society through comparative study. Based in South Korea, with its unique history of confronting a divided nation, her research objectives follow the development of journalism in the context of the political system. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including content analysis and In-depth interview.