Rebecca HardestyRebecca Hardesty

Email Address:


  • Ph.D. Student, Communication and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego, [since 2013]

  • M.A., Communication, University of California, San Diego, 2015

  • B.A., Philosophy and Theatre, Pitzer College, 2011

Research Interests:

Ethnomethodology, ethnography, phenomenology, multimodal interaction, scientific practice, video games


My dissertation research centers around an ethnographic study of, and collaboration with, a laboratory of neuroscientists. This lab is working to uncover the neurobiological mechanism responsible for neurodegeneration associated with age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Specifically, their work focuses on the cognitive effects of these diseases, which appear most frequently in social interaction. Despite the fact that this lab was established within the last ten years, it is recognized by neurobiologists, neuroscientists, and biologists doing AD research as having made significant contributions to the field and having steered treatment of the condition. Yet when one steps foot into this lab, one quickly realizes that these scientists do not study persons with AD; instead they use mice as model of persons with this condition. My work seeks to address how possibly a group of researchers successfully models the depersonalizing aspects of AD, and related diseases, without conducting this work on humans. This opens up three related questions: First, what were the conditions which contributed to genetic model organisms, such as mice, becoming accepted representations of human conditions? Second, how does this group of neurobiologists, in their everyday practices, discursively and materially make a mouse a stand in for a human experiencing cognitive degeneration? Third, how does this group of scientists determine and evaluate whether they have been successful in their modeling? This project is supported by a Frontiers of Innovation Scholarship Program fellowship and I have presented on this work at the inaugural UCSD FISP Symposium (2015).

My other work focuses on the experience of self and identity in virtual worlds such as video games. I focus on the multimodal and embodied interactions of players with the game worlds and their avatars. I have presented on this at The Society for Phenomenology and Media International Conference (2015). Additionally, I have two forthcoming publications on this topic, one with my collaborator Ben Sheredos.

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PhD. Students