Skip to main content

Welcome Ph.D. Cohort 2021

An enthusiastic welcome to the newest members of our graduate community, Ph.D. student cohort 2021

Marwa Abdalla 

Taylor Brough

Carmel Farzaneh 

Ignacio Evans

Eva Gonzalez-Ruskiewicz

Keven Hernandez

Nithyanand Rao

New Staff Member Alanna Reyes (2021)

Alanna Reyes

Communication Ph.D. student Alanna Reyes has accepted the position of Undergraduate Student Services Intern for the 2020-21 academic year. She will be joining Undergraduate Advisor Shawnnie White part-time helping to develop programs and activities to enhance the undergraduate experience for our students, as well as assisting in student advising and undergraduate program management.

New Faculty Member Lillian Walkover (2020)

Assistant Professor Lillian Walkover

fac-walkover-lilian.jpgThis Fall we welcomed Dr. Lillian Walkover who came to us most recently from her tenure as as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Global Health in the Department of Sociology at Drexel University where she worked with her mentor Dr. Susan Bell on a study of the experiences and career paths of physicians who enter the US as refugees. Dr. Walkover also spent about a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area working for a non-profit public health publisher before she began her PhD in Sociology at UC San Francisco. She also spent three years living in different parts of India working in an HIV-focused non-profit. She returned later for dissertation research, based in Delhi.

Dr. Walkover’s has a joint position with the Global Health Program which she plans on connecting with Communication through her new courses, research, and advising. 

Dr. Walkover was attracted to the Department of Communication because of its interdisciplinarity along with “a shared commitment to theoretically informed, power-sensitive analysis of the world we live in and how we understand it”.

“I felt like all the parts of my background were welcomed here, and that I would have the opportunity to learn from a range of colleagues and students…Everyone’s research is fascinating. I am particularly excited to work with and learn from Lilly Irani on South Asia studies, Boatema Boateng on the production, travels, and regulation of knowledge, and Kelly Gates and other colleagues in Science Studies. Working across Global Health and Communication will also give me the opportunity to work with and learn from faculty and students across a range of departments.”

Dr. Walkover’s current book project is an exploration of the translation and adaptation of the community health guide Where There Is No Doctor for use in India tying into her next project, a study of the adaptation of Community Health Worker programs in the US. This project will be grounded in San Diego, and the rich history of promotores programs here, as well as the wide range of ways communities across the US have learned how to care for themselves with the help of community health worker models from abroad. 

Dr. Walkover will be teaching COGR 201L: Qualitative Analysis of Information Systems, a graduate methods seminar focused on interview-based research conducted over video, phone, and in written exchanges. The course will draw on grounded theory and situational analysis, as well as other critical qualitative traditions. Dr. Walkover will also be teaching Introduction to Global Health (GLBH 20) and developing a new course on Community Health Workers (GLBH 215). In the future, she looks forward to teaching a range of Communication and Global Health classes, including courses that draw on both fields as well as bringing more of her work with the interdisciplinary Structural Competency Working Group, which develops and leads trainings for health practitioners to recognize and respond to social structures as determinants of health and illness, to UCSD. 

“This is an incredibly important moment to think critically about communication, global health, and the intersection of the two. While joining a new institution in the middle of a pandemic has been surreal at times, I have felt incredibly welcome and supported. I look forward to continuing to meet people virtually and eventually to gathering in person again.”

New Faculty Member R. Stuart Geiger (2020)

Assistant Professor R. Stuart Geiger

fac-geiger-stuart.jpgThis fall we welcomed Assistant Professor R. Stuart Geiger as one of our newest faculty members. Dr. Geiger comes to us most recently from UC Berkeley where he has worked as an ethnographer at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science after completing his Ph.D. from the School of Information and the Berkeley Center for New Media in 2015. He also has an M.A. in Communication, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Humanities from University of Texas, Austin.

This interdisciplinary background drew Geiger to our department which he describes as having, “A strong commitment to a deeply interdisciplinary understanding of what communication is and how it is a lens to study such a wide range of issues that we face. As an ethnographer, I’m thrilled to be in a department with so many other great ethnographers. I also do a lot of work in Science & Technology Studies, which also has a strong tradition in the department. Finally, this is a joint faculty position with the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, and so getting to be a bridge between these quite different departments is a fantastic opportunity.”

Dr. Geiger will be continuing his existing research projects on the moderation of user-generated content platforms, which rely extensively on automation and data science, as well as work on free and open-source software projects, which are the infrastructure for many data science applications. 

“There is a lot of work to be done on more participatory and community-based approaches to these technologies, as they are more often developed behind closed doors in ways that benefit people who are already in power. I am also thinking more broadly about the shifting nature of expertise around science and technology and the crucial role that the humanities and social sciences can play.”

Even before coming to UC San Diego, Geiger was already working with Associate Professor Lilly Irani and graduate student Dorothy Howard on a project about the labor of free and open-source software. He also enjoyed the Critical Data Studies reading group that graduate students Kathryne Metcalf and Magdalena Donea initiated and is excited to participate in the new Democracy Lab. 

“I’m thrilled that there are a lot of other people in the department who do all kinds of work on communication and technology, and I also deeply value the broad diversity of topics and issues that we tackle through the lens of communication. Data science technologies are being deployed to so many topics and areas — media industries, labor, policing, borders, education, disability, healthcare, the environment, and more — so I’m looking forward to working with colleagues who are seeing old and new issues arise around these technologies in their areas of expertise.”

During his first year here, Dr. Geiger will be designing new undergraduate courses in both Communication and Data Science departments which will cover similar topics around the social and ethical issues around data science. For his Communication courses, this includes an intermediate undergraduate course taking a broad overview of how various disciplines tackle the many issues around data science and data industries. He is also also working on an advanced undergraduate course on this topic specifically from a Science & Technology Studies perspective, which is often called Critical Data Studies. Geiger is also looking forward to designing graduate courses in Communication that weave both theories and methods.

“This summer has certainly been quite a time to move to a new job in a new city! When the pandemic is over, I am very much looking forward to seeing my new colleagues face-to-face. It has also been very inspiring to see how the department has adapted and worked together, from all the pandemic issues to the movements for racial justice. I had not yet joined the department when the Statement of Commitments to Actions in Response to the Murder of George Floyd was written and released, but I fully support it.”

Welcome, Dr. Geiger!

New Faculty Member Andrew deWaard (2019)

Assistant Professor Andrew deWaard

In 2019 we welcomed Dr. Andrew deWaard as one of our newest faculty members. Dr. deWaard comes to us with a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, an M.A. in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia, and two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Western Ontario, one in Media, Information and Technoculture and the other in Film Studies. Most recently he was a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I was initially drawn to the department’s rich history in critical political economy of media, in which I situate my own work, but am thrilled by the faculty’s diverse agenda of research concerns, its commitment to social justice, and its critical approach to issues of power and inequality.”

“I’m hoping to collaborate with my colleagues in media studies (Shawna Kidman, Patty Ahn, and Erin Hill), though I can imagine fruitful collaborations with many faculty in the future. In the digital humanities, collaboration is fundamental, and I’m looking forward to meeting both undergraduate and graduate students who might like to get involved in digital research projects.”

Dr. deWaard’s current research focus explores the relationship between the media industries and financial capital, analyzing the effect of financialization—which include, among other tools and strategies, highly-leveraged forms of debt, venture capital, labor efficiencies, hostile takeovers of media firms, outsourcing of creative labor, and short term profits. Dr. deWaard argues that financial capital has transformed both the economic structure of the contemporary cultural industries and the form of media texts, which behave according to a financial logic. 

Additionally, Dr. deWaard has a broad interest in film studies and he has coauthored a book (with R. Colin Tait) on the filmmaking art and oeuvre of the Academy Award-winning director/producer/cinematographer Steven Soderbergh entitled The Cinema of Steven Soderbergh: indie sex, corporate lies, and digital videotape (Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press, 2013); and is also a co-investigator of “The Cultural Capital Project: Digital Stewardship and Sustainable Monetization for Canadian Independent Musicians,” a research project that aims to rethink the digital music industry based on sustainability and fair pay for artists. 

Dr. deWaard’s work has appeared in Fight the Power: The Spike Lee Reader and Habitus of the ’Hood, as well as the Journal of American Studies, Oxford Bibliographies, Cinephile, and IASPM@Journal. ​And, in 2003 he helped produce the documentary Just Kids: Homeless Youth in Canada which is still used in Ontario secondary schools and universities He has also spent time as a research fellow with the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Dr. deWaard will be teaching several advanced courses this academic year. In Winter 2020 he will be teaching a COMM 190 seminar on Streaming Media, considering issues of industry, labor, diversity, taste, and technology. In the spring he will be teaching a class on media authorship, looking at Spike Lee and Beyonce, as well a class on the cultural industries, looking at issues of labor, finance, and the political economy of the media.

In future years Dr. deWaard hopes to teach a course on the intersection of media studies and digital humanities, as well as classes on the history of film, the history of television, contemporary Hollywood, and the popular music industries. He also hopes to potentially teach a course on consumer culture and branded entertainment which he has taught in the past. 

Welcome to our department, Dr. Andrew deWaard!

New Faculty Member Alex Fattal (2019)

Welcome New Faculty Dr. Alexander Fattal

In 2019 we welcomed Assistant Professor Dr. Alex Fattal as one of our newest faculty members. Dr. Fattal was a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, where he completed his Ph.D. and M.A. in Social Anthropology. Most recently Professor Fattal was a member of the faculty in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies at Penn State University.

Dr. Fattal has published books and films on his primary area of research which he describes as “the representational politics surrounding Colombia’s war and the fitful efforts to forge a less violent future in that country.” Dr. Fattal describes his work as deeply interdisciplinary, crossing and connecting fields such as media studies, socio-cultural anthropology, Latin American Studies, and the documentary arts. And he traces his interdisciplinarity can be traced back to his undergraduate studies at Duke University, where he majored in Comparative Area Studies.

“I have always felt that the most interesting work in the academy gets done on the edges of the disciplines, in the contact zones,” he said, as a way of explaining his excitement about joining UC San Diego’s Communication Department.

Amongst the many faculty with whom he shares research interests are Distinguished Professor Daniel Hallin for his work on journalism, Assistant Professor Patty Ahn’s work on media activism, Associate Professor Elana Zilberg’s work on violence in Latin America, Professor Valerie Hartouni’s work in critical theory, Assistant Professor Fernando Domínguez Rubio’s work on aesthetics, Associate Professor Angela Booker’s work on youth and civic engagement, Assistant Professor Caroline Jack’s work on propaganda, and Associate Professor Brian Goldfarb’s commitment to hybrid forms of creative/scholarly engagement with the visual arts. 

“This is a department I’ve been looking at for a long time. I love the fact that you have so many great young faculty joining such a storied department. It just feels like I am in the right place at the right time.”

Dr. Fattal’s recently published book Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia (University of Chicago Press, 2018) recently won the Sharon Stephens Prize by the American Ethnological Society and an Honorable Mention for the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology’s book award. Both will be awarded at the American Anthropological Association meetings in Vancouver in November. Guerrilla Marketing has been reviewed by the New Yorker, ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America, and Cultural Anthropology’s Visual and New Media Review. 

Dr. Michael Taussig, Professor of Anthropology at The European Graduate School / EGS, noted,

“Now that the hyped Colombian ‘peace agreement’ lies in tatters, Fattal’s meticulously detailed book is not only timely but theoretically refreshing and politically astute. Combining peasant stories of life in the guerrilla with a top-down view of media manipulation, it opens us up to novel understandings of the use of images and the power of anthropology.”

 Dr. Philippe Bourgois, an anthropologist at UCLA called it “a remarkable ethnography.” 

This book is also translated into Spanish version as Guerrilla marketing: Contrainsurgencia y capitalismo en Colombia (Editorial Universidad del Rosario, 2019, translation by María Clemencia Ramírez and Andy Klatt).

This coming Spring 2020 Dr. Fattal will be publishing a new book entitled Shooting Cameras for Peace: Youth, Photography, and the Colombian Armed Conflict / Disparando Cámaras para la Paz: Juventud, fotografía y el conflicto armado colombiano with Harvard University Press.

In addition to academic publications and films, Dr. Fattal has also published an Opinion piece on his research in Colombia for the New York Times in both English and Spanish.

Dr. Fattal has recently released a documentary film entitled Limbo which was shot entirely in the back of a truck that he transformed into a giant camera obscura. The film is an oneiric journey into the life of a former guerilla fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The project was influenced by his time as a member of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab and its emphasis on a phenomenologically-informed, observational style.

“The Sensory Ethnography Lab gave me the space to find my own vision as a filmmaker.”

Dr. Fattal also collaborates with immigrant, refugee, and marginalized communities namely through his work with the San Diego based non-profit  AjA Project, which is dedicated to photographic and multimedia education for youth affected by war and displacement. Dr. Fattal was a founding member of the AjA Project in 2001 and is now a member of its board of directors.

In Winter 2020 he will be teaching “Media Spectacle and the War on Terror” (COMM 132).

 “This course analyzes the circulation of images as they roil across the globe in a series of episodic events and neo-colonial adventures. We look back to the Vietnam War and the end of the Cold War to understand the political logic of spectacle as it is developing through a global dialogue of violence.” 

In Spring he will hold a junior seminar (COMM 190) on “Photography: Between Social Change and Social Media” in which students will discuss the transformation of photography since the rise of social networking and the ways in which it can be harnessed to affect social change. Dr. Fattal will bring his work with the AjA Project into this course,

“…picking up on a thread in the literature about photography that’s not so pessimistic, and trying to look at imagery as a realm of reimagining.”

He will also be teaching Media Arts, Media Activism (COMM 113T) where students will explore the works of artists whose activist-oriented practice repurposes public space.

“Beyond studying contemporary artists such as Banksy, Doris Salcedo, JR, and Ai Weiwei, students will conceptualize their own “artivist” intervention on a pressing global issue of their choosing.”

Dr. Fattal looks forward to working with graduate students and helping them think about their projects. He has painted a wall in his office with chalkboard paint and in hopes that graduate students will come by to talk about their projects and end up diagramming it on the wall.

“I was really struck by the intellectual curiosity of the graduate students when I visited. That was one of the most impressive parts of the interview.” 

Welcome, Dr. Fattal!

New Faculty Member Thomas Schmidt (2019)

Welcome New Faculty Thomas Schmidt

This fall we welcome several new faculty members, including Dr. Thomas Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt comes to the Department of Communication with master’s degrees from the University of Vienna where he studied philosophy and the University of Oregon where he studied literary nonfiction before completing his Ph.D. in the School of Journalism and Communication. Before embarking on his academic career, Professor Schmidt was a reporter at ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) and wrote for Kleine Zeitung, Austria’s second largest daily newspaper as well as the monthly narrative magazine Datum. He has also served as Director of “biber-Akademie,” a training program for young would-be journalists from immigrant families in Vienna. In 2012 Dr. Schmidt was awarded a Transatlantic Media Fellowship by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. 

In June, Dr. Schmidt published his first book Rewriting the News: The Storytelling Movement in American Print Journalism, which explores the emergence of “narrative journalism” or “journalistic storytelling” in the late 1960s and considers how this genre of journalistic writing fundamentally transformed the newspaper industry over the course of the subsequent four decades. Columbia University Professor (and our own Emeritus Professor) Dr. Michael Schudson remarked that Dr. Schmidt’s book “offers a detailed, rich, and fascinating account of the narrative journalism movement from the Washington Post to the St. Petersburg Times to the Oregonian and beyond. No one else has done this and Thomas Schmidt has done it with deep research and strong writing himself.” 

Dr. Schmidt brings to the department a “dual passion for philosophy and research” and brings both to bear in exploring how journalism is practiced today in what he calls an “era of disruption.” His approach to the study of journalism favors a mix of cultural analysis and institutional theory while also drawing on classical texts from sociology, political theory and cultural anthropology in order to develop new ideas about today’s ever-changing media landscape. “The big question right now is how the interplay between technology and business pressures affects the production of news and the ways in which people learn about what’s going on in their communities and in the world.”

In his first year at UCSD, Dr. Schmidt will be teaching a COMM 190 seminar on literary journalism and a class on “Media and Democracy.”  In the junior seminar, Professor Schmidt will be engaging with students in discussions about how literary journalism challenges the traditional journalistic norm of “objectivity” that evolved over the last century. One of his many goals in the class is to create a context in which students might explore: how literary journalism offers a distinct way of describing the human condition and has the potential to evoke empathy while simultaneously revealing structural political and social issues. In learning about journalism, students will also be looking at the cultural history of the U.S. and questions of democracy and societal change, using specific stories from newspapers and books from the 20th century to look at issues such as injustice, inequality, and human rights. “Through the story of the individual you can illuminate the larger questions that are hard to grasp in abstract terms. So it’s about telling a story but also touching on structural and even philosophical questions…an interpretive lens through which to look at the evolution of the U.S.”

In his “Media and Democracy” class in Spring 2020, Dr. Schmidt will be looking at the ways in which journalism shapes, mediates and influences political processes. “With so much attention on polarization, disinformation, the presidency and the impact of social media, there is no better time to teach this class. We’ll analyze current events by connecting them to historical patterns as well as new social, cultural and technological trends.” The class will also explore how journalists can better serve their communities. “Typically in journalism studies you study journalists and what they think or do but there is little focus on what people actually want and need from journalism. For example, we increasingly see the existence of “news deserts,” places where communities are not being served by journalists at all.” 

This class ties directly into the pursuits of the Democracy Lab which is currently under construction and planning (which is another reason he chose to join our department). When Dr. Schmidt first visited our department he felt that “it was tangible that people really read each other’s work and respected each other. We are all in this together – faculty, staff and students. What I love about the department is that it’s interdisciplinary. It’s critical. It’s cutting edge. And it brings different kinds of people to the table from different disciplines. This is an intellectual community I was craving to join.”

New Faculty Daniel Martinico (2019)

Welcome New Faculty Daniel Martinico

This fall we welcome Daniel Martinico as an Assistant Teaching Professor in media production.  Professor Martinico completed his MFA in Visual Arts at UC San Diego and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Electronic Arts from Bard College.  His extensive experience as an independent filmmaker, experimental media artist, and industry professional shape his approach to teaching, which focuses on critical media practices and production.  Prior to this new appointment, Professor Martinico taught as a Continuing Lecturer within our department for over a decade, establishing a reputation among undergraduates for classes that combine film history and analysis with rigorous hands-on projects.  

A practicing filmmaker, Professor Martinico’s diverse body of work includes experimental videos, short documentaries, multi-channel installations, and narrative feature films.  His video work has often focused on recycling and rearranging the debris of Hollywood cinema, using playful editing strategies that engage with found footage to subvert the traditional language of film practice.  More recently, he has ventured into narrative filmmaking, directing two independent feature films, OK, Good (2012) and Excursions (2016).

Professor Martinico’s creative work has been exhibited widely at film festivals, galleries and museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA Filmforum at the American Cinematheque, Anthology Film Archives, VideoEx Zurich, Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin, Il Cinema Ritrovato at the Cineteca Bologna, and Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen.  His professional activities also include numerous collaborations as an editor, cinematographer, and producer of narrative, documentary, and experimental film projects. In addition, he regularly serves as a programmer for the Slamdance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah.  

Professor Martinico will be teaching a variety of media production courses for the department this year, including COMM101: Introduction to Audio-Visual Media Practices (Winter 2020).  This class introduces students to the language and practice of production, exploring a wide range of foundational technical and theoretical skills used to produce media in our more advanced courses.  This quarter and subsequently in Spring 2020, Martinico will also be teaching COMM101D: Non-Linear Digital Editing and COMM101N: Sound Production and Manipulation.  In these courses, students explore more complex techniques and creative strategies of media-making through individual and collaborative projects in editing and sound design.  Martinico uses his own experience as an editor to inform this coursework, encouraging students to think critically about their source materials, and to actively analyze and deconstruct the media around them.

With this new role in the Department of Communication at UC San Diego, Professor Martinico looks forward to collaborating with his fellow media production colleagues in the upcoming Democracy Lab and continuing to work closely with students on their media projects.  “I’m thrilled to be teaching production to such engaging and enthusiastic students, in a department with a deeply creative, collaborative, and interdisciplinary spirit. I am very excited about what the future here holds.”

Welcome, Professor Martinico!  We look forward to seeing what kinds of innovative and rigorous instruction you bring to our department’s production program.

New Faculty Member Erin Hill (2019)

Welcome New Faculty Dr. Erin Hill

This fall we welcome Dr. Erin Hill as one of our newest faculty members. Dr. Hill comes to UC San Diego having served most recently as a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and Occidental College. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from UCLA’s Cinema and Media Studies Program where she worked with Dr. John Caldwell, a former faculty member of our own department. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film/Video and Theater & Drama from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Before her doctoral studies, Dr. Hill worked in film development. Hill’s other work has appeared in Making Media Work, The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries and Reading Deadwood. You can learn more about her previous publications on her profile

Professor Hill’s dissertation, Invisible Women: Feminized Labor in Hollywood, 1930-1948 was awarded the “Best Dissertation Award”  by the International Society for Cinema and Media Studies [SCMS] and subsequently became the basis for her much expanded, award-winning monograph, Never Done: A History of Women’s Work in Media Production, published in 2016 by Rutgers University Press.

In this work, Dr. Hill examines the American media industries, focusing, specifically, on the changing nature of feminized labor, also known as “women’s work” in “below-the-line” film and television production jobs in Hollywood, from the initial organization of the studio system in the late 1890s, through Hollywood’s “Golden Age” (the late 1920’s to the early 1950s), to the decline and reorganization of the studio system in the mid-1970s. Dr. Hill contextualizes her work by saying,

“If ‘above the line’ work includes the highly visible, highly valued, richly remunerated, and historically male-dominated creative and managerial positions including producing, directing, screenwriting and executive level roles, or what most audiences understand as the selfsame of “Hollywood,” then the feminized below-the-line positions —which include crew, craft and support roles— provide the complex organizational and technical infrastructure that makes everything happening “above-the-line” possible.

In a review, Laura Steiner accolades Dr. Hill’s book by saying, 

“Among Hill’s great gifts to the field are the variety and depth of the primary source materials she cites and the masterful manner in which she draws from them to facilitate her argument. While Hill briefly turns to studio-era representations of female clerical workers and fictionalized accounts of the lives of studio secretaries, the bulk of her research material and her extensive analysis of its contents are really what set Never Done apart” (Journal of Cinema and Media Studies – 2019). 

Women working in the MGM editing room, circa 1920s. Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

In another review, Maxfield Fulton says, 

“In addition to its commendable social agenda, Never Done’s meticulous research, direct, elegant prose, and novel approach to an under-researched topic secure its status as an essential contribution to film history. It is recommended not only as an excellent resource for anyone interested in women’s labor history or the Hollywood mode of production, but also as a superb pedagogical text: its multidisciplinary syn-thesis and expert use of primary sources to intervene in a range of scholarly debates make it an exemplary film studies monograph, and its refreshing accessibility and tidy chapter conclusions make it ideal for undergraduate courses on the Hollywood film industry” (Film Comment – 2017).

​Professor Hill’s other published work has appeared in Making Media WorkThe International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries and Reading Deadwood. You can learn more about her previous publications on her profile.

Dr. Hill is teaching a Junior Seminar (COMM 190) this quarter as well as TV, Culture & The Public (COMM 106T). In the Spring she will be teaching a class on Film Industry (COMM 106F). 

Welcome to the Department of Communication, Dr. Erin Hill!