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I am a Communication Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Organization, Communication & Technology (OCT) group at Chapman University. I research how people collaboratively design and use communication technologies (data & mobile media) to improve political engagement, organization, and community life. Often this work centers on groups of geeks that creatively repurpose or “hack” technologies. Another research area concerns how the migration of everyday communication to social & mobile media impacts social cohesion. To research these topics I employ quantitative (surveys, trace data analysis) and qualitative (ethnography, interviews) methodologies, often in novel combinations. Theoretically my work is situated in communication; sociology; science and technology studies (STS); cultural studies; and political science. My research has been published in journals such as New Media & Society; the International Journal of Communication; Social Media + Society, and Big Data + Society. I have written one book, “Civic Tech“, and co-authored the edited volume “Making Our World: The Hacker and Maker Movements in Context.” My research on communication and technology falls in three thematic areas:

Civic Engagement and Politics

This research area considers how how local governments, organizations, and geeky residents co-design and implement communication infrastructure for the public good. I’m particularly interested in new political actors that bridge between community and government. For example, I have looked at government “innovation teams” that reach out to the community to address social problems like homelessness and housing, and how geeks use open government data to develop software to address civic issues. This work has culminated in several articles and an accessibly-written book on the “civic tech” movement. This research is closely integrated with my teaching and service. In addition to teaching technology-related courses, I work to help bring about a more responsive and responsible government. From 2015 to 2016 I was the first Civic Data Fellow for the city of Los Angeles where I worked with the city’s Innovation Delivery Team. Further, since 2015 I have been on Long Beach’s Technology and Innovation Commission, which advises the city on technological initiatives. I also periodically design technology with community groups like the Leimert Park Phone Company.

Infrastructure and Organization

I currently am a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Organization, Communication & Technology (OCT) group at Chapman University. There I help lead a research group (The OCT Group) funded by a $519k NSF Career grant awarded to Dr. Kerk Kee. We are looking at how researchers use communication to improve collaboration and organization in large-scale scientific projects. This research often goes by terms like “e-science” or “cyberinfrastructure.” Specifically, we are using qualitative methodologies (interviews and grounded theory) to examine how communication can increase adoption and organizational capacities. In 2017–2018 I am analyzing data, guiding our research group (3-6 students each semester), and publishing articles.

Mobile/Social Media

I also research how mobile media and social media media alter the form and function of everyday communication, thereby improving social cohesion. My dissertation used quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore how mobile practices improved feelings of connectedness, particularly through media production, among young parents. This theme extended from my MA thesis, which explored young adult dependency with social network sites (SNSs). This body of work draws from literature in sociology, computer-mediated communication (CMC), media ecologies, and affordances. Articles from my dissertation have been published in the International Journal of Communication and Social Media + Society.

Brief Bio

I received my BA in computer science and fine art with honors from Brandeis University. After graduation I worked as a software developer and project manager, periodically penning articles on technology and music. At University of Central Florida I majored in communication and taught in the Digital Media department while moonlighting as reseller of vinyl records. My thesis examined habitual use of social network sites among youth groups. This work brought me to California, where I was a research assistant to danah boyd and assistant director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities. In 2009 I entered the Ph.D program at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, completing in May 2015. During this time I worked closely with François Bar on community-led design and Henry Jenkins on civic engagement in his Civic Paths group. During this time I was also a member of research groups including Metamorphosis, the Annenberg Innovation lab, and Civic Tech USC. In my spare time I work on my garden, spend time with my daughter, and explore Los Angeles’ diverse communities.