Junio Aglioti Colombini
Ph.D. student in Political Sciences at the University of Pisa and researcher at MediaLaB|Big Data in Social & Political Research, the Laboratory of Political Sciences Department at the University of Pisa. Junio's research interests focus on political communication and political participation, specifically on the processes of memeification of politics. Junio earned the Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Digital Humanities and uses a mixed methodology for studying memetic phenomena based both on quantitative (Big Data) and qualitative analysis. A feminist, queer and intersectional approach guides Junio's research to further investigate meme culture with a specific focus on ideologies, stereotypes and discriminatory practices that are used and incorporated in these digital artifacts.
Tali Aharoni
PhD student at the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I am currently a Doctoral researcher at the ERC-funded PROFECI research project, which examines media projections and is led by Prof. Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt. I also take part in the NET Project, a study of the consumption of news, entertainment, and technology in Argentina, Finland, Israel, Japan, and the United States. In my dissertation project, written under the guidance of Prof. Tenenboim-Weinblatt, I aim to develop a comprehensive conceptualization of (dis)trust in the current media ecology. To this end, I seek to account for multiple news trustworthiness dimensions, as well as the trust attitudes of various actors who participate in the creation and interpretation of the news.
Jose Afonso Biscaia
PhD student in Comparative Politics at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa. Afonso’s research focuses on digital political communication, and he is currently developing a PhD project looking into the supply, mediation, and demand for radical right-wing populism on Twitter in Portugal, Spain, and Brazil. On the supply side, the project is particularly interested in how radical right-wing populists in these countries operate strategically within their media systems to get their message across to voters, influence engagement with their tweets, media coverage mainstreaming their messaging and ideas, and their perceived legitimacy as political actors.
Salma Bouchafra
Doctoral student at the department of Journalism, Media and Communication in the University of Gothenburg. Erasmus Mundus graduate with a Master of Arts in Journalism, Media and Globalisation (specialisation in Media and Politics). Specific interest in journalism and social media research, identity construction, visual political communication, populism and its overall implications on society. My research project is entitled ‚ÄúThe Discursive construction of (in)security in Right-wing Populist Communication on Social Media‚ÄĚ. This project explores an important but, as of yet, scarcely studied aspect of political communication: the use of visuals in populist discourse. I am currently collecting the data for the first study of my research project.
Willem Buyens
PhD student at the Political Science Department of the University of Antwerp (Belgium). He holds a Bachelor‚Äôs degree in Communication Studies and a Master‚Äôs degree in Political Communication. Within the research group Media, Movements, and Politics (M2P), he focuses mostly on the dynamics between politicians and news media online. He is employed on a research project funded by the Research Foundation ‚Äď Flanders (FWO) on politicians‚Äô news sharing behavior on social media in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Mia Carbone
Ph.D. student in Political communication at the University of California, Los Angeles under the supervision of Dr. Stuart Soroka. Broadly, Mia is interested in the impact of social media as an information source on political beliefs and behaviors. More precisely, Mia is interested in investigating the way the role of the gatekeeper is changing with social media, as well as physiological responses to news consumption via social media from an evolutionary perspective. Currently, Mia is working on an independent project comparing using an exciting dataset of majors mews networks television transcripts, as well as their entire Facebook feeds.
Xiaotong Chu
Ph.D. student working hybridly at the Am- sterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) of the University of Amsterdam, and the Strategic Communication Group (COM) at Wageningen University & Research. My research fo- cuses on the individual-level effects of data-driven practices in modern electoral campaigns on both the momentary responses and behavioral responses. In order to investigate such effects in real-life settings, we conducted a series of studies (data donation, longitudinal surveys, mobile experience sampling study, etc.) during the 2021 Dutch General Election, which has led to multiple papers.
Pauline Claessens
PhD at the CEVIPOL. Previously, I worked in the private and the public sector, notably as a project manager at a local administration. However, I decided to pursue my interest in political science, and started my PhD at ULB. My doctoral research project addresses the online action of political parties in Belgium (see project attached). In short, my aim is to contribute to better understand how parties use online communication tools to mobilize. Next to that, I am conducting research on conspiracy theories and misinformation and their links to political actors, in the framework of an international project.
Philipp Darius
PhD candidate at the Hertie School in Berlin and affiliated researcher with the ERC-funded project ‚ÄúDigital Campaigning and Electoral Democracy‚ÄĚ. He has been a visiting researcher at the Data Science Institute of the London School of Economics and guest researcher at the EUROLAB at the GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. Philipp‚Äôs main research interests revolve around the ways in which digitalization changes politics and more specifically political communication. Philipp applies network analysis, text analysis and causal inference to investigate political elite behavior in political campaigns and the dynamics of mis- and disinformation on social media platforms.
Ernesto de Leon Williams
PhD candidate in political communication at the Institute of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Bern, in Switzerland. Currently, he is part of the research project ‚ÄúReciprocal relations between populist radical-right attitudes and political information behavior‚ÄĚ led by Prof Dr Silke Adam (supervisor) at the University of Bern, and Prof Dr Michaela Maier at the University of Koblenz-Landau. Ernesto‚Äôs research focuses on political information flows in a digital age and its effects on political attitudes. His dissertation centers on media effects during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, documenting how news exposure can affect political attitudes crucial in the study of public opinion.
Diego Garusi
I have just obtained my M.A. in ‚ÄúAnalysis of Social Processes‚ÄĚ at the University of Milan-Bicocca. My thesis is an empirical study that, employing a bourdieusian perspective, focuses on the boundary work of Italian journalists specialized in the coverage of immigration. My main research interests concern journalists‚Äô professional identity and legitimization, journalistic coverage of migratory phenomena, news media trust, and political polarisation. I currently hold a scholarship at the University of Milan for the project "Selective Trust Originates Polarization", funded by Facebook.
Darian Harff
PhD researcher at KU Leuven. In my dissertation, I focus on social media influencers (SMI)‚ÄĒ defined as regular people who have become famous via their self-presentation on social media‚ÄĒas novel actors in political communication. I conduct a content analysis and a three-wave longitudinal survey study to investigate the content and effects of SMI‚Äôs political (mis-)information. I want to explore political mis-/disinformation in more depth in the context of this year‚Äôs summer school in Milan, as it is relevant to my PhD, but I am also eager to learn about topics with which I am not yet familiar.
Felicia Loecherbach
PhD Candidate at the department of Communication Science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and an incoming postdoc at the Center for Social Media and Politics at the NYU. Her research interests include (the diversity of) online news consumption and using computational methods in the social sciences. She is motivated by the impact that changes in online environments have on the understanding and usage of news. Specifically, she uses computational approaches to study when and where users come across different types of news ‚Äď collecting digital trace data via innovative approaches such as data donations, analyzing different dimensions of diversity of the content and how it affects perceptions and attitudes of users.
Katharina Ludwig
Ph.D. candidate enrolled at the University of Mannheim in the project ‚ÄěResponsible News Recommender Systems‚Äú (ReNewRS), funded by the Baden-W√ľrttemberg Foundation as part of the research program ‚ÄěResponsible Artificial Intelligence‚Äú, analysing the effects of news recommendation systems on political polarization and emotion towards minority groups. Katharinas‚Äô research interests include the usage and effects of political communication in news and social media, focusing on political polarization and fragmentation, intergroup studies, migration and racism research, (right-wing) extremism as well as quantification and effects of (self-transcendent) emotions.
Guadalupe Madrigal
Guadalupe Madrigal received her B.A. in Communication Studies and Chicana/o Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Guadalupe‚Äôs graduate studies is centered on the question: ‚ÄčWhy are there differences in support for immigrant groups?‚Äč ‚ÄčHer research examines news media narratives and their impacts on public opinion, voting behavior, and political participation in the American context. Several of her s‚Äčurvey-experimental research projects ‚Äčinclude exploring ‚Äčdepictions of immigrants in the Central American migrant Caravan, perceptions of young immigrant ‚ÄúDreamers,‚ÄĚ and beliefs about zero-tolerance immigrant family separation news stories. ‚ÄčGuadalupe pairs her work with a Rackham graduate studies certificate in Latina/o Studies.
Sophie Morosoli
Bachelor‚Äôs and Master‚Äôs degrees in Communication Science at the University of Zurich (2015, 2018). After finishing her studies in Zurich, she relocated to Belgium in 2019 to pursue a PhD in Political Science at the University of Antwerp under the supervision of Prof. Peter Van Aelst. She is a member of the Antwerp based research group Media, Movements and Politics (M2P). Her research interests are political communication, comparative research, social media research and online disinformation. She is part of the joint research project with the University of Zurich: From Uniformed to Disinformed Citizens? ‚Äď Comparing Western Information Environments.
Martina Novotna
Third ‚Äďyear of Ph.D. studies at Masaryk University at the Department of Media Studies and Journalism where she specializes in informal cross-cutting political talk online, emphasizing incivility, intolerance and selective avoidance activities. She is a member of two research teams funded by the Czech science foundation focusing on social media, political polarization, populism, and post-truth. Martina is interested in the relation between democracy and the social media environment as a public space.
Ayala Panievsky
Gates-Cambridge scholar and PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She holds a B.A. (Hons) in Media and Communications (hons) from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an M.A. (with distinction) in Political Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has previously worked as a journalist and an advocate for refugees rights in Israel, and is currently a research associate at Molad (The Centre for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy). Ayala’s PhD research focuses on populism in power and its implications for journalism, news audiences and knowledge production.
Olga Pasitelska
PhD candidate at the Department of Communication and Journalism, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a fellow of the Ariane de Rothschild Women Doctoral Program and a Hans Guth Dreyfus fellow at the Swiss Center for conflict research, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research, supervised by Prof. Christian Baden, focuses on dissemination of propagandistic narratives in conflicting media environment, and narrative interpretation and adoption by the audiences with mixed and contested identities. Olga’s research interests include political conversation in digital public spheres, polarization in identity-based conflicts, critical discourse analysis, and media trust.
Gavin Ploger
Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Michigan. Gavin’s dissertation research investigates how the news media shapes the U.S. public’s perceptions of political polarization and how those perceptions in turn shape political cognition and behavior. In other work, he explores news use and disuse, public opinion, and psychophysiology. Gavin received his B.A. in Psychology at University of Montana where he studied the effect of accountability on cognitive complexity.
Rubén Rivas de Roca
PhD candidate in Communication at Universidad de Sevilla (defense expected in May 2022). Bachelor in Journalism (National End of Degree Award in 2015) and Master's Degree in European Studies (Graduation Prize for Exceptional Achievement in 2016) both from Universidad de Sevilla. I also hold a Master's Degree in Political Communication from UNED (2019). My PhD project was focused on local digital media across different European countries, analyzing their quality and practices. Research interests: Local media; journalism; public spheres; public communication; comparative studies; European Union.
Sarah Rueller
Research associate at the Collaborative Research Center 1187 ‚Äď Media of Cooperation and a PhD candidate at the Institute for Information Systems and New Media, both at the University of Siegen, Germany. Her background is in Media Studies (undergrad) and Human Computer Interaction (graduate). She investigates increasing infrastructures (such as emerging technologies) and decreasing infrastructures, as a result of aid funding cuts, occupation, and social media censorship.
Rasmus Winther Schm√łkel
PhD student at the Digital Democracy Centre and the Department for Political Science and Public Management at SDU. My PhD project is about how news consumers navigate social media and the mechanisms of selection and avoidance. Citizens’ news use on social media platforms has significant democratic implications. In the project, I aim at understanding why people select and avoid certain news stories on social media, including the roles played by characteristics of the individual news consumer, the individual news items, and the context of the social media site. My research interests include political communication, computational methods, ethical AI and the interplay between psychological mechanisms and Artificial Intelligence.
Marieke van Hoof
PhD Candidate in political communication at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the University of Amsterdam. Her PhD project is focused on the interplay between algorithmic personalisation and human choice in online information environments. She is specifically focused on search engines. Her recent work explores the relationship between political attitudes and the formulation of search queries about political issues. Currently, she is working on two projects. The first addresses the role of user choices and algorithmic personalisation in the production of ‚Äúfilter bubbles‚ÄĚ on Google Search. The second explores the motivations and drivers of search engine use for news and politics. Her other research interests include the use of digital trace data and computational methods.
Job Allan Wefwafwa
PhD candidate and Tutorial Fellow at University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. My topic is: Techno-affective Elections and (Il)legitimate Power: WhatsApp Voice in Kenya‚Äôs Electoral Deliberations. My ongoing projects include book chapters titled: ‚ÄúRedress to Gender Disparities though Indigenous Language Radio among the Bukusu Community‚ÄĚ. In Indigenous Language for Development and Social Change Communication in the Global South, Minneapolis, MN, Lexington Books (In Press); ‚ÄúMedia Representation of Africa‚Äôs Successful Failures in the Fight Against COVID-19‚ÄĚ. In African and COVID 19, Windhoek, CODESRIA, (In Press); ‚ÄúEmasculation and Emancipation: Reflections on WhatsApp Use in Kenya‚Äôs Electoral Process‚ÄĚ.
Teresa Weikmann
Ph.D. candidate and part of the Political Communication Research Group at the University of Vienna. Teresa Weikmann focuses on visuals in the news and how they affect political attitudes. In her master’s thesis, she measured the various responses to journalistic photographs of suffering in an experimental study that was published in the International Journal of Communication. Her Ph.D. project is centered around visual disinformation and deepfakes in particular, which she approaches using both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Xudong Yu
PhD candidate in Communication with an emphasis in computational social science at the University of California, Davis and an incoming Postdoc at the University of Amsterdam. My research focuses on how information and communication can contribute to a vigorous and vibrant democracy. This overarching focus reflects two lines of research I developed during my graduate study. The first line of research seeks to understand what kinds of information drive polarization and how to mitigate it. My second line of research examines how partisan media, politicians, and users exhibit political bias on social media.
Xixuan Zhang
PhD candidate at the Freie Universität Berlin and research assistant in the research group "News, Campaigns, and the Rationality of Public Discourse" at the Weizenbaum Institute. She studied Media and Communications, Computer Science, North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin, and Media Informatics at the Technical University of Berlin. Her research interests lie in digital activism, social movements, online discourse, disinformation, and digital public spheres. She explores the use of computational approaches, ranging from text mining to social network analysis to machine learning, to better understand the networked society.

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