How do members of marginalized communities survive and support one another in the digital age? I am a researcher of digital inequality, the study of how digital technologies reshape and reproduce longstanding differences in people’s access to socioeconomic opportunities. Through long-term, ethnographic research, I examine the agency that members of disadvantaged communities have in shaping the effects of technology on their lives, even as they struggle against offline and online inequalities built around class, age, gender, and race.
My dissertation on homelessness and digital inequality received two awards in 2021: the Top Dissertation Award in 2021 from the Mobile Communication Interest Group of the International Communication Association (ICA) and a Graduate Dissertation Award in 2021 from the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University.
My sole-authored research on technology and inequality has been published in leading communication journals including New Media & Society and Mobile Media & Communication. I won a Top Student paper award for my ethnography of homelessness and social media use at the 2019 TPRC telecommunications conference. Reflecting on my methods, I write about the process of conducting responsible, digital-age ethnography with hard-to-reach populations in a collection of essays edited by Eszter Hargittai for Columbia University Press. Along with Jeff Lane, I write about “networked street life” in a volume on digital sociology published by Oxford University Press. With my current colleagues at the University of Zurich, I have co-authored several survey-based studies on digital communication during COVID-19, examining digital inequality and social connectedness, and reflecting on the process of collaborative international research during a public health crisis.
Two additional studies from my dissertation, on the use of public computers and social media by people experiencing homelessness in Chicago, are currently under review at leading communication journals.
My commitment to studying digital inequality through ethnographic research emerged during my dissertation fieldwork, while I was a doctoral student in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. My dissertation, completed in 2020, was a three-year ethnographic study of homelessness and digital technology in a gentrifying neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side.
Currently, I am conducting a remote fieldwork project (under the circumstances of physical distancing) that examines how lower-income older adults in a U.S. city seek out social support through digital technology while quarantining at home.
A list of my publications can be found on my CV and my research page on Academia. Get in touch to request my articles and to collaborate.
I extend a focus on community-engaged, ethnographic research into my teaching and student mentoring. For example, as a Graduate Fellow in the Brady Scholars Program at Northwestern University, I assisted talented undergraduate students in taking a critical approach to impactful community engagement and service. As an educator, I have had the joy of extending my teaching outside of campus, as a writing instructor for people experiencing homelessness at a Chicago non-profit, and as an instructor for the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP). The program allowed me to adapt my public speaking curriculum to meet the unique talents and experiences of students incarcerated at Cook County Jail.
My approach to teaching is to encourage students to be globally minded, locally engaged researchers, communicators and media professionals. To do so, I draw on my own international academic and media experiences. My current teaching at the University of Zurich brings me into contact with MA students from around the world studying media and creative industries. Following my undergraduate degree, I was sponsored for two years by Fulbright and the U.S. Embassy to aid in the development of English-language programs at rural and urban Turkish universities. I then worked as a copy editor and assistant translator at a leading Turkish newspaper in Istanbul, contributing to my interest in applying academic research to the practical skills of media and cultural literacy.
My full teaching resume can be found on my CV. Get in touch if you are interested in collaborating on community-engaged undergraduate and graduate education.