Doctoral Students

headshotKenneth Merrill is a Ph.D. candidate at American University’s School of Communication. His research focuses on the geopolitics of Internet governance, digital media and technology policy, cyber security, infrastructure studies, and science and technology studies. He holds a master’s degree in media studies from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs from The University of Virginia. Before pursuing his graduate studies, he worked as an editorial assistant at “Home Miami Magazine.” His work has appeared in both academic and popular press, including most recently a chapter for an edited volume titled “The Turn to Infrastructure in Internet Governance”. He received the 2011 David Rubin First Amendment Prize, the 2011 Catherine L. Covert Research Award for best scholarly paper in mass communications, the 2011 S.I. Newhouse School Graduate Masters Prize, and a 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Grant from American University.


IMG_1056Fernanda Rosa is a sociologist (University of São Paulo). She holds a Masters in Public Management and Policy (Fundação Getúlio Vargas) and is a PhD student in Communication at American University (Washington, DC). Her interests are focused on internet policies and public understanding of technology. Fernanda is the author of Mobile Learning in Brazil: management and implementation of current policies and future perspectives (forthcoming, 2015) (with Gustavo Azenha), that is s result of her work as a Research Associate at the Center for Brazilian Studies and the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University. Fernanda loves to travel and to connect with resilient, empowered and unpretentious people. She loves her hometown, São Paulo. She loves listening to authentic jazz at the Candle Light in Trenton, NJ.


Mariana Leyton Escobar is a doctoral student at the School of Communication at American University in Washington DC. Originally from Bolivia, she holds a MSc degree in Communication Studies from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, after which she published research on online communities, and a BA in Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also worked in digital outreach for various organizations, including the IDB and PAHO. She is now delving into Internet governance studies, exploring participation in the multistakeholder model and discourses evolving around Internet infrastructures.


aras-photoAras Coskuntuncel is a PhD student at American University in communication focusing on the privatization of governance, surveillance, digital labor, and the Turkish media environment. He graduated with his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s media studies program. Before coming to the United States, he was the diplomacy and foreign news editor at the Hurriyet Daily News, an English-language newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey. Aras received his B.A in Political Science and Public Administration at Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey. He has presented and published his research in English and Turkish.


img_0335Olga Khrustaleva is a doctoral student at American University’s School of Communication, Google Policy Fellow at NGO Derechos Digitales (Digital Rights) and Fulbright alumna. Olga’s research interests include Internet governance, human rights, freedom of expression and the role of technology in political processes. Her Google Policy fellowship project explores Internet censorship in Latin America. Via online survey and interviews with journalists and activists Olga and her colleagues are looking at the manifestations, consequences and the means to evade censorship. Olga’s doctoral dissertation focuses on Internet development in Cuba after the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States and the roles that different forces – political, economic, technological and socio-cultural – play in that process. Olga has a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri and another Master’s in International Relations at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia. Olga has previously worked as a journalist, editor and videographer in Russia (her home country) and the US.


Erica Diya Basu is a Ph.D student at American University’s School of Communication. Her research interests converge at the intersection of emerging multi-stakeholder models and privatization of Internet governance, public diplomacy, and technology policy. Her geographical area of study focuses on India’s emerging role in these areas. She holds a master’s degree in strategic communication from American University’s School of Communication and a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the College of Wooster. Erica has over two decades of professional experience as a communication practitioner in strategic marketing and corporate communication, and public diplomacy. Before returning to graduate school she worked as the Media and Public Communications Chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata, India. In this capacity, she was an integral member of the media relations team for Secretary Clinton’s two India trips in 2011 and 2012 and President Obama’s 2015 India visit. She was awarded the U.S. State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award for innovative media and public affairs strategies for northeast India. Her master’s capstone studying the U.S. Embassy India’s digital campaign on climate change won the Best Graduate Capstone in 2016. She will be working on independent research on India’s growing role in ICANN over the summer of 2017.


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