WhenWei-Fen Chen
wchen59@illinois.edu

Wei-Fen is a doctoral candidate in Communications and Media at the University of Illinois. As a Fulbright grantee, she came to the U.S. in 2011 to pursue the Ph.D. degree. Her research interest is exploring consumer culture in societal shifts, especially in relation to social stratification. Her dissertation discusses the consumption practices of consumers who have ambiguous social class consciousness in downward mobility.


Vernita Fort
vfort@illinois.edu 

Vernita Pearl Fort entered ICRs Ph.D. program after completing a diplomatic career with the United States Agency for International Development, United States Department of State. She worked in 40 countries across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and managed some of the worlds largest development portfolios. She holds a Master of Science degree from Yale University in evolutionary biology and tropical ecology and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Berkeley in natural resource systems management. Before becoming a National Economics Association Doctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland, College Park, she completed the Economic Studies Program at the United States Foreign Service Institute. She also actively pursues film, dance, music and performance as avocations and tools of pedagogy. In 2014, the International Communication Association honored Vernita Pearl Fort with the Best Visual Display of Research Award at its annual meeting in Seattle. She views the translation of rigorous scholarship into multi-modal formats as important for making such content accessible throughout the public sphere and for bridging theory, policy and practice. In 2015 and at the invitation of the School of Music at the University of Illinois, she served as Stage Director for collaboratively repurposing and theorizing La Prpura de la Rosa, the first opera composed and performed in the Americas, specifically in 1701 in Lima, Peru.

  • Teaching Interests: Political Economy of Communication and Media; Communication Philosophy, Communication Ethics; International Communications; Media and the Environment; Music, Dance and the Brain; First, Second and Third Cinema Theory; Performing Critical Research
  • Dissertation Title: Music and Human Rights: Their Relationship through a Transdisciplinary Frame of Critical Ethnography, Critical Neuroepigenetics, and Political Economy
  • Personal website: http://pearl2013.wix.com/pearl2013
  • Advisers: Clifford G. Christians, Norman Denzin, Cameron McCarthy, Kent Ono, Pradeep Dhillon, Kathleen Howland (Berklee College of Music)

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Joy Yang Jiao
yjiao5@illinois.edu

Jiao is a 5th year PhD student at ICR. She holds a Master's Degree from Miami University. Her current research/teaching focuses on public diplomacy and nation branding within the context of the changing power structures of our globalized world. Aside from research and teaching, Jiao is actively engaged in many international communication programs, including serving as the spokesperson for the annual US legislator delegation to China. She also worked as the international communication specialist at the Peacekeeping and Public Information sectors at the United Nations.
Painting is one of Jiaos many hobbies; she enjoys visually representing her cultural heritage via the traditional Chinese watercolor on rice paper.

  • Teaching Interests: Introduction to Media, International Communication, Global Media, Critical Cultural Studies
  • Dissertation Title: Brand New China: Performing Heritage, Culture, and Harmony in the Global Business of National Identity
  • Advisers: Kent Ono, James Hay 

Alicia Kozma photo

Alicia Kozma
kozma2@illinois.edu

Alicia holds a B.A. from the University of Vermont in Religion & Film Studies and an M.A. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in American Studies & Film Studies. Her major concentration is feminist critical/cultural studies of film and television, which is undergirded with historical analysis, media theory, and gender/sexuality studies. Her dissertation research wields historiographic and archival research, interventional feminist media studies, and theoretical analysis to explicate how the marginalization of female authorship has taken root in the history and practice of U.S. filmmaking. The career of second wave exploitation film director Stephanie Rothman is the primary historical case study the project focuses on.

Alicia's research interests coalesce around the theoretical and practical issues surrounding gender in film, cultural worth/taste culture in film and television, marginalized media products, female media production, cult media, affect, and sexuality studies. She also works within television studies, specifically around the intersection of reality television and the production and management of taste cultures, focusing on the Food Network.

  • Teaching Interests: An instructor in the Media & Cinema Studies Department, Alicia is a former Adjunct in the Department of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College in NYC. She is a co-editor of "Mobilized Identities: Mediated Subjectivity and Cultural Crisis in the Neoliberal Era" (Common Ground, 2014). Her work has been published in several anthologies, as well as in the Journal of Japanese and Korean Film. Teaching interests include Cinema Studies, Popular Culture, Film and Media History, Television Studies, Sex/Gender/Sexuality in Popular Media, Media and Theory, Media Literacy, and Sexuality Studies.
  • Dissertation Title: Riding the Second Wave of Exploitation: The Cinema of Stephanie Rothman and the Tyranny of the Good
  • Personal Site
  • Adviser: Dr. Angharad Valdivia

Shantel Martinez photo

Shantel Martinez
martin68@illinois.edu

Shantel received her bachelors in History (with Distinction) and Comparative History of Ideas at the University of Washington, and her M.Ed in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research puts into conversation the affective turn with the spatial turn in order to illuminate an understudied perspective in the assemblage of race, gender, and sexuality, as it recognizes how emotions and space (which historically have been dismissed from academic conversations) manipulate various forms of power and impact social structures informing our experiences. Central to her research is examining the transformative methods and performances gendered bodies of color enact about who belongs and how such belonging is imagined and achieved to disrupt spatial place-ness and belonging-ness. 

  • Teaching Interests: Body, gender, power; Interpretive methods; Sex, gender, and race in the media
  • Dissertation Title: Dis/locations: (Re)Imaging affective geographies of belonging and home
  • Adviser: Dr. Isabel Molina Guzman