Digital Media Research Program

The members of the Digital Media Research Program are constantly developing and undertaking challenging research. Each semester, twelve to fifteen graduate students come together to produce some of the most exciting research in communication.

People of DMRP

Tom Johnson

Amon G. Carter Jr. Centennial
Professor
DMRP Director

Tom Johnson, Digital Media Research Program Director, is the Amon G. Carter Jr. Centennial Professor in the School of Journalism. His research has focused on the uses and effects of new media in politics. Recent works have explored the credibility and uses of social media as well as the effects of these media on political attitudes and behaviors. He had authored one book and co-edited four others. He has published more than 70 articles in academic journals, including Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Journal of Information Technology and Policy, and Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.

Picture of Taeyoung Lee

Taeyoung Lee

Ph.D. Student
Student Leader
Taeyoung Lee is a doctoral student in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Lee received her M.A. from the Media School at Indiana University. Before moving to the U.S., Lee spent seven years as a newspaper reporter in South Korea.
Her research interests broadly revolve around political communication processes in the changing media environment. Specifically, her research focuses on how the new media environment has changed the nature of people’s exposure to political information and how these changes affect people’s perception, and in turn, influence the formation of public opinion. She is also interested in when and how various political communications contribute to fostering, reinforcing, or undermining democratic values.

Picture of Ivy Ashe

Ivy Ashe

Ph.D. Student
Ivy Ashe is a doctoral student in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Before entering the program, she spent six years working as a reporter and photographer for newspapers in Hawaii and Massachusetts. She received her M.A. in photojournalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a B.A. in Linguistics and Hispanic Studies from Rice University. Her research interests include media geographies, media and tourism, local news, visual journalism, and stereotyping.

Picture of Ivan Lacasa-Mas

Ivan Lacasa-Mas

Ph.D.
Ivan Lacasa-Mas (PhD, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) is an associate professor in the College of Communication at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona, where he has been Dean (2009-2015) and Associate Dean (2008-2009, 2015-2016). After focusing for some years on communication research history, now his interests are centered on the intersection of media production, media consumption, political communication and public opinion, as well as on the impact of technology on journalism, politics and culture. His most recent projects analyze the consumer-based brand equity of news media firms, and how digitalization and new media affect Opera and its audiences.

Martin Riedl

Martin Riedl

Ph.D. Student
Martin J. Riedl is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism. His research interests include online political participation and news engagement, reader comments and moderation, the sociology of news work, new media technologies and social media. Riedl received Master’s degrees in media management from Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media and social sciences from Humboldt University of Berlin, and he has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and media management from FHWien University of Applied Sciences in Vienna. His professional experience includes marketing work with German media companies and advertising, project management and editorial work with an Austrian magazine publisher, as well as internships with Austrian news outlets.

Picture of Ryan Wallace

Ryan Wallace

Ph.D. Student
Ryan Wallace is a researcher and doctoral student at the University of Texas’ School of Journalism & Media. In 2013, he began his research career with a BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Irvine. In 2017, he also received an MS in Biotechnology from Cal State University, San Marcos. With a multidisciplinary background, his research interests focus on how science is portrayed in the media, and ways in which researchers and journalists can better work together to convey science to the general public. As a science writer and editor, he has worked with publications like: The Latin Post, The Science Times, and Archaic Press Magazine.

Picture of Vincent Pena

Vincent Peña

Ph.D. Student
Vincent Peña is a second-year Ph.D. student in the School of Journalism. Prior to arriving at UT, he received his M.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a pair of B.S. degrees in communication studies and journalism from Northern Arizona University. He research interests focus on the intersection of sports, politics and media, specifically coverage of athlete activism and social movements. He has worked in journalism primarily as a sports reporter and copy editor, working at outlets such as The Salt Lake Tribune, SB Nation, Yahoo! Sports, and Huskers Illustrated. He has also covered local politics as a Young American Fellow for Salon.com and as a freelancer for several outlets in Arizona and Nebraska.

Picture of Tamar Wilner.

Tamar Wilner

Ph.D. Student
Tamar Wilner is a Ph.D. student in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Tamar received her BA with honors in philosophy from Wesleyan University before spending 15 years as a professional journalist, covering topics ranging from business and urban planning to environment and the media. She received her MA in journalism from the University of Missouri in 2018.
Tamar’s research interests focus on misinformation, media credibility, news literacy and health. She developed expertise in these areas while writing for outlets including the Columbia Journalism Review and Poynter.org, and consulting for organizations including the American Press Institute, Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy, and international development non-profit IREX. Tamar is also co-creator of an online news literacy game, Post Facto.

Picture of Joao Ozawa

Joao Ozawa

Ph.D. Student
João Vicente Seno Ozawa is a first-year Ph.D. student in the School of Journalism. He has an M.S. in Communication Sciences from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), a Lato sensu graduate specialization in Communications (with a concentration in Journalism) from Casper Líbero College, and a B.A. in Communications from the Superior School of Advertising and Marketing (ESPM). His main research interests involve the agenda-setting theory and the role of fake news in shaping public opinion.
He also has been working as a music journalist for the past ten years. He was editor-in-chief and host of the web TV show Estudio Showlivre, a well-known Brazilian music channel, where he interviewed musical acts from all over the globe.

Picture of Gyo Hyun Koo

Gyo Hyun Koo

Ph.D. Student
Gyo Hyun Koo is from Daegu, Korea by way of Bloomington Indiana. She worked as a reporter and an editor-in-chief of the college newspaper and earned her MA in Media Arts & Science from Indiana University, Bloomington. Hyun is deeply interested in political communication and public opinion. She conducts quantitative research that investigates the impact of media on people's political attitudes as well as behaviors and how (news) media addresses political issues. She hopes to continue to help citizens adapt to, and raise their voices in, a changing media environment.

Picture of Christian Staal

Christian Staal Bruun Overgaard

Ph.D. Student
Freelance journalism (written for Danish magazines, newspapers and websites). Blogging (in Danish). Podcasting (also in Danish).
He has a BSc in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Southern Denmark; MSc in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Southern Denmark. (As part of his MSc, he spent a semester at New Bucks University in England, studying Psychology.)
His research interests lie at the intersection of Journalism and Psychology. He's interested in how news media influence people. (How does news coverage affect people's attitudes, beliefs and behavior?) He's especially interested in Constructive Journalism and Solutions Journalism, two journalistic approaches that aim to mitigate the negative bias that pervades modern media.

Picture of Chenyan Jia

Chenyan Jia

Ph.D. Student
Chenyan Jia (MA, Peking University) is a doctoral student in the School of Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin. She holds the Dallas Morning News Graduate Fellowship for Journalism Innovation. Her research interests include algorithmic bias, automated journalism, human-computer interaction (HCI), and social computing. She is especially interested in how algorithms and other digital technologies affect the media industry and the public.

Picture of Melissa Santillana

Melissa Santillana

Ph.D. Student
Melissa Santillana is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her MA in Communication with a concentration in Latin America and Border Media Studies from Texas A&M International University. She is also a former research assistant of UT’s Latino Media Arts & Studies Program (LMÁS). She worked on the Digital Inclusion in Austin project, including digital assessment surveys in 2018 and 2019, with the Technology and Information Policy Institute (TIPI). Her research focuses on international media flows, border studies, activist movements, feminist activism, digital media, and digital inequality.