2018 COMPASS Summer Fellows Head to Washington D.C.

This week, eight doctoral students in Communication will begin summer fellowships with government and policy organizations, thanks to the Consortium on Media Policy Studies (COMPASS).

For more than a decade, this consortium of Communication doctoral programs has sponsored a select group of Ph.D. students to spend a summer in Washington, D.C. These COMPASS Summer Fellows have a front row seat to learn about U.S. federal policymaking as they make their own contributions to the policy process through their research and writing.

This year, COMPASS moved under the auspices of the Media, Inequality, and Change (MIC) Center, co-directed by Professor Victor Pickard at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and Professor Todd Wolfson from Rutgers University. The program aims to bridge the research interests of future scholars with active policy agendas.


The 2018 COMPASS Fellows. Top Row (L to R): Yang Bai, Lauren Bridges, Danyel Ferrari, Azeb Madebo. Bottom Row (L to R): Christoph Mergerson, Chloé Nurik, Maria Skouras, Chioma Woko

In addition to Penn and Rutgers, other universities currently participating in the program include Penn State’s Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, the University of Michigan’s Communication Studies department, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, and the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin.

While in Washington, the eight students will meet weekly for a seminar entitled “Communication Policy and Practice” taught by Mark Lloyd (University of Southern California), who along with Pickard is co-director of COMPASS, and Brice Nixon, Ph.D. (Temple University and University of Pennsylvania).

“The new COMPASS cohort reflects a diverse array of interests and backgrounds,” says Pickard. “With so many dramatic changes happening in our communication systems, now is an opportune moment to become immersed in media policy debates. We are very fortunate to have such rising stars participating in this year’s program.”

The 2018 Summer Fellows and their host organizations are as follows:

Yang Bai (Pennsylvania State University) will be at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and work on a project which examines the economic impact of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program.

Lauren Bridges (University of Pennsylvania) will be at Open Markets Institute working as a research fellow on data privacy and antitrust policy research. Her work will focus on impacts of the new European privacy regulations and other possible policy routes to mitigate the extraction, use, and reuse of personal data.

Danyel Ferrari (Rutgers University) will be addressing public art in relationship to public opinion and policy. This summer she is researching across national and international cultural organizations looking at recent and continued representations of Syria and forced migration. 

Azeb Madebo (University of Southern California) will be working alongside Annenberg alumna Lauren Kogen, Ph.D., (Temple University) to conduct an evaluation study for Ranking Digital Rights.

Christoph Mergerson (Rutgers University) will work with the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution as a media policy researcher.

Chloé Nurik (University of Pennsylvania) will be at the Federal Communications Commission investigating licensees for ham radios and other legal matters.

Maria Skouras (University of Texas at Austin) will be a research fellow at the Advisory Council for Public Diplomacy (ACPD) at the State Department working on digital diplomacy efforts.

Chioma Woko (University of Pennsylvania) will be at Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs. She will be working as a research assistant on integrative health promotion projects in West Africa.