The Annenberg School Welcomes Eight New Ph.D. Students in Its 2023 Cohort

The School's newest cohort of doctoral students studies everything from climate change action to the anti-caste movement.

By Hailey Reissman

On Monday, the Annenberg School for Communication proudly welcomed its newest cohort of doctoral students. The eight students in our 2023 cohort bring a wide variety of research interests and experiences to the program, including work in journalism, the public sector, and data science. 

Many of our new students are interested in studying social media. Yingchuan Qu is fascinated by everyday meaning-making and micropolitics on Chinese social media — expressed through memes, fashion blogs, and even reality show discussion boards. She joins us from Cornell University where she earned her M.A. in Asian Studies. Sara Reinis focuses on social media’s role in molding belief systems and approaches to spirituality, especially on TikTok. She comes to Annenberg from New York University, where she received her M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication.

Two of our students join us directly from their undergraduate years. Interested in dismantling societal biases, stigmas, and misinformation, Kallahan Brown recently graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Temple University. At Annenberg, he will work with the team at SAFELab to search for new and better ways to eliminate cognitive biases. Nidah Mohammed earned a B.A. in Psychology in 2023 from California State University Northridge. At Annenberg, she will work with the Addiction, Health, & Adolescence (AHA!) Lab to examine neural processes that guide societal responses to media-driven health messages.

Doctoral students Tejas Harad and Vishwanath E.V.S. both grew up in India. Harad had a decade-long career in journalism before coming to Annenberg, writing for many of India’s leading publications. He comes to the School with a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Mumbai and will focus on how alternative media shapes the anti-caste public sphere. E.V.S. comes to Annenberg with a Master's in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and experience working in data science. He will be working with the Social Action Lab to study the role online communities and platforms play in diffusing information among their members.

Kirsten Lydic and Ify Okpali both study politics. Okpali is a joint doctoral student in Political Science and Communication. Her research focuses on the impact of communications technologies on political participation in West and North Africa. She comes to Annenberg after working in the public sector and an M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University. Lydic is interested in increasing civic and political engagement through cognitive science, especially when it comes to climate change action. At Annenberg, she will work with the Communication Neuroscience Lab to identify psychological and social roadblocks to greater democratic engagement. She comes to Annenberg after four years as a researcher and lab tech in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Please give a warm welcome to our newest doctoral students!