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Svilen Trifonov

Dissertation Title: “(Re)Constructing the Immigrant Identity: The Role of Personal Narratives in U.S. Immigration Discourses”
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Research Interests: Rhetorical criticism, social movements, rhetoric of citizenship and immigration, presidential rhetoric, rhetorical theory
Curriculum Vitae 

Svilen Trifonov is a PhD candidate in Communication Studies, working with Dr. Karlyn Kohrs Campbell. Svilen is scheduled to defend his dissertation in Spring 2018. He identifies as a scholar of rhetoric whose interest lies in the better understanding of human communication practices in the context of cultural and political difference. His scholarly work examines questions about citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, class, and culture. His dissertation project examines the rhetoric of prominent immigrant rights activists in the United States in the early 21st century, focusing on the role of personal narratives in establishing individual and group identity for immigrants. His examinations of the speeches of immigrant rights activists, specifically Latinx activists, offer valuable insight into the different and disparate ways through which they reimagine the place and role of immigrants in U.S. public life, as well as the very concept of U.S. citizenship. Svilen has formal training in rhetorical criticism, the history of rhetoric, the rhetoric of social movements, and U.S. immigration history. As a teacher, he is committed to help students become better communicators and engaged citizens in an increasingly diverse world. Svilen has been the instructor of record for courses in rhetorical criticism, public speaking, persuasive speaking and speech writing, and crisis communication.



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Elena Hristova

Dissertation Title: Women, Data, and Professionalism in U.S. Media Effects Research, 1940-1970
Research Interests: U.S. media and visual culture in the twentieth century; gender, race, class, and the media; labour history; property, capitalism, consumerisms, and neoliberal policy; critical whiteness studies
Curriculum Vitae

Elena is a historian of twentieth century U.S. media and visual culture. She received a BA in American Studies and English Literature and a MPhil in American Studies from the University of Sussex, England. For her BA, she studied U.S. labour history, postcolonial women’s literature, and African-American history and literature. For her MPhil, Elena researched World War II-era propaganda comics and the labour movement.

Her doctoral thesis is based on archival research and examines women’s labour in U.S. media research after World War II. Elena focuses on three sets of women at distinct moments in their career as media effects researchers: (1) getting hired and trained, (2) working as research assistants, and (3) leading studies. At each point, women had to respond to a set of pressures: (1) gendered expectations of work; (2) pursuit of professionalism in a male-dominated society; and (3) anti-communist politics, commitment to civil rights, and the securing of future funding. These pressures informed how female researchers understood the media, their male research subjects, and their role as social scientists.

Elena’s post-doctoral project will examine guides to, and narratives and celebrations of Black property ownership in the twentieth century African-American press. Elena lives in London, England.


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Lucas Youngvorst 

Dissertation Title: The Impact of Communication Modality on Verbal Person Centered Supportive Conversations Between Friends
Research Interests: Social support and computer-mediated communication 
Curriculum Vitae 

Lucas Youngvorst is pursuing a PhD in Communication Studies with a focus in interpersonal communication. Luke grew up in Staples, MN which is a town of 2000 people near Brainerd. When deciding to come to the U, he recognized that this department is well respected in the field of communication studies. He believes that resources at a large school set students up to succeed with faculty that is versatile and well known. Luke’s research project explores how established relational partners, especially friends, are affected by conversations that use technology.  This research is based on real life conversations and the type of support that is typically provided by friends. He knows that support will be a staple of human interaction forever, so he is excited to continue exploring this topic. Some of Luke’s hobbies including playing tennis, camping, and spending time at local coffee shops. Luke would like to share the following advice with future graduate students, “the only person that is going to get in your way is you. The accomplishments that you have are the result of how you move forward in grad school. Don’t doubt yourself. Know that you’re here for a reason”. 



Emma Bedor Hiland
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Dissertation Title: The Promises and Practices of the Digital Mental Health Industry
Research Interests: Technology, medicine, media and cultural studies, critical theory, pedagogy, big data
Curriculum Vitae

Emma is a PhD candidate, scheduled to defend her dissertation in the spring of 2018. Her dissertation traces the emergence of what she terms the digital mental health industry, which includes toolsets like smartphone applications, delivery mechanisms for online therapy (teletherapy and telepsychiatry), and the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and learner "chatbots" for therapeutic purposes. In particular, this project interrogates the industry's promise to democratize access to mental healthcare through technology, and whether that has been actualized or not. Emma's other research projects explore technologies of self-care and discipline, particularly in relation to medical practices and the use of pharmaceuticals, in transforming “sick” bodies into healthy, “normal,” productive ones. Her forthcoming publications include work on biocitizenship, particularly clinical trials and the exploitation of vulnerable populations, and portrayals of mental illness in magazines. She is already published in the areas of digital affect studies, revenge pornography, the medicalization of sexuality, and celebrity narratives of successful motherhood. Emma’s work was previously supported by an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship as well as a Critical Data Studies fellowship. In her spare time she enjoys practicing yoga and playing with her three-legged dog.