PhD Student Biographies

Patricia (Trish) Audette-Longo

I received a Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University (2004) and an MSc in Media, Communication and Development at the London School of Economics (2011). As a doctoral student in Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies, I study how indigenous communities express nuanced, heterogeneous demands for sustainable futures by producing independent media projects or cooperating with industry or environmental groups to produce advocacy material. My interests are inspired in part by my previous work experience as an environment and political reporter at the Edmonton Journal in Alberta.

Jason Begy

Jason Begy is a game researcher and designer, whose research interests center around modes of reprsentation and meaning-making in games across media, and in this vein he studies simulation, metaphor, and abstraction. He is currently studying board games and video games that simulate various aspects of railroading, with an emphasis on how these games represent historical processes and events. He is also finishing-up a book with Mia Consalvo on a short-lived MMOG known as “Faunasphere.” Begy currently has research affilations with the mLab (Concordia University), the Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre (Concordia University), and the MIT Game Lab (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). During the summers he participates in the planning and directing of the Critical Hit Games Collaboratory, which is run through TAG and Hexagram in partnership with Dawson College. Before coming to Concordia he worked as a researcher, designer and instructor at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, as part of the Comparative Media Studies department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Donna de Ville

Donna de Ville is originally from New Jersey but considers Austin, TX her home. Under the supervision of Charles Acland, she is currently revising her dissertation, which focuses on the microcinema movement and its manifestation in Montreal. Her research on alternative film exhibition has appeared in Scope and Incite, and she has a chapter about the work of director Dario Argento published in Cinema Inferno: Celluloid Explosions from the Cultural Margins. She is also Assistant Editor of the Canadian Journal of Film Studies/Revue Canadienne d’etudes cinematographiques.

Mariam Esseghaier

My doctoral research project is entitled “‘Proof of Purchase’: Muslim Women’s Tactical Approaches to Dress and the Institutionalization of Islamic Fashion in Montreal.” I am interested in the everyday tactics Muslim women in Montreal develop in relation to their fashion and consumption practices. I focus on how these practices respond to dominant constructions of Muslim women in popular culture, political discourses in Quebec, and the emergence of the Islamic fashion industry. I created a blog for my research, it can be found at

Arwen Fleming

My research concerns the intersections of memory, archival photography, and landscape in the aftermath of urban displacement and redevelopment. Specifically, I consider how archival photographs of Montreal’s Griffintown and Goose Village neighbourhoods signal the ways in which the exclusion and displacement of these neighbourhoods continue to haunt, retroactively, the futuristic visions of Expo 67.

Katherine Kline

Katherine Kline studies psychoanalysis and ecological ethics. Her research looks at the meeting of psyche and planet by examining narcissism, materiality and object relationship.

Marie-Eve Lefebvre

I earned my BA from Université de Montréal in Anthropology and Theology. I then completed my MA in Religious studies (specialization in Hinduism) at UQÀM, where I wrote my thesis on the influence of Hindu values on the depiction of Ideal and Otherness in Bollywood movies. During my spare time, I host a radio show at UQÀM’s community station and act as a member of the editorial board of the Journal des Alternatives. I recently joined as a researcher the Centre d’études et de recherche sur l’Inde, l’Asie du Sud et sa diaspora (CÉRIAS).

I am interested in South Asian pop culture and in broader concepts of visual piety, and I am currently studying the representation of the Sikh community in North Indian visual culture and how it is received by Sikhs in Punjab and throughout North India.

Marie-Hélène Lemaire

Marie-Hélène Lemaire is a PhD candidate in Communications Studies at Concordia University. With a background in literature and museum studies, she currently works as an educator at DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art. Her practice and research focus on the interpretation in movement of contemporary art in the context of interactive visits. From this alternative perspective, both visitors and educator interpret the artworks and the exhibition by thinking in movement, whereby the aesthetic experience engages as much the body in movement throughout the space as it does the mind (M. Sheets-Johnstone, 2011 ; M. Bal, 2001). Marie-Hélène is also interested in visual culture and creative writing as an analytic method for art animation and is currently a research assistant for the Mobile Media Lab.

Alison Reiko Loader

Alison Reiko Loader applies her interests in old media technology and posthumanist theory to making short animated films and media installations. A lapsed National Film Board of Canada filmmaker that specializes in 3d and digital animation, Loader reimag(in)es connections between apparatuses, representation and spectatorship by applying research-creation and feminist objectivity to media history and archaeology. Installations such as The Inquest of Mary Gallagher and Possible Movements use stereoscopic and anamorphic imagery to re-present the past, while Kinder/Garden and Malacosoma disstria mediate manipulations of plant and insect life. Fascinated by optical technologies and moving images, her doctoral research (in Communication Studies) explores the nineteenth-century founding of the Edinburgh Popular Observatories and Camera Obscura by a mysterious woman named Maria Theresa Short. Funded primarily through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada fellowship, she has also taught in the Computation Arts and Film Animation programs for the Concordia University Faculty of Fine Arts since 2001.

Ashley McAskill

Ashley McAskill is currently in her third year of her PhD in Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. She has a BA in Theatre and Film Studies and English, and a MA in Communications and New Media from McMaster University. For her doctoral work Ashley is researching disability and ethical theatre practices, specifically within mixed ability groups whereby artists with and without disabilities work together. One of her biggest ventures for her doctoral project (and overall artistic hope) will be the creation of a permanent mixed-abilility theatre collaborative in Montreal. Other research interests include gender and beauty practices, the spectacle of public performativity, feminist media studies, and performance art.

Vanessa Meyer

Vanessa Meyer completed her BA in Concordia’s Communications program and her MA in The New School’s Media Studies department. Her research is practice based and fundamentally interdisciplinary, taking shape at the intersection of experimental film, documentary, autoethnography, feminist philosophy, and queer theory. Her current doctoral research focuses on two separate but integrated issues. On the one hand she is interested in the implications and possibilities for radical feminist art making/thinking in the academic institution. On the other hand she is engaged in an examination of the construction of mother-child relationships in feminist autobiographical documentary and queer autoethnographic film and video. She has worked in documentary production and television in Montreal and New York for the past ten years. Her short videos have screened at the Victoria Film festival and Montreal’s Underground Film Festival. If she was not doing her PhD and making videos she would be desperately trying to become a rockstar.

Holly Nazar

My thesis research concerns popular memory, particularly in the context of knowledge transmission within social movements. How do we know what we think we know about history, and how does this affect our worldview and actions? How do activist and political groups pass on their histories and how might these differ from perceptions of the wider public? I am also a research assistant on the SSHRC-funded project Indymedia 2.0: New media activism in the global digital economy. My other research interests include anarchist theory and methodologies and the political economy of postcapitalist futures.

Magdalena Olszanowski

Magdalena Olszanowski is an artist and PhD student in Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal under the supervision of Kim Sawchuk. She is a senior research assistant at the Mobile Media Lab and a research affiliate with the Topological Media Lab. Her MA thesis in Communication & Culture at York University was a documentary on women electronic music composers. She writes and creates work on gender, violence and post-memory, perception, electronic music and mobile image-based media through a feminist vital materialist lens. Her research-creation dissertation is focused on the feminist online media histories of the 1990s. By the by, she identifies as an arts-based researcher with lax hygiene and no social graces.

Eric Powell

Eric Powell received his MFA in electroacoustic composition from Simon Fraser University in 2008. He has presented his research in Canada, the USA, Mexico and Europe with a recent article in the Canadian Electroacoustic Community’s online journal eContact! He is co-vice chair of the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology and a founding member of eletricityismagic, a sound and media art collective. His current research examines the interrelationship among space, place, and aural environments, with a focus on creating interactive sound-based maps.

Myriam Rafla

Myriam Rafla immersed herself in the world of Canadian filmmaking with the start of her MFA studies in Film at York University. A former financial and content analyst with Telefilm Canada and SODEC, Ms. Rafla continues to work as a professional script consultant in both public and private sectors of the local film industry. She is a full time faculty member in the Department of Cinema / Video / Communications at Dawson College in Montreal and is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in Communication Studies at Concordia University.

Azra Rashid

Azra Rashid is a Montreal-based filmmaker and PhD candidate. Her doctoral research is on gender and genocide, using creation-as-research as methodology. She has over six years of experience working as a journalist in NYC, Toronto, Edmonton, and Karachi. She has worked on numerous documentaries on social justice issues, including her own award-winning film, Dishonour Defied – a documentary about rape and status of women in Pakistan. Her films have been screened at film festivals in Canada and in the US. Her documentary on forced marriages has been incorporated in the curriculum by the Toronto District School Board in Canada. She is currently working on a documentary, with the working title, “Genocide: Through a woman’s lens,” funded by the Canada Council for the Arts. In the past, Rashid has also worked in the NGO sector with Amnesty International, Alliance Against Modern Slavery, Ve’ahavta, and Women Won’t Forget.

Krista Riley

Krista Riley did her B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of British Columbia, and her M.A. in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Krista’s doctoral research focuses on Muslim women bloggers in North America, looking at discussions of religion and gender online. Krista is also Editor-in-Chief of Muslimah Media Watch (, a blog that examines representations of Muslim women in media and popular culture.

Shirley Roburn

Shirley Roburn is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in Communication Studies at Concordia, UQAM and the University of Montreal. Her research, inspired by living in northern Canada, concerns the “public stories” that First Nations communities and environmental groups tell about climate change and food security in northwestern North America, and whether these stories are effective in garnering public support and influencing global, national, and regional policy. Roburn is a long-time community activist and has served as an employee, volunteer and organizer for many environmental justice and human rights organizations, ranging in scope from Amnesty International to the Yukon Conservation Society, from CoCo (a Montreal umbrella organization that builds capacity in the allophone and anglophone community sector) to SPEC, the community group that spawned Greenpeace. Roburn has also worked as a journalist, editor, creative writer and media producer in areas concerning environmental justice.

Aviva Rotstein

Aviva Rotstein is a doctoral student in the Communication Studies program here at Concordia. Previously she completed her MA in Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Her research relates to communication ethics and aesthetics, and is concerned with strategies for fostering more empathic environmental and interpersonal relations. She is currently focusing her research on ambiguous interruptions of the everyday, particularly the subtle insertion of performance and new media art into routinized urban settings.

Irene Serrano Vazquez

Irene Serrano Vazquez is journalist and a PhD candidate in Communication Studies at Concordia University. She holds a MA in Literary Studies and a BA in Journalism. Prior to beginning her doctorate, she worked as a writer in various Spanish newspapers (El País,,, magazines (Marie Claire, Cambio 16, Vanity Fair), and international media (BBC). Her current research revolves around how user-generated content is challenging and changing the journalists’ traditional role and the news media power. Occasionally, she still contributes to Spanish media.

Marilou St-Pierre

My principal research interests are journalism, sports, and the place of gender in these two domains. I’m interested in gender studies, feminist studies, and the political economy of the media. I also had the chance to work on the media history in the province of Quebec, a domain I hope I will still have the opportunity to work on in the future. In my thesis, I want to look at the professional practices of female sports journalists who have worked in the field at different moments since the 1970s. This project is a continuation of my Master’s degree in communication, completed at Laval University in 2012.

Katerina Symes

Katerina Symes is a doctoral student in the PhD Communication program at Concordia University. Her work engages with feminist and queer theories, sexuality and gender, and questions of spectatorship, desire, identity, and identification. She is currently developing a theory of “eccentric spectatorship” to account for the process by which female spectators (as psychic and social subjects) identify with and desire the figure of the lesbian on television. Her most recent work aims to probe the idea of “excessiveness” in relation to spectatorial identification and desire.

Areas of Research: Television Studies; Film Theory; Feminist and Queer Theory; Psychoanalytic Theory; Media and Cultural Theory; Popular Culture

Samuel Thulin

Samuel Thulin is a media artist, musician, and researcher living in Montreal. His work is concerned with concepts of mobility, space, and place especially as related to sound and technology. He is a member of the Mobile Media Lab and a PhD candidate in the Communication Studies department at Concordia University.

Celia Vara

Celia has a Master in Equality and Gender (Jaume I University, Spain) and has been researching in Feminist Media and Visual Culture (Master Thesis: “Early Feminist Video Art in Spain”). She also has a Degree in Philosophy and Educational Sciences- Psychology (Murcia University, Spain).

Celia has these major achievements:

  • She is a member of the professional team for 15 years of a Centre in Spain pioneering working with women who are victims of gender violence (psychotherapy and emergency assistance) and focusing on gender research and communication.
  • She has contributed to spread good practices in gender by developing and publishing a new Gender and Development teaching program OTC Dominican Republic – Agencia Española de Cooperación para el Desarrollo (AECID).
  • She has co-created the “Mesa de Coordinación de Género” aimed at sharing work in Mainstreaming in Gender and Development by International Organizations present in the Dominican Republic.
  • She is an active member of a Feminist Team doing supervision work with Peter Szil.
  • She is a visual artist with numerous residencies and individual and collective exhibitions in Dominican Republic, Canada, Cuba and Spain. Her latest project, Violeta Esperanza is an ethnographic and feminist exploration of the collective female.

Her research interests are Feminist Media, Feminist Art and Criticism, Feminist Video Art and Visual Culture.

Jacqueline Wallace

Jacqueline Wallace is a HASTAC Scholar and PhD candidate (ABD). She is a former co-founder and VP, International of Veer Inc. ( and Veer Europe GmbH, the award-winning visual media and design company serving creatives in advertising, publishing and new media. After spending a decade working in creative industries, Wallace returned to the academy—shifting from professional practitioner to engaged researcher. She is now pursuing her dissertation research on the micro-economies of DIY design + craft, women’s creative labour and informal production networks, including a case study of, the global marketplace for handmade goods. Wallace is also an advisory board member of the Fembot Collective, a scholarly collaboration promoting research on gender, new media, and technology and publisher of the ADA journal.

Nic Watson

Nic Watson is a second-year PhD student in Communication. He is interested in digital game studies and has a background in anthropology and computer science. His current work focuses on the use of ethnographic methods to study computer game modding, fan content creation, and participatory culture.