Faculty Director

Dr. Safiya U. Noble

Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Information Studies where she serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2). She also holds appointments in African American Studies and Gender Studies. She is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford and has been appointed as a Commissioner on the Oxford Commission on AI & Good Governance (OxCAIGG). She is a board member of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, serving those vulnerable to online harassment. and serves on the NYU Center Critical Race and Digital Studies advisory board. She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press), which has been widely-reviewed in scholarly and popular publications.

Dr. Noble is the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award. Her academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology. She is regularly quoted for her expertise on issues of algorithmic discrimination and technology bias by national and international press including The Guardian, the BBC, CNN International, USA Today, Wired, Time, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The New York Times, and a host of local news and podcasts. Her popular writing includes critiques on the loss of public goods to Big Tech companies, as featured in Noema magazine.

Safiya is the co-editor of two edited volumes: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online and Emotions, Technology & Design. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of the Commentary & Criticism section of the Journal of Feminist Media Studies. She is a member of several academic journal and advisory boards, and holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Fresno where she was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2018. Recently, she was named in the “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers of 2019” by Government Technology magazine.

In 2020, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award from the iSchool Alumni Association (ISAA), and is also the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Award winner from the Illinois Alumni Association at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

(Lasted updated October 6, 2020)
Vanessa continues to explore feminist approaches to cyber security and international relations; the role of history, narrative, and power in the creation of sex trafficking policies. She is currently cultivating a care network with and for women-identifying and gender nonconforming folx experiencing online and other forms of harassment in STEM. Vanessa has spoken at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Simmons University, Harvard Kennedy School, South by Southwest (SXSW), the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTEN), and more. Vanessa speaks, and facilitates conversations, on a variety of topics that include intersectional feminist approaches to data and digital technology; activism, advocacy, and stewardship; and community engagement.

Vanessa is also the Event Producer of the Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN), annual research conference, and Review Editor for the Journal of Community Informatics (JoCI). She lives with her husband, child (they/them), and two cats. In her (little) free time, you’ll find her running, reading graphic novels, or scuba diving (post-pandemic).

Co-Founder

Dr. Sarah T. Roberts

Sarah T. Roberts is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Studies, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, at UCLA. She holds a Ph.D. from the iSchool at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining UCLA in 2016, she was an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University in London, Ontario for three years. On the internet since 1993, she was previously an information technology professional for 15 years, and, as such, her research interests focus on information work and workers and on the social, economic and political impact of the widespread adoption of the internet in everyday life.

Since 2010, the main focus of her research has been to uncover the ecosystem - made up of people, practices and politics - of content moderation of major social media platforms, news media companies, and corporate brands.

She served as consultant to and is featured in the award-winning documentary The Cleaners, which debuted at Sundance 2018 and aired on PBS in the United States in November 2018.

Roberts is frequently consulted by the press and others on issues related to commercial content moderation and to social media, society and culture, in general. She has been interviewed on these topics in print, on radio and on television worldwide including: The New York Times, Associated Press, NPR, Le Monde, The Atlantic, The Economist, BBC Nightly News, the CBC, The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, The Washington Post, Australian Broadcasting Corporation SPIEGEL Online, and CNN, among many others.

She is a 2018 Carnegie Fellow and a 2018 recipient of the EFF Barlow Pioneer Award for her groundbreaking research on content moderation of social media.

Executive Director

Vanessa Rhinesmith

Vanessa Rhinesmith (she / her) is the Executive Director of the UCLA Center for Critical internet Inquiry. She started her career as a social worker in Chicago before transitioning to work centered in purpose, community, and care in relation to intersectional feminism, harm reduction, and technology and society. She received her MBA from Simmons School of Management in Boston with a focus on organizational behavior. Prior to joining UCLA, she supported the development of several programs at Harvard Kennedy School and supported activist-technologists on the front lines of the open internet movement within civil society organizations from around the globe at the Mozilla Foundation. She speaks, and facilitates conversations, on a variety of topics that include community-centered approaches to data and digital technology; activism, advocacy, and stewardship; and application of feminist approaches to international relations and public policy.
Research Director

Dr. Stacy Wood

Stacy Wood (pronouns she/her) is the Director of Research for the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. Her research and teaching interests are focused on the intersection of information technologies and cultures and practices around evidence. Her research has been published in several scholarly journals including Computational Culture and Preservation, Digital Technology and Culture. Wood holds a PhD and an MLIS from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information and a BA in World Literature, Gender Studies and Media Studies from Pitzer College. Prior to joining the Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, Wood was an Assistant Professor at the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh.
Fellow, Race and Tech

Robyn Hillman-Harrigan

Robyn Hillman-Harrigan is a Data Scientist, Writer, Activist, and Nonprofit founder, currently serving as the Critical Data & AI Equity Director at Feminist.AI. She is a STEM NRG Senior Fellow, a 2020 Google Rare Leadership cohort member and an Antler entrepreneur. Her work has always centered around using data and education to empower accessible, intersectional feminist, queer-informed, racial and economic equity. Robyn earned her BA in History at the University of Melbourne in Australia, specializing in First Nations History and Politics. Robyn’s graduate coursework was in radical pedagogy, where she earned a Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Melbourne, with subject specialization in History and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

In 2012, Robyn organized an immediate community response to Hurricane Sandy, turning her home into a high-volume soup kitchen and marshaling the support of over 400 volunteers. This became the Shore Soup Project. Under Robyn’s leadership as Executive Director, Shore Soup delivered over 100,000 free organic meals to residents in the Rockaway area of New York City and raised the funds to sustain these efforts for Rockaway’s recovery period of four years.

In the summer of extreme police violence in 2016, Robyn committed to working for three years with groups of Black Artists and Black and Brown incarcerated folks. Subsequently, Robyn worked with the East Oakland-based David E. Glover Emerging Technology Center (DEGETC), a high-tech education center which provides free instruction to low-income people of color of all ages. She leveraged data analysis to raise over $300k in funding. While working at DEGETC, Robyn further honed her technical skills in a Data Science immersive program at General Assembly.

Her publications include "Holding Yawulyu: White Culture and Black Women's Law," Traffic Journal, University of Melbourne 2006; "Spaces of Engagement, Sites of Ownership" in Bridging Communities through Socially Engaged Art, Routledge 2019; "pre-script" in Rockaway Beach: Art and Adaptive Capacity Post- Hurricane Sandy, Rita Books 2017; "Tumbleweeds" in Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, Shakespeare and Co 2016; Black Light Catalogue, California College of the Arts 2018.

Storyteller in Residence

Oge Egbuonu

Oge Egbuonu is a filmmaker and thought leader focused on disruptive and inspirational storytelling. Her documentary (IN)VISIBLE PORTRAITS was recently acquired by Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) to air in 2021. Prior to this acquisition, the film was digitally released via Vimeo On Demand on Juneteenth (June 19, 2020), the American holiday celebrating June 19, 1865 when the Emancipation Proclamation was finally read to enslaved African Americans in Texas.

Nearly three years in the making, (IN)VISIBLE PORTRAITS is a powerful celebration of Black women sharing their stories of struggle, resilience, celebration and more. It shatters the too-often invisible otherizing of Black women in America and illuminates the history of how we got here, dismantling the false framework of the present-day reality, celebrating the extraordinary heritage of exceptional Black women, and igniting hope for the next generation. The film is a self-described “love letter to Black women, and a reeducation for everyone else.”

Prior to creating (IN)VISIBLE PORTRAITS, Oge produced films like LOVING (the critically acclaimed film starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga about Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case which legalized interracial marriage in the United States) and EYE IN THE SKY at the independent production company Raindog Films alongside co-founders Ged Doherty and Academy Award®-winning actor Colin Firth. Oge also previously held a seat on the board of the Diversity Committee for the BRIT Awards, where she collaborated on revamping the voting academy and tackling diversity within the music and film industries.

Fellow, Racial Justice

Thandiwe Abdullah

Non-resident, Research Affiliate

Dr. Matt Bui

Dr. Matthew Le Bui (PhD, University of Southern California) is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology. He is also a research affiliate and project lead/co-lead with the NYU Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies (CR+DS) and UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2).

An interdisciplinary scholar at the nexus of digital, data, and racial justice, Dr. Bui draws from critical race theory, information and communication studies, urban sociology, and geographic information science (GIS), among other fields and disciplines, to map the potential for, and barriers to, urban data justice. He is especially interested in issues of race, racism, and racial justice within digital and data-driven technologies, platforms, and policy—at the local and macro level of intervention. For more information about his current projects, visit his research page.

Dr. Bui recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a PhD in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication and Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science and Technologies (GIST) from the USC Spatial Sciences Institute. Prior to his doctoral work, he received his MSc in Media and Communication (Research) from the London School of Economics and graduated from UCLA with honors; he also worked in non-profit and technology marketing between degrees.

The son of Vietnamese refugees and the product of a heavily Latinx-Asian immigrant community, Dr. Matthew Bui strives to give back to his communities through actionable—and community-minded—research and advocacy.

Non-resident, Research Affiliate

Dr. Molly C. Niesen

Dr. Molly C. Niesen completed her Ph.D. in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her doctoral thesis, “Crisis of Consumerism: Advertising, Activism, and the Battle over the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, 1969-1980,” won the National Communication Association’s Most Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2014, Critical Cultural Studies Division. Another paper on regulatory debates over children’s advertising was awarded the Brian Murphy Best Paper Award at the 2013 Union for Democratic Communications conference in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Niesen is currently preparing a monograph-length manuscript for publication based on her doctoral dissertation work.

Dr. Niesen also pursues research in the political economy of media and information, public relations and advertising history, and the political economy of the online dating industry. She holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Advertising from the University of Illinois and has a professional background working in that field.

Analyst, Global Policy

Alice Dawkins

Alice (she/her) is a progressive policy thinker with a strong focus on the Asia/Australia interface. Trained in Australian law and Asian languages, Alice brings on-the-ground experience with complex regional questions of law and society, and a passion for promoting locally-driven solutions. She has worked alongside land rights lawyers in rural Myanmar, assisted refugees and asylum seekers in the UN system, collaborated with Chinese policymakers at think tanks and top-tier universities, and driven strategies for trade-focused Australian agribusiness. Alice holds an MMSc from Tsinghua University (Schwarzman Scholars), an LLB(Hons), and a Bachelor of Asian Studies(Hons), both from the Australian National University.
Graduate Student Researcher

Jie (Jae) Jiang

Jie (Jae) Jiang is currently a third-year doctoral student at the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons University. Graduated in 2018, Jie earned her M.L.I.S degree from the University of Pittsburgh with an individual track in Digital Stewardship. Jie’s doctoral research area of interest primarily focuses on Research Data Management (RDM), Collaborative Research, Digital Equity, Health Information Behaviors, and Open Government Data (OGD).

Jie is a graduate research assistant at the CI Lab of Simmons University, currently participating in the US public libraries broadband measurement project. Starting in June 2021, Jie has joined another funded action research project which is co-led by Professor Colin Rhinesmith at the CI Lab at Simmons University and the research team under UCLA GSE&IS.

Graduate Student Researcher

Yvonne M. Eadon

Yvonne M. Eadon holds an MLIS from and is a doctoral candidate in Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research exists at the intersection of conspiracy theory scholarship, information seeking and behavior, and archival studies. Her most recent publication is forthcoming in a special issue of Knowledge Organization devoted to Politics, Culture, and the Organization of Knowledge.