Digital Dissertation Fellowships

digital dissertation fellowships

These fellowships support graduate students wishing to include significant digital components in their major research projects in the humanities and arts, and who wish to strengthen their digital methods capacities while collaborating with others. Fellows receive a stipend to support their work and participate in cohort meetings during the semester.

Our 2023 call for applications is open until January 23rd, 2023.

2022 Digital Dissertation Fellows

Kiara Childs Communications

Kiara Childs is a PhD candidate in Communication whose research investigates Black womens’ complicated relationships with social media. While previous internet research argues that the internet is a raceless and democratic space, critical race and digital studies scholars argue that there is an assumed whiteness and masculine bias in technology — marking Black women’s mere presence on digital platforms as deviant. Childs is working to extend the dissertation with social media material that both extends case studies and functions as a digital archive.


Carly SchnitzlerCarly SchnitzlerEnglish & Comparative Literature

Cary Schnitzler is a PhD candidate in English & Comparative Literature. Her research looks at the ways computation-based creative work updates aspects of the classical rhetorical canon of invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. She aims to extend the traditional dissertation by building out a digital archive and accompanying website for If, Then: Technology and Poetics, a working group and workshop series that supports art and scholarship linked with computation and poetry.


Francesca Sorbara – Anthropology

Francesca Sorbara is pursuing a PhD in Anthropology. Her dissertation examines deforestation in the Amazon. Using ethnographic approaches, she examines how two peasant settler communities cope with increasing environmental challenges in their territories in the Guaviare region. She also investigates how they transform their livelihoods to deal with the new Colombian legislation protecting “the Amazon as entity subject of rights.”  She will incorporate digital storytelling into her work with the dissertation.


Eliscia Kinder – School of Information and Library Science

Eliscia Kinder is a PhD candidate in the School of Information and Library Science. She studies activism and human rights focusing in her dissertation on a six-year Commission of Investigation into the treatment of women and children within Ireland’s mother and baby homes—20th century institutions where unmarried pregnant women could be hidden away from public society. The detailed analysis in her research project will be adapted using the fellowship into a digital edition of the Commission report.


Daniella McIverDaniella McIver – English & Comparative Literature

Daniella McIvor is a PhD candidate in History. Her research My research examines the feminist movement in Cuba between 1919-1933. In the first decades following independence from Spain, Cuba saw the rise of a dynamic feminist movement that sought to further citizenship rights for women. Through their positions as authors, journalists, activists, and public intellectuals, Cuban feminists critiqued regressive patriarchal standards and argued for a role in the political future of the republic. She will develop an ArcGIS project to enable readers to interact with and engage with these diverse materials.


2021 Digital Dissertation Fellows

Headshot of Madelaine AzarMadelaine Azar Anthropology

Madelaine Azar is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology who studies the political and religious significance of decorated pottery produced by American Indians in the Central Mississippi River Valley (CMV) during the Late Mississippian period (AD 1350-1550). Madelaine’s project will incorporate several digital components, including panoramic imagery, a geographic information system, and 3D modeling, to provide a comprehensive and multifaceted analysis of religion, politics, and material culture in the Late Mississippian CMV.


Headshot of Laura MarchLaura MarchInformation and Library Science

Laura March is a PhD candidate and Asheim Fellow at the School of Information and Library Science. Her research interests include digital and visual culture, educational technology, and online activism. Laura’s dissertation examines how social media managers at cultural institutions understand their role and its evolution during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her findings are intended to help practitioners (and their organizations) foster more meaningful engagement with broader audiences.


Headshot of Shreya ParikhShreya Parikh – Sociology

Shreya Parikh is a Dual PhD Candidate in Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill and CERI-Sciences Po Paris. She studies social constructions and contestations of race in Tunisia; she focuses on racialization of Black populations, i.e. Black Tunisians and Sub Saharan African migrants. She relies on primary data collected through interviews, participant and direct observation, as well as autoethnography. As a part of her dissertation research, Parikh uses public social media data and is compiling culture and art pieces (including audio and video content, photographs, and music and video clips) which reflect ideas of Blackness.


Headshot of Trisha RemetirTrisha Federis RemetirEnglish and Comparative Literature

Trisha Federis Remetir is a PhD Candidate in English and Comparative Literature who studies literary and cultural representations of water, fishing, and extraction in the Philippines and the Pacific. For this project, Remetir will assemble an archive of interdisciplinary texts in Filipino cultural productions that speak to Filipinos’ changing relationship to oceans and to those who call water home.


Headshot of Sarah WaltonSarah WaltonEnglish and Comparative Literature

Sarah Walton is a PhD Candidate in English and Comparative Literature who studies 19th century travel handbooks and their relationship to a broader literary network. Walton will render an interactive map representing British travel as prescribed by Murray’s Handbooks for Travellers to the Continent series, which spanned the entirety of the Victorian period.



2020 Digital Dissertation Fellows

Michelle Dromgold-SermenMichelle Dromgold-SermenSociology

Michelle Dromgold-Sermen is a PhD Candidate in Sociology who studies international migration, with an emphasis on migration policy, time and waiting, immigrant incorporation and refugee resettlement. Her research examines the experiences of nonimmigrants in the United States as they adjust their legal status to receive legal permanent residence, or a “Green Card.” This project will explore online immigration forums as a data source for timelines, details, and stories of the experiences, strategies, and consequences of waiting among nonimmigrants and their families.


Maja Jeranko

Maja JerankoAnthropology

Maja Jeranko is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology whose research focuses on the social reconstruction processes and gender relations among people on coastal Ecuador, a region that was devastated by successive disasters: The early 2016 earthquake of 7.8 magnitude and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Her dissertation will incorporate ethnographic storytelling and visual methodologies to create an interactive web-based platform, which would afford an exploration of the everyday lives of women and other community members within the post-disaster context.


Abigail Lee Abigail LeeEnglish and Comparative Literature

Abigail Lee is a PhD Candidate in English and Comparative Literature whose research examines the construction and deconstruction of race in TV, film, and novels. Her dissertation project explores racial structures through the spatial constructions of three iconic spaces: the convenience store, the college campus, and the highway. Lee will create and incorporate three distinct video essays—one for each space—into her dissertation to make her research more accessible, while also using the language of the cinematic medium itself to make points, arguments, and connections not possible with only the written word.


Grace Riehm

Grace RiehmAnthropology

Grace Riehm is a PhD student in Anthropology (Archeology) whose research explores material expressions of identity in multicultural communities, specifically the Natchez polity in the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Her dissertation will use GIS-based spatial methods and Social Network Analysis (SNA) to better understand the development and organization of a Native American polity during European contact and colonization. This project will explore thousands of artifacts from across nearly 140 sites in southwest Mississippi to understand these patterns. Riehm will then use digital technologies to manage, map, analyze, and present this large quantity of data.


Emma Rothberg

Emma RothbergHistory

Emma Rothberg is a PhD Candidate in History with research interests in urban history, gender history, memory and digital history methodologies. Her dissertation examines urban parading culture between the end of the Civil War and World War I to explore how urban Americans articulated their visions of civic community and made claims to virtuous citizenship. For this project, Rothberg will digitally map parades to better understand and analyze the on the ground experience and effects of these parades, and to make her research more publicly accessible.

2019 Digital Dissertation Fellows

Amy Reynolds Linguistics

Amy Reynolds is a PhD Candidate in Linguistics with research interests in English language acquisition, language documentation, community engagement, language learning methods, and the history of English. She is developing a webspace to house interviews with Karen refugees from Burma regarding their cultural traditions and personal experiences. The project’s main goal is to analyze the development of Karen refugees’ dialect of spoken English, but it also serves to expand the cultural and historical record. The project will provide a repository of Karen heritage as it educates the general public on the experiences of refugees.


Samantha King Anthropology

Samantha King is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology with research interests in political ecology, sustainability, agriculture, rural development, gender, and Caribbean anthropology. Her dissertation compares two communities in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean, where the decline of export-based banana production has forced communities to turn to alternate forms of local food production. Her online, interactive story map will highlight the ways farming communities can succeed in the face of substantial challenges

Lara LookabaughGeography

Lara Lookabaugh is a PhD Candidate in Geography. Her current research focuses on how migration from Central America to the United States affects women in communities. Specifically, she collaborated with the Women’s Collective in Toj Coman, a town in Guatemala where the majority of the men have migrated to the United States. Lookabaugh is now working to compile images and stories from her research into a digital exhibit, which will be developed with feedback from members of the women’s collectiv


Tine RassalleReligious Studies

Tine Rassalle is a PhD Candidate in Religious Studies. She is currently researching synagogues in Israel from the Roman and Byzantine periods that have large caches of coins buried underneath their floors. Her dissertation project is exploring these coin collections by developing a database so she can perform statistical analysis to determine any patterns. Rassalle hypothesizes that this will show that these coins were placed deliberately and strategically

Mark Ortiz Geography

Mark Ortiz is a PhD Candidate in Geography whose fields of specialization include climate change litigation, climate change governance and ethics, youth geographies, science and technology studies, and climate change fiction. His dissertation studies contemporary youth climate activism using both traditional qualitative methods and new digital tools such as “hashtag ethnography,” which focuses on social media discussions around this activism. Oritz is creating an interactive digital exhibit to tell the story of these movements.

2018 Digital Dissertation Fellows

Katherine Hysmith American Studies

Katherine Hysmith is a PhD Student in American Studies with research interests in Food Studies,  Women & Gender Studies, Material Culture, and Digital Humanities. Hysmith’s dissertation “investigates how women in the United States have used and continue to use food as a means of resistance, focusing on the evolving technologies they use to express that resistance.” Hysmith will use the Digital Dissertation fellowship to develop digital methodologies in two ways; “first, is a process of digital data collection and organization; and second, a digital and public-facing multimodal presentation of [her] final dissertation narrative.” Watch her reflection here.


Tyler Easterbrook – English and Comparative Literature

Tyler Easterbrook is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Fellow in English and Comparative Literature with research interests in Digital Rhetoric, Rhetorical theory, Science and Technology studies. Specifically, Easterbrook is interested in the Terms of Service agreements on the internet and the dilemma that, other than corporate lawyers, no one understands them.  Easterbrook will use the Digital Dissertation Fellowship “for support in developing an interactive web-based interface that challenges users to reimagine their engagement with terms of service agreements.” Watch his reflection here.



Joseph CraneJoseph Crane – Sociology

Joseph Crane is a PhD Candidate in Sociology who completed his MA in Sociology at Carolina in 2017. Crane’s research project “is to examine variations in political speech across time, more specifically how the narrative stories told by members of an online politically conservative community change over time and especially how they change in reaction to major political events, such as presidential elections.” Crane will use a Python script to scrape comments from a chosen online community, and will then perform a content analysis on this scraped data. Watch his reflection here.



Angus Lyall

Angus Lyall – Geography

Angus Lyall is a fifth year PhD Student in Geography that has been working on his dissertation project since 2014  “conduct[ing] interviews and participant observation with over 150 indigenous informants in five communities to explore accelerated cultural change and territorial transformations in the contemporary era of oil extraction.” Lyall will use the Digital Dissertation to “deploy participatory filmmaking, as a medium for sparking ethnographic reflections from indigenous individuals and groups on the issue of urbanization” and “to develop a web-based platform that fully integrates my video, audio, and archival research products in a series of historical maps.” Watch his reflection here


Gabriel Moss

Gabriel Moss – History

Gabriel Moss is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant in the Historydepartment writing a dissertation entitled Hostile Terrain: Empire, Resistance, and Military Geography on the Roman Frontier which uses tools like GIS. Moss will use the Digital Dissertation to “provide [him] with invaluable time and resources to perfect mapping techniques for evaluating historical environments and to develop methods of digital publication to present my data in an interactive format…including a series of interactive maps using ArcGIS Online, and perhaps to use that platforms new “story mapping” features to create a public-facing portal.” Watch his reflection here.



Melissa Dollman

Melissa Dollman American Studies 

Melissa Dollman is a PhD Student in American Studies with research interests in Film/Media and Digital Humanities. Dollman’s dissertation Changing LanesA Reanimation of Shell Oil’s Carol Lane, is interested in “Carol Lane” a public relations program targeting women drivers sponsored by Shell Oil Company from 1947-1974. Dollman uses several digital components in the dissertation but will specifically use the Digital Dissertation Fellowship to develop a digital platform for the Carol Lane archive that she has been working on since 2013, amassing over 3,000 items. Watch her reflection here.






2017 Digital Dissertation Fellows


Emma BuckinghamEmma Buckingham – Classical Archaeology

Emma Buckingham is working to combine bulk analysis of archaeological field data with 3D modeling of excavation sites to test models of identity formation in ancient Sicily against facts represented by thousands of objects found in 15 excavations in the southeastern region of the island. This will seek to improve understanding of the assimilation of Greek culture by the indigenous people in the 7th and early 6th centuries BCE, and the ways this phenomenon progressed throughout the period.


Bradley Erickson

Bradley Erickson – Religious Studies

Bradley Erickson is developing his dissertation in Religious Studies, using 3D models of 6th and 7th century Byzantine synagogues to argue that artwork and architecture in these buildings were aligned with celestial bodies and events for the purpose of connecting the liturgy and Jewish historical narrative to astronomical events. A dynamic presentation will allow viewers to inhabit the synagogue models and observe these features against a location- and time-accurate night sky in a virtual environment.



Charlotte Fryar – American Studies

Charlotte Fryar is working toward an interactive digital database of oral histories and archival materials centered on student activist organizations. This will involve research in UNC-Chapel Hill’s University Archives and oral histories with alumni activists, in order to unify and extend the legacy of the struggle against institutional racism at Carolina. The project will consider the dimension of scholarly interpretation inherent in digital curation, as well as how to leverage digital tools to build stronger connections between scholarship, activism, and publication. The database will serve users as a resource for building exhibits, understanding the history and tactics of organized resistance, and employing this knowledge in activism in the present and future.


Grant Glass

Grant Glass-English

Grant Glass is working to map, visualize and understand the dissemination and variation of Robinson Crusoe through thousands of manifestations and imitations that have appeared over time. This will involve the development of machine analysis techniques for text, as well as explorations of Google and social media platforms to track the myth’s broader proliferation through culture. A machine learning algorithm will be developed to learn the text and contexts in Crusoe and this will facilitate connections with keywords and themes in a broad spectrum of media that connect to this narrative.


Jacob Hill- Library and Information ScienceJacob Hill

Jacob Hill has previously received a Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative grant. His current work explores intertextual relationships in a large collection of Persian and Arabic texts authored by Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri (Baha’u’llah), the founder of the Baha’I faith. These writings, often prompted by queries addressed to Baha’u’llah, largely preoccupied with the understanding of Islamic texts, ideas, and theories. Jacob is employing topic modeling, citation analysis, and word embedding practices to reconstruct connections between the writings of Baha’u’llah (lost through non-attribution or obscure citations) and their deeper contexts.


Mary Learner

Mary Learner-English Literature

The tentatively-titled “Material Sampling and Patterns of Thought in Early Modern England” explores sampling as an epistemological mode in the Early Modern era. Using Superfastmatch, an open source document comparison software platform, Mary Learner will show the extent of sampling of contemporary ballads in Shakespeare’s plays, exploring the possibility that this phenomenon displaces the Bard’s works as the apex of popular early modern culture.



Sarah Singer

Sarah Singer-Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy

Singer is building a research method toward an understanding of the creation, production, and dissemination of knowledge about Lyme Disease, working to unravel the conflicts between information sources and stakeholders that create barriers to the best and most useful knowledge, to the detriment of the actual fight against the disease. She intends to present visualizations of her results in forms that are accessible to public and scholarly audiences alike.