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The Lyman Fellowship - Resources - Berkeley Center for New Media
The Lyman Fellowship

The Lyman Fellowship

Applications are now closed. Applications are next due February 1, 2024.

Lyman Fellowship

Peter Lyman

The Peter Lyman Graduate Fellowship in new media, established in the memory of esteemed UC Berkeley Professor Peter Lyman, provides a stipend to a UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate to support the writing of his or her Ph.D. dissertation on a topic related to new media. The fellowship is supported by donations from Professor Barrie Thorne, Sage Publications and many individual friends and faculty.

Applications for summer 2023 are now closed. Applications will next be due on February 1, 2024.

To apply, please fill in this form with your dissertation description.

Some preference will be given to those doing research related to children and youth, to BCNM Designated Emphasis students, and to projects that focus on women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Global South, ability diverse, and socioeconomically disadvantaged peoples as makers and users of new media. If relevant, please explain how your project foregrounds one or more of these communities. Originality and quality of research are, however, the primary criteria.

The amount of the stipend depends on the size of the fund. In 2023 the fellowship amount was $6,000.00.

You must be a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student who has passed your qualifying exams to apply.

Interested in other BCNM resources? Check out all the graduate opportunities here!

Lyman Fellows in New Media


Rashad Arman Timmons

Ph.D. Candidate in African American Studies

Brutal Traffic | Pedestrian Acts: Blackness, Geography, and Performances of Infrastructural Violence

Rashad’s dissertation explores infrastructures as sites of racial subjection and black radical possibility across time in Ferguson, Missouri. He investigates how the city’s railway, roadway, and media infrastructures have intersected with projects of race-making and geographic domination from the mid-nineteenth century forward. Using archival, geographic, and textual analyses, Rashad interrogates how these infrastructures produce the experiences of social terror, corporeal vulnerability, and premature death historically wed to blackness. He also examines how black subjects disrupt these relations through everyday performances of political refusal. Tracing this dynamic, Rashad introduces “traffic” to name patterns of infrastructural violence that codify gendered racial difference, naturalize uneven geographies, foreclose black mobility, and mediate black bodily injury. Conversely, he interrogates how black subjects impede infrastructural violence, or stop traffic, through “pedestrian acts.” These are practices of infrastructural interference that affect contraventions of racial and spatial order. By examining the palimpsestic violence of traffic and the emancipatory potential of pedestrian acts, Rashad’s dissertation illuminates how infrastructures in Ferguson stage intensive struggles over race, space, and power.

Read more here.


Julia Irwin

Ph.D. Candidate in Film & Media

Patterning Recognition: A History of Automated Visual Perception

In light of the U.S. military’s twenty-first-century embrace of pattern recognition techniques for automating image interpretation and targeting procedures, Julia examines how pattern recognition became the dominant mode of optical perception in institutional settings. It inquires into the conditions that enabled human sight to be conceived as an automatable entity and the politics inherent in the process of translating perceptual experience into a machine-readable and -executable format. Taking cues from the field of computer vision today, Julia identifies three modalities of vision—proprioceptive sensing, object detection, and behavior pattern recognition—and historicizes each. The objects of study are twentieth-century industrial, military, and academic programs for training human visual perception for institutional purposes that have, implicitly and explicitly, informed the design and deployment of today’s software. A methodological and critical intervention into contemporary discourse on computer vision bias, which emphasizes algorithms’ simultaneous black-boxed and agential nature, Julia’s conceptual and media history demonstrates the ways in which the mechanisms of pattern recognition are present in proto-algorithmic form in these earlier instances of trained human vision. Studying them can render today’s opaque systems more legible.

Read more here.


Lashon Daley

Ph.D. Candidate in Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

Black Girl Lit: The Coming of (R)age Performances in Contemporary U.S. Black Girlhood Narratives, 1989-2019

Lashon's dissertation charts how literature, film, television, and social media has helped shape our cultural understanding of what it means to be young, Black, and female in the U.S. By uniquely combining extensive research from African American literary studies, Black girlhood studies, and performance and new media studies, Lashon assembles compelling cultural artifacts that call attention to the increasing love for and theft of youthful Black femininity in American culture. As evidence, she centers cultural artifacts as wide-ranging as the 1990s sitcom Family Matters (1989-1998) and social media hashtags such as #blackgirlmagic. By centering the gendered and racialized representations of Black girls, Black Girl Lit persists in dismantling negative stereotypes of Black girls, while also providing important insight in how to recover, repair, and redeem mediated representations of their girlhood.

Read more here.


Anushah Hossain

Ph.D. Candidate in the Energy and Resources Group

A Multi-lingual Internet

Anushah asks how we came to have a multi-lingual internet and seeks to answer the question through a historical and ethnographic study of the tools and peoples that helped construct it in South Asia. Beginning in the mid-1990s, a group of Bangladeshi activists formed, whose mission it was to “bring Bangla into the digital age.” Their fervor for their language from the liberation war fought in 1971 over the right to speak Bangla in what used to be Pakistan translated directly into a vision for a digital environment in their own language. Anushah’s dissertation traces how the twin motivations of nationalism and techno-optimism in the hands of this Bangladeshi community laid the foundation for a Bangla computing stack.

Read more here.


Cherise McBride

Ph.D. Candidate in Education

Becoming Designers of Digitally-Mediated Learning: A Situated Model of Digital Pedagogy

Cherise McBride’s dissertation project is an exploration into how teachers enrolled in a graduate-level technology course came to understand, reveal and apply sociocultural knowledge in their designs of digitally-mediated learning. Using data from a larger research project entitled “Developing the Digital Pedagogy of Pre-Service Teachers,” the dissertation explores teacher learning from a sociocultural perspective (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 1994; Sannino & Engeström, 2010) and offers a model for culture knowledge as a salient knowledge domain in designs of digitally-mediated learning (Mahiri, 2011).

Cherise’s dissertation study applies qualitative methods including multi-sited ethnography and digital ethnography to trace the meaning-making practices of teachers as they engaged in multimodal composing, participatory networks, and learning design in a community of learners. Preliminary findings suggest a model of digital pedagogy that centers the lived realities of students, critical literacies, and robust understandings of the affordances and constraints of technological tools in sociocultural contexts. These findings contribute to the literature in a way that resists the notion of digital tools in urban schools as digital panacea (Philip & Garcia, 2013), and instead illuminates the role of pedagogy, sociopolitical context, and critical digital literacies in teachers’ agentive roles as designers of mediated learning. Findings from this study will have implications for literacy scholarship, research on digital technologies, and teacher education research and practice.

Read more here.


Grace Gipson

Ph.D. Candidate in African American Studies, D.E. in New Media

Grace D. Gipson's project, “Releasing Your Inner Superhero,” is linked to her overall dissertation, which is in collaboration with the SCAT (Supporting Computational Algorithmic Thinking) Scholars program, that deals with computer science and Black female comic book fan culture, particularly in young adolescent Black girls. Black female voices are not only present in the fictional format as comic book characters; but also outside the comic book story as creators and storytellers. Many of these creations and stories incorporate computational thinking and are told digitally through new media formats, such video blogs and game design. In many cases a simple tweet or google search led to the creation of an online community, podcasts, or innovative game. And through their voices, they are able to unpack Black female narratives in comics and IT, introduce different and various perspectives of Black womanhood, and shift the mindset of a burgeoning, blended fan culture of comics, gaming and nerdom.

“Releasing Your Inner Superhero” is a three-part project that includes the young girls creating their own superhero, digitally sharing their creation story, and transforming their characters into a game-format. In the first step, the young girls create and build their superheroes in a vision board style by cutting and pasting images and words from magazines to an abbreviated size poster. Upon completion of the young girls crafting their superheroes, the young girls will be asked to expound on their characters in a testimonial video blog (vlog) format. This testimonial will allow the girls to vocalize their descriptions of their characters as well as offer further explanation to the character’s creation stories. The last step of the project is the eventual game design of their superhero characters. The digital testimonies and their creative gaming characters showcase how these mediums contribute to young Black girls having accessible tools that provide a place to escape, discover and find community. Additionally, equipping them with digital tools of empowerment and confidence that can be used in their classrooms or for personal use.

Overall, Grace’s project also speaks to her dissertation project and its focus on Black female identity formation through the use of Black female superheroines. Many Black children, especially Black girls, find themselves invisible within the IT and comic book world. This notion lends to difficulty in establishing confidence for those who are passionate about pursuing computer science and gaming, while also telling stories filled with fantastical, fictional realities. Thus, “Releasing Your Inner Superhero” seeks to use new media platforms that construct new methods of reimagining blackness, black nerdom, and womanhood that combines digital technology and comic book culture. Ultimately, this project with the help of the Lyman Fellowship will contribute to the new media landscape by adding more spaces of recognition for Black female voices in a space where they find themselves lost in the digital noise.

Nicholaus Gutierrez

Ph.D. Candidate Rhetoric, D.E. in New Media

Nicholaus Gutierrez’s research begins with the question, ‘what is the virtual, and why has it played such a prominent but ambiguous role in describing digital technologies?’ Today, the term “virtual” is used as both an ambiguous signifier that helps to situate digital technologies under the familiar concepts of space and place, and that stitches together concepts that we tend to bifurcate: representation/real, immaterial/material, distant/present. With this in mind, his dissertation explores why and how the virtual has played such a prominent but categorically confused role in describing digital technologies, and how a more robust conception of the virtual might serve to clarify and enhance an understanding of digital objects and the human subject’s relationship to them. This involves researching the virtual from three perspectives: the history of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, a field where many of the ambiguous narratives of disembodied digital space were born; the history of the virtual as a philosophical concept, whose concerns around ontology resonate with questions about the nature of digital objects and worlds; and an analysis of a contemporary digital object, the video game engine, which might offer an alternative way of conceiving of the virtual that moves beyond the binaries of materiality and space and onto new, robust terrain for thinking about human subjectivity. Using a comprehensive notion of the virtual in conjunction with VR technologies and the video game engine, Nicholaus argues that, beyond the typical binaries of virtual/real or virtual/material, the virtual allows us to think of digital objects with a multi-layered and dynamic existence that requires both the material and immaterial in order to function as the objects that we act upon, and that act upon us.

Read more here.


Ritwick Banerji “An Astromusicological Study of the Maxineans”

Ph.D. Candidate in Music, D.E. in New Media

Ritwik Banerji’s project focuses on the creation of a range of interactive virtual worlds and characters built for musicians to navigate through or play with by manipulating the timbre of their instrument or voice in real time. Deploying a game-like approach to musical composition and pedagogy, this project creates tasks for musicians to train them to control specific features of their sound. For example, a given module may as a player to control the spectral centroid of their playing in order to navigate a virtual 3D landscape (possibly while also dodging obstacles!) Or, a player may be asked to control the tone-to-noise ratio of their playing in order to communicate with a virtual musical creature whose every move responds to the sonic details of the human player.

Far beyond simply expanding the concept of a “musical videogame”, this project creates a means for composers, pedagogues, anthropologists, and theorists of music to examine the interrelationships of timbre, motion, space, architecture, cognition, and perception. First and foremost, the project addresses the longstanding issue in contemporary music of how one should notate timbre such that performers will understand what to do with the same intersubjective coherence of Western staff notation. This is achieved very simply through a game-like means: one knows whether the wrong sonority has been produced because one “falls” off of a narrow plank or “bumps” into a wall in a virtual space.

Renée Pastel “War on Terror”

Ph.D. Candidate in Film and Media, D.E. in New Media

Renée Pastel’s dissertation project focuses on how media representations of the “War on Terror” reflect the fragmented nature of contemporary visual culture. Through a broad consideration of the circulation and differentiation of images among media forms (film, television, online video), Renée will theorize how images create a meaningful chronicle of the continuing conflicts for the homefront. Ultimately, this dissertation will argue that what is new in media representations of the “War on Terror” is a question of scale and perspective: there is an absolute ocean of images and media purporting to give insight into the war, many of which present themselves as self-contained narratives. The fragmentation of how the “War on Terror” is viewed, and the way in which it is both overrepresented to and sidelined or ignored by the public, raises questions about the nature of how current events are understood. There is a concerted effort to package views and memories of conflict removed from context for easy consumption by the public, an immediate memory-making without much (if any) separation in time for reflection. These curated images for contemporary cultural memory are more easily digestible and put out of mind. This is further complicated by the dialectic created between the too close and too distant images being made—too close and too distant both visually and emotionally. The idealized balanced view remains an irresolvable and undefined problem, disguised by the overwhelming array of images available and the easily distracted and distracting nature of current visual culture.

By focusing her discussion on the narrative figures that arise in the spread, circulation, and mobility of the variety of images available, and examining the repetitions and divergences in the portrayal of those figures across different media forms, Renée will examine the effects of images targeting niche audiences, and how those audiences gain different understandings of events from images centered on the same figures (journalist, soldier, family, veteran). The repetition of stories told about each figure across media forms speaks to the struggle the US public is having to reconcile the prevailing US narrative as hero of the world with the messy, expanding “War on Terror.” The Lyman Fellowship will enable Renée to conduct interviews regarding creator claims of neutrality despite their politically charged subject matter and international views on media impact.

Read more here.


Jenni Higgs “Digital Talk”

Ph.D. Candidate in Education, D.E. in New Media

Jenni Higgs’ dissertation project provides the first scholarly examination of digital talk—or what she refers to as the interactive written communication that occurs in networked online spaces—as a learning resource in and across urban, suburban, rural, private, and public K-12 classrooms nationwide. A well-established body of research shows that discussion practices in classroom settings can support student learning. With the increasing popularity of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in K-12 spaces, classroom discussion has expanded into digital settings, but the relation between learning and digital talk is less clear. On one hand, digitally mediated communication in classrooms fosters critical thinking, collaboration, and new spaces for productive dialogue. Yet, teachers struggle to use ICTs in ways that support student interaction and learning.

Drawing on sociocultural learning theories and social science perspectives on information technology, Jenni’s study uses mixed methods to examine classroom uses of Subtext, a popular e-reader that supports discussion “inside” e-texts, as a case to reveal issues related to digital talk. It aims to shed light on (a) discourse features of classroom digital talk, (b) the social and cultural contexts that mediate it, (c) online and offline practices that influence it, and (d) relationships between types of digital talk and types of learning. The study integrates multiple levels of analysis, including computational text analysis, survey data, and design-based research. Data include digital discussion archives from approximately 5,700 Subtext-using K-12 classrooms, surveys of 458 teacher-users, and systematically collected records from design experiments with two teachers who worked with Jenni to design and implement instructional practices aimed at encouraging authentic student talk across face-to-face and digital learning contexts. The approaches represented by the different stages of the study contribute data that, combined, will enable Jenni to understand broad trends in digital talk form and function across U.S. classrooms as well as “on the ground” student and teacher practices that can inform uses of digital talk in support of consequential learning. The Lyman Fellowship will support analysis of Subtext national data archives and teacher-user survey data.

Read more here.


Kyle Booten “Quotation Practices”

Ph.D. Candidate in Education, D.E. in New Media

Exploring points of connection and dissonance between digital and print literacies, Kyle Booten’s dissertation project examines the circulation of textual quotations on social networks. Quotation practices form a major part of current activity on these sites; on Twitter, quote-centric accounts (and “quote bots”) can have upwards of a million followers, and both Tumblr and Pinterest have designed their interfaces to facilitate the generating and sharing of quotations. The words of Kierkegaard, bell hooks, Paulo Freire, and a panoply of other significant thinkers circulate in these economies of #truth, #wisdom, and #inspiration. Is this yet another form of digital distraction, or does it represent the democratization of philosophical discourse?

Over the past year, Kyle has analyzed a large dataset of quotations from Twitter (n≈2,000,000) using methods drawn from corpus linguistics and natural language processing. This summer, Kyle will conduct a virtual ethnography in order to examine key aspects of contemporary quotation practices, including the rhetorical (Why do people go through the trouble of painstakingly retyping, sharing, and even illustrating words that are not, so to speak, theirs? What are their goals?), the sociological (Who are the main actors in online economies of quotations?), and the semiotic (What makes a “good” quotation? How deeply can one understand utterances that are so thoroughly deracinated from their original contexts?). The Lyman fellowship will fund extensive survey and interview work along with additional computational analysis of quotations and the networks of actors who circulate them.

As scholars such as Katherine Hayles and Bernard Stiegler have argued, digital media throw into crisis those traditional modes of education that are founded on print-based literacies and modes of attention. In online quotation culture, the regime of the book is still alive, though shattered into a sea of sharable fragments. The analysis of digital quotations and quotation practices complements Kyle’s work as an educator, through which uses the classroom as a space for understanding and participating in online quotation culture while cultivating hybrid practices that combine aspects of traditional and digital literacies.

Read more here.


Tiffany Ng “Classical Music in the Chinese Global City: New Performing Arts Centers and the Formation of a Cosmopolitan Public”

Ph.D. Candidate in Music, D.E. in New Media

Tiffany Ng’s research project challenges the Western-centric axiom that classical music is dying through a global perspective. Since the 1990s, China has outpaced all other countries in opening performing arts centers, investing billions of dollars in futuristic “grand theaters” that incorporate new media technologies and differing drastically from the cultural centers of Europe. Classical music has claimed a central role in China’s ongoing construction of a cosmopolitan public, and Tiffany explores how the West’s canonical musical past has become the East’s future by focusing on the technologies transforming China’s classical music concerts on an individual and institutional level.

Tiffany investigates four changing areas of institutional and audience uses of technology and technological metaphors. First, she studies the concert as policed spaces. Ushers wield laser pointers to stop countless audience members photographing and recording performances on their mobile phones, enforcing the West’s behavioral norms of active listening and preventing piracy. Second, she examines how young only-children, accompanied by their mothers, form a major part of audiences, as they are trained towards a global citizenship and offered cultural capital. Third, she considers the role of Poly Group, the state-owned corporation formerly owned by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). teasing apart the organization’s military-industrial-cultural complex. Finally, Tiffany locates the origins of expectations and behaviors specific to Chinese audiences within the intersection of architecture and new media, analyzing the effect of of over-amplification and screen culture in these halls.

Tiffany’s research aims to challenge the notion of East and West, the classic and the new, in twenty-first-century transnational cultural flows.

The Lyman Fellowship will support Tiffany’s endeavours by assisting her in her initial phase of research. Tiffany plans to travel to Shanghai and Guangzhou in China during the fall concert season to interview audience members, concert hall employees, and scalpers. She additionally seeks to design an open database of her qualitative research data so that visitors can contribute information and media objects, such as photographs, recordings, opinions, and memories.

Read more here.


T. Geronimo Johnson “New Media Literacy, Aesthetic Education, and Ambiguity in the Age of Irony”

Ph.D. Candidate in Language, Literacy and Culture Division, Graduate School of Education, D.E. in New Media

How do various users of digital media understand irony in new media? Much has been written about new media and participatory culture, but little has been written about interpreting and evaluating new media in the age of irony, an era defined by complex hermetic constructions lacking the meta-discursive features traditionally relied upon to decode elaborately constructed social criticism. In this moment, both popular and alternative media demand evermore tolerance for ambiguity, challenging conventional positionalities and notions of stable texts. Students who actively adopt technologies create projects of increasing nuance and complexity. Consequently, instructors must develop strategies for assessing/interpreting these projects without resorting to traditional rubrics that constrain students by demanding that new technology reify old mindsets, and hence, shutting down activist, alternative, and otherwise critical frameworks.

This research will focus on users’ interpretations of two new media projects in two distinct genres to which students are routinely exposed: commercial websites and game trailers.

This research is significant because a comprehensive examination of the ways and means through which various users perceive, interpret, negotiate, narrate and make meaning of irony in new media will go a long way toward helping educators understand how to best utilize and embrace the invigorating field of new media studies without unintentionally constraining students’ critical imaginative and creative practices. There is talk of technology and democracy, of social justice and participatory media, of social networks and flattened hierarchies, but for the classroom to become a site for authentic critical and creative engagement, the new language of new media demands new pedagogy, and an increased sensitivity to the complexity of new media events, most notably those defined by irony.

The Lyman Fellowship significantly enriches this endeavor in a number of ways. It funds further opportunities to investigate the questions raised in the project. Additional research is now possible in locations where technology is not as pervasive as it is in the Bay Area. Lastly, it establishes the possibility of a web-based assessment.

Read more here.


Katherine Chandler “Unmanned Aerial Systems: The United States’ Techno-Political Entanglements in the Post-Cold War”

Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric, D.E. in New Media


Jen Schradie “Class (and Ideology) Confronts Online Activism: Digital Democracy or Disenfranchisement?”

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, D.E. in New Media


Christo Sims “Youth Practices with New Media and the Production of Social Difference”

Ph.D. Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Information


Janaki Srinivasan “The Political Life of Information: Information and Development in India”

Ph.D. Candidate, UC Berkeley School of Information