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Muslim Women and the Media Training Institute: Fellows 2020


Funded by the generous support of:

 Henry Luce Foundation, and the UC Davis Office of Undergraduate Studies 

Fellows’ Bios: Cohort III 2020


    Sharmin Akhtar

    Freelance Journalist




Sharmin Akhtar is a British journalist who was inspired to get into media after her degree in International Relations.  Sharmin takes an interest in international news and current affairs, particularly British and American Muslim narratives and  how Muslims are generally reflected in the media. Sharmin has worked for British newspaper, The Express as an Online  TV Reporter and has written about Modest Fashion, the challenges faced by European Muslims, social media and politics and Islam for Huffpost, Dazed Digital, The Independent and Minstpress News. Her current project looks at the Muslim women's radicalization and representation on mainstream media. She is currently a freelance journalist.


    Atika Alkhallouf

    PhD Candidate

    Communication: Media, Technology, and Culture

    American University

    School of Communication

Atika Alkhallouf is a doctoral student in Communication at American University in Washington D.C. Her research interests lie at the intersection of media, technology, and Arab diaspora. She has a master’s degree in Intercultural and International Communication from American University in Washington D.C. and is currently an adjunct professor at American University’s College of Arts and Sciences; Critical Race, Gender and Culture Studies Collaborative.


    Kiran Bhatia

    PhD Student, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    M.S., University of Baroda, India   




Kiran Vinod Bhatia is enrolled in the doctoral program at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She examines how Hindu and Muslim adolescents in India use social media networks to practice their religious identities. Her research focuses on unpacking online practices through which young individuals create archives to re-narrativize histories of religious communities in India. She problematizes the modernists techno-centric discourses around the potential of new media technologies to argue that in the absence of critical thinking skills, young individuals who inhabit situations of political and religious radicalization use digital networks to further deepen the social segregation existing in societies.

Kiran received her BA in English Literature and Literary Criticism and her Master in Communication Studies from the M.S. University of Baroda, India. She worked as a research scholar with MICA, Ahmedabad under their doctoral-level FPM program.

She was selected as a young researcher from India to present her work at the Global Media Literacy Week organized by UNESCO in Latvia. She was also selected from all over India to participate in the summer school on ICT for social and political development organized by the University of Tampere, Finland. She has presented at several international conferences including the ICA, IAMCR, and others and is the co-author of the book “Challenging Discriminatory Practices of Religious Socialization among Adolescents: Critical Media Literacy and Pedagogies in Practice”. With a regional research focus on South Asia, her published papers strive to unpack the rise of exclusive politics, disinformation, and ethnic nationalism in India. Her work has been published in Journal of Children and Media, Journal of Youth Studies, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Contemporary South Asia, Asian Journal of Communication, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, among others.

A practicing media educator, Kiran’s other research interests include critical pedagogy, youth studies, discourse analysis, religion and conflict, politics of Gujarat and India, and Foucauldian studies.


    Sima Bhowmik

    PhD Student, University of Colorado, Boulder

    M.A. in Journalism, University of Mississippi

    M.Sc. in Botany, Jagannath University, Dhaka, Bangladesh



Born and raised in a minority Hindu family in rural Bangladesh, Sima Bhowmik had always dreamt of bringing changes in the society and placing herself where she can have the capability of doing so. She believes that the media has the power of changing things, which inspired her to get into journalism at the age of only 17.

At present, Sima Bhowmik has enrolled for Ph.D. at the University of Colorado, Boulder in Media Research and Practice. She completed her masters in journalism from the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi in May 2020. In her master’s thesis she did a comparative analysis about ‘Awareness of Peace Journalism Among Bangladeshi and Ethiopian Journalists.’

For her outstanding academic performance in Masters she received ‘Graduate Achievement Award in Journalism 2020’ from the School of Journalism and New Media, University of Mississippi.

Back in Bangladesh, she was working as a journalist in the Newspaper, Radio and Television for nearly a decade. She realizes that at present media is biased with lot of misinformation, but she also believes that media still can work very strongly to bring social justice and peace in the society.


    Nabeeha Chaudhary 

    PhD Student

    University of Texas, Austin 

    MA International Studies

    University of Washington 

 Nabeeha has worked as a Communications professional in various capacities across academic, corporate, and non-profit   environments. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Media Studies at UT Austin. She holds an M.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington and a B.A. in English Literature from Miami University. Having lived in over six different cities (Seattle and Lahore holding the most special place in her heart so far), she has worked and taught in South Asia and North America.

Her research interests include development communication, entertainment-education, and television serials in South Asia with a focus on women’s issues. She has served as a jury member on the South Asian Book Award committee and enjoys writing occasional pieces for public scholarship.


    Ifat Gazia

    PhD Student


    University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Ifat Gazia is a human rights researcher, filmmaker, and journalist from Kashmir. She has a postgraduate degree in Media in Development from SOAS, University of London. Her 2011 documentary Long Ago I   Died was widely acclaimed in Kashmir and abroad. She is currently a Ph.D. student in communications at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is also a recipient of the UMass Research Enhancement and Leadership fellowship. She is also the founder and host of The Kashmir Podcast.


    Edom Gelan

    Supervising Producer

    Global Journalist




Edom Kassaye has been the Global Journalist Radio/TV program Supervising Producer since January 2017. Over the years Edom produces international affairs news and global press freedom related shows for Global Journalist, which is a radio and television broadcast on KBIA, a National Public Radio affiliate in Missouri.

Before joining Global Journalist, Edom has worked as a radio program producer and newspaper and magazine reporter in Kenya and Ethiopia. She is also a program producer for Wazema Radio an online exiled radio broadcast from the US and Sweden to Ethiopia. In the summer and fall of 2018 she was a part-time Social Media Manager for Alfred Friendly Press Partners an organization which bonds journalists from all over the world. Edom is the winner of National Green Hero award in 2012 and 2010 in Ethiopia and fellow of fK Norway in 2012 and Global Programs of University of Missouri 2016.


    Meghan Gunn

    NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute M.A. '21

    Fulbright Malaysia Scholar '18

    Washington University in St. Louis B.A. '17



Meghan Gunn completed her undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis and is currently enrolled in NYU's Literary Reportage M.A. program. In 2018, she worked in Malaysia for a year on a Fulbright grant. During her grant year, she helped organize a National Leadership Summit for female students in Kuala Lumpur while working with local women's advocacy groups. She also received a grant to publish students’ stories through the U.S. Embassy and feels strongly about giving young voices a platform to be heard. In her free time she manages her book review blog, Lit Bits. 


    Omar Hammad 

    Ph.D. Candidate

    Journalism, and Media Studies

    School of Communication and Information



Omar Hammad is a Ph.D. candidate in the Media Studies area of the School of Communication & Information doctoral program at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His research examines the intersections of Islam, racial identity, gender, and civic engagement on social network sites. His upcoming dissertation explores the hybrid online and offline lives of US Muslims in New York City, and how online spaces affect the self-expression and political participation of US Muslims— particularly those who are women, people of color, and young people.

In 2018, Hammad received the top graduate student paper award at the New Jersey Communications Conference. In August, he received the top student paper award from the Religion and Media Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and was a Presidential Diversity Fellow at AEJMC’s annual conference. He won the 2020 Jack G. and Bernice M. Shaheen Endowed Media Scholarship for excellence in media studies, and is a 2020 recipient of an Islamic Scholarship Fund award.

In his free time, Hammad works with organizations that serve the underprivileged and underserved segments of the Muslim community. In 2018, he helped to launch the marketing campaign of a Yemeni American charitable organization, Mercy Bakery, which provides rations of bread to the malnourished people of Yemen. He recently began efforts to help the Asiyah's Women Center, a shelter for female Muslim victims of domestic violence in New York City, with its outreach efforts.


    Nimra Haroon

    Graduate Student

    Georgetown University



Nimra Haroon is a South Asian communications activist who brings a multi-disciplined background in marketing, communications and earned media strategy to her studies. Currently Nimra is attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C, where she is obtaining her master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, specializing on social impact. Nimra embraces her textured heritage, socio-cultural experiences and mission for social justice to derive marketing and communications strategies, tactics and campaigns that lend awareness on marginalized and misrepresented identities, individuals and cultural groups. Having studied journalism, media and advertising from high school through her undergraduate studies and now her graduate studies, Nimra has analyzed the critical role that media plays in shaping narratives that people consume every day. While working on the agency side of communications through disciplines of public relations and earned media, Nimra has built relationships with journalists across a variety of media, placing media stories for her cause-driven clients.


    Shudan Huang

    Doctoral Student

    School of Journalism and Mass Communications

    University of South Carolina



Second-year doctoral student of university of South Carolina, major in Mass Communication. She is interested in health communication, public relations, advertising and Feminism research.

She was a journalist, news editor and documentary director. She worked at China Arab TV, CCTV and directed a feminism documentary called The Burmese Bride.

She is adventurous and creative, an explorer to any new things and has lots of friends. She loves all types of art and sports, and usually go outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing when the weather is good.


    Barikisu Issaka 

    Graduate Student

    A.Q. School of Journalism and Mass Communications

    Kansas State University



Barikisu is a Graduate Teaching Assistant and a graduate student in the MA Mass Communication  and Journalism program at Kansas State University. She has a bachelor’s in Information Science and Psychology from the University of Ghana. She is an active community member and has volunteered for a number of organizations including the Zurak Cancer Foundation and Muslimah Mentorship Network, a non-profit in Ghana that mentors and empowers young girls in deprived Muslim communities. Barikisu interned at the Ghana Institute of Journalism School and worked as a research assistant at Africa Global Radio, Ghana. She has managed social media pages for businesses and NGOs, including her own business page. Her research interests include social media, media stereotypes of marginalized communities, gender and the media, community development and health.



    Kelly Kenoyer






An Oregonian investigative journalist studying data and radio reporting at University of Missouri's graduate school of journalism. Kelly has covered health care, the alt-right, transit, and urban planning.


    Laura Partain

    PhD Candidate and Assistant Instructor 

    The Media School

    Indiana University-Bloomington



Laura Partain is a lecturer in Civic and Global Media in Comparative Media Studies/Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is a PhD candidate in Indiana University’s Media School, holds an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas-Austin, and graduated with a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Laura is a media effects scholar whose work focuses on understanding the complex news and social media effects on marginalized communities’ access to socio-political, material, and medical resources. Her scholarship is located at the interstices of citizenship status and national belonging. Laura’s research uses experimental analyses to develop media interventions for prejudice reduction and focuses on the media effects of racial, religious, and ethnic identity representations. Laura has worked with communities in Syria, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, and Iran, but also works with these communities who are forcibly displaced in diaspora (i.e. refugees, asylum seekers) as well as with Arab and Muslim Americans more broadly. Her training in critical studies, and her use of interview and survey methods, grounds her work within these communities’ experiences while necessarily considering these communities in relation to geo-politics and other transnational solidarity movements. Laura's work has been published in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication; the Journal of Applied Communication ResearchCommunication Methods and Measures; and Gender, Place, and Culture.


    Sigrid Peterson

    Digital Content Editor

    PBS Wisconsin




Sigrid Peterson is the Digital Content Editor at PBS Wisconsin. Located in Madison, it is one of two statewide PBS affiliates, a public media dual-licensee and a partner of Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR). Together, they constitute Wisconsin Public Media which is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her position, Sigrid works on a team responsible for managing the multiplatform digital presence for PBS Wisconsin’s news, e education and entertainment media as well as the creation, production and distribution of digital-first/digital only programs, content and learning resources.

Prior to her job in public media, Sigrid worked as a social science qualitative researcher while obtaining three graduate degrees in human geography (2013), library and information studies (2017), and journalism (2017) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before graduate school she worked as an urban planner in New York City on the physical and economic redevelopment of the neighborhood south of Chambers Street in the years following the 9-11 attacks.


    Sabena Qayyum Chaudhry

    MA Journalism

    New York University 




Sabena Chaudhry is a journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her short documentary, Alarm Bells, explores forced child marriage in the United States and the risk to young girls because of laws in several states which permit underage marriages. Earlier in 2020 Alarm Bells was recognized as Best Documentary by FilmCon Awards. Sabena is a graduate of New York University’s Masters program in Journalism; News & Documentary. She is currently working with a local news channel based in New York City. Sabena traces her experience of being reared as a Pakistani-American in one of the most diverse places on the planet; Queens, New York as the path to elevating the stories of South Asian women through her work. When she is not storytelling she works with youth in her community through different projects including leadership and self-development programs.


    Marta Saiz





Marta Saiz is a Spanish journalist specializing in human rights issues, international conflicts and journalism   for peace with a gender focus. She has published in Spanish, Colombians and Argentines media. The areas she has covered are Europe, Iran, Colombia and Palestine. 

She received a master in communication of armed conflicts, peace and social movements in the Autonomous University of Barcelona, a master's degree in development, cooperation and globalization in the University of Barcelona and a postgraduate degree in narrative journalism also in the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She has published about Iranian women and also about the situation of Muslim women refugees in Greece. She visited in August 2019 Palestinian Territories with local women's organizations. During one year (August 2017-August 2018), she carried out international accompaniment to rural communities in Colombia with the International Action For Peace IAP organization. She has also worked in the communication departments of the IAP Catalunya and Center Delàs d'Estudis per la Pau. Her stories are collected in:



    Fatemeh Shayesteh

    PhD Student

    William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications

    University of Kansas


Fatemeh is a Ph.D. student in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at University of Kansas. She has a professional background in strategic communications. Her focus area of research is social media, social change, and gender and sexuality. She was the 2020 Recipient of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Group (DIAG) Applied Research Award for her proposal "Digital media functionalities for LGBTQ students’ resiliency and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic". She has published about Muslim women, specifically Iranian women’s movements.


    Vanessa Taylor 






Vanessa Taylor is a writer based out of Philadelphia focusing on Black Muslim womanhood and technology. Her articles have appeared in outlets such as Teen Vogue, Al Jazeera English, and The Intercept. Her essays and fiction have appeared in Catapult, as Editor’s Pick in Barren Magazine, and in Belt Magazine. She has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Drinking Gourd, a Black Muslim literary magazine, an Echoing Ida Cohort member, and looks forward to joining Bitch Media as the 2020 Technology Writing Fellow.




    Alicia Wright, PhD

    Independent Research and Writer



Alicia Wright received her Ph.D. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she is based in New Delhi as an independent researcher and writer. She is interested in covering topics around language and translation, social movement theory and activism, narrative storytelling as a tool in conflict transformation, and women's rights in South Asia.

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