I am an Associate Professor of Public Communication at American University’s School of Communication. At AU, I am also the deputy director of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP). My work explores the impact of digital media on advocacy, activism and political communication. I am interested in studying how both elite and grassroots stakeholders use Internet-based media to influence debates about contested issues and affect policy decisions, including in combination with traditional protest and strategic communication tactics.
A large part of my research focuses on the use of Internet-based media by disability rights organizations and grassroots groups. My first book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” (Routledge, 2017) discusses how a combination of social media activism and acute policy crises revolutionized the disability movement in the UK and the U.S. by fueling the rise of new online self-advocacy networks. More recently, I have been studying the growing personalization of collective action and how advocacy organizations use digital media to crowd-source and disseminate compelling personal stories to influence news media coverage and public debate more broadly. I am working on a new book that examines these trends in the U.S. and Australia, together with Ariadne Vromen and Michael Vaughan. Other recent work has focused on the significance of digital media for disabled people’s participation in the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections. You can find a complete list of my publications here.
Before joining AU, I worked as a post-doc at the University of Glasgow and held visiting appointments at Georgetown University and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. I was awarded my PhD in Political Communication and Public Policy from the University of Glasgow in 2013. Prior to this, I completed a degree in International Relations at the University of Trieste (Italy), with visiting periods at the Karls-Ruprecht University in Heidelberg (Germany) and the University of Edinburgh. Between my undergraduate and graduate studies, I worked as a reporter for the English service of AdnKronos, Italy’s largest private news agency based in Rome that produces news in Italian, English and Arabic.
I am a native Italian from Friuli, a little-known but beautiful region in the North-East of the country, which spans from Alpine peaks to the Adriatic Sea, all in about one hour of driving. Besides work, I am a keen violin player, love cooking as any (stereo)typical Italian, and try to learn new languages, some more successfully than others. My latest endeavor is to work on a basic level of Finnish: if anyone has ever been to Finland, they will know that I’m up for a challenge!