photo of josh About Josh

I’m currently a Ph.D. candidate in the field of communication at Cornell University, where I study social media and digital distribution of the news. Prior to my time here, I received a masters in medical ethics from the University of Pennsylvania, where I focused on portrayals of health care in the media. I also hold a bachelor of science from the University of California Santa Barbara, where I designed my own major, titled “Sciences in the Media.” My undergraduate degree combined courses in the natural sciences with coursework in science-and-technology studies, film-and-media studies, and hands-on media production.

My academic career has been interspersed with work in media production, and I’ve held a series of internships and paid positions scattered across newspapers, magazines, websites, broadcast news, cable television, film, radio, and a museum. Among the post-college highlights are time spent as a production intern at ABC News Nightline in early 2005, a year as a junior editor at Seed Magazine, a bit of work as a field producer for WNYC’s NPR show, Radio Lab, and time as a blogger for Scientific American. I’ve also produced a documentary, and spent time working for a company that produced Discovery Channel programming. After starting at Cornell, I spent a semester as a graduate fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, where I organized public programs for the Marian Koshland Science Museum.

My time examining science and communication, along with my experience in media production have developed my fascination with—not just how people make meaning in a chaotic world, which is a well-rehearsed problem by now—but how meaning travels. My research is an attempt to understand how situated, contextual understandings of the world become shared, the role that communication technologies play in this process, and how the process itself shapes technological design. I look at the nuts and bolts of Web development as a sociological phenomenon. This often means not only talking with engineers and media producers about their work, but learning the actual skills involved—what C.W. Anderson has called a “sociology of algorithms.”

All of this—the research, the coursework, my love of science journalism and media production—has been inspired by a love of figuring out how things work and conveying useful information. Perhaps it’s not surprising that my twin obsessions of tinkering and teaching, discovering new things and passing them on, have landed me in academia. Teaching is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. I love delivering concepts and skills into new hands and watching the wonderful things students do with them. In the end, I hope my students learn as much from me as I do from them.