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ISDT Faculty Bios and Lecture Titles

Click on the topic for a synopsis of the faculty member's lecture.

Sunil Abraham

Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore

imageSunil Abraham is the Director of Policy at the Centre for Internet and Society based in Bangalore. The Centre for Internet and Society aims to critically engage with concerns of digital pluralism, public accountability and pedagogic practices, in the field of Internet and Society, with particular emphasis on South-South dialogues and exchange. Sunil is a social entrepreneur and Free Software advocate. He founded Mahiti in 1998 which aims to reduce the cost and complexity of Information and Communication Technology for the Voluntary Sector by using Free Software. He was elected an Ashoka fellow in 1999 to ‘explore the democratic potential of the Internet’. He was granted a Sarai FLOSS fellow in 2003. Between June 2004 and June 2007, Sunil also managed the International Open Source Network a project of United Nations Development Programme’s Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme serving 42 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ademar Aguiar


imageAdemar Aguiar is a Professor at Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto (FEUP) and researcher at INESC Porto, with over 20 years of experience on software development, and specialized on software design, agile methods, wikis, and open collaboration tools.

Beyond the field of software engineering, Ademar is also exploring and applying Web 2.0 and social software to other fields, being presently the most important, a collaborative and social educational platform for primary schools (6-12 years old), freely available in Portugal, since September 2009.

Fiorella De Cindio

Department of Informatics and Communication at the University of Milan

imageFiorella De Cindio graduated summa cum laude in Physics in 1976. Since 1988 she has been an associate professor in the Department of Informatics and Communication at the University of Milano in Italy. After teaching Programming Languages and Distributed Systems Foundations for many years, she now teaches Software Engineering. She has been teaching a class on Virtual Communities since 2002 (which, starting next year, will be called “Internet-based Social Interactions”) with special emphasis on civic issues.

Her research (represented by more than one hundred, national and international, scientific publications) is twofold. On the one hand, it focuses on languages and methods for the analysis, design and implementation of distributed systems, paying special attention to user involvement in the system development process (participatory design). On the other hand, most notably in the last fifteen years, her research focuses on the design and implementation of social interactive computer systems as well as their deployment in real life settings. Within this framework, she dedicated special attention to promoting civic participation and deliberation at the urban level, and to the development of software tools for supporting them.

In this context, she has been responsible of the field trials within the EU-IST TruE-Vote (a Secure and Trustable Internet Voting System based on PKI) project (2001-2003). In 2004 she has been charged by the Italian Ministry of Innovation of carrying on a survey on the state-of-the-art in Italy of e-participation technologies.

In both fields, she invariably coupled research with field experience. To manage this integrated approach, she launched the Civic Informatics Laboratory (LIC) in 1994, which she still heads. In this role, she set up the Milano Community Network (RCM), which is now an autonomous body, namely a Participatory Foundation. She also promoted the Association for Informatics and Civic Networking of Lombardy (A.I.Re.C.) which represents the Community Networks in the Lombardy Region. Fiorella De Cindio is President of both groups.

Because of her activity in the community, the Milan Municipality presented Fiorella de Cindio with the Ambrogino d’Oro, the municipality’s highest award to citizens who have contributed to the city development, in December 2001.

Eric Gundersen

Development Seed

imageEric is the president and co-founder of Development Seed. Over the past seven years Eric has developed communications strategies and tools for some of the largest international development organizations in the world. He is especially interested in improving information flows and efficiencies within large organizations, better integrating on the ground operations with home bases, and visualizing information in actionable ways.

These focuses have led to the creation of Open Atrium, an open source intranet package that has been downloaded more than 90,000 times since its beta release in July 2009, and to Managing News, a data and news aggregator that powers all kinds of sites, including one visualizing voting irregularities in Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election.

Eric is a recognized expert on online communication technologies and open source software and has been featured in publications including the New York Times, Nightline, and NPR, and is frequently invited to speak on open data, web-based mapping tools, and open source business models at conferences like SXSW, Web 2.0, Where 2.0, and DrupalCon.

Eric earned his master’s degree in International Development from American University in Washington, DC, and has dual bachelor’s degrees in Economics and International Relations. He co-founded Development Seed while researching technology access and microfinance in Peru.

Michael Gurstein

Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training

image Dr. Gurstein is currently Executive Director of the Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training (CCIRDT) in Vancouver, Canada; Research Professor in the School of Management at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark); Research Professor in the Faculty of Management at the University of Quebec (Ouatouais); and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. The CCIRDT has an affiliated organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, and Memoranda of Agreement with Izandla Zethu (Pretoria, SA); BIID in Bangladesh, Paisley Consulting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and ITforChange in Bangalore, India. A Canadian, he completed a B.A. at the University of Saskatchewan and a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. From 1995 to 1999 Dr. Gurstein was the NSERC/SSHRC Associate Chair in the Management of Technological Change at the University College of Cape Breton, where he pioneered in the development of sustainable community-based technology applications. From 1992 to 1995 Dr. Gurstein was a Management Advisor with the United Nations Headquarters in New York and from 2000 to 2002 he had a number of roles including that of Team Leader (Dean) of the School of Management at the Technical University of British Columbia. His edited book “Community Informatics: Enabling Communities with Information and Communications Technologies: (Idea Group, 2000) provided a focal point for the development of “Community Informatics” as the discipline concerned with enabling communities with Information and Communications Technologies. Dr. Gurstein has served on the Board of the Vancouver Community Network, the British Columbia Community Networking Association, and Telecommunities Canada. He is currently on the Steering Committee of the Global Telecentre Alliance, and on the High Level Panel of Advisors of the United Nation’s Global Alliance for ICT for Development. He is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Community Informatics and Foundation Chair of the Community Informatics Research Network. He currently has a continuing Advisory relationship with the (Canadian) Northern Indigenous Communities Satellite Network in the creation of its Research Consortium and is an Advisor to the EU funded N4C project looking at telecommunications services for underserved and indigneous people in Northern and Central Europe. He has consulted to the governments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Nepal and Jordan; to the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the UN Development Program, and the European Union; and to Nortel, Mitel, Bell Canada, and Intel among others. His most recent book is “What is Community Informatics (and Why Does It Matter)?”, Polimetrica, Milan (2007)  Dr. Gurstein is now actively blogging at Gurstein’s Community Informatics

Ming-Chun Lee

University of Texas at Austin

imageMing-Chun Lee is an assistant professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. He teaches and conducts research in the areas of community technology, e-government, digital democracy, and issues around media policy and public access to information and communication technology in relation to city planning and community development processes. Ming-Chun recently completed an in-depth comparative case study on City of Seattle’s Community Technology Program, where he developed and tested out his asset-based community technology framework. He is currently employing the very same framework and conducting another study on City of Austin’s Grant for Technology Opportunities Program. Ming-Chun also stresses the use of digital technologies in urban design and planning processes and emphasizes the importance of integrating computers into every aspect of urban design and planning education. He has had extensive teaching experience in digital visualization, geographic information system (GIS), and web-based applications at both the University of Washington and the University of Texas at Austin. Ming-Chun received his Ph.D. in urban planning from the University of Washington in 2008.

Pedro Markun

Jornal de Debates

imagePedro Markun is a social media strategist and has been working with collaboration and new technologies for some time now. Is the director of a collaborative newspaper in Brazil - Jornal de Debates. Owns a Drupal Workshop specialized in building social networks and is now running Esfera, a think tank on participative democracy, open data and the new public sphere. He also a member of the House of Digital Culture, a cluster of entrepreneurs in Brazil who are working with different aspects of the digital in the new era.

Tanya Notley

Tactical Technology Collective

imageTanya Notley has more than 10 years of research and project management experience working on digital media initiatives with third sector, international development and community-based organisations in Australia, the UK, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. She is currently employed as Project Lead at Tactical Technology Collective Tactical Tech is an international NGO working at the point where rights advocacy meets technology. Most recently Tanya led Tactical Tech’s successful project, ‘10 tactics for turning information into action’ (

In 2004-06 Tanya coordinated the Youth Internet Radio Network project (YIRN) at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, which culminated in a traveling train carriage exhibition of youth digital media content which toured the State of Queensland. In 1999-2001 Tanya coordinated UNESCO’s renown pilot internet-radio initiative at Kothmale in rural Sri Lanka.

In 2008 Tanya completed her PhD in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology. Her PhD examines the way young people’s internet use changes the way they participate in society and considers the role of government policies in supporting internet use capabilities. Her Masters Degree (completed in 2002) was in Social Change and Development in the Asia-Pacific.

Since 2004 Tanya has published eight refereed journal articles and two book chapters on digital media-related topics while also publishing a number of training manuals on audience research methods, community media research methods, participatory monitoring and evaluation techniques, audio production and digital storytelling.

Marlon Parker

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

image Marlon Parker is a Social Entrepreneur, founder of the Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) and an Information Technology Lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Invited speaker in the areas of Social Entrepreneurship, ICT for Community Development and Social Innovation, he is also a guest lecturer at a number of international universities including Aalto University, University of Amsterdam Business School, UCT Graduate School of Business, University of Rhodes and University of Southampton. He is an active researcher with several academic papers and co-authored a number of books. His passion for community development has influenced his research interests and he is currently working on a project focussing on a community-driven model for social innovation. Marlon was also the co-founder of a mobile counselling service offering support in substance abuse and HIV/AIDS to tens of thousands of people throughout South Africa.

Leslie Regan Shade

Concordia University

imageLeslie Regan Shade is an Associate Professor at Concordia University in the Department of Communication Studies. Her research focus since the mid-1990s has been on the social, policy, and ethical aspects of information and communication technologies (ICTs), with particular concerns towards issues of gender, youth, globalization, and political economy. The research contributions straddle the line between academic and non-academic audiences, including policymakers and non-profit groups. She is the author of Gender and Community in the Social Construction of the Internet (Peter Lang, 2002), co-editor of Feminist Interventions in International Communication (with Katharine Sarikakis, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), two volumes in Communications in the Public Interest (edited with Marita Moll, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) and with Moll, For Sale to the Highest Bidder: Telecom Policy in Canada (CCPA, 2008), and editor of Mediascapes: New Patterns in Canadian Communication, Third Ed. (Nelson Canada, 2010). Articles have also appeared in Continuum, The Gazette, Canadian Journal of Communication, and Government Information Quarterly. She has a PhD degree from McGill University and MLIS from UCLA and a BA in Communications-Visual Arts from UCSD. For more information see

Daniela Silva


image Daniela Silva is a researcher for politics, transparency and technologies issues. She studies how transparency changes on a networked public sphere, becoming an important value for open governments and allowing many possibilities of political participation through the networks. She is a University of Texas at Austin and Knight Center for The Journalism in the Americas alumna, and a facilitator of one of the first P2P University courses in Portuguese, about Civic Hacking.

Daniela is also a co-founder of Esfera, a think tank based in São Paulo, Brazil, that wants to see the same revolution that is now changing communications happen in politics. Esfera is not only trying to bring open government culture to local and federal governments, as it wants to engage groups in the society to be part of a new context of openness and participation by civic hacking (parsing, collecting, using and remixing government data on the web, as an example). To achieve these goals, they organize Transparency HackDays, putting developers, designers, journalists and politicians together to think and produce apps based on open government databases; and they are setting up a community of practice to discuss and create mashups based on government data.

Laura Stein

University of Texas at Austin

imageLaura Stein is an Associate Professor in the Radio-Television-Film Department at the University of Texas at Austin. She writes about alternative and activist media, political communication, and communication law and policy. Her books include two co-edited volumes, Making Our Media: Global Initiatives Toward a Democratic Public Sphere (examining grassroots attempts to transform the policy and practice of information and communication media around the world) and Speech Rights in America: The First Amendment, Democracy and the Media (exploring the failure of neoliberal understandings of speech rights to protect democratic communication in the media).

Karin Wilkins

University of Texas at Austin

imageKarin Gwinn Wilkins (PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 1991) is a Professor with the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as the Associate Director for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Her research focuses on global communication, development and social change. Her most recent book is Home/Land/Security: What We Learn about Arab Communities from Action-Adventure Films (Lexington Books, 2009). Some of her work can be found in ReDeveloping Communication for Social Change (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), Communication Theory, Media, Culture & Society, Journal of Communication, International Journal of Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Media Development, Media Asia, Journal of International Communication, Peace Review, and the Asian Journal of Communication, among other venues.