Founders and Leaders

Founding Members

The TikTok Cultures Research Network is supported by a group of Asia Pacific-based Founding Members (est. October 2020) and a network of global Key Regional Leaders (est. September 2021). Together, we act as a consulting panel for the development and future directions of the network.

Crystal Abidin

A/Prof Crystal Abidin is the founder of the TikTok Cultures Research Network. She is a digital anthropologist and ethnographer of vernacular internet cultures, and researches internet celebrity, influencer cultures, and social media pop cultures. She has published 5 books and over 60 articles and chapters on various aspects of internet cultures. Crystal is Associate Professor of Internet Studies, Principal Research Fellow, and ARC DECRA Fellow at Curtin University. For her public scholarship and continuous engagements with industry, Crystal was listed on ABC Top 5 Humanities Fellows (2020), Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia (2018), and Pacific Standard 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 (2016). Reach her at

Xu Chen

Dr Xu Chen is an Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Xiamen University, China. His research interests include platform studies, digital cultures, and race, ethnicity and sexuality. Recent publications include peer-review journal articles in Information, Communication & Society, Mobile Media & Communication and Chinese Journal of Communication.

Jonathon Hutchinson

Dr Jonathon Hutchinson is a Senior Lecturer in Online Communication and Media at the University of Sydney and a Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council Discovery Project, Online News and Media Pluralism. His research explores Public Service Media, cultural intermediation, everyday social media, automated media, and algorithms in media. He is the Editor in Chief of the Policy & Internet journal, the Treasurer for the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA), and the Secretary for the International Association of Public Media Research (iaPMR). Hutchinson is an award-winning author and his latest book is Cultural Intermediaries: Audience Participation and Media Organisations (2017), published through Palgrave Macmillan.

D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye

Dr D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye is a postdoctoral fellow at Sorbonne University Paris Nord, a research associate at Curtin University, and a sessional researcher with the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology. His research interests include digital music, cultural policy, and platform studies. He is currently writing a book about TikTok under contract with Polity Press and has recently published peer-reviewed research on TikTok in the Chinese Journal of Communication, Mobile Media and Communication, Flow Journal and the International Journal of Communication.

Jin Lee

Dr Jin Lee studies media intimacies in social media cultures, particularly media practices and visibility of social minorities across the “old” and “new” media. Her work appears in peer-reviewed journals including Media International Australia, Social Media and Society, Critical Studies in Media Communication. She is a Research Fellow in Internet Studies at Curtin University, Australia. Jin tweets at @jinlee_media

Emily van der Nagel

Dr Emily van der Nagel is a Lecturer in Social Media in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University. She researches social media identities, cultures, platforms, and intimacies. Her first book, Sex and Social Media, co-authored with Associate Professor Katrin Tiidenberg, was published by Emerald in 2020. Emily tweets at @emvdn.

Yu Ting Poh

Yu Ting Poh is a Masters student at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (Class of 2021). She is particularly interested in influencer cultures, public communication on social media platforms and sociologically-oriented translation and interpreting.

Aleesha Rodriguez

Aleesha Rodriguez is a PhD candidate in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology. Her research examines public communication on social media platforms and explores how people and technology mutually shape each other. Aleesha is particularly interested in applying Science and Technology Studies (STS) approaches to study the relations between digital media and energy futures.

Milovan Savic

Dr Milovan Savic is an author, speaker, and researcher. His research interests include youth, social media, family dynamics around digital devices, digital cultures, and digital citizenship. He has authored and co-authored several articles where his primary interest is the social construction of trending apps and dismantling of arbitrary or emotion-laden public discourses on digital technology. Milovan is passionate about making research easily accessible to non-academic audiences, policymakers and lay society alike. Milovan tweets at @nav0lim

Clare Southerton

Dr Clare Southerton is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Vitalities Lab, Social Policy Research Centre and Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney. Her research explores the intersections of devices, social media, intimacy, and health. Her work has been published in New Media & Society, Social Media + Society and Girlhood Studies.

Wei Wang

Dr Wei Wang received her PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Her overarching research inquiry focuses on social transformations that define the contemporary era. She is interested in how, why, and for whom Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are designed, produced, and consumed. This is situated in the tensions between the neoliberalization of a globally networked economy and alternative socio-political practices. She is also interested in the social impact of ICTs, as ICTs are affecting different classes and social groups differently. She is informed by social justice issues around the production and consumption of ICTs. Her research has been in constant dialogue with literatures on the political economy of communication, ICTs for development, media effects, and China studies. She has published on China’s economic restructuring, rural-urban links, digital activism, and new economic forms.

Patrik Wikström

Prof Patrik Wikström is a Professor of Media and Communication at QUT in Brisbane, Australia. His research is focused on developing data science tools and methods to analyse the production and consumption of digital cultural products – particularly music. 

Denise Woods

Dr Denise Woods is a Lecturer in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University. She teaches and coordinates first year and second year core units in the Bachelor of Communications programme. Her areas of research include representations of identity, disability, Asia in the Australian media, and in Asian Australian studies. She has published in the Journal of Australian Studies, Media International Australia and the book Alter/Asians: Asian-Australian Identities in Art, Media and Popular Culture. She is an executive committee member of the Asian Australian Studies Research Network.  

Jing Zeng

Dr Jing Zeng is a senior research associate at the science communication division under the Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ), University of Zurich. Her research interests include science communication, digital culture, and short video platforms.

Xinyu (Andy) Zhao

Dr Xinyu (Andy) Zhao currently teaches and researches at Deakin University, University of Melbourne and Curtin University. He completed his PhD at Deakin University in 2020 and is particularly interested in the intersections of transnational mobility, digital technologies and young people.

Key Regional Leaders

Adriana Amaral

Dr Adriana Amaral is a Professor at the School of Creative Industries at Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS University) and a Researcher at CNPq – National Council for Scientific and Technological Development.  She’s the coordinator of CULTPOP – Research Lab on Pop Culture, Communication and Technologies. Her research interests are Digital Culture and Platforms, Fan Studies and Pop Culture. She is currently interested in the relations between TikTok, subcultures and music industries people.

Stefanie Duguay

Dr Stefanie Duguay is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Canada. She is Concordia University Research Chair in Digital Intimacy, Gender and Sexuality and Director of the Digital Intimacy, Gender and Sexuality (DIGS) Lab where her research focuses on the intersection of digital media with representations and practices pertaining to relationships, gender, and sexuality. This has involved studies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people’s social media participation and self-representation as well as studies of dating apps, platform appropriation, social media governance, discourses of automation and algorithmic neutrality, and the role of social and mobile media in queer social landscapes.

Louisa Ha

Dr Louisa Ha is a professor of research excellence (2021-24) in the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, U.S.A.  She is also the former editor of Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the flagship journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She is the founder and chair of the Emerging Media Research Cluster in the School of Media and Communication. She is the Advertising Major Advisor and Internship Coordinator. She is also the Interim Graduate Coordinator of the School of Media and Communication’s Graduate Programs. Her research interests are media management, online videos and webcasting, new media business models, social and mobile media use, international conflicts and comparative communication, online and international advertising, and audience research.

Caroline Hilgers 

Ms Caroline Hilgers has recently finalised her MSc in Gender at the LSE, where her thesis focused on coming out trends on TikTok to shine light on the shift in coming out narratives that young people engage with on the social media app. Her research aims to address the gaps in research on LGBTQIA+ experiences on TikTok, drawing on existing scholarship in queer theory, social media as well as semiotics. The methods for this project included textual analysis of TikTok videos, however, Caroline is also interested in other qualitative research methods such as digital ethnography and interviews due to her prior research background in Social Anthropology.

Christian Ilbury

Dr Christian is a Lecturer in Sociolinguistics at the University of Edinburgh. His research explores variable patterns of language use with a specific focus on the linguistic practices of youth online. He has written on a diverse range of social media topics including linguistic appropriation in Twitter, discourses of gentrification on WhatsApp, and language and identity in Snapchat stories. Currently, Christian is undertaking a project that examines parody and sociolinguistic enregisterment in TikTok videos.

Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

Ms Daniela Jaramillo-Dent is a Doctoral Candidate in Communication at the University of Huelva and Erasmus University Rotterdam.  Her research focuses on the mediated (self)representations of immigration on social media platforms including Instagram and TikTok.  She explores migratory narratives of othering, belonging, identity, and minority celebrity on TikTok. She has published her research on Instagram in New Media & Society and The European Journal of Communication and has forthcoming publications on TikTok exploring belonging and algorithmic (in)visibility in the International Journal of Communication, Media and Communication and chapters in various edited books. 

Aidan Moir

Dr Aidan Moir received her PhD in Communication & Culture from York University. Her dissertation, which she is currently adapting into a manuscript, analyzes the symbiotic relationship between legacy media and digital culture in creating the iconic idealism associated with the brand identities of individuals with global impact. Her current research examines the influence of brand culture in shaping social advocacy campaigns on social media, and political celebrity on TikTok and how the platform disrupts traditional political campaigning, reporting, public relations, and image management. content creators shape cultural responses to the Covid-19 pandemic on TikTok. 

Zoetanya Sujon

Dr Zoetanya Sujon is a Senior Lecturer and the Programme Director for Communications and Media courses at London College of Communication (LCC), University of the Arts London. Zoetanya draws from an interdisciplinary lens to address the relationships between new technologies and social life, particularly as related to culture, power and belonging. Drawing from mixed methods, these interests are based around three themes: platforms and big tech; dataveillance and privacy in sharing cultures; and filters, algorithms and everyday life. Zoetanya is the author of The Social Media Age (2021) and has published in leading media journals such as New Media and Society, Social Media + Society, and the International Journal of Communication. Zoetanya tweets at @jetsumgerl.

Arantxa Vizcaíno-Verdú 

Ms Arantxa Vizcaíno-Verdú is Communication Predoctoral Fellow at the University of Huelva in Spain. Her work and academic experience combines communication, advertising and plastic arts.  She is particularly interested in  transmedia literacy, storytelling, fandom, and pop culture on social media. Her studies appears in peer-reviewed journals including Learning, Media & Technology, Comunicar, Sustainability, Educación XX1, among others. Currently, she is Associate Editor of the media education research journal ‘Comunicar’. She is also member of the Research Group ‘Agora’, the ‘Comunicar Group’, and the Ibero-American media literacy research network ‘Alfamed Junior’.

Diana Zulli

Dr Diana Zulli is an Assistant Professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. Her research focuses on the interaction of communication theory, digital technology, and political rhetoric. She is interested in how communication theories function in, and are affected by, the rapidly changing digital communication environment, how digital technology affects social and political processes, and how news media shapes political discourse. Her work has been published in a number of venues including Communication Theory, New Media & Society, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Politics & Gender, and the International Journal of Communication, among others.