• Communication Studies

Meryl Alper

Assistant Professor

Meryl Alper is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University. 

Her research explores the social and cultural implications of communication technologies, with a focus on disability and digital media, children and families’ technology use, and mobile communication. She is especially interested in the opportunities and challenges that media and technology provide young people with developmental disabilities and their families in the digital age.

Alper is the author of Digital Youth with Disabilities (MIT Press, 2014) and Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality (MIT Press, 2017). Giving Voice received an Honorable Mention in the Media and Cultural Studies category of the 2018 PROSE Awards, sponsored annually by the Association of American Publishers, as well as the 2018 Outstanding Publication in the Sociology of Disability Award from the Disability and Society section of the American Sociological Association. 
For 2018-2019, Alper will be a Faculty Fellow with the Northeastern Humanities Center, a Faculty Scholar with the Northeastern University Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research, and a Dean’s Research Fellow with Northeastern’s College of Arts, Media, and Design. She is also a past Faculty Associate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, Alper earned her doctoral and master’s degrees from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and History from Northwestern University, as well as a certificate in Early Childhood Education from UCLA.

Alper has worked for over a decade in the children’s media industry. As an undergraduate at Northwestern, she was Lab Assistant Manager in the NSF-funded Children’s Digital Media Center/Digital-Kids Lab and interned in the Education & Research Department at Sesame Workshop in New York. Post graduation, she worked in Los Angeles as a Research Manager for Nickelodeon.

Her research has been published in New Media & Society, International Journal of Communication, and IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, among other journals. She has been awarded four Top Paper awards by the International Communication Association for her sole-authored work across multiple ICA divisions. Her research and popular writing have also been featured in a range of venues, including The GuardianThe AtlanticMotherboard, and Wired. 

Dr. Alper can be reached via email at m.alper@northeastern.edu, and on Twitter @merylalper

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Education

  • University of Southern California, Ph.D. Communication, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (2015)
  • University of Southern California, M.A. Communication, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (2013)
  • UCLA, Certificate in Early Childhood Education (2010)
  • Northwestern University, B.S. Communication (2005)

Awards

  • Top Faculty Paper Award, ICA Philosophy, Theory and Critique Division (2017)
  • Top 8 Ranked Paper Award, ICA Mobile Communication Interest Group (2017)
  • Top 3 Poster Award, ICA Children, Adolescents and Media Division (2015)
  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, Department of Communication, USC (2014)
  • Top Student Paper Award, ICA Children, Adolescents and Media Division (2011)
  • Annenberg Foundation, Doctoral Fellowship, Department of Communication, USC (2010-2015)
  • Communication Studies Senior Thesis Honors, Northwestern University (2005)
  • Communication Studies Departmental Excellence, Northwestern University (2005)
  • Doron Abosch Memorial Scholarship, Northwestern University Club of New York (2004)
  • Dean List, Northwestern University (2002-2005)

Professional Experience

  • PBS Kids, Freelance Educational Media & Technology Consultant (2017-)
  • Nickelodeon, Research Manager, Nick Jr. Preschool Television (2008-2010)
  • Disney Channel, Programming Scheduling Coordinator, Programming Department (2005-2008)
  • Nickelodeon, Intern, Noggin/The-N, Brand Creative Department (2004)
  • Sesame Workshop, Intern, Sesame Street, Domestic Research and Education Department (2003)

Courses Taught

  • COMM 3200 Mobile Communication
  • COMM 4605 Youth & Communication Technology

Research/Publications Highlights

Alper, M. (2017). Giving voice: Mobile communication, disability, and inequality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Alper, M., & Goggin, G. (2017). Digital technology and rights in the lives of children with disabilities. New Media & Society, 19(5), 726-740.

Alper, M., & Haller, B. (2017). Social media use and mediated sociality among individuals with communication disabilities in the digital age. In K. Ellis, & M. Kent (Eds.), Disability and social media: Global perspectives (pp. 133-145). London: Routledge.

Götz M., Holler, A., & Alper, M. (2016). Children preferences for TV show hosts: An international perspective on learning from television. Journal of Children and Media, 10(4), 497-507.

Jennings, N., & Alper, M. (2016). Young children positive and negative parasocial relationships with media characters. Communication Research Reports, 33(2), 96-102.

Alper, M., Katz, V., & Clark, L. S. (2016). Researching children, intersectionality, and diversity in the digital age. Journal of Children and Media, 10(1), 107-114.

Alper, M. (2015). Augmentative, alternative, and assistive: Reimagining the history of mobile computing and disability. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 37(1), 93-96.

Alper, M., Ellcessor, E., Ellis, K., & Goggin, G. (2015). Reimagining the good life with disability: Communication, new technology, and humane connections. In H. Wang (Ed.), Communication and the good life (International Communication Association Theme Book Series, Vol. 2) (pp. 197-212). New York: Peter Lang.

Alper, M. (2014). Digital youth with disabilities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Alper, M. (2014).  Can Our Kids Hack It With Computers?: Constructing youth hackers in family computing magazines (1983-1987). International Journal of Communication, 8, 673-698.

Alper, M. (2014). War on Instagram: Framing conflict photojournalism with mobile photography apps. New Media & Society, 16(8), 1233-1248.

Alper, M. (2013). Developmentally appropriate New Media Literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(2), 175-196.

Herr-Stephenson, B., & Alper, M., (with Reilly, E., & Jenkins, H.) (2013). T is for transmedia: Learning through transmedia play. Los Angeles and New York: USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Professional Affiliations

• International Communication Association

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