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People  •  Communication Studies  •  Associate Professor

Meryl Alper

Dr. Meryl Alper is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University, where she researches the social and cultural implications of communication technologies, with a focus on disability and digital media, children and families’ technology use, and mobile communication.

Dr. Alper is the author of Digital Youth with Disabilities (MIT Press, 2014) and Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality (MIT Press, 2017), which was awarded a 2018 PROSE Award Honorable Mention from the Association of American Publishers and the 2018 Outstanding Publication in the Sociology of Disability Award from the American Sociological Association. Her forthcoming book, Kids Across the Spectrums: Growing Up Autistic in the Digital Age (MIT Press), explores the often-misunderstood media and technology practices of young people on the autism spectrum. In her research and teaching, Dr. Alper also draws on over 15 years of professional experience in educational children’s media as a researcher, strategist, and consultant with Sesame Workshop, PBS KIDS, Nickelodeon, and Disney. Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, Dr. 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.

Research/Publications Highlights

Alper, M. (under contract). Kids across the spectrums: Growing up autistic in the digital age. MIT Press.

Alper, M. (2021). U.S. parent perspectives of media guidance from pediatric autism professionals. Journal of Children and Media, 15(2), 165–182.

Alper, M. (2021). Critical media access studies: Deconstructing power, visibility, and marginality in mediated space. International Journal of Communication, 15, 840–861.

Mello, S., Alper, M., & Allen, A. A. (2020). Physician mediation theory and pediatric media guidance in the digital age: A survey of autism medical and clinical professionals. Health Communication, 35(8), 955–965.

Whittaker, M., (with Alper, M., Bennett, C. L., Hendren, S., Kaziunas, L., Mills, M., Morris, M. R., Rankin, J., Rogers, E., Salas, M., & Myers West, S.)* (2019). Disability, bias, and AI. AI Now. *co-authors listed alphabetically

Alper, M. (2018). Inclusive sensory ethnography: Studying new media and neurodiversity in everyday life. New Media & Society, 20(10), 3560–3579.

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. (2017). Giving voice: Mobile communication, disability, and inequality. MIT Press.

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

Alper, M. (2014). Digital youth with disabilities. MIT Press.
Herr-Stephenson, B., & Alper, M., (with Reilly, E., & Jenkins, H.) (2013). T is for transmedia: Learning through transmedia play. USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Professional Affiliations

• International Communication Association


Communication Studies


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


  • Outstanding Publication in the Sociology of Disability Award, Section on Disability and Society, American Sociological Association (2018)
  • PROSE Award Honorable Mention, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Media and Cultural Studies Category, Association of American Publishers (2018)
  • Top Faculty Paper Award, Philosophy, Theory and Critique Division, ICA (2017)
  • Top Student Paper Award, Children, Adolescents and Media Division, ICA (2011)

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 2625 Communication, Technology, & Society
  • COMM 3200 Mobile Communication
  • COMM 4605/6605 Youth & Communication Technology

In the News

Courtesy of NGN/Netflix
Communication Studies

Is Peppa Pig a good show for kids?

Peppa Pig, a show for preschool-age children, has its devotees and its haters. Communication studies professors Meryl Alper and Amy Shirong-Lu break down why.

March 8, 2024