New Academic Staff in the Media & Communication Department

The Department of Media & Communication will be welcoming new colleagues!

Sylvia Holla

Sylvia Holla (1986) is a Postdoctoral researcher and teacher at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication. She currently works in the INVENT Europe project, which investigates societal valuations of culture in different European countries as a basis for inclusive cultural policies in the EU. She teaches courses in the BA and MA programs at the Department of Media and Communication.

As a cultural sociologist, Sylvia specializes in cultural valuation and perception, beauty standards, aesthetics and morality, labor conditions in creative industries, cultural globalization, gender and sexuality, and media representations. As an ethnographer she specializes in qualitative research methods, but she also applies mixed methods (such as Q methodology) in her research.

Sylvia obtained her PhD at the University of Amsterdam in 2018. Her dissertation, entitled “Beauty, Work, Self. How fashion models experience their aesthetic labor”, gives an elaborate account of what working as a fashion model entails and how this form of aesthetic labor impacts models’ self-experience.

Sylvia previously worked as a senior researcher and program manager at Atria, the Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History in The Netherlands. There, she designed, conducted, administered, and coordinated social scientific research projects with a focus on gender in cultural (media) representations, education, the labor market, and government policies.

Camila Sarria-Sanz

Camila is a communication designer from Bogota, Colombia and a Junior researcher in the Department of Media and Communication. She holds an MA degree in Media, Culture and Society from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Camila is part of the research team in the project ''Refugee settlement, place-making and digital technologies in the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam'' led by Dr. Amanda Alencar. The project is developed in connection with the Vital Cities and Citizens (VCC) Erasmus Initiative, and aims to explore how digital media can be effectively and creatively used to shape the actions of local governance actors for the emancipation and participation of refugees as new citizens of their host community.

Before starting her academic career, Camila co-founded Quántica Education, a school for social entrepreneurship and creative business design based in Colombia. Over the past four years the organisation has trained more than 250 change-makers using social entrepreneurship and participatory design tools to develop high-impact projects. As Creative Director in Quántica, Camila designs methodologies for the organisation’s learning environments in line with its hands-on-experience approach. In the past year, she worked closely with actors in the Colombian armed conflict, training them in entrepreneurial and business skills to empower their communities. Her passion for social work and her dedication to designing more inclusive educational systems earned her the Social Responsibility Distinction from Los Andes University in 2016.

The newly appointed academics will join either the staff of the International Bachelor Communication and Media and Master Media Studies as lecturers or will start a PhD trajectory in the M&C department. We expect more new colleagues in later!

Below are some short bios to briefly introduce students, staff, and other interested parties to these new lecturers and researchers in our department. 

Niels Vink

Niels Vink (1975) is an experienced researcher and consultant at Behavioral Insight and a lecturer in the Department of Media and Communication at Erasmus University. Behavioral Insight is a Dutch consultancy organization with the mission to help companies and governments to apply the insights from behavioral economics through behavioral interventions and training. His work focusses on applied behavioral science (public or private sector) in the fields of Marketing, Communication and Process improvement. At Erasmus University he focuses on the influence of heuristics and biases in communication and consumer behavior.

Niels has been fascinated by human behavior for 24 years: why do people behave in a certain way, what motivates them, how does the environment affect their behavior and how can you influence their behavior? Behavioral economics offers concrete starting points for the answers to these types of questions.

Niels is a psychologist (University of Leiden), industrial designer (Delft University of Technology) and has a PhD in consumer behavior from Delft University of Technology. He is an experienced trainer who has provided various training courses in the field of applicable behavioral science at national and international locations. He has applied his knowledge in various positions at Reed Elsevier, SNS Reaal, Experian and PwC.

Niels Frederik Lund

Niels Frederik Lund (Fred) is a lecturer in Media, Communication and Business. He holds a PhD in social media, storytelling and branding from University of Surrey.

During his academic career, Fred has taught a variety of subjects (tourism, digital marketing, branding, operation management, storytelling, co-creation, consumer behaviour, history, sustainability, events, etc.) at various universities around the world (Surrey University, Bournemouth University, Copenhagen Business School, Bremen University of Applied Sciences, ESPOL in Ecuador, Surrey International Institute in China, etc.) and his research interests are within storytelling, branding, social media, co-creation, tourism and dramaturgy. 

Fred also has a great deal of experience as a practitioner. He has worked with product development and marketing for tour operators in Denmark and China. Later on he held a position as business developer at a tourism destination south of Copenhagen. 

Fred holds a degree in History and Media Studies from Aarhus University and later he picked up a MBA in Tourism Management from Bremen University of Applied Sciences. In the nineties he studied a BA in history and politics at University of Central Lancashire, UK. 

Ini Vanwesenbeeck

Ini Vanwesenbeeck is a lecturer in the Department of Media and Communication. Ini graduated as a PhD student in 2016 (Antwerp University). Her dissertation was funded by the Special Research Fund – Flanders (FWO) and focused on children’s processing of embedded advertising. In 2016, Ini was appointed as the research coordinator of the interdisciplinary VLAIO-SBO project AdLit (short for Advertising Literacy), which was a collaboration between Ghent University, the Free University of Brussels and the University of Antwerp. Currently, Ini affiliated with Ghent University, where she is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Persuasive Communication. In her research, Ini focusses on minors’ processing of (pesuasive- media. Her main research interest is influencer marketing, children’s media usage and consumer behaviour.  Within the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Ini will contribute to the Master Media and Business as a master thesis supervisor.

Christian Ritter

Christian S. Ritter is lecturer in the Department of Media and Communication. He received a PhD from the School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies at Ulster University, UK. He also holds a MA in European Ethnology from Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg i. Br., Germany.

Prior to joining Erasmus University Rotterdam, Christian was a research fellow and lecturer at the Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture, Tallinn University. He also acted as a lecturer at Kadir Has University, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Christian’s main research interests include cultures of influencers, digital labor, platformization, and tourism media. His latest research, which was funded by the Estonian Research Council between 2018-2020, assesses the emergence of travel influencers as a professional group in the global tourism industry. He has been a board member of the working group Digital Ethnology and Folklore of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) since 2019.

María Leonor Gaitán Aguilar

Leonor is a PhD candidate at the department of Media and Communication and Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture. Leonor’s research will focus on intercultural communication competence and global citizenship in higher education. This project is partly funded by the Community for Learning & Innovation (CLI) and will be supervised by dr. Joep Hofhuis (co-promotor), prof. dr. Jeroen Jansz (promotor) and prof. dr. Ivo Arnold (co-promotor).

Leonor obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala in 2016. She later obtained a joint master’s degree in Social and Cultural Psychology from ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute and the University of Oslo in 2019. Her thesis focused on the influence of social media on the social identification and cross-cultural adaptation of international students. She has studies in Social Pedagogy and has worked as a researcher of human rights monitoring in the Northern Region of Central America.

Mathias Boënne

Mathias Boënne is a post-doctoral researcher in media innovation at the Department of Media and Communication. Mathias is part of the research team working on the 'data-inspired creativity' NWO-project, together with prof. dr. Tonny Krijnen (EURAM), prof. dr. Sabrina Sauer (RUG) and prof dr. Joris Ebbers (UvA). During this project, he investigates the creation of ideas at Talpa Network and tracks the idea's journey from concept to completion through a blend of quantitative and qualitative research methods. His academic research looks at how digital technologies and big data can be used to support the creative process, yet keeping an eye on the human side of it. Mathias is affiliated researcher to the University of Amsterdam (UvA) – Amsterdam Business School for this postdoc project.

Before joining the school, Mathias held a dual position as doctoral researcher at the KULeuven and at Vlerick Business School (Belgium). Awarded with a FWO strategic basic research fellowship (https://www.fwo.be/en/fellowships-funding/phd-fellowships/phd-fellowship-strategic-basic-research/), Mathias investigated how firms could better set up or design ‘idea contests’ to crowdsource more ideas from their employees, how feedback can be used to stimulate the development and refinement of ideas during the idea creation process and how hierarchy can affect the decision to take up or reject ideas. During his doctoral studies, Mathias was a visiting scholar at the University of Bath, School of Management (UK).

You can find more information about Mathias’s activity in research and teaching on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mathias-bo%C3%ABnne-55161192/

Victoria Balan, MSc

Victoria Balan is a lecturer and PhD candidate in the Department of Media and Communication. Her research focuses on the relationships between digitization, society, and culture. Victoria’s PhD project takes on a comparative approach to analyse how discourses of digital citizen activism are produced, circulated, and made sense of in the current European context. Other interests include questions of media representation and identity, political attitudes and behaviours, and popular culture.

Victoria holds an MSc in Sociology of Culture, Media, and the Arts and a BA in International Bachelor Arts and Culture Studies – both from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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