About Us

The Detroit Water Stories project is the interdisciplinary collaborative effort of professors and graduate students in Wayne State University’s Department of Communication, Department of Department of Classical & Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and Department of History.

Rahul Mitra (PhD, Purdue University) is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, who leads the Resilient Institutions and Sustainable Environments (RISE) Lab. His research examines how organizations and communities enact environmental sustainability. His research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, such as Environmental Communication, and Journal of Applied Communication Research. Rahul is an affiliate faculty with Wayne State University’s Healthy Urban Waters (HUW) research group and Transformative Research in Urban Sustainability Training (T-RUST). He blogs at www.rahulmitraphd.com and tweets at @rahulmitra.

Kelly Donnellan (MFA, American University) is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, specializing in Media Arts and Studies. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on media arts production, field production and editing, advanced media editing, and new media production, and she has won numerous awards for her documentary editing and directorial efforts. She recently collaborated with information artist Laura Foxman on THE LISTENING ARCHIVE, which was installed from February-April 2018 at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) in the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead.

Current Graduate Research Assistants:

Christine Nyawaga (M.A., Wayne State University) is a first year Ph.D. student at Wayne State University studying organizational communication. Her research interests are control, organizational culture, management and leadership. Christine is also interested in grassroots movements and community organizing and volunteers for social justice causes whenever she is able to.

Sandaruwan Subasinghe Mudiyanselage (M.A., University of Maine) is a second year Ph.D. student at Wayne State University, pursuing a dual title degree in “Communication and Urban Sustainability.” Specializing in communication around environmental risk and climate change, his interests center on message framing around climate change, urban sustainability, and stormwater surge-and-contamination issues. 

Najma Akhter (M.A., University of Dhaka) is a second-year Master’s student, majoring in communication studies at Wayne State University, and will join the the university’s doctoral program in communication beginning Fall 2020. Her research interests are in digital health-risk interventions, especially public health messages that are disseminated via digital media for at-risk populations. She is also interested in investigating how tailored and contextualized messages can reduce the challenges faced by vulnerable groups during public health emergencies.

Past Graduate Research Assistants:

  • Kelsey Mesmer
  • Mostafa Aniss
  • Jacinda Gant

Affiliate Faculty

Elena Past (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is Associate Professor of Italian and Associate Chair of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary Italian literature and cinema, ecomedia studies and the environmental humanities, posthumanism and animal studies, and ecocrime. She has published scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Ecozon@, and Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism, in addition to several book chapters. She co-edited Italy and the Environmental Humanities: Landscapes, Natures, Ecologies (University of Virginia Press, 2018), Thinking Italian Animals: Human and Posthuman in Modern Italian Literature and Film (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and her book Italian Ecocinema Beyond the Human is forthcoming with Indiana University Press.

Jennifer Hart (PhD, Indiana University) is Associate Professor of African History at Wayne State University, where she also serves as a coordinator for “Digital Humanities at Wayne” (DHatWayne), among other roles. Her research addresses overlaps among urban history and planning, techno-politics, labor, and infrastructural politics. Her peer-reviewed articles have appeared in scholarly journals such as International Review of Social History, and African Economic History, and her 2016 book, Ghana on the Go: African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transportation, is available through Indiana University Press. She is currently developing a digital humanities project, “Accra Wala,” in partnership with the MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities at Michigan State University, and working on a new book project on the history of urban planning and politics of urban culture in 20th century Accra. Hart writes on her blog www.ghanaonthego.com, and tweets at @detroittoaccra and @accramobile.