University Professor Geoffrey Cowan and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP) are thrilled to announce the names of the three talented Annenberg graduate students that will serve as 2018-2019 Cowan Scholars. Isabella (Bella) Marten, Justine Leblanc, and Jessica (Jesse) Ryan were selected from a competitive pool of incoming Annenberg students for their impressive experience and remarkable intellectual curiosity. Undergraduate Cowan Scholars Rachel Chiu and Diana Kruzman will also be returning this year to continue their work with CCLP.

Each scholar is awarded tuition assistance and funding in exchange for supporting the research and projects of Geoffrey Cowan, the inaugural holder of the Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership. The Cowan Scholars will be arriving later this summer, right before the start of the school year. More about the 2018-2019 graduate Cowan Scholars is included below.

Isabella Marten is a first-year student in the Strategic Public Relations Master’s program. She is originally from Stuttgart, Germany and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she also lettered in Track and Field. Isabella’s research interests revolve around the assimilation, perception and integration of mixed-heritage peoples in society. In her undergraduate research, Isabella explored the historical origins of U.S. mixed-race ideologies through the lives of people who identified as biracial during the Antebellum period and American Renaissance.

Justine Leblanc is currently in her second year of the MSc/MA Global Media and Communications program. While she hails from Montreal, she spent the past year in London completing the first part of her degree at the London School of Economics, and working part-time in tech policy. Justine was valedictorian for McGill’s Faculty of Arts class of 2017, where she earned a First Class Joint Honors BA in Political Science and History with Distinction. While she has previously worked in corporate communications, public relations and NGOs, her professional and academic interests mostly center around human-technology interactions.

Jessica Ryan will be in the first year of the M.S. Journalism program at Annenberg. She is a multimedia producer and journalist, with a passion for examining environmental and humanitarian issues. As a Cowan Scholar, she is eager to explore questions around the intersection of media and technology, specifically around how to apply traditional journalism values to emerging technologies. Previously, Jesse worked as a producer for USA TODAY’s award-winning VR news show. Through story development, shooting, stitching, editing and publishing, she helped create over forty 360-degree videos focused on a range of themes including wildlife and adventure. Jesse is a graduate of Lafayette College, where she studied urbanization and documentary filmmaking.

Previous Cowan Scholars have served as teaching assistants, conducted research on important issues such as the Internet of Things and coverage of sexual violence by the news industry, and helped CCLP Senior Fellows start entirely new media companies. Congratulations again to Bella, Justine, and Jesse – the Center looks forward to seeing what they accomplish this year.