Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for advanced PhD students

Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for advanced PhD students to join the Social Media Collective (SMC) for its 12-week 2016 Intern Program. The Social Media Collective scholars at MSRNE bring together empirical and critical perspectives to address complex socio-technical issues. Our research agenda draws on a social scientific/humanistic lens to understand the social meanings and possible futures of media and communication technologies. The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines (including anthropology, communication, information studies, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or a related field), but should have a strong social scientific or humanistic methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to media or communication technologies and society or culture, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes computer scientists, mathematicians, and economists.


MSRNE internships are 12-week paid internships in Cambridge, Massachusetts. PhD interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship. Primary mentors for this year will be Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary L. Gray, with additional guidance offered by our lab postdocs and visiting scholars.

PhD interns at MSRNE are expected to devise and execute a research project (see project requirements below), based on their application project proposals, during their internships. The expected outcome of an internship at MSRNE is a draft of a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference of the interns choosing. Our goal is to help the intern advance their own career; interns are strongly encouraged to work towards a creative outcome that will help them on the academic job market. Interns are also expected to collaborate on projects or papers with full-time researchers and visitors, contribute to the SMC blog, give short presentations, attend the weekly lab colloquia, and contribute to the life of the community through weekly lunches with fellow PhD interns and the broader lab community. While this is not an applied program, MSRNE encourages interdisciplinary collaboration with computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians.


The Social Media Collective is comprised of full-time researchers, postdocs, visiting faculty, Ph.D. interns, and research assistants. Current projects in New England include:

– How does the use of social media affect relationships between artists and audiences in creative industries, and what does that tell us about the future of work- (Nancy Baym)

– How are social media platforms, through algorithmic design and user policies, adopting the role of intermediaries for public discourse- (Tarleton Gillespie)

– What are the cultural, political, and economic implications of crowdsourcing as a new form of semi-automated, globally-distributed digital labor- (Mary L. Gray)

– How are predictive analytics used by law enforcement and what are the implications of new data-driven surveillance practices- (Sarah Brayne)

– What are the social and political consequences of popular computing folklore- (Kevin Driscoll)

– How are the technologies of money changing and what are the social implications of those changes- (Lana Swartz)

SMC PhD interns may have the opportunity to connect with our sister Social Media Collective members in New York City. Related projects in New York City include:

– What are the politics, ethics, and policy implications of big data science- (Kate Crawford, MSR-NYC)

– What are the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development- (danah boyd, Data & Society Research Institute)

We are looking for applicants to focus their proposals on one of the following six areas:Audiences and the shifting landscapes of socially mediated entertainment


– Personal relationships and digital media

– Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor

– The social and political consequences of popular computing folklore

– The politics of big data, algorithms, and computational culture

– How emerging technologies shape countercultures, identities, and communities of difference

– Histories of computing and the internet that focus on the experiences of people from marginalized social, economic, racial, or geographic groups

Applicants should have advanced to candidacy in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master?s students or early PhD students at this time). Interns will benefit most from this opportunity if there are natural opportunities for collaboration with other researchers or visitors currently working at MSRNE. Applicants from historically marginalized communities, underrepresented in higher education, and students from universities outside of the United States are encouraged to apply.


For a complete list of all permanent researchers and current postdocs based at the New England lab see:


Which is:


Previous MSRNE interns in the Collective have included Amelia Abreu (UWashington, information), Stacy Blasiola (University of Illinois, Chicago, communication), Jed Brubaker (UC-Irvine, informatics), Aleena Chia (Indiana U. communication and culture), Jade Davis (University of North Carolina, communication), Brittany Fiore-Silfvast (University of Washington, communication), Scott Golder (Cornell, sociology), Germaine Halegoua (U. Wisconsin, communications), Tero Karppi (University of Turku, media studies), Airi Lampinen (HIIT, information), Jessa Lingel (Rutgers, library and information science), Joshua McVeigh-Schultz (University of Southern California, interactive media), Alice Marwick (NYU, media culture communication), J. Nathan Matias (MIT Media Lab), Jolie Matthews (Stanford, learning sciences), Tressie McMillan Cottom (Emory, sociology), Andr?s Monroy-Hernandez (MIT, CSAIL), Laura Noren (NYU, sociology), Nick Seaver (UC Irvine, anthropology), Jaroslav Svelch (Charles University, media studies), Katrin Tiidenberg (Tallinn University, Institute of International and Social Studies), Shawn Walker (UWashington, information), Omar Wasow (Harvard, African-American studies), Sarita Yardi (GeorgiaTech, HCI), and Kathryn Zyskowski (University of Washington, anthropology).


For more information about the Social Media Collective, visit our blog:


To apply for a PhD internship with the social media collective:

– Fill out the online application form: