Dr. Wazhmah Osman
Tate Adams
Ashis Banerjee
Erika Bartlett
Kate Hoyt
Abby Murray
Ben Waters

Event Schedule

*Schedule is tentative and subject to change.


Participant Bios


Dr. Michael Lechuga: Dr. Michael Lechuga researches and teaches Latina/o/x Studies Communication Studies, Rhetoric, Migration and Settler Colonialism Studies, and Affect Studies. He graduated with an M.A. in Communication Studies form the University of Texas at El Paso in 2007 and with a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Denver in 2016. His research explores the ways migrants and migrant communities are subjected in the US by austere migration control structures and white nationalist ideologies. His current research focuses on the role that technology plays in border security assemblages and the ways alienhood is mapped onto migrant bodies through contemporary mechanisms of white-settler governance. In addition, Dr. Lechuga is interested in Latina/o/x Futurism, Surveillance Studies, and Film Studies. He is currently writing his second book, Alien Affects, which illuminates the complex relationships between Hollywood alien invasion film industries  and the industries tasked with securing the México/U.S. border.

Dr. Wazhmah Osman: Wazhmah Osman earned her Ph.D in Media, Culture, and Communication with a certificate in the innovative Graduate Program in Culture and Media in Anthropology at New York University. She also completed a MA at NYU in Middle Eastern Studies and History. Osman is currently an assistant professor in the Media Studies and Production department at the Klein School of Media and Communication at Temple University. She is also on the faculty for the MS program in Communication for Development and Social Change, as well as the Ph.D program in Media and Communication. Her research and teaching are predicated on feminist media ethnographies that focus on the political economy of global media industries, and the regimes of representation and visual culture they produce. In Osman’s recent work she extends her critical media inquiries to interrogate the hegemony of Western based transnational media corporations and their role in promoting a perpetual state of war in the Global South and East; this work is predicated on and contributes to the growing field of critical race and gender/sexualty studies. In her forthcoming book Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists: Television and the Afghan Culture Wars, under contract with Illinois Press’ Geopolitics of Information Series, she analyzes the impact of international funding and cross-border media flows on the national politics of Afghanistan, the region, and beyond. She is also researching how new technologies of war, violence, and representation, predicated on old colonial tropes, are being repackaged and deployed in “The War on Terror.” Her critically acclaimed documentary “Postcards from Tora Bora” has screened in festivals nationally and internationally.

Dr. Seth Weinberger: Seth Weinberger is Professor of Politics & Government at the University of Puget Sound. He received his B.A. (1993) in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, an M.A. (1995) in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and an M.A. (2000) and Ph.D. (2005) in political science from Duke University. He teaches courses on international relations, U.S. foreign policy, international security, terrorism, constitutional law, and political philosophy. His book, Restoring the Balance: War Powers in an Age of Terror was published by Praeger Press in 2009. His recently published articles include “Enemies Among Us: The Targeted Killing of American Members of al Qaeda and the Need for Congressional Leadership” in the Georgetown Global Security Studies Review (Spring 2013) and “Institutional Signals: The Political Dimension of International Competition Law Harmonization” (with Geoffrey A. Manne) in The Anti-Trust Bulletin (57, no. 3). His current research focuses on the decentralized structures of modern day extremist groups with a particular focus on U.S.-based organizations. In 2011 and 2016, Professor Weinberger received the Thomas A. Davis Teaching Excellence Award.

PRESENTERS (more coming soon!)


Tate Adams: PLU alum Tate Adams is on the heels of graduation with a degree in Communication Studies, as well as a minor in Political Science. Tate is passionate about studying the intersections of identity and emerging technology. As one of the Civic Engagement students on the planning committee, they look forward to promoting an interdisciplinary conversation about drone policies and technologies.

Dr. Ashis G. Banerjee: Ashis G. Banerjee is an Assistant Professor with joint appointment in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Prior to his current appointment, he was a Research Scientist at General Electric Global Research. Before that, he was a Research Scientist and Postdoctoral Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He obtained his Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, and B.Tech. in Manufacturing Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Dr. Banerjee has received several honors including the 2018 Top Engineer of the Year Award from the International Association of Top Professionals, the 2012 Most Cited Paper Award from the Computer-Aided Design journal, the 2009 Best Dissertation Award from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the 2009 George Harhalakis Outstanding Systems Engineering Graduate Student Award from the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland. He has published more than forty five articles in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. His research interests include autonomous robotics, digital manufacturing, and predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Erika Bartlett: Erika Bartlett is an artist based in Tacoma, WA, specializing in digital and graphic arts. Using biophilic design, which aspires to reconnect our senses with nature, she uses photos of the sky to create patterns with thoughtful compositions and palettes. An every day sky is shifted in to something different, allowing the viewer to experience a stretch in perception through subtle abstraction. Her intention is to stimulate a sense of peacefulness, clarity and focused energy needed for living compassionately in an interconnected world.

Dr. Jeff Caley: Jeff Caley is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Pacific Lutheran University. He holds a Ph D. in Robotics from Oregon State University and a Masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Portland State University. Jeff’s research focus is at the intersection of robot planning and deep learning, with the aim of developing techniques that empower robots to take advantage of big data to enhance their understanding of the world and decision making process. Previously, Jeff spent 7 years working at Boeing as a software developer.

Dr. Ryan Calo: Ryan Calo is the Lane Powell and D. Wayne Gittinger Associate Professor at the University of Washington School of Law. He is a faculty co-director (with Batya Friedman and Tadayoshi Kohno) of the University of Washington Tech Policy Lab, a unique, interdisciplinary research unit that spans the School of Law, Information School, and Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. Professor Calo holds courtesy appointments at the University of Washington Information School and the Oregon State University School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering. Professor Calo’s research on law and emerging technology appears or is forthcoming in leading law reviews (California Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, and Columbia Law Review) and technical publications (MIT Press, Nature, Artificial Intelligence) and is frequently referenced by the mainstream media (NPR, New York Times, Wall Street Journal). Professor Calo has testified before the full Judiciary and Commerce Committees of the United States Senate and the German Parliament and has organized events on behalf of the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Obama White House. He has been a speaker at the President Obama’s Frontiers Conference, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and NPR’s Weekend in Washington. Business Insider named him one of the most influential people in robotics.

Dr. Michael J. Halvorson: Dr. Halvorson is the Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History, and the Chair of Innovation Studies at Pacific Lutheran University. He teaches business and economic history courses in the Department of History at PLU, as well as classes on innovation and the history of technology. His current research project is a title under contract with ACM Books (Morgan & Claypool) entitled Code Nation: Personal Computing and the Learn to Program Movement in America, 1970-1995. The project explores programming culture in America and debates about software development practices, computer literacy, teaching computer science, and the era’s lively cast of self-taught coders, power users, hackers, and entrepreneurs.

Dr. Kate Drazner Hoyt: Kate Hoyt is Assistant Professor of Communication in Film & Media at PLU with a specialization in virtual and digital communication, as well a a digital artist specializing in video, projection, and wearable art. She is interested in affect, the body, and technology-human hybridity. More specifically, her work examines the role of the body within virtual spheres of communication. Her work on drones includes scholarly essays on public art surrounding the U.S. drone war, the phenomenology of U.S. military drone operators and its implications for mental health, and the affective contours of the drone war. She has also produced interactive installations exploring the visual culture of the drone. Her work has been published in Critical Studies in Media Communication; Culture, Theory & Critique; Review of Communication; and Technoculture.

Minda Martin: Minda Martin has written, directed, and edited seven award-winning short films and three features (AKA KATHE & FREE LAND, RAMPS TO NOWHERE). Her work has screened at museums and competitive international film festivals including Locarno, Toronto International, RIDM, Jihlava, and Viennale. Additionally, her work has received favorable reviews in Variety, Senses of Cinema, Cinemascope, L.A.Weekly, The New York Times, Cinemascope, Film Commentand more. She is an Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at University of Washington Bothell.

Dr. George (Guy) McHendry, Jr.: Dr. McHendry is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department at Creighton University. His PhD is from the University of Utah (MA from Colorado State University, BA from Ripon College). Guy studies rhetoric and cultural studies within the discipline of communication. His research currently focuses on public performances of security in airports and the relationship between the public and the Transportation Security Administration. Guy is especially interested in how security and resistance is performed in airports and how those performances can dominate our ways of experiencing airports. Drones figure prominently in McHendry’s teaching, and in recent research he analyzes efforts to increase awareness of the scope and impact of U.S. American drone strikes.

Dr. Ben Meiches: Ben Meiches is an Assistant Professor of Security Studies and Conflict Resolution at the University of Washington-Tacoma and author of The Politics of Annihilation: A Genealogy of Genocide. His research focuses on armed conflict, genocide, and international law, particularly in how the categories, concepts and practices of contemporary violence evolved and developed over time. Ben completed his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in Security DialogueInternational Political SociologyReview of International StudiesGenocide Studies and PreventionMillennium: An International Studies Journal, and Critical Studies on Security. His research focuses on mass atrocities, armed conflict, and humanitarian politics

Abby E. Murray: Dr. Abby E. Murray has a Masters of Fine Art in Writing from Pacific University and a Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University. She is the editor of Collateral, a literary journal that publishes work concerned with the impact of violent conflict and military service beyond the combat zone. As the current poet laureate for the city of Tacoma, Abby teaches creative writing at the School of the Arts, argumentative writing to Army War College fellows at the University of Washington, and free poetry and creative writing workshops for service members, veterans, military families, refugees, detained youth and civilians in Pierce County. Her first poetry collection, Hail and Farewell, recently won the Perugia Press Poetry Prize and will be released in September 2019. You can learn more about her at www.abbyemurray.com.

Dr. Jessy Ohl: Jessy Ohl is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Alabama. As a scholar of rhetoric and political discourse, Dr. Ohl’s research explores the worldly consequences of public messages, images, and arguments for democracy, social change, and war. He is especially concerned with the weaponization of communication to incite violence and developing strategies for instilling more charitable and collaborative forms of identification. His scholarship has appeared in outlets such as the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Cultural Studies <–> Critical Methodologies.

Dr. Marnie Ritchie: Dr. Ritchie is a scholar, professor, and media practitioner studying critical rhetoric and media. She has earned a Master’s in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University and a Doctorate in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her scholarship and pedagogy question how US (non)citizens become rhetorically governable during war, particularly how the manipulation of affect creates the conditions for acquiescence. Her research on drones centers on the use of drones for surveillance by law enforcement and homeland security in US cities. Her artistic work with drones includes a project entitled “Claude Dronet,” a drone that can create “aerial impressionistic” paintings. Her work has been published in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Journal of Multicultural Discourses, and Capacious: A Journal of Emerging Affect Inquiry.

Dr. Benjamin Waters: Ben Waters is the CEO and Co-Founder of WiBotic Inc. WiBotic provides wireless power solutions and fleet management systems to charge the rapidly growing ecosystem of aerial, mobile and aquatic robot fleets. In 2015, Ben co-founded WiBotic to commercialize the wireless charging solutions he developed at the University of Washington. As a graduate student, Ben developed the FREE-D System – a wireless power system for implanted medical devices called left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) to eliminate power cables that penetrate through the skin to power these implanted heart pumps. His research focused on the field of wireless power, including near-field antenna design, RF amplifiers, embedded systems, and adaptive maximum power point tracking systems as well as applications for these systems. He has previously worked with Network Appliance, Arup, Intel and Bosch. Ben holds a B.A. in physics from Occidental College, a B.S. in electrical engineering from Columbia University, M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Washington. Ben is a Puget Sound Business Journal 2016 “40 Under 40” honoree.