Research Team

f-17-13-7674221_BuraOPkp_Ferrier-Michelle_mugshotDr. Michelle Ferrier | Principal Investigator, Project Creator- Dr. Ferrier is the associate dean for innovation for Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication. Dr. Michelle Ferrier is the principal investigator for and founder of The Media Deserts Project. Conceived in 2010, The Media Deserts Project examines the changing media ecosystem using geographic information system technologies along with digital ethnography and content analyses. This combined approach maps changes to the ZIP code level and provides community-based detail about media conditions.

Ferrier is the vice president of Journalism That Matters, a nonprofit organization focused on helping professionals and educators navigate the new media landscape. Ferrier has received grant funding for a hyperlocal online news project, convened sponsored regional and national conferences around media entrepreneurship and community needs, and participated with a national team of researchers responding to the FCC research requests on community information needs. She can be reached at ferrierm(at)ohio(dot)edu.

In past years, she has worked with Dr. Ali Erkan, associate professor, Department of Computer Science and Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Ithaca College. Both Ferrier and Erkan participated in a National Science Foundation Interdisciplinary Computing Workshop in April 2011 that examined such intercollegiate collaborations. She also worked with Dr. Ryan Kirk at Elon University and with Elon University students in the School of Communications to develop the North Carolina prototype for the project.

Zachary Lloyd | Graduate Assistant/Website Manager- Zach is a master’s student at Ohio University in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Zach received a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism and a certificate in environmental studies from Ohio University in 2014. In addition to to the Media Deserts Project, his current research includes an analysis of the evolution of the Uncle Remus folklore character, a case study of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal and an immersion reporting project focused on Ohio River summer residents. After completing the master’s program in 2015, he hopes to enter the magazine industry and/or teach.


Dr. Gaurav Sinha | Associate Professor, Geography- Dr. Sinha is an associate professor of Geography, College of Arts and Sciences. He teaches courses in the multidisciplinary field of geographic information science and systems. His research focuses primarily on landscape cognition and the design of ontology driven geographic information systems for landscape information retrieval and analysis.

Ratko_Bio Photo

Wesley Ratko | Urban Planning Advisor – Wes has almost a decade of experience in the public and private sector working as a community and regional planner, providing policy support and analysis on matters relating to transportation planning, GIS analysis, parking studies, comprehensive plan development. He’s also worked as a freelance journalist, reporting on issues related to land use planning,  community engagement, and zoning. Wes received his master’s degree in community and regional planning from Temple University in 2006, and a bachelor’s degree in communications media and journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2000.

Michael Outrich | Research Assistant- Michael Outrich is currently a junior at Ohio University. He plans to pursue a degree in meteorology with a certificate in GIS. He plans to go into the National Weather Service upon obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, or perhaps enter the military as a weather forecaster. Michael particularly likes severe weather events or heavy snow/ ice storms.

bill_reader_headshotBill Reader | Associate Professor, Journalism — Prof. Reader is an associate professor in the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where he has taught since 2002. His areas of expertise include community journalism, professional ethics in journalism, audience feedback, newspaper and online journalism, and news editing. He is the author most recently of Audience Feedback in the News Media (2015, Routledge) and also is co-author with John Hatcher of Foundations of Community Journalism (2012, Sage).


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