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2012-2013 Academic Fellows

SOC Chris Young academic fellow

Chris Young - Center for Public Integrity

Young spent the last five years working as a news reporter for Pittsburgh City Paper, the Steel City’s alternative-weekly newspaper. A staffer since he graduated from Duquesne University in 2007, Young covered everything from education and government to neighborhoods and police for the paper’s weekly print edition, as well as its online news blog, Slag Heap. A handful of his investigative/enterprise stories earned first-place awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, including a piece that revealed problematic billing practices at the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority and a story that documented the difficulties of diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder in children.

Young's Work

SOC Erin Finicane academic fellow

Erin Finicane - National Park Service

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Yale in 2008, Erin set out for New York City where she interned for two production companies before launching her own freelance videography service. At Jigsaw Productions, under filmmaker Alex Gibney, Erin had the opportunity to assist on several feature documentary films including "Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" and "Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place." And at Four Corners Media she was able to apply her academic background in Archaeology to films on archaeological digs in Turkey and Iraq.

Today, Erin continues to develop her filmmaking skills as a grad student at American University. With a wide variety of interests, ranging from environmental issues and wildlife preservation to human rights and social justice, Erin strives to use documentary and related media as a tool for education, engaging audiences in the stories behind the issues, and encouraging viewers to become agents of change in their own communities.


Finicane's Work

SOC Lynh Bui academic fellow

Lynh Bui - The Washington Post

Bui was a political and public affairs reporter in Phoenix, Ariz. for six years, covering local government for The Arizona Republic and She most recently spent the last two years as the city hall reporter for Phoenix -- the sixth largest city in the nation -- covering a regional transit strike, a competitive mayoral election, campaign finance, budget issues and labor relations. As a reporter for the Republic, Bui has also reported on development and the local economy after covering several cities and one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. A native of Arizona who speaks Vietnamese, she has her undergraduate degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Bui was selected as the 2013 winner of the Writers Guild-East award.

Bui's Work

SOC Alexia Campbell academic fellow

Alexia Campbell - Investigative Reporting Workshop

Alexia Campbell spent the last four years covering crime and safety for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She also covered South Florida’s diverse Hispanic community during a year-long stint on the newspaper’s Race & Demographics Team. After graduating from journalism school at the University of Tennessee, Campbell started her career as a Spanish-language reporter for La Palma, a weekly publication of The Palm Beach Post. She grew up in São Paulo, Brazil and has dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico.


Campbell's Work

SOC Deborah Muhwezi academic fellow

Deborah Muhwezi - Outreach Strategies

For the last year and a half, Muhwezi has been working in human resources as a business and communications consultant for Spirit AeroSystems. During her time in HR, she provided coaching and consultation on strategic people strategies as well as developed and disseminated internal HR communication. Prior to her role in human resources, Muhwezi spent time as an intern in the company's public affairs and corporate communications department where she supported various PR, media relations, and community relations activities. Prior to Spirit, she worked as a media analyst for Infoition News Services and volunteered as a media relations consultant for Novus Orsa Ministries, Inc. Muhwezi is from Wichita, KS and received her bachelor's degree in electronic journalism with a minor in business from Kansas State University.

Muhwezi's Work

SOC Carissa Alaimo Simpson Fellow

Carissa Alaimo - Simpson Awardee

In her second year as a Simpson Fellow at American University, Alaimo is continuing the mission of Rev. James B. Simpson’s contemporary quotations project. In her first year, she completed an annual project entitled “9/11: Then and Now,” which was covered by Gannett/Content One in its 10 year anniversary coverage of the event. 

She has previously interned with APCO worldwide and has held two Congressional internships on both the House and Senate sides. She has also worked on behalf of multiple campaigns during the 2010 mid-term election.  

Before coming to AU, Carissa attended Villanova University where she graduated Magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 2010 with her B.A. in Political Science.


SOC Merri Lisa Trigilio academic fellow

Dr. Merri Lisa Trigilio - National Museum of American History

Dr. Merri Lisa Trigilio first documented the world around her with a Rolleiflex camera at an early age. She pursued an art degree in photography and film, eventually ending up in Hollywood as a production assistant, story editor and research coordinator for Zoetrope Studios. Several years later, she pursued a passion for science and completed a doctorate degree in Geosciences. Dr. Trigilio’s research has focused on the geology of the American Southwest, West Africa, Brazil, New Zealand, Spain and Ireland. Her experience ranges from working as a geophysicist for multinational oil companies to lead geologist for the Energy Research Institute at Montana State University modeling carbon sequestration. After many years working in the energy sector, she found her way back to documentary storytelling as part of a collaborative team, participating in all aspects of creating SKUNKED, which is currently being entered in film festivals across the country. Since the completion of SKUNKED, she went on to finish another documentary, RUNNING ON WATER, based in a South African township.


Trigilio's Work

Morgan St. Jean - Simpson Awardee

St. Jean comes to American University with a passion for public service. After graduating from Linfield College with honors in 2009, St. Jean served as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) as the Community Relations Coordinator at the University of Oregon’s Service Learning Program. After her term with VISTA ended, she stayed with the program as its first full time Coordinator. St. Jean also has a passion for public speaking and competed in Speech and Debate for 8 years and coached high school students for 3 years. One of St. Jean’s favorite types of speeches was” impromptu”, which involved giving short spontaneous speeches on quotations.

St. Jean's Work

Casey Wooten - BNA

For the past four years Wooten served as a staff writer for the Houston Business Journal, the city's weekly business newspaper. There, he covered the oil and gas industry as well as area banks. Following the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, Wooten spent much of his time covering its impact on local businesses, as well as the regulatory fallout for Houston-based companies involved in the disaster. Wooten also reported on the long-term impact of the financial crisis on Houston's banks, including major actions against local institutions related to the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

After graduating from the University of Houston in 2007, Wooten interned at the Student Press Law Center, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit that assists high school and college publications with First Amendment issues.

For the past year, Wooten has been a freelance reporter covering the nexus between regulators and companies involved in the wave of domestic natural gas production known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Wooten's Work

SOC Warren Gill academic fellow

Warren Gill - Simpson Awardee

Warren Gill is pursuing his masters of political communication at American University's School of Communication. It took Warren six years – and four schools – to finish his Bachelors degree, finally receiving a BA in Philosophy and Religion with a concentration in Jewish Studies from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona, New Jersey. Following undergrad, Warren received a Masters of Divinity and a graduate Certificate of Advanced Professional Studies in the area of Liturgical Studies from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

While sitting in the capstone class for MDiv students, a course designed to help students think about and discuss contemporary political issues in terms of faith and theology, Warren came to realize that progressive people need to learn to speak from a place of their values. Progressives have some very deeply held values – both secular and religious – yet find it difficult to speak from this foundation. It was that realization the led him to the field of political communications. When he grows up, he hopes to work with progressive candidates and causes doing values based communication strategy and messaging.


Gill's Work