Arbeitsbereich: Alumni

PD Dr. Merja Mahrt

31. January 2022

Dr. Merja Mahrt is a Research Associate at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, where she studies digitalization and its effects on individuals and society. She completed her ‘Habilitation’ at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and received her PhD from the University of Amsterdam, after studying communication and media at Freie Universität Berlin.

Since 2020, she is chair of the Digital Communication Section of the DGPuK.

Elena Orths

23. June 2021

Elena Orths worked as a student assistant in the DIID core team from March 2021 to March 2022, and is now a DIID alumni. At Heinrich Heine University, she is studying History and German Studies and is expected to complete her Bachelor’s degree in winter 2022/2023.

As an assistant, she was responsible for DIID-internal tasks, such as maintaining the website, among others. She is particularly interested in digital civic participation and the effects of digitalization on participation in democracies.

Dr. Mario Datts

8. June 2021

Dr. Mario Datts studied political science in Hanover and Berlin. He graduated in 2014 with a thesis on the Pirate Party. He then completed his doctorate at the University of Düsseldorf with a thesis on the use of social media by political parties. Until 2021, Mario Datts worked as a research assistant at the University of Hildesheim in the thematic area “Politics and the Internet” and cooperated with DIID to study local e-democracy in Germany. Since 2022, Mario Datts has been working at the DLR Project Management Agency, where his responsibilities include automation processes and empirical analyses in the field of research funding.

His research interests concern aspects of politics and digital media (e-participation, mobile participation, digital communication, social media) and methods from the field of computational social science.

Dr. L. Constantin Wurthmann

14. April 2021

Dr. L. Constantin Wurthmann is a postdoc in the National Election Studies team at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Mannheim. Previously, he was a research assistant at the Chair of Political Science II at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf from 2017 to 2021. Before that, he studied the Bachelor’s programme in Political Science and the Master’s programme Theory and Comparison of Political Systems in Transition at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

In addition, he gained experience abroad through one semester each at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) and the Universitatea Babes-Bolyai (Cluj-Napoca, Romania).
His research interests lie in the field of electoral, party and representation research.

Dr. Lena Masch

1. September 2020

Lena Masch is a research associate at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She studied Political Science at the University of Greifswald (B.A. and M.A.) and Social Research Methods at City University London (M.Sc.). She received her doctorate (Dr. rer. pol.) from the University of Stuttgart. At Heinrich Heine University, her positions from 2017 to 2021 included Akademische Rätin a.Z. at the Chair of Political Science II of the Institute of Social Sciences.

Her research focuses on political psychology, political sociology, and political communication. One of her research interests is the cognitive and emotional factors influencing political attitudes, especially with regard to political parties, politicians, and trust in democratic institutions.

Jacqueline Sengelhoff

13. May 2020

From July 2019 to July 2020 Jacqueline Sengelhoff was part of the DIID-Team. As a student assistant, her tasks included writing and dispatching the monthly Newsletter as well as updating the DIID website.

She studied English/American Studies and Political Science and graduated in summer 2020. Within the Cosmos of the DIID she was interested in the effects of digitization on democratic institutions and political culture.

Pero Došenović

6. February 2020

Pero Došenović has been working as a management consultant at the Center for Advanced Internet Studies since 2023. Previously, he served as a research assistant and coordinator of the “Competence Center Media Practice” with a focus on applied market and opinion research at the University of Münster, and as a research assistant at the HHU at the Chair of Communication and Media Studies I.

Among other things, he conducted research on the public perception of artificial intelligence in the Stiftung Mercator-funded project Meinungsmonitor Künstliche Intelligenz from 2020 to 2022.

Maria Becker

13. January 2020

Maria Becker was a research assistant at the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration of North Rhine-Westphalia (HSPV NRW) in Cologne. She was part of the PhD program “Online-Participation” and belonged to the second cohort of PhD students at the NRW Forschungskolleg. She completed her master’s degree (MSc) in “Development and International Relations” in Denmark with a focus on political science as well as on gender and migration studies.

After completing her master’s degree, she worked in different sectors such as refugee aid, political education for teenagers with a migration and refugee background, and as an constituency assistant. In her dissertation, she examines the political participation of people with a migration and refugee background in online participation processes in Germany. She is supervised by Prof. Möltgen-Sicking (HSPV NRW, Cologne).

Dr. Anna Soßdorf

12. December 2019

Dr. Anna Soßdorf joined the FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik Berlin in 2023 as a research associate in the Information Management & Analytics department and is part of the House of Participation team. Previously (2019-2022), she worked as a research associate at the Institute for Social Sciences and as a coordinator at the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID) at HHU Düsseldorf in teaching and research. Since then, she has been an alumni of the DIID.

In 2015, she completed her PhD on the political participation of young people in communication studies at the University of Düsseldorf. Her research interests include (digital) participation, youth participation, digital literacy, citizen science, and science communication.

In addition, she has been active as a freelance trainer, consultant and researcher on digital and civic education, citizen science and science communication since 2015. Ms. Soßdorf is active in various Citizen Science networks and co-author of the recently published white paper Citizen Science Strategy 2030 for Germany.

Christopher Niederelz

2. July 2019

Christopher Niederelz is a former member of the NRW Research College Online Participation and is completing his dissertation on the role of group actors in online citizen participation. His doctorate is supervised by Prof. Dr. Christiane Eilders from the Chair for Communication and Media Studies III at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

He acquired political science and history at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and subsequently acquired a Master of Arts in Democracy and Governance at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. His thesis dealt with the explanation of the different outcomes of the euro and refugee crisis. In addition to the research focus on European integration and international politics, Christopher Niederelz was also involved in extremism research and the change in the public communication of political news and educational content.

At the research college, his main interest was in researching the interaction of different types of actors in online participation, the role of social media and the digitization of participation in the wake of the Covid19-pandemic.

Andreas Braun

20. May 2019

Andreas Braun has been a research assistant at the Chair of Political Science II at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and a member of the second funding phase of the NRW PhD programme “Online Participation”. He studied political science at the University of Duisburg-Essen (B.A.) and at the WWU Münster (M.A.).

Before completing his master’s thesis Andreas Braun worked for several months in the department of civic participation of the city of Wuppertal, whose 2016’s “Citizen’ jury on the possible construction of a cable car” he examined in his thesis regarding the political activation potential of the participation instrument.

In the course of the PhD programme “Online Participation”, he focused on the effectiveness of municipal participation methods in the activation of politically underrepresented groups.

Dr. Christopher Starke

21. January 2019

Since 2021, Christopher Starke works a post-doctoral researcher at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research and at the interdisciplinary research hub Human(e) AI of the University of Amsterdam. He is currently leading the two externally funded research projects ‘Discourse Data for Policy’ and ‘Responsible Academic Performance Prediction’ together with colleagues at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf.

In his research, Christopher investigates the impact of artificial intelligence on democracy. This includes the following research areas: Perceptions of fairness, legitimacy, and technocracy regarding algorithmic decision-making systems in the public sector; potentials and challenges of AI to combat corruption; political consumerism in the attention economy.

Anke Stoll

8. January 2019

From July 2018 to March 2023, Anke Stoll was a research assistant and PhD student at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, where she was affiliated with the junior research group “DEDIS – Deliberative Discussions on the Social Web” and the BMBF-funded research project “KOSMO – AI-supported Collective Social Moderation”. She studied communication and media sciences at the universities of Münster, Zurich and Leipzig. For her dissertation, Anke Stoll worked at the interface between communication science and computer science and conducted research on automated detection of hate speech in online discussions.

Since April 2023, Anke Stoll has been a research associate at the Technical University of Ilmenau in the Computational Communication Science department.

Kimon Kieslich

19. September 2018

Kimon Kieslich, M. A., is a research associate at the University of Amsterdam in the Department of Information Law. Previously, he worked as a research assistant at the Chair of Communication and Media Studies I at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and in the research project Meinungsmonitor Künstliche Intelligenz [MeMo:KI]. He previously studied Communication Science (B.A. & M.A.) at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.

In his research, Kimon is concerned with population opinion on AI, media coverage of AI, and the ethical and social impact of (future) AI technologies on society.
In particular, he is interested in the following research areas: Public good-oriented AI; Legitimacy perceptions of algorithmic systems; Human-machine interaction; Anticipation of AI impacts on society.

Prof. Dr. Martin Morlok

21. March 2018

Prof. Dr. Martin Morlok held the Chair of Public Law, Legal Theory and Sociology of Law at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf from 2002 to 2018. From 1997 to 2011, he was director of the Institute for German and International Party Law and Party Research (PRuF). Prof. Dr. Morlok has been retired since 2018.

His research focuses on constitutional law, parliamentary law, party law, religious law, state liability law, and methodology

Dr. Alexander Schneider

21. March 2018

Dr. Alexander Schneider has been CEO and founder of schnaq GmbH since 2021, which, among other things, produces software for structured discussions. There, he is co-responsible for business development and the further development of the discussion software, among other things.

In 2020, he successfully completed his dissertation in computer science with the topic “Untangling Internet Debate – Decentralization and Reuse of Arguments for Online Discussion Software.” His research focused on cybersecurity and distributed systems in the context of structured discussion system software.

Dr. Christian Meter

21. March 2018

Dr. Christian Meter founded the company “schnaq GmbH” with Dr. Alexander Schneider and Michael Birkhoff, where they now continue their research, develop software and offer consulting services. The focus remains on improving communication and interaction with a large group of people via the Internet to enable better discourse, higher participation and more structure in discussions.

Christian did research on online discussions and participation at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany, in the field of computer science. Software was developed and practically evaluated with the goal of enabling clearer discourse and decision-making processes.

Dr. Katharina Esau

21. March 2018

Katharina is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC), working on the Australian Laureate Fellowship project “Determining the Drivers and Dynamics of Partisanship and Polarisation in Online Public Debate”.

She holds a PhD in Communication and Media Science from the University of Dusseldorf, titled “Communication Forms and Deliberation Dynamic”. Her research focuses on political communication, digital public sphere, opinion formation processes and democratic innovations.

Dominique Heinbach

20. March 2018

Since April 2023, Dominique Heinbach is a research associate in the Dynamics of Society and Communication research group at the Department of Communication at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. From March 2018 to March 2023, she was a research associate in the junior research group “Deliberative Discussions in the Social Web”, funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. She graduated in Communication Studies, Film Studies (B.A.) and Communication and Media Research (M.A.) in Mainz.

In her dissertation, she investigates the impact of moderation on the quality and incivility of online discussions as well as on perceptions by and effects on users. Furthermore, she is part of the project “Participatory Energy Transition Visualization and Communication” funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Her research interests include online moderation, online facilitation and online community management, online discussions, online participation and online deliberation as well as media effects in the social web. At the DIID, she is especially interested in online deliberation processes and the analysis of online discussions.

Cornelia Schoenwald

15. March 2018

Cornelia Schoenwald was a clerk at the DIID as well as at the chairs of sociology I and II. She also worked for the internship office of the Heinrich-Heine University. She holds a degree as an industrial clerk.

At the DIID, she was responsible for the external funds management, personnel administration, event management, and material work.