Two Researchers Join Benton Team

Benton Foundation

Monday, January 14, 2019

Press Release

Two Researchers Join Benton Team

Today, Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss announced that Dr. Christopher Ali is the foundation’s new Faculty Research Fellow and Ryland Sherman is Benton’s new Research Associate.

As the Benton Faculty Research Fellow, Dr. Ali will continue his work on a systematic and comprehensive assessment of rural broadband policy, technology, markets, and stakeholders. In his forthcoming book Farm Fresh Spectrum: Rural Interventions in Broadband Policy, he investigates the relationship between farming communities, communication technologies, and communication policy in the United States. Dr. Ali analyzes the complicated terrain of rural broadband policy with a specific focus on broadband-to-the-farm, exploring different business structures, including the importance of co-operatives in providing rural broadband.  

“To address persistent digital divides, especially in hard-to-serve rural areas, we need the best thinking to inform policymaking,” said Furniss. “Dr. Ali’s research and conversations with the people broadband has yet to reach will help to bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to all people in the U.S. and ensure they are part of our economic and democratic prosperity going forward.”

Dr. Ali said, “I am thrilled to be joining such an incredible organization and am honored the foundation will be supporting my work on rural broadband. Universal broadband is arguably our most pressing communication policy issue. I am looking forward to working with the Benton Foundation to bring more voices and stakeholders to the conversation." 

Furniss also welcomed Dr. Ryland Sherman as the Benton Research Associate. Dr. Sherman is Benton’s lead researcher on broadband accessibility and affordability in underserved communities, working closely with Benton Senior Fellow Jon Sallet on a report to address the challenges in promoting broadband access in America.

“Dr. Sherman has been invaluable in our research and outreach to devise a next generation of broadband policies for the 2020s in a time of new technologies and new social needs,” said Furniss.

Dr. Sherman said, “I first subscribed to the Benton Headlines just over 10 years ago, and it was an invaluable resource throughout my education. Now, I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the Benton Foundation’s mission and help to develop broadband policies that will take into account the changing technological landscape and bring the benefits of ubiquitous broadband to all Americans.”

Dr. Christopher Ali is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. He joined the Department in the fall of 2013, after completing his PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Ali’s other work includes, Media Localism: The Policies of Place (University of Illinois Press, 2017), addressing the difficulties of defining and regulating local media in the 21st century in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada and the implications for the long-term viability of local news; and Local News in a Digital World: Small Market Newspapers in an Era of Digital Disruption,  an intensive research project on small market newspapers in the United States.

Ryland Sherman’s previous economic and legal research has focused on competition policy, innovation, and labor law and economics. Ryland has lectured on media and telecommunications industry issues, intellectual property and media law, and the history of communications. He holds a J.D. from Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, a Ph.D. from the I.U. Media School, and an A.B. in economics and psychology from the University of Chicago.

Benton is a non-profit, operating foundation. Its mission is to bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to all people in the U.S. to ensure a thriving democracy.

Benton, a non-profit, operating foundation, believes that communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides. Our goal is to bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to all people in the U.S. to ensure a thriving democracy.

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Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Foundation
727 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL 60202
headlines AT benton DOT org

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