Research Team

Jenny Nelson

Dr. Nelson is an Associate Professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University.  She teaches Phenomenology, Media Theory, Qualitative Research, Script Analysis. Adaptation, and Media & the Muslim World. She received an 1804 Grant in 2012 to fund The PD/MS Narrative Project, a collective repository of stories and videos by people living with Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

She was named Outstanding Graduate Faculty at OU in 1993, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Morocco in 1996, was elected to the Board of Scholars by the International Communicology Institute in 2007, and taught for two years in the United Arab Emirates (2009, 2010). 
Dr. Nelson has authored many refereed journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers. She has directed over 40 doctoral dissertations; the last 3 were awarded first prizes by the International Communication Association’s Cross-Cultural Division.
When she’s not watching Rachel Maddow and reruns of Roseanne, she scans the mediaverse for off-hand references to PD, gossips with other people living with neurological disorders, practices her Pinecone art, and casts the occasional sidelong glance at her husband and teenage children.  She was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2010.

Karin Sandell

Dr Sandell is an Associate Professor Emerita in the School of Media Arts and Studies, Her research concentrates on political communication and audience research.  Dr Sandell founded the Center for Teaching Excellence at Ohio University in 1994. She received a Fulbright to work at the National College of Ireland (2003) and the University of Namibia (2001), and did an administrative exchange with the University of Leipzig

Dr Sandell teamed up with Dr. Chris Mattley for a series of analyses of texts and message board communication connected to "The Biggest Loser,"  focusing on the social construction of the body, specifically the ways in which it provides instructions in health issues surrounding weight loss and strength gaining.  While developing this research, Dr. Sandell began looking at online and television resources that focus on MS & PD.  She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1991.

Ali Ziyati

Dr. Ali Ziyati is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication & Media Studies at West Virginia State University, an historically black college, where he teaches Public Relations, Social Media, Integrated Marketing Communication, and Research Methods. Prior to that, he taught at Marietta College and served as Dean of the College of Communication & Public Relations at Ajman University in the United Arab Emirates.

A native of Morocco, Ali is a Fulbright scholar and member of the Public Relations Society of America and the Moroccan Journalists Diaspora (based in Dubai). He collaborated with UNESCO in developing an international journalism curriculum, and is a licensed soccer coach.

Ali has been a member of the PD Narrative Project since its inception, and serves as its social media advisor.  He is part of a PD Partner support group that hates the term "Caregiver."

Yan Zheng 

 Yan comes from Nanning, a city in southwestern China. She holds an M.A. in International Studies (Communication & Development), a B.A. in Editing & Publishing from Wuhan University, has worked as a journalist in Wuhan, China, and has interned for China Daily.  In 2008/09, she was a delegate for the first Vietnam-China and Cambodia-China Book Exchange. 
Yan has been Research Assistant to Dr. Nelson since the beginning of the PD Narrative Project (in fact, she assisted in writing the 1804 grant).  Since then, she has become an ace project manager, archivist, Prezi designer, and interviewer.
Yan defended her Masters thesis project on "Cross-cultural Communication Issues between American doctors and International Patients" at the end of May 2013.  Then she's off to Wisconsin-Oshkosh to pursue a career in Health Communication! 

Camilo Perez Quintero

Recently graduated from the Communication & Development Studies program at Ohio University, Camilo comes from Medellin, Colombia, where he worked extensively with youth in a city beset with violence. In 2003, he co-created Pasolini en Medellin (PEM), a project that promotes the transformation of communities towards nonviolence, civic participation, self-expression and representation. PEM works with young people from urban areas to explore filmmaking as a mode of critical thinking and storytelling about their experiences in violent urban realities. Camilo has also worked as a research associate and professor in visual anthropology and video production
He joined the PD Narrative Team in September of 2012 as video producer/shooter/editor, and ace web designer.  He returns from Medellin in August as a doctoral student in the School of Media Arts & Studies.

Jennifer Bell

A Fulbright Scholar from England, Jennifer is a first-year doctoral student in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University with an interest in youth culture and global media.

Jennifer earned her BA in 2000 in Theatre Design at Central St. Martins in London.  She began an MA in Enterprise and Management for the Creative Arts, and was awarded a scholarship in recognition of her contributions as Students’ Union president. She co-founded Osmo Productions, producing events and digital media projects, specialising in collaborative video with young people: this became the focus of her MA thesis in 2009.

Jennifer joined the PD Narrative Project in Summer 2013, coordinating all the online activities and taking over as Project Manager when Yan fled north.

Stephen Toropov

Born in Massachusetts, Stephen grew up in the the suburbs of Boston before fleeing to Ohio for college. He is currently an undergraduate studying English with Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College. A self-described story geek, Stephen's research interests are in narratology, and it was this that  led him to join the project in the summer of 2012.



Madison Koenig

A native of Cincinnati, Madison is an undergraduate in the Honors Tutorial College, studying English with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in Women's and Gender Studies. She works as an Undergraduate Research Scholar at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, where she is a member of the communications team. She writes for Inquiry Magazine and is an editor for Sphere Literary Magazine. She joined The PD Narrative Project this summer.

Babe Finley

Babe joined the Team in 2012 just as The Narrative Project was making its first forays into video production.  She served as the #1 Production Assistant, and went with Jenny to the Young Onset PD Conference in Cincinnati, where she endeared herself to many people.  Babe was named Outstanding Senior in the Media Studies sequence at Ohio University, graduated this Spring, and is now working as a concierge at a Cedar Point hotel, where they won't let her wear blue nail polish.  Bastards!




Neal Mohr aka DJ Mohr

Neal is a senior Audio Production major in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University, and is responsible for recording the PD Voice Initiative tests, as well as compiling loads of musical references to PD/songs that PwP (People with PD) especially like. It's a pretty diverse playlist.




Nolan Alexander

Hip hop, art, and film are an integral part of Nolan's life. He works on graphics, videos, and social media.  He shot and edited the (in)famous first video of The PD Narrative Project, "The Larry & Dave Show."
Alexander hails from Youngstown, Ohio and is a video production major in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University.  He worked as an intern with the Miss Universe Pageant, Inc. in the Spring of 2013, and with Vice Magazine that summer. 

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