About Me

Me sitting on a rock I’m a 4th year Ph.D. student at the University of California, Irvine in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. I work under the advisement of Dr. Melissa Mazmanian. I’m fascinated by how technology mediates communication between citizens and policymakers. Using theories in political representation, digital democracy, and human-computer interaction, I am investigating how the U.S. Congress uses ICT for constituent-communication.

The XKCD Simple Version: I study how computers can help people in power talk with the people they work for to find, learn, and understand all sorts of stuff that can help them make important choices.

In the summer of 2017, I interned for the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) in Washington D.C. In the summer of 2018, I returned to D.C. to collaborate with CMF and the Open Gov Foundation to continue my research under a grant from the Democracy Fund. Starting in the winter of 2019, I will be working with Pop Vox to test new communication platforms for Members of Congress.

I earned a B.S. in Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). As an undergraduate, I worked with Dr. Amy Hurst and her graduate students Dr. Michele Williams and Dr. Erin Buehler in the Prototyping and Design (PAD) Lab. My research focused on assistive technology and human-computer interaction, with a specific focus on 3D-printing.


Recent Manuscripts:

Information Materialities of Citizen Communication in the U.S. Congress. Samantha McDonald & Melissa Mazmanian. Submitted to CSCW 2019.

Communications Technology as Symbols of Institutional Legitimacy in the U.S. Congress. Samantha McDonald, Fan Yin, Melissa Mazmanian. Manuscript.


“We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naive to work toward a better one.”—Steven Pinker