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Headshot of Zari Taylor
Zari Taylor

Zari Taylor, The Graduate School’s 2022-2023 senior fellow for the Weiss Urban Livability Program, has been awarded the NYU Provost Post-Doctoral Fellowship and the University of Michigan Digital Studies Institute Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Taylor, who will receive her Ph.D. from the Department of Communication in May, will be returning home to New York City to join NYU in the fall.

In her role as Weiss senior fellow, Taylor facilitated interdisciplinary opportunities for students, including academic seminars, and provided leadership for the fellowship program, which supports and recruits graduate students who share a common interest in urban livability. Taylor participated in the fellowship program as a first-year graduate student in 2019.

Taylor is a 2018 alumna of the University of Virginia, where she studied English and African American studies. At Carolina, her research has focused on how algorithms and social media platforms reproduce and exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequalities across race. Her research also considers how beauty capital dictates visibility within apps like TikTok and Instagram and leads to disparities in the burgeoning influencer industry.

The Department of Communication is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences. We spoke with Taylor about her time as the Weiss senior fellow and her plans for NYU.

What has been the best part of participating in the fellowship?

The best part of participating in the Weiss fellowship was being able to talk with the cohort of students and allowing them to bring their own expertise and experience to shaping the course over the academic year. The class was unlike any other that I have taught while here at UNC-Chapel Hill, so it was great to be able to sharpen my skills in a setting that was equal parts academic and casual.

What were you able to accomplish in the past year?

Like most graduate students in their final year, I have been spending most of my time over the last year writing my dissertation, applying to jobs, and teaching. I have been able to be fairly successful in completing all three (given, a finished dissertation is the best one), in addition to working on several articles and a chapter that I am co-authoring. The job market journey is very long and arduous, but thankfully I have been able to find a place to land after graduating this summer.

How has the Weiss fellowship supported you?

The Weiss fellowship was great in providing financial support during my tenure as a senior fellow. Economic precarity is an experience many graduate students have and so finding supplementary jobs is always amazing.

What kind of work will you be doing under the auspices of the NYU Provost Post-Doctoral Fellowship and the University of Michigan Digital Studies Institute Post-Doctoral Fellowship?

I will be an Assistant Professor/Fellow at NYU and that entails teaching a course per semester, but also professional development through mentorship and spending time working on my future research agenda. As of now, that’ll be developing my dissertation into a book manuscript and doing ethnographic research that will structure future projects.

The Weiss Fellowship, founded in 1992, is named for Charles and Shirley Weiss, who retired as professors from the University. 

UNC celebrates Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week April 1-7.

By The Graduate School

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