Isabelle A. Zaugg, PhD is a communication scholar and filmmaker who studies language and culture, media, and digital technologies in the global public sphere. Her research investigates the relationship between gaps in support for digitally-disadvantaged languages and patterns of mass extinction of language diversity. A primary focus has been studying the digital history and online vitality of the East African languages that utilize the Ethiopic script. Her research addresses the extent to which the script and its languages are supported in the digital sphere, including tracing the history of its inclusion in Unicode. Dr. Zaugg has proposed policy, governance, and advocacy solutions to better support digitally-disadvantaged languages, in turn supporting their long-term survival. She also addresses the risks of surveillance and the need for robust content moderation for digitally-disadvantaged languages as they move up the ladder of “full stack” digital support.
Dr. Zaugg is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University’s Data Science Institute and a Lecturer at Columbia’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. She earned her PhD in Communication and MA in Film & Video from American University in Washington, D.C. She earned a BA in Art Semiotics from Brown University, and is an alumna of the United World College of the Adriatic. She hails from the San Luis Valley of Colorado, U.S.A., and calls Addis Ababa, Ethiopia home.