Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Dr. Stephanie moved around with her with her nomadic parents over fifty times during her childhood, primarily in the Pacific Northwest and later to the South as a teen.
“Traveling and getting to know other people and other cultures really broadens your own perspective,” said Dean. “Get out there with your cameras and experience everything.”
She attended the University of Alabama where she began to study music.
“I loved playing, but it’s not really what I wanted to do forever,” said Dean. “My mom is an elementary school teacher, and I loved the education part, but not so much the age group.”
“I wanted to teach at an age group where I could have the more difficult discussions with, and so I did my undergrad in high school education,” she continued
After graduating, she and her ex-husband moved to Sweden, where they lived for fifteen years.
“I had the opportunity to work in a really amazing digital humanities lab called HUMLab,” said Dean. “There I got into linguistics and computer mediated communications.”
She got to look at how people were using the internet and computers to communicate and form community.
“This was when people were just getting online more regularly. Blogging and Facebook had just gone public and not just at the one school,” said Dean. “In that kind of early stages, I absolutely fell in love and knew that that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
While in Sweden, she earned her M.A and Ph.D. in computer mediated communications from HUMLab at Umea University.
In her free time, Dean enjoys exploring the van life and RV life movement.
Last summer, her and a group renovated an RV and travelled the southwest.
“We did it for a big project called Project Liberatas. We went from here to a Star Trek convention in LA and back. We stopped in 12 different cities and asked people if they understood what their first amendment rights were, what did that mean to them. What did it mean to live here?”
According to Dean, the trip also allowed them to do some 360 capture using drones and special cameras.
“We tried to capture a slice of American life across the US,” said Dean.
Though it is difficult to travel right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean pointed out that RVs are a safe way to travel as you have your own bathroom and kitchen. She is currently on her second RV restoration.
Dean also mentioned that she hoped to be able the explore the west coast during a future project since she was unable to this go around.
A few of her favorite places she’s traveled to were Greece and Vienna.
“They’re nice in completely different ways,” she said. “When I was in Vienna though, I met up with a group of technologists, or they also call themselves futurists, which is the coolest job title ever.
She particularly enjoyed being able to travel with locals and go beyond tourist places. “I had the best wienerschnitzel and you could see the water outside.”
Dean also mentioned that she had a couple of podcasts, one of which is called “Restoration RV.”
Dean first got into podcasting since she has always been interested in new media.
“I feel like it’s my job to stay as current as possible, but also really remind myself and my students that it’s about the story, not the technology,” said Dean. “The technology can give us different ways of telling the story.”
However, according to Dean, she started learning about audio as a necessity since she works with video. A producer friend who she cocreated an immersive storytelling lab with helped her better understand audio.
“I’ve always enjoyed listening to podcasts. When I started learning audio, it was a natural transition to go from being a consumer of podcasting to becoming a producer.”
She has been back in the States since 2014, but has been teaching since 2004 and has taught multiple subjects including English and drama.
Dean is currently on her first year of teaching at UM as an assistant professor in Mass Communications.
Ariel Hall is a writer for The Alabamian. She is a senior communication studies major and enjoys reading and photography in her free time. Previously, Zoe has acted as editor in chief, lifestyles editor and advice columnist.