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The Gender Matters Podcast is back!
Recording via Zoom, we are taking public health guidelines seriously while bringing you new content. 

Feel free to listen to the episodes below and look to our Gender Matters Blog for more great content.

We would like to thank the staff at Silverman Library Media Services for all their assistance.

Creating Queer and Feminist Community in the Palah Light Lab: A Conversation with Cody Mejeur and Blair Johnson

Episode 6
November 18, 2020
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Theme music: Liturgy of the Street by Shane Ivers -

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark learns more about the Palah 파랗 Light Lab from two of the founding cohort members, Visiting Assistant Professor Cody Mejeur and doctoral candidate Blair Johnson (English).

The lab is a creative and critical space that fosters poetry, participation, and pedagogy through technology and equity. As a knowledge-design, new media, and poetry lab, the Palah Light Lab investigates critical questions in cultural criticism along with the networked arts and humanities. Based out of the University of Buffalo Department of Media Study, Palah Light Lab is funded by SUNY Diversity Faculty Fellowship and led by Dr. Margaret Rhee. The lab promotes feminist creativity, mentorship, and collaboration through a creative space.

Throughout the course of our conversation, we discuss how COVID-19 has impacted gaming communities, particularly those often marginalized within them, as well as the importance of maintaining queer and feminist digital communities in times of increased isolation.


Blonde person smiling outdoors on a gray day.

Cody Mejeur
Department of Media Study

Guest Biographies

Cody Mejeur is a game scholar, developer, player, and activist whose work focuses on trans, queer, and feminist studies and social justice in video games and new media. They received their PhD in English from Michigan State University with specializations in game studies, digital humanities, and college teaching. Their work uses games to theorize narrative as an embodied and playful process that constructs how we understand ourselves, our realities, and our differences. They have published on games pedagogy, gender and queerness in games, and the narrative construction of reality in journals including Feminist Media Studies and Digital Humanities Quarterly and edited collections such as Beyond the Sea: Navigating Bioshock and The Pokémon Go Phenomenon.

Their current projects include their first monograph, Queer Narrative, Queer Play: Player Experiences and Ludic Realities in Video Games, which focuses focuses on how narrative operates in games to structure inward experiences and outward realities, and further argues that storytelling can build more inclusive and socially just realities through play. They are also the project lead on Trans Folks Walking, a 3D walking simulator game that is an anthology of trans experiences developed in collaboration with local media and LGBTQ resource centers.

They work with the LGBTQ Video Game Archive on preserving and visualizing LGBTQ representation in video games. They are also editor at One Shot: A Journal of Critical Games & Play and serve as Diversity Officer for the Digital Games Research Association.

White woman with brown hair leans forward with her chin resting on her hand.

Blair Johnson
Department of English

Blair Johnson is a poet and PhD candidate in English at the University at Buffalo, with a focus on media & visual studies, materiality, and technology. Her poems have appeared in Boston ReviewDIAGRAM, and Best American Experimental Writing. With her partner, she makes handmade books & code poems. She currently works in the lab on a number of projects, including writing for the lab blog and organizing local events.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: A Conversation with Judith Olin and Linda Dynel

Episode 5
October 21, 2020
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Special Production Assistance from Omar Brown, Office of Media Services, UB Libraries
Theme music: Liturgy of the Street by Shane Ivers -

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Judith Olin, supervisor of the UB School of Law's Family Violence Women's Rights Clinic and domestic violence survivor Linda Dynal about the importance of domestic violence awareness during the month of October. 

We discuss ways to support survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence, the effects of COVID-19 on instances of domestic violence, and the work left to do. 

Please note that while the host and guests sometimes use she/her pronouns for survivors and he/him pronouns for perpetrators, we recognize that people of all genders can experience intimate partner violence as well as inflict it on others. 

If you or someone you love is facing domestic violence, here are some local and national resources.

Erie County 

Family Justic Center
716.558.SAFE (7233)

Crisis Services
716.862.HELP (4357)

Haven House

New York State

Domestic Violence Hotline
Call: 800.942.6906
Text: 844.997.2121


National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.SAFE (7233)


Image of Linda Dynel.

Linda Dynel

Guest Biographies

Linda Dynel is the author of the memoir Leaving Dorian. Since its publication in 2014, Leaving Dorian has been widely read by DV help center coordinators and directors as well as by victim and survivor groups. It’s also used as a textbook in graduate and undergraduate Criminology, Social Work, Sociology and Psychology courses as well as with the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy.

Linda spends much of her time presenting and taking part in workshops and lectures on domestic violence to agencies and groups in the community, such as UB School of Law, the UB Family Violence Women’s Rights Clinic and the NYS Unified Court System. She’s also a regular guest speaker for the Erie County Domestic Violence High Risk Team.

Linda is also the honored recipient of The Zonta Club of Niagara Falls, NY, 2016 Woman of Distinction Award and The YWCA of Niagara 2016 Entrepreneur Award.

Image of Judith Olin.

Judith Olin

Judith Olin has been a licensed attorney since 1986.  She has served as the Director of  the Family Violence Women’s Rights Clinic at the University at Buffalo School of Law since 2016.  In that Clinic, she supervised second and third year law students who, under at special Student Practice Order, represent survivors of domestic violence in family law cases. Previously, Professor Olin worked as a domestic violence and sexual assault crimes prosecutor at the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, and as a Staff Attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. where she represented survivors of domestic violence in family law cases. As Director of the Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center, Professor Olin led a multidisciplinary team that coordinated child abuse investigations for Erie County. Professor Olin chairs the Domestic Violence Committee of the Women’s Bar Association of Western New York and serves on The Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence and the local Rape Crisis Advisory Board.

Dignity for the Dying: A Conversation with Drs. Christopher Kerr and Carine Mardorossian

Episode 4
February 26, 2020 (Recorded February 12, 2020)
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Special Production Assistance from Omar Brown and Chris Cheung,
Office of Media Services, University at Buffalo Libraries

Download here:

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Drs. Christopher Kerr (MD, PhD) and Carine Mardorossian (PhD) about their new collaborative book, Death is but a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life's End (New York: Penguin Random House, 2020). This book brings together medicine and the humanities to discover the meaning and role of visions and dreams at the end of life. These experiences are common for people in Kerr's hospice care who often resolve their life stories and bring their narrative arc to a peaceful close before death.

The book follows several people who describe various dreams or visions. Kerr and Mardorossian artfully weave their stories together in order to advance their central argument: people in the midst of the dying process deserve dignity that that current medical care approaches may not offer. Our conversation covers the genesis of Kerr's research, what brought Mardorossian and Kerr together, and restoring death to its place as an integral part of life. 

We also discuss the early success of the book and future directions for the research and medical humanities. Kerr's research has been widely acclaimed and featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, WIVB Local News, and the Grief Dreams Podcast. Death is but a Dream was recently featured in The Washington Post and Publisher's Weekly. Kerr also delivered a TEDx Buffalo talk on the subject and a documentary about Kerr's research, also entitled Death is but a Dream, is in post-production. 

Dr. Christopher Kerr of Hospice Buffalo.

Dr. Christopher Kerr of Hospice Buffalo

"Helping Chris with this project, what was really striking to me is precisely his ability to stand back and let the patients speak."
Carine Mardorossian, Professor
Department of English









Guest Biographies

Dr. Christopher Kerr joined Hospice Buffalo in 1999 as the Medical Director for Hospice Buffalo’s 22-bed Inpatient Unit and served in that capacity until 2011, when he was appointed Center for Hospice and Palliative Care’s Chief Medical Officer.  Kerr was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and comes from a long line of physicians, of which he is now the fifth generation. He has an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a Doctorate of Medicine, a PhD in Neurobiology and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Rochester. 

Kerr’s background in research has evolved from bench science towards the human experience of illness as witnessed from the bedside, specifically patient’s dreams and visions at the end of life. Kerr has overseen the integration and expansion of palliative care into local hospitals and developed one of the nation’s largest home-based palliative care programs, Home Connections, and Essential Care for Children. He has lectured and published on innovative program models that are designed to better align patient/family services to the complexity of needs inherent to advanced illness.

Dr. Carine Mardorossian is a Professor of English at the University at Buffalo.

Dr. Carine Mardorossian is a professor of English at the University at Buffalo.

Dr. Carine Mardorossian is professor of English at the University at Buffalo, SUNY where she specializes in postcolonial, Caribbean studies, feminist studies and more recently, the medical humanities. Her previous books are Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2014) and Reclaiming Difference: Caribbean women writers Rewrite Postcolonialism (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005). Death is but a Dream is her first co-authored and collaborative book but not her last. She is currently completing a manuscript on Caribbean literature and the environment with one of her former graduate students turned colleague, Professor Veronica Wong.

Bringing Intersectionality to Public Policy: A Conversation with Karen King and Karolina Kulicka

Episode 3
January 29, 2020
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark
Special production assistance from Omar Brown and Chris Cheung, Office of Media Services, University at Buffalo Libraries.

Download here:

Karolina Kulicka (Far left) with interns.

Karolina Kulicka (Far left) with interns presenting their policy briefs.

“They (the interns) became immersed in the process as well as understanding the theoretical underpinnings of intersectionality. ”
Karen King, Executive Director
Erie County Commission on the Status of Women

On this episode, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Dr. Karen King, Erie County Commissioner of Public Advocacy, and Karolina Kulicka, doctoral candidate in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. 

King and Kulicka discuss their collaboration on a Women's Studies Internship between the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women and the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. The internship provides students the opportunity to develop public policy briefs related to women and gender in Erie County. We talk about the challenges of bringing theory to public policy, transitioning between public service and academia, and making positive change through policy. Our conversation also covers the skills and character traits interns develop through the internship. 

The internship is available for advanced undergraduate and Master's students through GGS 496/GGS 560 and is open to non-GGSS majors who are interested in gender and public policy. Interns will present their policy briefs to community members and local policy makers. To learn more, click here.

Erie County Commissioner of Public Advocacy Karen King.

Guest Biographies

Karen King is the Commissioner of Public Advocacy for Erie County and the Executive Director of the Erie County Commission the Status of Women. The Commission works to provide resources to the women and girls of Erie County, to ensure that they participate fully in matters that have an impact on their lives, and toward the elimination of all gender based discrimination as well as the promotion of women’s economic, societal and political empowerment.

Dr. King has served as an adjunct graduate faculty member in the Higher Education Student Affairs Administration Program at Buffalo State College and in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo. Additionally, she has developed and taught courses and conducted numerous workshops on popular media culture, social justice advocacy, multicultural competency, privilege, gender, race and class. Dr. King’s research interests include examining the role gender, race, class, and popular culture play in informing women’s and girl’s identity development and access to opportunity.

She serves on the New York State Council for Women and Girls, the Board of the Family Justice Center, the Executive Committee of the University at Buffalo Gender Institute, The Minority, Women Business Enterprise Utilization Advisory Board Members, and the County of Erie and City of Buffalo Joint Certification Committee.

GGSS Women's Studies Internship Director Karolina Kulicka.

Karolina Kulicka is an instructor in Women's Studies Internship Course, a recipient of the International Peace Scholarship, and a doctoral candidate in Global Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research focuses on gendered organizations, institutional mechanisms of sustaining inequality as well as public service institutions. Building on her joint experience in academia and public policy-making, she engages in projects that bring together feminist theory, government organizations, and civil society.

Leading a Feminist Life from a Conservative Christian Background: A Conversation with Mackenzie Junjulas

Episode 2
November 6, 2019
Produced by Hilary Vandenbark, with assistance from Chris Cheung, Office of Media Services, University at Buffalo Libraries.

This week, host Hilary Vandenbark speaks with Mackenzie Junjulas, a 21-year-old Senior, studying English and Psychology with a concentration in Legal Studies here at UB. After she graduates, Junjulas hopes to pursue a career in Law and will be applying to law schools soon. 

In this episode, we discuss our similar upbringings in conservative non-denominational Christian households and our journeys to become feminists. We tackle some of the difficulties of managing these ostensibly contradictory identities and discuss how our understanding of religion, politics, feminism, and family have evolved. 

The Unpredictability of Memory: A Conversation with Artist Tricia Butski

Episode 1
October 8, 2019
Edited and produced by Chris Cheung and Omar Brown, Office of Media Services, University at Buffalo Libraries.


This week, on the inaugural Gender Matters podcast, Graduate Assistant Hilary Vandenbark speaks with local artist and UB alumnus Tricia Butski (MFA, 2015). Butski's charcoal on paper works, "Errant" and "Tenuous," are on display at the Gender Institute. 

Butski is a fine artist and educator living and working in Buffalo, NY. Butski studied traditional drawing and oil painting, receiving her BFA from SUNY at Fredonia in 2013 and her MFA from the University at Buffalo in 2015. She is currently an Artist in Residence at the Buffalo Arts Studio. She also works as an adjunct professor at Erie Community College and SUNY Fredonia, where she teaches drawing, painting and digital design courses.

Butski’s work has been included in several group exhibitions, most recently in shows at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo (‘19), Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, NY (‘18), the Trimain Center in Buffalo (‘18) and the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls (‘17). Some of her most recent solo exhibitions include shows at the Nichols School Gallery in Buffalo (‘19), Revolution Gallery in Buffalo (‘18), the Roz Steiner Art Gallery in Batavia (‘17) and the Buffalo Arts Studio (‘16). Butski has also participated in public arts collaborations, working on murals on Niagara Street, Clinton Street, and Ash Street in Buffalo, NY, and on 3rd Street in Niagara Falls, NY.

Butski’s recent works have primarily been portraiture, and her exploration into the blurred lines between realistic representation of her subjects and abstractionism. To learn more about Butski and her work, please visit her website,