Comparative Media Studies
Beyza Boyacioglu is a Boston-based documentary filmmaker, video artist, and curator. She directed the short “Toñita’s”, a documentary portrait of the last Puerto Rican social club in Brooklyn. Toñita’s was produced during Beyza’s fellowship at UnionDocs Collaborative Studio, and premiered at MoMA Documentary Fortnight. The film was awarded Brooklyn Spirit Award at Brooklyn Film Festival. Beyza curates Fiction-Non, a documentary series exploring narrative/non-fiction hybrid films. Her work as a video artist has been exhibited in many venues including MoMA (New York), The Invisible Dog Art Center (Brooklyn), NoteOn (Berlin), and Sakip Sabanci Museum (Istanbul).
Lily Bui holds dual bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California, Irvine. Her motley trajectory most recently brought her to Public Radio Exchange (PRX), where she helps distribute STEM content, and SciStarter, where she helps find and tell stories about citizen science. In other past lives, she has worked on Capitol Hill; served in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. In her spare time, she builds gadgets and thinks of cheesy puns. Like many graduate students, she is interested in anything and everything.
Kyrie E. H. Caldwell earned her B.A. in Art History and Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a return to her Midwestern hometown after a good while spent in Conyers, Georgia. During that while, Kyrie played many video games, steeping herself especially in the rich worlds and stories of the Final Fantasy series. Since then, she thought about those video games through various humanistic lenses, from literature to folklore to Japanese studies to her undergraduate majors, until she realized that she could cut to the chase and directly study video games using those various humanistic lenses. Thus she found the wonderful people of UW-Madison’s Games + Learning + Society group and now finds herself in CMS at MIT. Kyrie’s academic interests lie in transcendental experiences, particularly but not limited to those of mystical religious practices and play. Personally, she has been known to fence sabre and chase down frisbees, write wine auction catalogues and bake desserts, listen to too much music and wear fancy floral dresses. She suspects that her personal and academic interests are inseparably intertwined, thanks in large part to being raised by academics on a university campus. She is constantly inspired by her brother Piers, who is a musician and producer based in Berlin.
Anika Gupta grew up near Washington, DC, where she wrote her first poem at the age of six. A passion for all things dramatic and literary led her to become co-president of her high school’s Shakespeare Club, and later to a degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School. After graduating, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine, where her favorite subjects included invasive lionfish and disappearing Indian forts. In 2009, she moved to New Delhi, and working as a national science correspondent, covering nanotechnology, entrepreneurship and climate change, among other subjects. In 2012, she started the New Delhi chapter of Hacks/Hackers, a collaborative group of journalists and technologists who meet to brainstorm the future of news. A little after that, she joined the TV channel CNN IBN to head CJ Online—a digital storytelling project focused on user-generated content and collaborative news. She has been invited to speak on media panels about creating stakeholders in online journalism, and at entrepreneurship conferences about participatory and new media. Her articles have appeared in Smithsonian, Fortune, the Guardian, and elsewhere.
Lilia Kilburn is curious about interactions between the voice and technology—everything from invasive vocal surgeries to Auto-Tune. She seeks to get at the ways in which writers can speak to the subtleties of the human voice through techniques drawn from ethnography, creative nonfiction, and audio documentary. Lilia has alternately lived near and far from her birthplace, Boston. She graduated from Amherst College and has worked as a graphic designer, a jukebox refurbisher, and a researcher in Cameroon and South Africa. Lately she’s been at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics studying public discourse on autism, which dovetails with her broader interest in understanding how minority groups the world over contend with popular conceptions of their lives. She likes reading fiction aloud and really good mustard.
Lacey Lord was born and raised in Southern Indiana. She earned a B.A. in English with a concentration in Literature and minors in Digital Media and Peace and Conflict Resolution from Ball State University. Lacey is most interested in the ways in which digital media are affecting how we consume, construct, and participate within fictional and nonfictional stories. Her most recent projects include an extensive exhibit on the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and two transmedia projects for the Indiana State Museum, Transmedia Indiana and Transmedia Star Wars. She was also a design editor at The Broken Plate, Ball State’s national literary magazine, and published a short memoir as a member of The Invictus Writers in 2013.
Gordon Mangum joins CMS having worked in radio and media development for the last decade. He was previously Country Director of Internews Sudan, which built a network of six community radio stations in border areas of Sudan and South Sudan. While there he directed the training of local journalists in the run-up to the vote for independence in 2011. He has also consulted with radio projects in Somalia, Uganda, and Cambodia. He was most recently Chief Engineer of WERS in Boston. His interests include developing and improving information systems, participatory civics and the public good, and music. Gordon holds a dual B.A. from the University of Virginia in Philosophy and Religious Studies.
Andy Stuhl’s work centers on the technologies and social infrastructures behind creative labor. He’s interested in how people make music and what it can tell us about digital mediation. At Stanford, he majored in Science, Technology, and Society—an interdisciplinary program that let him piece together coursework in media studies, computer science, and music technology—and minored in Creative Writing. His thesis there examined reactions to the cultural status of analog tools in sound recording communities. He grew up in St. Louis but keeps coming back toward his birthplace near Boston; he’s worked as a developer on an audio software team at Avid and spent a year helping design and develop interactive pieces at Small Design Firm. He likes to cook, mess with machines and explore resonant spaces for positive expression.
After growing up in Istanbul, Deniz Tortum moved to the US to study film at Bard College. As his graduation film, he shot his first feature film, Zayiat, which has been selected for SxSW and !F Istanbul Film Festivals. Until recently, Deniz had been based in New York, working on several documentary projects. He has also been a board member of New York Film and Video Council, the longest running non-profit organization in New York. At MIT, Deniz will be joining the Open Documentary Lab. His research interests include interactive archives of places and hybrid documentary forms.
Graduate Program in Science Writing
Rachel Becker Rachel Becker is a staff science journalist at The Verge.
Christina Couch is a human interest and finance journalist who’s making the transition into science writing. Her writing credentials include work for Wired, Discover Magazine, The AV Club, Playboy.com, Time Out Chicago and Entrepreneur Magazine and she’s the author of a financial aid guidebook that came out in 2008, but what she’s most proud of is getting to gesture wildly and say “TODAY I INTERVIEWED THE MOST AMAZING PERSON ON EARTH!” to family and friends at least once a week. Christina has spent the last five years living as a permanent traveler and moving to a different city or country roughly every three months (thank you, remote work technology). Aside from travel and space and robots (and traveling space robots), Christina’s interests include awkward dancing, indie video games and the first three Die Hard movies.
Cara Giaimo graduated from Amherst College with a double degree in English and Biology, a thesis that attempted to illustrate biological principles using techniques gleaned from experimental literature, and several rescue planarians. They all moved to Boston straight away and have pretty much stayed put. Cara has held (with varying degrees of firmness) jobs in gardening, marketing, farmer’s market hummus-hawking, travel writing, genetic researching, and newspaper delivery. Her professional interests include conservation and its movements, bio- and enviro-ethics, and how different cultures view nature (since we can’t know the reverse); some more leisurely ones are gender theory, electric guitars, and weird ice cream. You can find her writing at Autostraddle, Case Magazine, and the Boston Hassle, and her at email@example.com or @cjgiaimo. If you just can’t find her anywhere, she’s probably on her bike.
Michael Greshko grew up in Huntersville, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte. Ever since he first sported a bowl cut—thankfully, many years ago—he’s been interested in both creating and sharing moments of wonder with others, leading him to science, writing, and performance. Michael recently graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in Spanish, and maintaining his schedule was perhaps the biggest wonder of all: Outside of the classroom, he split his time between working in a paleoecology lab, writing award-winning article series for the student newspaper, and performing in student-produced musicals. Needless to say, he’s most comfortable at the nexus of the arts and the sciences, and for this reason among many, he is thrilled to be at MIT this year. Michael is currently orbiting the binary stars of journalism and research science, hoping to live happily on this professional Tatooine as a science communicator and academic. That said, he admits that being a moisture farmer would have its perks. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, graphic design, SyFy Channel Original Movies, and hiking. He is also a part-time magician and maintains a respectable playing card collection.
Suzanne Jacobs spent her earliest years in the New York City suburbs and Lincoln, Nebraska, but primarily grew up in Columbus, Ohio. She headed north to the University of Michigan. After sampling a wide variety of subjects, including Greek literature, extreme weather, philosophy and organic chemistry, Suzanne found herself in a physics class, where she fell in love. As much as she enjoyed her physics classes, Suzanne longed for a writing outlet outside of lab reports, so she wandered into the newsroom at the student newspaper and joined the staff of The Michigan Daily. She soon became as passionate about journalism as she was about physics and went on to intern at a blog called The Utopianist and at the local NPR affiliate station in Michigan. Since completing her bachelor’s degree in physics nearly two years ago, Suzanne has continued to pursue both science and writing at the University of Michigan by studying iceberg calving with an engineering professor and doing research for a book on social entrepreneurship with a business school professor. Although physics and writing often seem like separate pursuits, Suzanne hopes to combine her passions to help show a general audience how amazing hard science really is.
Anna Nowogrodzki spent her childhood amid the black raspberries, creeks, and cornfields of central New York. Though in seventh grade she made a future business card that read “Anna Nowogrodzki, botanist,” she found the written word as captivating as the natural world. At Dartmouth, she majored in being out in the woods (Environmental and Evolutionary Biology) and minored in curling up with a good book (English). Post-college, she found purpose in tracking southern pine beetles in the field, editing elementary school science textbooks, studying flower development genes at the New York Botanical Garden, teaching gardening to children in the Bronx, and searching for disease resistance in grapevines at Cornell. In science writing, she is thrilled to have found a field where her inability to shut up about science is actually an asset. Her current interests include agriculture, ecology, plants, why misinformation persists, flawed systems, and how to affect change. She firmly believes in singing with people, goat cheese, mental health advocacy, Excel spreadsheets, and expansive views.
Sarah Schwartz was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She spent her childhood getting lost in redwoods and stories, collecting wood sorrel and novels, and learning how to identify constellations and split infinitives. Dreading that someday she would have to make a career decision between the sciences or writing, she studied both fields at the University of California, San Diego, where she earned her B.S. in Environmental Systems while taking Revelle College’s rigorous Humanities series and as many writing courses as possible. She has worked in laboratories at UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, learning about bacterial aging, natural sunscreens, neonatal hypoxia-ischemia, marine sponge biochemistry, and what to do when you set the ethanol on fire. These experiences fostered her deep respect and appreciation for scientific research and professional scientists; they have also left her eager to keep studying, supporting, and contributing to the natural and physical sciences. Though her primary interests lie in the areas of environmental and human health, Sarah hopes to explore various fields and interdisciplinary challenges, and to generate a broad dialogue about important, exciting science. In her free time, Sarah loves to bake, sing, hike, and obsess about Giants baseball.
A product of Raleigh, NC, Josh Sokol writes bio blurbs with casual flair and a knack for subtle self-promotion. Josh graduated from Swarthmore College in 2011, where he majored in English Literature and Astronomy. He then took his talents to the land of acronyms as a Research& Instrument Analyst (RIA) at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), where he helped calibrate the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) for NASA (NASA). His non-astronomical interests include oceans, literature, bad movies, fossils, “taking his talents,” and his succulent plants, which he will also take, along with his talents, to MIT.
Equally enchanted by scientific inquiry and syntax, Annie Tague is thrilled to be a science writer in the making at MIT and a CASW Taylor/Blakeslee Fellow for 2014-2015. After earning Departmental Honors in English from Haverford College, Annie scavenged post-baccalaureate science coursework amounting to a B.S. equivalency in Biology. Curiosity—that dynamic compass—carried her to fieldwork in public health, environmental conservation, chemistry and agriculture. She hopes to wield communication skills to make fascination infectious, bear witness to worlds beyond immediate perception and fuel interest in the social significance of science.