Master’s Program Alumni

Starting with the arrival of our very first CMS students in 1999 and Science Writing students in 2002, our alumni have gone on to some extraordinary careers. And nearly all of them can draw a straight line from their studies at CMS/W to what they do today…

Featured Alumni

Lisa Song '09

Lisa Song, ’09
Pulitzer Prize-winner, Reporter at ProPublica

Steven Schirra, ’13

Steven Schirra, ’13
User Experience Research Manager at Twitch

Aswin Punathambekar, ’03: From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry (

Aswin Punathambekar, ’03
Founder and Director, Global Media Studies Initiative; Associate Professor at University of Michigan

Rekha Murthy, ’05, on "Transforming Humanities Education"

Rekha Murthy, ’05
Radio & Podcast Strategist

Julie Fischer, '14

Julie Fischer, ’14
User Experience Researcher, Google Play

Abby McBride, ’12

Abby McBride, ’12
Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow

Cara Giaimo, ’15

Cara Giaimo, ’15
Staff Writer, Atlas Obscura

Cristobal García Herrera, ’04

Cristobal García Herrera, ’04
Ph.D. Researcher & Innovation Group Co-Founder, Imperial College London’s Dyson School of Design Engineering

All Graduate Program Alumni

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David Spitz
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2001
Executive Vice President, Strategy & Corporate Development, WPP Digital
David Spitz Thesis: Contested Codes: The Social Construction of Napster
Christa Starr
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2001
Partner at Elephant Gun LLC
Christa Starr
Erik Stayton
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2015
Ph.D. student at MIT History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS)
Erik Stayton Erik Stayton is a technologist and technology scholar interested in shaping the future of human relationships to technology by studying and critiquing their past, their present, and conventionally accepted visions of their future. He received his dual-degree Sc.B. from Brown University in physics and English literature. After several years as a designer, programmer, and educational writer, he came to MIT Comparative Media Studies where he completed a master's thesis on automated vehicle technologies and the often unacknowledged complexity and hybridity of automated systems. Now at MIT HASTS, Erik continues his technocultural research on automation and human-machine interaction broadly defined. And he continues to extend his thesis work on automated vehicles at Nissan Research Center - Silicon Valley.

Thesis: Driverless Dreams: Technological Narratives and the Shape of the Automated Car
Abe Stein
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2013
Business Development, Turtle Entertainment America, Inc. (ESL)
Abe Stein Thesis: Televisual Sports Videogames
Siri Steiner
S.M., Science Writing, 2005
Siri Steiner Thesis: The Natural History of a Lost Sense
Anna Strachan
S.M., Science Writing, 2003
Freelance Producer/Writer/Director for NOVA-WGBH
Anna Strachan Anna Lee Strachan is an Emmy-nominated freelance producer for PBS’s NOVA series. She has produced and directed several hours for PBS’s NOVA including the critically-acclaimed The Fabric of the Cosmos, Making Stuff, and NOVA scienceNOW. As an associate producer she helped produce the Peabody Award-winning two-hour special, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. Prior to her television work, she wrote for NASA’s Ask an Astrobiologist website and produced for NPR’s Talk of the Nation: Science Friday. She has a degree in cognitive neuroscience from Harvard University and an M.S. in science writing from MIT.

Thesis: Chasing Chupacabras: Why People Would Rather Believe in a Bloodsucking Red-eyed Monster from Outer-Space than in a Pack of Hungry Dogs
Andy Stuhl
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2016
Andy Stuhl Andy's work centers on the technologies and social infrastructures behind creative labor. He's particularly interested in understanding 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 undergraduate thesis examined reactions to the cultural status of analog tools in sound recording communities.

Andy grew up in St. Louis but lately keeps coming back toward his birthplace near Boston; he's worked as a developer on an audio software team at Avid and, most recently, spent a year helping to design and develop interactive pieces at Small Design Firm. He likes to cook, mess with machines and explore resonant spaces for positive expression.
Nidhi Subbaraman
S.M., Science Writing, 2010
Nidhi Subbaraman Nidhi is a science reporter at BuzzFeed News. Previously, she worked at the Boston Globe and NBC News.

Thesis: Why We Sing: An Ode to Our Musical Origins
Huan Sun
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2013
Media Analyst, Soshio
Huan Sun Thesis: The Hidden Activism: Media Practices and the Media Opportunity in Chinese Politics of Resistance
Ainsley Sutherland
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2015
Ainsley Sutherland Ainsley graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Economics.

Ainsley has design experience in games, education, software, and transmedia production. Prior to graduate school, she worked at Game Changer Chicago, where she co-designed transmedia games and stories with youth.

Ainsley is from Baltimore and has a dog named Koda.

Thesis: Staged Empathy: Empathy and Visual Perception in Virtual Reality Systems
Lana Swartz
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2009
Assistant Professor of Media Studies, University of Virginia
Lana Swartz
Philip Tan
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2003
Creative Director, MIT Game Lab
Philip Tan is the creative director for the MIT Game Lab. He teaches CMS.608 Game Design and CMS.611J/6.073J Creating Video Games. For six years, he was the executive director for the US operations of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, a game research initiative.

He has served as a member of the steering committee of the Singapore chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and worked closely with Singapore game developers to launch industry-wide initiatives and administer content development grants as an assistant manager in the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore. Before 2005, he produced and designed PC online games at The Education Arcade, a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that studied and created educational games. He complements a Master's degree in Comparative Media Studies with work in Boston's School of Museum of Fine Arts, the MIT Media Lab, WMBR 88.1FM and the MIT Assassins' Guild, the latter awarding him the title of "Master Assassin" for his live-action roleplaying game designs. He also founded a DJ crew at MIT.

Thesis: Tensions in Live-Action Roleplaying Game Design: A Case Study with the MIT Assassins’ Guild
Kate Telma
S.M., Science Writing, 2017
Kate Telma Kate Telma began pursuing her education after she dropped out of a small high school in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Though she spent considerable time at Brown University perfecting the angles of hexane chair conformers until they became machine-knittable prints, Kate still managed to drink lots of coffee, sew lots of theater costumes, and push enough electrons to make out with an ScB in Chemical Biology. Most recently, Kate has worked at Bolt Threads, a startup poised at the intersection of her two favorite things–genetic engineering and textile design. Growing spider silk in yeast has its tactile limitations, however, and it became apparent that Kate needed to explore alpaca husbandry and fiber creation in New Zealand. When not playing Scrabble or deconstructing the patriarchy, Kate can be found blowing glass or scuba diving in cold water.
Maria Temming
S.M., Science Writing, 2017
Maria Temming Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Maria Temming always envisioned herself as an author. While other kids played soccer or video games or the clarinet, Maria spent hours hashing out plot lines and characters. She never thought she would find anything quite as fascinating as her own word-constructed worlds—until she took a physics class. At first, Maria viewed physics and astronomy concepts merely as excellent fodder for sci-fi stories, but she soon found herself fascinated with the real science of the cosmos.

As physics and English major at Elon University ‘16, Maria realized that science writing appeased both her inner STEM fangirl, who loved learning about the weird and wonderful phenomena in our universe, and the creative writer, who just wanted to spend her time telling stories. Maria cut her teeth in science journalism by writing for Sky & Telescope in the summer of 2014, and she worked as an AAAS Mass Media Fellow at Scientific American the following summer. During the school year, Maria got her science writing fix by contributing to the university tech blog and working on her thesis project: composing three chapters of a popular science book about the attendees of the Green Bank Meeting of 1961, the seminal SETI conference. She looks forward to further honing her science communication skills at MIT, so that she can get someone else excited about jaw-dropping, mind-bending, and sometimes just plain head-scratching research that physicists and astronomers are doing.
Yao Tong
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2017
Yao Tong Yao Tong graduated from the University of Michigan, double majoring in Communication Studies and Economics. Growing up in Beijing, Yao took a particular interest in the complex interplay between political, economic, and cultural contexts impacting new media in Asia. Most recently, she interned at China Central Television (CCTV) as a director assistant, where her tasks involved coming up with an effective propagation strategy in the face of the continuous mediocre television ratings. To delve deeper, Yao conducted an independent research project on microblogging services in China and revealed substantial insights on how cultural and social factors dictate the way Chinese people communicate online.

In her spare time, Yao is an ardent jazz music lover and an enthusiastic pianist in chamber music groups on campus. She swims every day to keep fit, and loves to go to BSO (Boston Symphony Orchestra) to admire her favorite musicians such as Evgeny Kissin and Anna Netrebko.
Deniz Tortum
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2016
Deniz Tortum Deniz Tortum is a filmmaker, researcher and designer. He is currently a fellow at Harvard Film Study Center, where he is working on a film about a hospital in Istanbul and works with Virtual Collaboration Research, where he designs virtual reality experiences. His first feature film, Zayiat, has been screened internationally, including at SXSW. His most recent film, If Only There Were Peace, was selected to Sheffield, True/False FF and won the best short documentary award at Dokufest.
Whitney Trettien
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2009
Assistant Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
Whitney Trettien Whitney Trettien is a scholar, creator, and teacher whose work weaves together archival research and creative use of technologies. She has a PhD from Duke University, an MS from MIT, and is an Assistant Professor of English at University of Pennsylvania. Before moving to Penn, she taught in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC Chapel Hill.

Thesis: Computers, Cut-ups and Combinatory Volvelles: An Archaeology of Text-Generating Mechanisms
Lauren (Maurer) Trew
S.M., Science Writing, 2012
Thesis: Flashback: The Return of Psychedelic Medicine
George Tsiveriotis
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2017
George Tsiveriotis George moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2009 after attending high school in Athens, Greece. He earned his B.S. from Stanford University in Symbolic Systems, an interdisciplinary program that consists of coursework in computer science, psychology, philosophy, and linguistics.

George spent the year before grad school working in Facebook's communications and policy department, where he collaborated with tech reporters from outlets such as WIRED and the Washington Post on stories about a wide range of topics including tech accessibility, the Silicon Valley gender gap, and the role of analog art in online communities.

George's research interests include social media, online identity, techno-utopianism, and algorithmic bias.

Thesis: Everything is Awful: Snark as Ritualized Practice in Online Discourse
Rachel VanCott
S.M., Science Writing, 2008
Rachel VanCott Thesis: Ghost at the Machine: Internet Addiction and Compulsive Computer Use
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