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 Alumni (Alphabetical)

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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
Deniz Tortum
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2016
Deniz Tortum 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 works with the Open Documentary Lab. His research interests include interactive archives of places and hybrid documentary forms.

Thesis: Embodied Montage: Reconsidering Immediacy in Virtual Reality
Whitney Trettien
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2009
Assistant Professor, English, UNC Chapel Hill
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. His master's thesis was titled "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
Iris Vargas
S.M., Science Writing, 2008
Iris Vargas Thesis: Earthlings: Humanity’s Essential Relationship with Gravity
Mara Vatz
S.M., Science Writing, 2004
Thesis: Knowing When to Stop: The Investigation of Flight 191
Ilya Vedrashko
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2006
SVP, Consumer Intelligence, Hill Holliday
Ilya Vedrashko Thesis: Advertising in Computer Games
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2006
Disability and Technology Consultant, Radical Disability Blogger and Writer
kestrell Thesis: Decloaking Disability: Images of Disability and Technology in Science Fiction Media
Karen Verschooren
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2007
Karen Verschooren Thesis: .art: Situating Internet Art in the Traditional Institution for Contemporary Art
Kenrick Vezina
S.M., Science Writing, 2011
Science Writer, Editor, and Educator
Thesis: Metromorphosis: Evolution on the Urban Island
Maya Wagoner
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2017
Maya Wagoner Maya M. Wagoner is currently a research assistant at the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation, working on a participatory action research project to understand the people in the field of technology for social justice. She is broadly interested in building digital platforms with principles of social justice, collaborative design, and critical pedagogy. Prior to studying at MIT, she grew up all around California, worked as a UX designer and usability researcher, and was an organizer of both the UC Santa Cruz African/Black Student Alliance and Code for San Francisco.
Yu Wang
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2015
Yu Wang Wang Yu spent his years empowering Chinese grass root NGOs with technology. As a member of NGO 2.0 China project, he participated in building the Philanthropy Map, which is designed to help Chinese NGOs and corporations find each other's needs. He also attended Web 2.0 workshops for Chinese NGOs as an instructor, to train them how to utilize social media to achieve their goal.

As a graduate student at University of Science and Technology of China, Wang is interested in software developing and engineering, science communication, online education, data analysis, mining and visualization. He believes that the well-being of society resides in collaborative solving social issues and sharing delight about knowledge, life, and the world.

Thesis: Heike, Jike, Chuangke: Creativity in the Chinese Technology Community
Qi Wang
S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2002
Associate Professor, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology
Qi Wang Thesis: Negotiating Realists: The Sixth Generation of Chinese Filmmakers
Genevieve Wanucha
S.M., Science Writing, 2009
Genevieve Wanucha Thesis: The Clearest Mirror: The Science of Laughing and Crying
Erin Weeks
S.M., Science Writing, 2013
Science Writer, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (Charleston, SC)
Erin Weeks Thesis: Out of Africa and Into the Sunshine State: Tracking an Exotic Invader
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