Comparative Media Studies Graduate Students


Sonia Banaszczyk

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Sonia Banaszczyk Sonia's research focuses on the narrative strategies employed by contemporary feminists and reproductive justice activists. She is interested in how social movement groups wield media technologies, both online and offline, to build community, infiltrate dominant public spheres, and harness political power.

Sonia earned a combined B.A. in Communication and Sociology from Northeastern University, with a focus on social movement communication. Her work as a student organizer provided space for praxis, especially around media strategy and messaging. She has also spent time in Northern Ireland working on a community art initiative that explores migration, identity, and inclusion through audio/visual narrative. Her work has been published in the Journal of Communication Inquiry and on Originally from Warsaw, Poland, Sonia has spent the past several years living in Boston.
Laurel Carney

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Laurel Carney Laurel Carney is a writer from California. She earned her bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Davis, where she studied early modern execution laws. Her undergraduate thesis combined original historical research, textual criticism, and fiction writing to examine the role that story-telling played in early modern debates over pregnant women’s criminal culpability.

A lifelong gamer, she is interested in communities formed around rule-breaking in virtual worlds and the ways developers push back against "deviant" play via punitive systems and environmental design. She currently works as a research assistant in the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Lab.

Her variously concomitant interests include 80's-90's adventure games, MMOs, television, animal rights/welfare, theme parks and dark rides, folk ballads, and Bong Joon-ho movies.
Aashka Dave

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Aashka Dave Aashka Dave graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in journalism and Romance languages, having studied participatory media platforms and their effects on community engagement and interaction. These interests led her to The Associated Press, where she worked on projects including digital marketing, book publishing and social media.

As a CMS student, Aashka works with the Writing, Rhetoric and Professional Communication research project. Her present interests lie at the nexus of media in transition, increasing applications of communications technologies and resulting changes in audience interpretation.

The Pottermore website once gave her a choice between Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Feeling affronted, she chose the latter.
Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough Kaelan Doyle Myerscough is a writer and academic formerly based in Montreal, Canada. She graduated in June 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in East Asian Studies at McGill University, and wrote her thesis on competitive online gaming communities of the popular franchise Pokémon. Her research interests include transnational new media industries, fan cultures, and emergent forms of academic creation and expression.

Her published work includes an essay on intertextuality between online communities, social activism and Jia Zhangke’s 2013 film A Touch of Sin; a comic/manga adaptation of excerpts from Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects; and (forthcoming) an essay on resonances between Homer’s Iliad and the 2013 TV series Hannibal. In her free time, Kaelan enjoys writing, drawing, video games, and spur-of-the-moment crafting projects.
Mariel García-Montes

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Mariel García-Montes Mariel García-Montes, @faeriedevilish, joins the CMS program and the Center of Civic Media to ponder the questions she asked herself (without the chances to formally explore) throughout her work in tech capacity building in civil society in Mexico and Latin America – especially those around youth, media, civic/moral education and digital literacies.

She has worked doing communications, instructional design and research around open data, privacy and security, strategic communications and other digital literacies for SocialTIC (Mexico), Unicef (HQ); as a consultant for School of Data, the Open Knowledge Foundation, the engine room and Internews; and as an intern for the Youth and Media Lab at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She is a philosophy graduate from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and a Berkman Klein Center affiliate.

Mariel loves passionate opinions in the intersections of technology and society, creative communications efforts, random acts of kindness, passport stamps...and both eating and dancing salsa.
Claudia Lo

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Claudia Lo Born and raised in Hong Kong, Claudia Lo graduated from Swarthmore College with a major in Gender and Digital Media, focusing on queer and feminist theory as it applies to videogames. Her current research interests include control schemes and controllers in games, the social functions they serve in wider gaming communities, and the potential ability for videogames to present minority viewpoints in ways that are not reliant on on-screen representation. At MIT, Claudia works at the Game Lab. In her off time, she enjoys calligraphy, tea, and trying in vain to work through her gaming backlog.
Sara Rafsky

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Sara Rafsky Sara Rafsky joins CMS and the Open Documentary Lab after working in Mexico City as Researcher on Central America at Amnesty International. Before that she was the Americas Research Associate for the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, where she reported on press freedom in Latin American and the United States. Previously, she wrote about culture and politics as a freelance journalist in New York, South America and Southeast Asia, interned at the Associated Press in Bogotá, Colombia and was the Editorial Assistant for ARTnews magazine in New York. Sara also lived in Argentina, where she worked with the Ford Foundation and interned with Human Rights Watch and the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE). In 2008, she received a Fulbright Grant to research photojournalism and the Colombian armed conflict. She has a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and is from Brooklyn, New York.

Sara loves all things cinema, journalism and Latin America. At MIT, she hopes to research how new technologies and documentary practices can be used to advance the cause of freedom of expression.
Aziria Rodríguez Arce

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Aziria Rodríguez Arce Aziria D. Rodríguez Arce, a lover of tacos, memes, and all things funny, earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). She is also a community organizer and web developer. Aziria has worked in various non-profit organizations in Puerto Rico designing and developing participatory tech solutions to deal with government transparency, technology accessibility, capacity building, and economic development issues on the island.

All of Aziria's endeavors stem from a political and philosophical point of view based on advancing equality and inclusion. Therefore, it was only natural she directed her bachelor’s degree into the completion of a thesis that studied how power identity relations and symbolic violence are attuned with cultural and memetic content creation in the web, which she later funnily titled Make Me a Sandwich.

At MIT Aziria works with the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory. She is interested in understanding how collective narratives and identities transform content creation, production, and distribution in new media to promote social change. She wants to work on practical technological applications of collective and participatory content and media tool creation.

Aziria has Chandler Bing’s approach to handling uncomfortable situations and an obsession with meme sharing in Facebook.
Nathan Saucier

Graduate Student, CMS, '17
Nathan Saucier Nathan Saucier is a filmmaker and educator. Returning from two years teaching English and media classes at a university in South Korea, he joins CMS to work with the Creative Communities Initiative while pursuing diverse interests in non­fiction media making and education.

Nathan is a graduate of Bard College’s film department, where he created documentaries and narrative shorts inspired by his time in Romania and the Balkans.

His background includes work in film production and video streaming in Los Angeles. These experiences helped shape his interest in the culture and capabilities of live streaming. He is further interested in the relationship between filmmaker and subject in the context of participatory documentaries.
Yao Tong

Graduate Student, CMS, '17
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.

At MIT, Yao joins the Center for Civic Media and assists Professor Jing Wang’s NGO 2.0 project.

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.
Vicky Zeamer

Graduate Student, CMS, '18
Vicky Zeamer Vicky Zeamer graduated from Wellesley College, where she studied Media Arts and Sciences (think HCI + design) & American Studies. She was also a cross-registered student at MIT where she took courses and participated in research centered around media technology and interaction design.

Vicky’s past work has been largely in user experience design and research, in areas such as advertising and museums. As a design researcher, she is happiest when in the field conducting ethnographies and user interviews. She also gets a rush from synthesizing these findings and extracting design implications of users’ needs, values, and perspectives.

Vicky's current research interests circle around personal and cultural relationships with food. More specifically, she is interested in exploring how computing and digital media are changing the way in which users experience food, and therefore exploring how computing is changing the way in which we use food as a tool to form connections and establish deeper understandings of events, people, and places.