Staff

The staff at Comparative Media Studies/Writing play critical everyday roles: promotion, finance, research group leadership, software development, student services, academic administration, and much more. They also help shape CMS/W’s culture of participation, serving on Institute working groups, hosting their own special events, and even running Independent Activities Program classes around their specialties and passions.


Christina Couch
Freelance Writer, Administrative Assistant II for the MIT Communications Forum

couch@mit.edu
Christina Couch Christina Couch is a human interest and finance journalist who’s making the transition into science writing. Her writing credentials include work for Wired Magazine, 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 videogames and the first three Die Hard movies.
Rik Eberhardt
Studio Manager, MIT Game Lab

reberhar@mit.edu
As Studio Manager for the MIT Game Lab, Rik Eberhardt spends his days playing Tetris: with people, boxes, tasklists, equipment, money, and time. When not staring at a spreadsheet trying to fit in another computer purchase, a last minute event budget, or placing undergraduate researchers on a Game Lab project, he's chipping away at spreadsheets on his DS, reproducing pixel-art in Picross and Picross 3D, or managing the ultimate spreadsheet, a game of Sid Meier's Civilization. He is also an instructor for two MIT Game Lab classes on game production and has served as a mentor and director for multiple game development projects including elude, a game about depression produced in the summer of 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary, is a Certified Scrum Master, a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, and is currently working towards a Serious Games MA Certificate from Michigan State University.
Kurt Fendt
Executive Director, HyperStudio

fendt@mit.edu
Kurt Fendt Dr. Kurt Fendt is Principal Research Associate in Comparative Media Studies and Executive Director of HyperStudio – Digital Humanities at MIT. He teaches digital humanities subjects in CMS/W and a range of upper-level German Studies courses in Global Studies and Languages. Fendt has held Visiting Professorships at the University of Cologne, the Technical University of Aachen (both Germany), and the University of Klagenfurt, Austria; in 2001 he was Visiting Scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute in Sankt Augustin, Germany.

Fendt is co-Principal Investigator of the NEH-funded "Annotation Studio" project, the "US-Iran – Missed Opportunities" project, the d’Arbeloff-funded "Metamedia" project, co-Director of "Berliner sehen", a collaborative hypermedia documentary for German Studies, co-author of the French interactive narrative "A la rencontre de Philippe" (CD-ROM version), and co-author on a range of digital humanities projects. Since 2005, he has been organizing the MIT European Short Film Festival.

Before coming to MIT in 1993, Fendt was Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Bern in Switzerland, where he established the Media Learning Center for the Humanities and earned his Ph.D. in modern German literature with a thesis on hypertext and text theory in 1993 after having completed his MA at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany.
Michael Gravito
Systems Administrator

mgravito@mit.edu
Meissa Hampton
Project Coordinator

meissa@mit.edu
Meissa Hampton Meissa Hampton is a writer and filmmaker focused on telling stories with positive social and cultural impact. She founded One Pair of Shoes Pictures, a production company intent on promoting inspired contributors to filmmaking and drawing audiences with works that speak to our emotion, our intellect and our era. She is currently completing her feature documentary ‘A Social Cure’ which documents the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa and the burgeoning potential of our technologically empowered social networks to affect positive change. She expanded into writing, directing and producing feature films from her work as an actor, for which she has been repeatedly awarded for her performances by Judges and audiences in national and international, commercial and independent film festivals. She is an active member of New York Women in Film Television (NYWIFT) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and is a founding member of the Urban Artists Collective and the Indies Lab, NYC. She is also a published poet and credited screenwriter. Her poetry has been awarded by the Academy of American Poets and her studies were supported by scholarships under the Ford Colloquium. She founded and manages 'A Social Cure, Inc.' a non-profit organization focused on the organization of events to raise awareness and the screening and distribution of media produced to affect positive social change.
Gabriella Horvath
Financial Assistant II

ghorvath@mit.edu
Gabriella Horvath Gabriella Horvath is CMS/W's financial assistant. Her background includes front-of-house administration for a live theater and founding an independent cinema in Washington. Gabriella received an M.S. in Arts Administration from Boston University ('06). She has been an admin for MIT Venture Mentoring Service, the HyperStudio digital humanities lab, the Electronic Literature Organization, and is currently the festival organizer and co-curator of the European Short Film Festival at MIT.
Mikael Jakobsson
Research Scientist

mjson@mit.edu
Mikael Jakobsson Mikael Jakobsson conducts research at the intersection of game design and game culture. With a foundation in interaction design, he investigates how gaming activities fit into social and cultural practices, and how this knowledge can inform the design and development process. His research has partly been supported by research grants involving collaboration with the game industry. He is currently involved in creating a research strategy for the MIT Game Lab where he also is teaches classes in game studies and game design. He has nearly twenty years of experience in teaching, course development, research project management, establishing external funding and collaboration, as well as advising master’s and PhD students.
Suzanne Lane
Director of Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication

stlane@mit.edu
Suzanne Lane Suzanne Lane is Senior Lecturer in Rhetoric and Communication, and Director of the Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication (WRAP) program. She holds a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT, a master's in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, and a doctorate in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Her research interests focus on contemporary rhetoric, genre theory, and argumentation studies, and she is particularly interested in sites of cultural contact between discourse communities and rhetorical cultures. In one research project, she has studied the rhetoric of slavery, especially the cultural forms of argumentation slaves developed; in another project, working with the Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing, she has explored how students learn disciplinary-specific genres and forms of argumentation, and transfer them to new locations. She has also published fiction and poetry.
Shannon Larkin
Academic Administrator

slarkin@mit.edu
Shannon Larkin Shannon is the Academic Administrator for CMS|W. While she works primarily with the graduate programs in CMS and Science Writing, also handles academics for the undergraduate programs as well.

When not handing out advice, truffles or Kleenex to students in her MIT office, Shannon is also a professional singer and singing teacher. She holds a Master's degree in Early Music Performance from the Longy School of Music.
Giada Mattern
Administrative Assistant II

gmatt@mit.edu
Giada Mattern Giada Tridello-Mattern was born and raised in Padua, Italy, where she obtained her Master of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy from Padua University in 2009. She later relocated to the United States in 2013 and is currently working at the Mobile Experience Lab, directed by Federico Casalegno. Her past experience includes work with Boston University’s European Studies Program. She has great passion for assisting international students, world travel, driving creative projects and photography.
Katherine Olson
Administrative Assistant II, Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication

kjo@mit.edu
Katherine Olson Katherine is the Administrative Assistant to the Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication (WRAP) program. She comes to MIT from Madison, WI where she received a degree in visual art. She has a long history in education and administrative work.

When not at work, she practices an assortment of hobbies that she has collectively dubbed "fun with physics."
Scot Osterweil
Creative Director, Education Arcade

scot_o@mit.edu
Scot Osterweil Scot Osterweil is Creative Director of the Education Arcade. He has designed award-winning games in both academic and commercial environments, focusing on what is authentically playful in challenging academic subjects. Designs include the acclaimed Zoombinis series (math and logic), Vanished: The MIT/Smithsonian Curated Game (environmental science), Labyrinth (math), Kids Survey Network (data and statistics), Caduceus (medicine), and iCue (history). He is a founder and Creative Director of Learning Games Network, where he leads the Gates Foundation’s Language Learning Initiative (ESL), and where he designed Quandary, named Game of the Year at the 2013 Games 4 Change festival.
Becky Shepardson
Undergraduate Academic Administrator

bshep@mit.edu
Becky Shepardson Prior to working for CMS/W, Becky Shepardson was an administrative assistant for the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. She continues to work part-time as an editorial assistant for the theoretical computer science journal Information and Computation. Becky holds a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from Boston University.
Sarah Smith
Administrative Officer

se_smith@mit.edu
Sarah Smith
Susanna Sprague
Administrative Assistant II, Mobile Experience Lab

susannas@mit.edu
Susanna Sprague
Steven Strang
Founder and Director of MIT's Writing and Communication Center

smstrang@mit.edu
Steven Strang Steven Strang is founder and Director of MIT's Writing and Communication Center. He teaches Rhetoric. Research interests include rhetoric and personal essay and fiction.

Strang is author of Writing Exploratory Essays (1995, 2008) and various articles on pedagogy, literary criticism, writing center practice, short stories, and poetry.
Philip Tan
Creative Director, MIT Game Lab

philip@mit.edu
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
Jessica Tatlock
Administrative Assistant II

jtatlock@mit.edu
Jessica Tatlock Jessica Tatlock joined CMS headquarters staff in July 2009 after a brief stint with Henry Jenkins' Project New Media Literacies. She had spent the previous year coordinating the Internet Safety Technical Task Force at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Prior to Harvard, Jessica worked for more than a decade in Boston's youth development and education fields, developing programs, tools and resources for practitioners working in a wide range of settings. She has an M.Ed in Cultural Diversity and Curriculum Reform from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and lives in Brookline with her two children.
Sara Verrilli
Development Director, MIT Game Lab

akiru@mit.edu
Sara Verrilli Sara Verrilli has spent her professional career in the videogame industry, starting with the day she walked out of MIT's Course V graduate studies and into a position as QA Lead at Looking Glass Technologies for System Shock. However, her game organizing endeavors started much earlier; she helped found a role-playing club at her high school by disguising it as a bridge group.

Since then, she's been a game designer, a product manager, a producer, and a QA manager, in no particular order. A veteran of both Looking Glass Technologies and Irrational Games, she's worked on eight major published games, and several more that never made it out the door. As Development Director of the MIT Game Lab, she looks forward to corralling, encouraging, and exploring the creative chaos that goes into making great games, and figuring out just the right amount of order to inject into the process. And, while she still doesn't understand bridge, she does enjoy whist.
Will Walker
Creative Technologist

willwalkerus@gmail.com
Will Walker is the Creative Technologist for the MIT Mobile Experience Lab. With a background blending art and science, his previous work as a senior designer with 3D printing startup Formlabs explored the interface between users and emerging fabrication technologies. He has lectured on additive fabrication and design at MIT, Harvard, Siggraph and was a co-keynote at O'Reilly's Solid.

Will continues to practice creatively, with a focus in computational design and painting while working from his studio in Cambridge. His work has been featured at the Bronx Museum of the Art and he has been a Pollock Krasner Fellow.
Andrew Whitacre
Communications Director

awhit@mit.edu
Andrew conducts the communications efforts for CMS/W and its research groups. A native of Washington, D.C., he holds a degree in communication from Wake Forest University, with a minor in humanities, as well as an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College.

This work includes drawing up and executing strategic communications plans, with projects including website design, social media management and training, press outreach, product launches, fundraising campaign support, and event promotions.
Sarah Wolozin
Director, Open Documentary Lab

swolozin@mit.edu
Sarah Wolozin Sarah Wolozin develops and oversees activities related to the Open Documentary Lab, including projects, events, and partnerships that support the emerging field of digital storytelling. She also manages lab operations. Sarah has always had an interest in exploring new platforms for storytelling and social change.

Before coming to MIT, she produced documentaries and educational media for a wide variety of media outlets including PBS, Learning Channel, NPR, various websites and educational platforms. Her work includes an episode of the PBS series, The College Track: America’s Sorting Machine and two episodes of the Peabody-winning PBS series, I’ll Make Me A World: A Century of African-American Arts, for which she served as associate producer. She started experimenting with the Web back in the early stages of its public use and produced an award-winning interactive website based on a comic book character. She has been a speaker at Sundance New Frontier, SXSW, and other media venues and sits on the 2013 selection committees for the Tribeca New Media Fund and the Sundance New Frontier Lab, among others. Sarah holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.