• Search
  • Lost Password?

People, Places, Things — Personal Updates for Spring 2014

Cover over In Medias Res Spring 2014

The latest news from Comparative Media Studies and Science Writing alums, professors, researchers, and students.

Featured in our latest issue of In Medias Res.

Emily Anthes’ (Science Writing, ’06) book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, came out last March, and she has been traveling around the country giving lectures and talks as part of her book tour. The paperback is due out in April, and she is now back to freelancing full-time and mulling over ideas for the next book.

Marcia Bartusiak
Marcia Bartusiak

Marcia Bartusiak from the Graduate Program in Science Writing was invited to give a talk at the 27th Texas Symposium for Relativistic Astrophysics in Dallas in December. The only non-scientist invited to participate, she was there to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the conference. The premiere forum for the field, it which meets every two years at locations around the world (but which still retains the name where it was first held in 1963). Bartusiak’s talk was titled “Bermuda Triangles of Space: How the Public First Met Black Holes.”

Taylor Beck (Science Writing, ’12) is a freelancer in New York, writing mostly for Fast Company and occasionally for GQ, about topics related to neuroscience, tech, Japan, and innovation. She recently finished reporting on a documentary about sleep, for former HBO producer John Hoffman and his non-profit production company The Public Good Projects. She does book research, editing, and fact-checking for authors like Susannah Meadows of the NYTimes Magazine, D.T. Max of The New Yorker, and Shane Snow of Wired, Fast Company, and the New Yorker. (Shane also co-founded Contently, a free platform for writers which you all may find useful for aggregating your stories online). Taylor covers topics ranging from creativity in tech start-up founders to alternative medicine to Japanese robotics, culture, art, and business. Her goal for 2014 is to branch out to new venues, take on longer feature stories, and find a book she wants to write.

Visiting Fulbright Professor Mine Gencel Bek gave a presentation on the alternative media in Turkey at the international conference The Point Is to Change, in San Francisco. She also taught an online Media and Children’s Rights master’s course in the Distance Learning Center at Ankara University. During IAP, she taught Media and Ethics. She submitted an edited book on Media, Children and Youth in Turkish. Currently, she is polishing an article on digital inequality and identity to submit to an international refereed journal. She started to write a blog for T24, a Turkish left wing online newspaper. She managed to find another grant from the Turkish National Science Academy and thus will be able to stay at MIT until June 2015.

Jim Bizzocchi (CMS, ’01) reports, “It’s been a great year. Finished my sabbatical — now making good use of what I learned from my time reconnecting with CMS and with Henry Jenkins at USC. Great to be teaching again, and to continue my own research. Beginning a three-year research grant — developing my computationally generative video sequencing and presentation system. Very pleased to be doing this in partnership with William Uricchio and the Open Documentary Lab.”

Kristina Bjoran (Science Writing, ’11) is now working for a communications firm (Forum One Communications), which works exclusively for non-profits and government agencies. She works with high-profile, Seattle-based global health non-profits. She manages web and communications development and designs user interactions and marketing/fundraising campaigns.

Eugenie Brinkema’s first book, The Forms of the Affect, will be coming out in March via Duke University Press. She will be giving invited talks at the University of Rochester (on “The Human Centipede”) and University at Buffalo (on rhythm, language, and pornography) in February and April.

Alison Bruzek (Science Writing, ’13) started working at WGBH News as Project Manager of the Forum Network, an online video lecture series.

Anita Say Chan
Anita Say Chan

Anita Say Chan (CMS, ’02) is currently an Assistant Research Professor of Communications and an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research and teaching interests since completing her masters with CMS continue to focus on globalization and digital cultures, innovation networks and the “periphery”, and science and technology studies in Latin America. Her manuscript on the competing imaginaries of global connection and information technologies in network-age Peru, Networking Peripheries: Technological Futures and the Myth of Digital Universalism, is forthcoming with MIT Press in early 2014. Her research has been awarded support from the Center for the Study of Law & Culture at Columbia University’s School of Law and the National Science Foundation, and she has held postdoctoral fellowships at The CUNY Graduate Center’s Committee on Globalization & Social Change, and at Stanford University’s Introduction to Humanities Program.

Second-year grad student Denise Cheng has been a busy bee trying to round up all of the knowledge — historical analysis, primary qualitative research — around supporting workers who earn income through peer-to-peer marketplaces. She’s been traveling between economic workshops and media conferences, awed by the diversity of people who are interested in the topic. Her most recent output is a piece for Harvard Business Review, and during IAP, she is leading focus group research and compiling a needs assessments of peer economy providers in San Francisco.

USA Today was the latest to pick up Professor Ian Condry‘s work on the completely virtual Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku. “And she only got so popular because Crypton never gave the character a back story. ‘People started making up their own stories,’ says Condry. She became a ‘crowd-sourced celeb.’” And in October, Condry discussed his latest book, The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story, with the Think podcast run by the Texas public radio station KERA.

Anne-Marie Corley (Science Writing, ’09) is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas.

Grad student Rodrigo Davies spent the summer as an Innovation Fellow at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, where he helped build Living Innovation Zones, a new program to open up public space in the city, and designed an open data format for public notifications. Since returning to MIT he has continued to develop his research on civic crowdfunding. He has been invited to speak on the topic by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the Library of Congress and SXSW Interactive, and has been quoted by Wired, Salon and NPR. He spent January in Kansas City as an MIT Public Service Fellow, supporting the non-profit BikeWalkKC’s campaign to build a bikeshare scheme for the city, and running crowdfunding workshops for local community groups. In April Rodrigo will co-host Build Peace, a conference on new technologies for peacebuilding that is being sponsored by the Center for Civic Media. The event is being held at the Media Lab on April 5 and 6.

Josh Diaz (CMS, ’09) is in Seattle, working at ArenaNet and living with his love and their three cats. He has “earned skill ranks in: baking, Mandarin and is collecting sci-fi and fantasy from authors of color, playing too much Puzzle and Dragons and contemplating woodworking.”

Junot Díaz’s 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winner book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao received one of its coolest endorsements, that of rock-and-art legend David Bowie. The recommendation was part of an exhibition on Bowie in both Ontario and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in which Bowie listed his 100 must-read books. Diaz was elected to the Society of American Historians. And he also appeared on the Colbert Report, where he was on the receiving end of the familiar teasing of studying writing at an engineering-focused university. “Writing at MIT?” said Colbert. “Isn’t that like teaching engineering at Juilliard?”

January 17th was the first day of classes for Ana Domb (CMS, ’09) at the interaction design masters program she designed and runs at Veritas University in Costa Rica. “Sixteen people have trusted us to join the program. I’m excited and nervous as can be.” In October, she and CMS grad student Eduardo Marisca joined forces in a board game design workshop for kids in Guatemala. They will be writing about that experience in February.

In mid-September, Stephanie Dutchen (Science Writing, ’09) moved from the NIH, where she had been for four years since MIT, to Harvard Medical School, still as a science writer-editor. “It’s been a blast returning to Boston and getting to know the Longwood community.”

Katie Edgerton (CMS, ’13) moved out to Los Angeles the summer after graduating CMS and just finished her first semester in USC’s Writing for Screen & TV M.F.A. program.

Garrett Fitzpatrick
Garrett Fitzpatrick

Garret Fitzpatrick (Science Writing, ’12) had a report published in the December issue of the 2013 NASA Tech Briefs magazine referencing a white paper he co-wrote at the Johnson Space Center in 2010-2011, titled “Advanced Hybrid Spacesuit Concept Featuring Integrated Open Loop and Closed Loop Ventilation Systems.”

CMS graduate student Sean Flynn helped with the launch of the Open Documentary Lab’s Docubase, started working with the video4change network on impact assessment research, and attended the Sundance Film Festival to represent ODL and write a series of articles about their New Frontier section. Outside of MIT, he completed his third year as Director of the Points North Documentary Forum at Camden International Film Festival, which received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in November.

Sam Ford (CMS, ’07) has published pieces with the Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, PR News, The Firm Voice, The Public Relations Strategist, and — most importantly of all — the CMS/W site. He has also been featured this fall in the Tribeca-award winning documentary ‘Lil Bub and Friendz, and documentaries Soap Life and Who Shot the Daytime Soap?, as well as The New York Times, NPR Marketplace, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Over the past few months, Sam has presented at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit, the Annual Insurance Executive Conference, the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities, and the Luxury Marketing Council and participated virtually in sessions for Social Media Today and the Argentinian conference “Vi Encuentro International” through the NeoTVLab in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, Sam and his wife Amanda Ford (former CMS employee) had a bittersweet November, enrolling daughter Harper (2) in pre-school, but are comforted by daughter Emma (4) now being able to read them bedtime stories, rather than the other way around.

The MetroWest Daily News highlighted the “storied” MIT Game Lab in its role of co-host of September’s Festival of Indie Games. Rik Eberhardt, the Festival’s co-producer and the Game Lab’s studio manager, told the Daily News that “The festival is a great place to open up the process behind game development to a wider community,” adding that “part of the lab’s mission is to educate the public on the development and use of games. People who attend the festival can not only see games made by local developers but get a chance to talk with them at our digital and tabletop showcases. We have some great talks and films programmed to help people understand the community of game development, the importance of games in people’s lives, and the potentials of games that still lie untapped.”

The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge in December awarded the Game Lab “Best Student Developed Serious Game” for their game A Slower Speed of Light, an exploration of how to more intuitively teach the theory of relativity. And the Lab’s game Movers and Shakers, which looks at how players communicate based on conflicting perspectives, was nominated as a best indie game of 2013.

Last May, Anne Glausser (Science Writing, ’09) became ideastream’s Coordinating Producer for QUEST Science, in Cleveland.

Robin Hauck (CMS, ’03) left Digitas in 2012 and has been at EF Education First since then. She have been running the creative group, “The Studio” of EF Tours, as Director of Project Management. In February she takes on a new role as Director of Group Sales and Marketing for Go Ahead Tours, EF’s adult travel business. Her family is doing well. Haley is 15, Lucy 13, and Coco 9, with husband Steve is continuing to love life as an entrepreneur, launching into another new venture with his partner. They live in Dover, Mass., just outside of the city, but, Robin says, “EF is in Cambridge right down the road from MIT if anyone wants to grab coffee or lunch sometime and reconnect.”

In January 2010, Lissa Harris (Science Writing, ’08) and her wife Julia Reischel started watershedpost.com, an online local news website for the rural Catskills in upstate New York. The site runs general news, but they have a focus on water politics, land use, environment and agriculture issues that are key in the Catskills. More recently, they have been going analog, with a series of niche magazines; in November, they launched our first print Catskills food guide.

Heather Hendershot. Photo by Bryce Vickmark.
Heather Hendershot. Photo by Bryce Vickmark.

Professor Heather Hendershot was featured in September by the MIT News Office. She described how growing up in a Quaker family in otherwise conservative Christian Birmingham, Alabama, came to influence her interest in gender studies and her focus on the “fire and brimstone” versions of conservative television shows and activist battles to have particular shows taken off the air.

Liwen Jin (CMS, ’08) is currently working for the Marketing Strategy and Planning team in Liberty Mutual Group Boston office — great team and exciting projects. He got married in October 2012 to Dawei Shen — a former Ph.D. student in MIT Media Lab. They moved to Brookline, Mass., in January. “Life is good!” says Liwen.

Trent Knoss (Science Writing, ’13) is the digital editor at Backpacker Magazine in Boulder, Colorado, reporting on bears, mountaineering, and the Arctic.

Hannah Krakauer (Science Writing, ’12) accepted the role of Senior Communications Specialist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a Seattle nonprofit institution dedicated to accelerating the pace of neuroscience research using a big science approach.

In October, Alan Lightman, Professor of the Practice of the Humanities, published The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew. The book is “a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.” Ovations came from the Boston Globe (“Readers will appreciate the passionately argued belief that human perception and understanding can accommodate a physical and a spiritual universe, and that both the known and the unknown are causes for scientific speculation as well as pure wonder.”) and Salon (“Whatever the subject, he writes with a limpid serenity and frankness that feels as fresh and as clarifying as a spring rain.”)

In September, Allison MacLachlan (Science Writing, ’11) started a new job at Owlkids, a children’s book and magazine publishing company in Toronto with a great non-fiction and science focus. She is enjoying writing print and online content, managing projects, and working on marketing strategy. She also blogs regularly for the Canadian Science Writers’ Association.

Lauren Maurer (Science Writing, ’12) got married on January 4th to Noel Trew, a classmate before she came to MIT, and who “was my main support/sounding board/fanboy during my time in the Science Writing program — which is at least part of why I decided I wanted to marry him.”

Stephanie McPherson (Science Writing, ’11) married Jacob Miller, an S.M., ’11, in Mechanical Engineering, on October 6 — and who was the first person she met at MIT.

Assistant Professor Seth Mnookin partnered with literary agent Andrew Blauner and fellow writers — Dennis Lehane, Susan Orlean, and more — on Our Boston: Writers Celebrate the City They Love. $5 from every sale of the anthology went to the One Fund, a group aiding Boston Marathon bombing victims and their families. Mnookin’s work on the autism vaccine controversy was also included in the Open Lab 2013 anthology of the best science writing online.

In January, the Boston Globe highlighted Associate Professor of Digital Media Nick Montfort’s talk on the Atari 2600, part of the Game Lab’s “Push Button” series during IAP. The Guardian followed up by naming Montfort’s book Racing the Beam one of their “Six best gaming books”. Montfort has also has been completing the book Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities for MIT Press, giving presentations and workshops in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., and developing several creative projects, including pi-based poem Round, Duels — Duets with Stephanie Strickland, the collaboration Three Rails Live, the computer-generated book World Clock, and the VIC-20 demo Nanowatt, which was done with one MIT and one remote collaborator. Montfort’s book of poems #! (Shebang), which consists of sections of code followed by output, will be published by Counterpath Press. In March Montfort and Icelandic/American artist Páll Thayer will have an exhibition at the Boston Cybararts Gallery, Programs at an Exhibition. Montfort is continuing work on Slant (a collaborative story generator), on other systems that model literary and poetic processes, and on investigations of porting, translation, modification, adaptation, the issuing of new editions, and other ways of developing digital media work from existing digital media sources.

After graduating from the inaugural class, Maywa Montenegro (Science Writing, ’03) spent five years as an editor and staff writer at Seed magazine in New York. She is back on the academic circuit, halfway through her third year as a Ph.D. student at the University of California Berkeley. Her dissertation “is still in lump-of-clay state,” but she is interested in the politics and political ecology of food systems, with a likely emphasis on seeds.

Susan Nasr (Science Writing, ’06) is graduating from medical school this April, becoming a family doctor, and is writing a newspaper article on how the Affordable Care Act is beginning to change primary care in Rochester, NY.

The Education Arcade’s creative director Scot Osterweil authored a piece hosted on Boston.com’s State of Play blog about his work developing the ethics-focused game Quandry with Learning Games Network, Fablevision, and Marina Bers of Tufts University. He repeated our shared chorus when it comes to the purpose of games: “We don’t believe that playing the game will automatically help players take better perspectives in their own lives, but we think the game represents a playful way of introducing ideas that can be further developed through reflective conversation with others.”

Chris Peterson
Chris Peterson

Salt Lake City’s Deseret News interviewed recent grad Chris Peterson (CMS, ’13) about the Minerva Project, an attempt to provide Ivy-quality education (and Ivy-level professional credibility) online. He was doubtful it would reach the non-elite, as intended. “Peterson said he believes that Minerva’s cost, though lower than costs at top-tier U.S. universities, will still be out of reach for many meritorious students, especially those from Third-World countries. Peterson also “reclaimed my throne as King of the Internet for MITAdmissions, where I direct digital strategy, lead several strategic recruitment initiatives, and help decide whom to admit to MIT.” He has been teaching in CMS/W, as a TA for CMS.950 in the fall and as co-instructor for CMS.400 in the spring, and continues some research projects in the Center for Civic Media on mapping banned books.

Just after the fall term began, lecturer John Picker had the pleasure of welcoming baby Eleanor to the world. She, along with her mother, is doing well, and she smiles often, “especially at her older brother Alexander and her reflection.” During all that and while teaching, Picker put the finishing touches on a chapter about the origins of the telephone booth for the revised edition of The Auditory Culture Reader (due out sometime this year or next) and joined the editorial board of Sound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, whose inaugural issue will be published by Bloomsbury in 2015. A paperback edition of The Victorian World, containing his essay “Auditory Anxiety and the Advent of Modernity,” was published by Routledge in November, soon to be followed by a Kindle version.

Talieh Rohani (CMS, ’09) has been working for Rosetta Stone since April. She was one of the product owners of the Advanced English for Business Solutions, which has a web and mobile presence. She also launched a prototype for an oral fluency application that has a powerful speech recognition engine. Currently, she is working on enhancing the LiveMocha community platform and launching a new product line for kids. Over the past year, Rosetta Stone has transformed itself, from selling boxes in the airports to creating mobile/tablet applications and end-to-end e-learning language solutions. It has also entered brain fitness and Math/Science market. Talieh is engaged to Arash Shahangian, whom she met via Facebook. They are planning to get married in the fall and visit Japan’s Snow Monkeys for their honeymoon. Over the past few months, she have developed a passion for K-drama and has started learning Korean. She highly recommends Boys Over Flowers as well as Personal Taste.

Aviva Hope Rutkin (Science Writing, ’13) recently started as a reporter at New Scientist.

Interim Head of CMS/W Edward Schiappa was named Head, proper, in December. His textbook with John Nordin — Argumentation: Keeping Faith With Reason — was released by Pearson in August, and his most recent scholarly book, Classical Greek Rhetorical Theory and the Disciplining of Discourse, was released in paperback in January. He also gave several talks at a conference in November, including “The Phenomenal Text of Michael Moore’s Sicko” (with Daniel Ladislau Horvath and Peter B. Gregg), “Discussion of the 2013 Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Prop 8”, and “Boston Strong: Commodity, Identity, or Both?”, each presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association in Washington.

In November, Megan Scudellari (Science Writing, ’08) received the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award from the National Press Foundation, given to one top young science writer annually for outstanding reporting and writing. She also moved back to Boston in and is happy to be a Massachusetts resident again. Megan and her husband welcomed their second child, a boy, born December 5th. They also have a two year old girl.

Morgan Sherburne (Science Writing, ’09) recently left her job of three years as the outdoors and environment reporter for the Petoskey News-Review in Petoskey, Michigan. She has started as a science writer for the University of Florida’s Health Communications.

David Spitz
David Spitz

David Spitz (CMS, ’01) is now President and Chief Operating Officer of RebelMouse, a freemium content publishing and distribution platform from the team behind Buzzfeed and Huffington Post. As of January, RebelMouse was reaching roughly 20 million unique individuals a month across hundreds of thousands of sites.

Abe Stein (CMS, ’13) is working in the communications office at Wheaton College, applying knowledge he garnered in the CMS program to many different projects. He is also working as a researcher and strategist with Azubu, an eSports web-streaming company, which keeps him active and engaged in the sports media and videogame fields. After graduation, he and wife Morgan and son Ezra moved to their new house in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and are enjoying living in the wee bitty state tremendously.

“‘I think we’re going to see continued growth on the indie side,” Philip Tan (CMS, ’03) told the Boston Globe about Fire Hose Games’ launch of a Boston-based game industry incubator, “but I’m not sure we’re going to see anywhere near the same rate of growth on the Triple-A side,” referring to big-budget game development. “The barrier for entry is always dropping, and I think we’re going to see more opportunities for very small teams to recover their costs and make a profit on top of it.”

Associate Professor T.L. Taylor had a busy, but exciting fall semester. She keynoted at Vienna’s Future and Reality of Gaming conference, as well as being invited as plenary speaker at the Association of Internet Researchers conference and McGill’s Participatory Condition symposium. Her article “Words with Friends: Writing Collaboratively Online” (co-authored with Boellstorff, Nardi, and Pearce) was published in the ACM journal Interactions. She was also featured on the Social Media Clarity podcast, discussing her latest book project on live-streaming, as well as quoted in pieces at NBC News and Pomona College Magazine.

Iris Monica Vargas (Science Writing, ’08) published her first book in September, and it has remained on Amazon’s Bestsellers List for the past four months. It is a poetry book about the process of dissecting a human being for medical purposes, written from the perspectives of the medical student who performs the dissection and the donor who offered his/her body to medicine. It has received great reviews and it seems to have a life of its own considering it was published by Terranova, a very small publisher of fiction in Puerto Rico.

Kenrick Vezina (Science Writing, ’11) left a year-long tenure with the Genetic Literacy Project, jumping into freelancing and looking for new opportunities.

Jing Wang
Jing Wang

Professor Jing Wang’s two articles “Culture as Leisure and Culture as Capital” and “The Global Reach of a New Discourse: How Far Can ‘Creative Industries’ Travel?” were published in Chinese Media, Routledge, 2013. She also finished editing a special issue for Positions: Asia Critique on “Reconsidering the MIT Visualizing Cultures Controversy.” In October, she flew to Lund, Sweden, to give a talk at Lund University on “Change Makers and New Media Technology: Introducing NGO2.0 and a Civic Hackathon Model” in a conference on ICT for Development in China.” During the same month, she visited Rice University and participated in the review of the Chao Asian Studies Center.

Qi Wang’s (CMS, ’02) first book, Memory, Subjectivity and Independent Chinese Cinema, is to be published in August by the Edinburgh University Press, as part of its series Edinburgh Studies in East Asian Film. She is an assistant professor of film and media studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Genevieve Wanucha (Science Writing, ’09) is starting her second year as the writer for Oceans at MIT, a publication reporting on all ocean-related research at MIT and partner institutions such as WHOI. In tandem, she writes for the website of the MIT Program in Oceans, Atmospheres, and Climate. She is at work on her first book, which will be a creative work of science writing on human emotion, plunging into the lives and minds of neuroscientists, affective scientists, clinicians, and patients with a fatal brain disease called frontotemporal degeneration, a lesser known dementia that steals emotional insight and personality.

After graduating from the Science Writing program in October, Erin Weeks (Science Writing, ’13) started work as a science writer at Duke University, where she has taken over from another program alum, Ashley Yeager (Science Writing, ’08).

Michelle Woodward (CMS, ’02) has been living in Beirut since 2011. She has a daughter, Amina, born in 2009, and her husband, Waleed Hazbun, teaches at the American University of Beirut. Woodward is still working freelance as a photo editor for Middle East Report magazine (merip.org) and is also the founding editor of the photography page on the e-zine Jadaliyya (photography.jadaliyya.com). This semester she has been teaching a history of photography class at a local university.

Andrew Whitacre
Written by
Andrew Whitacre

Andrew directs the communications efforts for CMS/W and Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education. 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.

Andrew Whitacre Written by Andrew Whitacre