Graduate Students: Comparative Media Studies


Diego Cerna Aragon
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '21
Diego Cerna Aragon Diego Cerna Aragon is a technology and media researcher from Peru. His work focuses on discourse analysis, expert knowledge, and the uses of new technologies. He earned a bachelor's degree in Communication from the University of Lima.

In Peru, Diego worked as a communications official and researcher at the Institute of Peruvian Studies, one of the most long-standing think tanks in the country. During this experience, he explored how bureaucrats employed different new technologies, such as digital platforms for technical cooperation and algorithmic systems for socioeconomic classification.

Diego has also been involved in political transparency initiatives from civil society. He was part of Open Parliament, a project dedicated to gather, store and publish data from official activities of members of the Peruvian Congress.

At MIT, Diego works as a research assistant at the Open Documentary Lab. For his master's thesis, he plans to explore the representation of economic expertise in Peruvian media.
Will Freudenheim
Graduate Student, CMS, '21
Will Freudenheim Will Freudenheim is a researcher and game designer. His work is focused on investigating how people read and ascribe meaning to their environments through emerging media platforms, and considering new applications of contextual media in the development of educational tools.

Will graduated from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in Society. His honors thesis presented a theoretical framework called the “embodied interface” to study the unique facets of augmented reality, examining the relationships between graphical interfaces, locative media, human environmental perception, and networks of human and algorithmic actors in the production of experiences of space. Recently, Will worked as a game designer and resident at NYU’s Game Center Incubator, where he co-led the development of a puzzle and exploration game called Crosshatch. At MIT, Will joins the Education Arcade, where he hopes to participate in creating games and systems to invite students to develop new understandings of their environments.

In his free time, Will likes to compose music and sound design for independent animators.
Emily Grandjean
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
Emily Grandjean Emily is a researcher, writer, coder, and designer. Her research interests focus on public health, crisis studies, and narratives of place and self. She is excited to pursue research at the MIT Civic Design Initiative.

Emily graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in economics. While in college, she conducted research on economic inequality and renewable energy markets at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School, respectively. After graduation, she worked in strategy consulting before returning to academia to work as a researcher at Harvard Business School. At HBS, she helped write book chapters and business cases on the history of ethics, spiritual values, and environmentalism in the private sector, among other subjects. She also worked as a freelance UX researcher for tech and finance clients and moonlighted on weekends as an apprentice chocolatière at Gâté Comme des Filles.

She loves cooking and baking for friends, reading in the company of her cat, and spending time outside with her partner.
Tomás Guarna
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
Tomás Guarna Tomás Guarna is a social scientist and media practitioner from Argentina. He is interested in civic media, digital governance, and the political effects of misinformation. Tomás received his B.A. in Social Sciences from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Following that, he worked for the Presidency of Argentina’s Digital Communications Team collaborating on the Presidency’s digital strategy. In addition to his work in technology and politics, Tomás has created several public digital media projects like Un Amor de Verano, an email exchange project with more than 3.000 participants. Tomás is a Human Rights & Technology Fellow at the MIT Center for International Studies.
Elon Justice
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '21
Elon Justice Elon is a videographer and writer with an interest in digital media platforms and co-creative storytelling. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2017 with a B.A. in TV/Film Production and a minor in Creative Writing, and most recently worked as a commercial producer for a local television station in Bowling Green, KY.

An Eastern Kentucky native, Elon has long been acutely aware of media portrayals of underrepresented populations that are often one-dimensional, stereotypical, or altogether inaccurate. She aims to combat this phenomenon by working alongside these populations to co-create media that allows for more varied and truthful representations of their regions.

In her free time, Elon enjoys traveling, over-analyzing her favorite music and TV shows, and teaching others how to correctly pronounce her name (Hint: It’s not like Elon Musk).
Srushti Kamat
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
Srushti Kamat Srushti Kamat is a writer/producer examining the intersection of filmmaking, emerging technology and civic participation. Born in Mumbai, India, she was raised in Singapore and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Hon.) in History and Journalism from the University of Oregon.

During her undergraduate years, she co-founded and co-directed Majesty Digital, an initiative to bring women of color both behind and in front of the camera. Her thesis examined the role of Instagram’s features in crafting space for South Asian micro-influencers of the diaspora utilizing the hashtag #unfairandlovely to create and challenge their own hyphenated identities. She realizes that was a long sentence and thanks you for sticking around. At MIT, she is keen to expand upon virtual space-creation and the tools it can provide for impending and ongoing global issues within health, education and activism.

While she has produced films internationally, from Sri Lanka and Vietnam to Washington state and England, the guiding inquiry at the center of this work has remained focused on counter-perceptions of place, identity and home. She joins class of ’22 after working as a producer at Blue Chalk Media in Portland, Oregon, Telescope Studios, Singapore and on projects for Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Andrea Kim
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '21
Andrea Kim Andrea Kim is a documentarian and media-maker interested in how media technologies and storytelling practices build social narratives. In undergrad, Andrea drew from feminist and decolonial theories of embodiment to understand immersive media by how it organizes the perceptual modes of the material body. This interest in the body has led her to her work at the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies at Duke, where she investigated how the design of medical technologies influences access to cervical health in low-resourced settings. To this end, she is developing The (In)visible Organ, a documentary film and digital storytelling initiative to destigmatize reproductive health.

At heart, Andrea is interested in participatory learning and socio-cultural exchange in the context of an increasingly globalized world. In the past, she worked in schools in Durham, NC and Arusha, Tanzania to incorporate visual learning to education curriculum. Recently, Andrea worked with Moroccan youth in Agadir with the goal to creatively engage future leaders through activities like building a flashlight circuit and co-creating portraits with their peers. At MIT, Andrea is working with the Open Documentary Lab to explore collaborative and immersive storytelling methods.
Alison Lanier
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
Alison Lanier Alison Lanier is a Cambridge-based writer and editor who specializes in media studies with an emphasis on queer theory and narrative. She studied film at Wellesley College and received her MFA in fiction from University of Massachusetts Boston. Her current studies focus on media theory through video games, with a focus on how bodies are conceptualized and rendered within digital spaces. She is interested in exploring how gender can be both portrayed and disrupted through gaming contexts and imagined characters. Her previous scholarship was rooted in aesthetic philosophy, with a focus on street arts and ephemerality, as well as narrative theory.

She is one of the founding editors of Mortar Magazine and assists at AGNI Magazine; she served as film editor at Atticus Review as well as a regular columnist. Her reviews and essays appear at Ms. Magazine, Bitch, The Critical Flame, and elsewhere.

Outside of work and school, she reads too many Batman comics, practices book conservation, and spoils her cats.
G. R. Marvez
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
G. R. Marvez G. R. Marvez is an education technology researcher and designer interested in classroom conversations. As a researcher, their work focuses on helping teachers prepare to facilitate difficult classroom discussions through digital conversation simulators with the Teaching Systems Lab at MIT. Marvez aims to prime all teachers for leading engaging discussions with their students.

During their undergrad, Marvez taught in Russia with Global Teaching Labs and in Cambridge public and charter schools as a part of MIT’s teacher education program. As a student teacher, they have worked in 12th grade English and 8th grade science classes. Marvez has earned a Bachelor of Science in Brain and Cognitive Sciences with a Concentration in Education from MIT.

Outside of academia and the classroom, Marvez enjoys interactive fiction, creating puzzles, and designing haunted houses.
Roya Moussapour
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '21
Roya Moussapour Roya Moussapour is a researcher and designer passionate about increasing educational equity and access for diverse populations of students. Her research focuses on the ethics of educational data collection through standardized testing and the predatory ways assessment organizations distribute student data.

Roya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Physics with a minor in Education from Bowdoin College. At Bowdoin, she conducted research in both experimental physics and education and spent time working with students in Maine public schools. Prior to attending MIT, Roya worked in economic consulting, providing data analysis and research for litigation and labor matters in the aviation and energy industries.

At MIT, Roya works in the Teaching Systems Lab, exploring and developing unique methods for teacher learning. Outside of her academic pursuits, Roya serves as concertmaster of the Boston chapter of the Me2/Orchestra, an ensemble with a mission to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness through performance and outreach.
Ámbar Reyes
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
Ámbar Reyes Ámbar Reyes is a filmmaker and media researcher from Mexico. She has a deep interest in the documentary as a way to explore, represent and engage with the world. Her work revolves around questions of memory, migration, and identity. Ámbar believes that co-creation and storytelling through a multiplicity of voices is a powerful way to delve into unspoken and underappreciated perspectives of social phenomena.

She graduated from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey with a BA in Digital Arts and Animation. She has used audiovisuals to document and disseminate projects within the realms of academia, technology, and science. At MIT, she aims to push the boundaries of documentaries, and to ignite conversations and research which may act as vehicles for social change.

Outside of academia, Ámbar can usually be found biking along the Charles. She enjoys dancing (salsa, anyone?) and exploring outdoors. You can check her work at
Michael Sugarman
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '21
Michael Sugarman Mike Sugarman is a writer, musician, and organizer in underground music interested in the technologic and interpersonal means that communities use to build and maintain themselves. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Film Studies and has spent the time since enmeshed in experimental and dance music scenes in New York and Chicago, fascinated by their ad hoc infrastructure and working to bolster community within them by way of running publications, booking shows, and exploring means for musicians and partiers alike to act as crucial members of both their music community and broader urban or social communities.

Spurred by the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland in 2016, Mike started the Groove Café project in Chicago to develop and disseminate safety protocols for DIY events. The project quickly expanded to build other resources that could support the structures and people participating in the wider underground, ranging from publishing mental health resources and releasing fundraiser albums on a digital record label to disseminating literature that could help music venues make their bathrooms accessible, pleasant spaces.

Mike hopes to further pursue community-strengthening media practices during his graduate research in CMS and work in the Center for Civic Media.
Abby Sun
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
Abby Sun Abby Sun is a filmmaker, writer, and programmer who curates the DocYard, a biweekly screening series at the Brattle. She has written for Film Comment, Filmmaker Magazine, Film Quarterly, and Hyperallergic, and served as an industry representative on panels for the NEA, SFFILM, CAAM, the LEF Foundation, IDA, and other filmmaker funding and support organizations. Her latest short film, “Cuba Scalds His Hand” (co-directed with Daniel Garber), premiered at Maryland Film Festival in 2019. Prior to MIT, Abby held positions as the senior editor for Nat. Brut and programmer for True/False Film Fest and Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
Kelly Wagman
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '21
Kelly Wagman Kelly Wagman is a researcher, technologist, and designer. She is interested in understanding how we can design and build inclusive and ethical sociotechnical systems. In previous work she has examined the effects of disconnecting from Facebook and looked at public perceptions of digital assistants through memes and search queries. While at MIT she is excited to be working with the Global Media Technology & Cultures Lab.

Prior to MIT, Kelly worked as a research assistant at Microsoft Research where she collaborated with the Economics group and the Social Media Collective on quantitative and qualitative social science research projects. Previously, she worked as a software engineer at Microsoft in Office 365, and at Facebook.

Kelly graduated from Brown University with a double major in Computer Science and Economics. She enjoys yoga, rock climbing, matcha lattes, electronic music, sewing, and exploring new places.