Graduate Students: Comparative Media Studies


Laurel Carney
Graduate Student, CMS, '22
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.
Emily Grandjean
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
Emily is a researcher, writer, and technologist primarily focused on issues related to the environment, public health, and wellness. She has worked as a freelance UX researcher for various tech clients in Silicon Valley. She also has collaborated with many professors and academics at Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on book chapters, book proposals, case studies, articles, and computer simulations. She earned a B.A. in Economics from Wellesley College.
Tomás Guarna
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
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.
Srushti Kamat
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
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.
Alison Lanier
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
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 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.
JJ Otto-Hawke
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
JJ Otto-Hawke (they/he) is a writer, researcher, and game designer most recently from Minneapolis, MN. They graduated from the University of Rochester with a BA in Psychology and a BS in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. They’re passionate about thoughtful representation in games, novel approaches to storytelling, and making TTRPGs accessible to new and diverse players.

At MIT, JJ is exploring the intersection of TTRPGs, mindful worldbuilding, and collaboration, and drawing from a diverse range of sources: theatre, museums, ambient media, activist spaces, performance art, and more. They aim to create a TTRPG that allows players to test creative ways to organize society and relationships, in addition to helping players empathize with others and critically analyze the world around them.
Ámbar Reyes
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
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
Abby Sun
Graduate Student, Comparative Media Studies, '22
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.