Announcing our Fall 2018 Graduate Cohort

26 Nov, 2018

Announcing our Fall 2018 Graduate Cohort

We are thrilled to welcome this Fall's graduate cohort – a stellar group of interdisciplinary scholars from Education, Film and Media, Rhetoric, Computer Science, Information, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Journalism, Art Practice, and Urban Design!

Designated Emphasis

Jessica Adams

Jessica Adams is a doctoral student in the Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on how new technologies and globalization influence the way we use language and other modalities to make meaning, particularly in cross-cultural exchanges. Most recently, her research has focused on a VR storytelling exchange between students in the US and India; Jessica is examining the shifting practices around authorship and viewership in these 360-stories, and she has looked at how power manifests in these cross-cultural exchanges. She has presented on this research and other research on online education in the Education Minor at the American Association of Applied Linguists, American Educational Research Association, and the Literacy Research Association as well as at conferences around the world.

Beth Bird

Beth Bird is a PhD candidate in the Department of Film and Media. Graduating from Brown University in the Department of Modern Culture and Media, Beth then received her MFA in film from the California Institute of the Arts, where she resided within both the Film School and Integrated Media, a program in digital technology. For the past decade, she has taught media studies, critical theory, and production universities and art colleges, including UC San Diego, the San Francisco Art Institute, and California College of the Arts. Beth’s scholarship explores how digital technologies and the Internet, by creating altenratives to conventional linear narrative structures, have impacted the way documentary artists temporally and spatially organize images, text, and sound, and how this both reflects and impacts contemporary social structures. Through analysis of expanded non-fiction cinematic forms, hybrid media, and technologies such as Virtual Reality, her work reframes and contextualizes these new forms within the larger field of documentary studies.

Tory Jeffay

Tory Jeffay is a PhD candidate in Film & Media, working at the intersection of nonfiction media and technology, specifically on how images are mobilized politically and how the production and modes of dissemination of these images are mediated. Prior to joining Berkeley, Tory worked as an editor of documentary films. Her work with digital editing and graphics software has inspired the questions and themes that animate this research. Tory is already an active member of the New Media Working Group and has taken several new media courses in which she has analyzed police body cameras alongside early film and the morph cut as a digital effect that hides the constructed nature of film.

William Morgan

William Morgan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Rhetoric, working on continental philosophy and the politics of technology, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Previously, William received his Bachelors from the University of Michigan in Germanic Languages and Literatures and History. His thesis there discussed the technopolitical opportunities afforded by “Der Animatograph,” a mystical-mechanical installation made by the German artist Christoph Schlingensief. William attended many BCNM events prior to joining UC Berkeley and since enrolling in graduate school has taken a slew of new media classes with Jacob Gaboury, Luciana Parisi, and Jill Miller, the topics spanning theory, culture, and design. William seeks to map out the dynamics of artificialization in present new media technologies and to suggest how these trends might persist in the future, thereby contributing to an understanding of the socio-political effects of technological inventions. His article “Big Data’s Accursed Share: Locating Waste in the Infospehere” will be presented this December at the UNSW Law workshop, Making Waste, Talking Trash.

Sarah Sterman

Sarah Sterman is a PhD student in Computer Science, working with Eric Paulos in the Hybrid Ecologies lab. She is interested in how tacit knowledge and embodied experiences can guide the development of computational tools for creativity and communication. Her recent work investigates how readers and writers interact with literary style, and how new computational models can assist and transform these interactions. Her current work investigates how the digital elicitation of subconscious, almost autonomic sensations using micro-haptic devices could be integrated into media experiences and daily life.


Brian Bartz

An MFA candidate in the department of Art Practice, Brian’s work revolves largely around questions raised by the politics of emergent technological systems. His research interests include new paradigms of surveillance, corporate and military network infrastructures, and the increasing proliferation of machine learning and computer vision algorithms throughout our lived environment. How do these new systems of opaque and invisible technology facilitate the expansion and reinscription of neoliberal power throughout the world? What sorts of injustices and violences are being erased through these complex, interdependent systems of technology? How can we improve our collective literacy of this highly mediated and virtual landscape we all inhabit? Brian addresses these questions through his artwork, creating interactive spaces, objects, and websites which seek to materialize the ideology around technology in the face of its widespread acceptance as value-neutral.

Siyu Hou

Siyu Hou is pursuing a Masters of Landscape Architecture at the College of Environmental Design, where she is interested in urban public spaces. Siyu has taken BCNM’s Tangible User Interfaces and views public spaces through this lens, seeking to learn how physical spaces affect social behavior and how our actions change the natural environment. Siyu has worked at various architecture firms before arriving at Berkeley.

Jessie Lyu

Jessie Lyu is a Masters candidate in Information. Studying computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she began working in human-computer interactions, building 2D and 3D education games for children using Unity. Jessie worked as a software engineer before coming to UC Berkeley, at Quicket Solutions Inc and then at Yahoo as a full-stack engineer. There, Jessie realized her passion for product design and returned to school to develop her skills in this field. She has already taken BCNM’s Tangibel User Interface Design with Kimiko Ryokai. She has also served as a GSI for CS 160, User Interface Design and Development.

Eleni Oikonomaki

Eleni was born in Heraklion and graduated with excellence from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, with a 5-year Architecture Engineering Diploma (Master's equivalent).Through her Erasmus year in Lisbon she had a chance to learn different architectural approaches. Always interested in technological innovation, she worked as a web designer intern at IT Center of AUTH for more than a year, developing the "myauth mobile", a personalized application for the university’s students. Eleni taught herself code and completed her dissertation on digital applications as a tool for participatory processes and social innovation. In 2017 her diploma thesis project was selected to represent Greece and to be exhibited in Greek pavilion at UIA Seoul World Architects Congress. Eleni is pursuing a Masters in Urban Design.

Julia Park

Julia received a Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked as an Architect before becoming interested in the interface between the digital and physical. She has developed a prizewinning smart home systems to monitor ambient versus interior conditions, water and energy use etc. Julia is now pursuing a Masters in the School of Information focused on human computer interaction, exploring embodied digital information.

Nick Roberts

Nick Roberts is an artist, aspiring documentarian and master’s candidate at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. His art practice focuses on how language can be used as a pattern to structure works, and how that system can encode meaning. At the J-school, he seeks stories that can be told through aesthetically driven documentary forms. In seeking the BCNM Master’s certificate, Nick hopes to combine his system-based approach to art with the stories he covers as a journalist.

Tara Shi

Tara Shi is pursuing a Master of Architecture at the College for Environmental Design. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Tara received her Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts and Bachelor of Science in Biology. She also developed her own practice in new media art and design through her studio, disk cactus, which created work for companies such as Google, General Electric, and the California Academy of Science. She has also served as an Autodesk Artist in Residence. Tara continues to co-direct This Will Take Time, an artist residency and space for long-term practices and experiments.

Ionna Sotiriou

Joanna is interested in the politics of speculative architecture, emerging technologies, and human dynamics. Her undergraduate thesis titled “Cold Data: Death Archives and the Imaginaire of the Immaterial,” discussed the architecture and culture of death in the digital era, questioning the design of the traditional cemetery, and proposing the creation of a new “Isle of the Dead,” where mundane material doubles of digital information resides as memorabilia of an immaterial collective history. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Joanna served as an architect at firms across the globe.

Cheng Zhong

Cheng Zhong is pursuing a Master of Urban Design at the College of Environmental Design, where she focuses on user-interface design in both physical environments and virtual space. With smart city and interactive design trends, Cheng seeks to develop her new media skills to build integrated environments. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Cheng created mobile phone applications in China.

Weijia Zhou

I am a Landscape Architecture graduate student at UC Berkeley. The experience with three-dimensional environmental design empowered me to understand the behavioral patterns and mindsets of users but also developed my interest in analytics-based design. My research interest is User Experience Design, which has a lot of similarities with Landscape Architecture. I am enthusiastic to explore the interdisciplinary field and solve real-life problems through merging design with up-to-date information techniques.