Announcing the Spring 2021 DE & Graduate Certificate Cohort

29 Mar, 2021

Announcing the Spring 2021 DE & Graduate Certificate Cohort

Photo credit: Yuyao Jin

We are thrilled to welcome this Spring's graduate cohort – an amazing group of interdisciplinary scholars from Art Practice, Computer Science, the College of Environmental Design, Geography and Information!

Designated Emphasis

Liza Gak

Liza Gak is pursuing a Ph.D. in Information and has a wealth of new media experience at their fingertips. Taking courses in human-computer interaction, ethnographies of the digital, and the history and theory of new media, Liza has supplemented her research interests in social computing and online harms with a rigorous new media foundation. Currently, Liza is leading a project studying the emotional harms of targeted diet ads, called “The Distressing Ads that Persist: Uncovering the Persuasive Logics and Emotional Harms of User Targeted Diet Ads.” This work is supported by the Center of Technology, Society and Policy and the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group. Liza received their BA in Computer Science and Mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis.

Tonya Nguyen

Tonya Nguyen is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Information and a former BCNM Undergraduate Certificate recipient! Tonya's work on social computing, human-computer interaction, and ethical AI, has been complemented by a host of BCNM courses, including technologies for creativity and learning, critical making, history and theory of new media, and human-computer interaction. This spring, Tonya is leading a project studying how mutual aid organizations increasingly rely on online infrastructure to carry out their operations. Mutual aid is politically driven and questions values in technology, such as scalability and efficiency, and highlights technological innovation as a form of resistance against the existing oppressive structures. The best strategies and design implications for mutual aid and other systems of care remain unclear and understudied. This work is supported by the Center of Technology, Society and Policy and the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group. Tonya's recent research collaborations have featured in CHI 2021, CHI 2020, and CSCW 2020.

Maria Pettis

Maria Pettis is a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography. With an undergraduate education in ecology and environmental analysis, Maria traces the relationality between organisms, power, and place. Maria's work centers the domesticated new world mosquito Aedes aegypti aegypti, as a physical, spatial, and theoretical apparatus to
investigate themes of: human-more-than-human interdependence; sensation and surveillance; the production of nature and attempted enclosure of bodies; and agency and resistance in colonial, post-colonial, and future worlds. Often a source of obsession for scientists, environmental historians, public health officials; the mosquito is a ‘vector’ of yellow fever, dengue and zika among other arboviruses. Ae. a. Aegypti, is evidence of an ongoing afterlife, entangled in a
legacy of slavery, Atlantic trade circuts, and the colonial terraformations of the global tropics. The domestication of Ae. a. aegypti offers evidence of how the physical and social conditions of colonial transit, labor, hygiene, and plantations were at smaller scales digested by organisms and have re-emerged through the media of insect bodies.


Erica Deeman

Erica Deeman is an MFA candidate in the Department of Art Practice. Erica's research has focused on connecting black spirituality with their birthplace, the United Kingdom, their mother’s ancestral home, Jamaica, Western Africa, and their current home in the U.S. Exploring plants, agriculture, and the journey seeds made across the Atlantic has inspired them to use their garden in Seattle to cultivate a growing practice and performative space. In the absence of place created due to COVID-19, the land their family farmed in Jamaica is now embodied in Seattle, on unseated Duwamish territory. Erica has been a Headlands Artist in Residence and has exhibited at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francsico, among other venues.

Yuyao Jin

Yuyao Jin is pursuing a Masters in Landscape Architecture in the College of Environmental Design. Yuyao works as a user interface researcher, product designer, and data analyst for several projects at UC Berkeley, including Urban Open Space’s Evaluation System Based on Social Media Emotion Detection and Green Thumb – Interactive Plant Care Design. Yuyao has been extensively involved in design courses, including tangible user interface design and user research and experience.

Hala Kaddoura

Hala Kaddoura is an MFA candidate in the Department on Art Practice. Hala's practice focuses on postcolonial and transational feminism theories, queer theories, censhorship, and diaspora, as these fields relate to her experience as a Palestinian woman who grew up and lived in Lebanon under refugee status. Hala has previously created virtual art through Sundance's New Frontiers program and New Art City, through which she created Searching for Her.

Janaki Vivrekar

Janaki Vivrekar is a Masters student at the Hybrid Ecologies Lab in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, where she is studying human-computer interaction and new media, with research interests in critical design, embodied interaction, social media interventions, creativity support tools, education, and accessibility. Throughout her engagement with BCNM, Janaki has taken new media courses focused on locative media, critical making, interface aesthetics, the history and theory of new media, human-computer interaction, and transforming technologies in STEM and Silicon Valley. Currently, Janaki is building and studying the effects of physical social media interventions to help users understand, articulate, and change how they value social media experiences. Previously, Janaki earned undergraduate degrees in computer science and applied mathematics at UC Berkeley, along with the BCNM Undergraduate Certificate in New Media, the Berkeley Certificate in Design Innovation, the Sutardja Certificate In Entrepreneurship and Technology, and the Human-Centered Design Course Thread. In Summer 2021, Janaki will be a lecturer for CS 160 (User Interface Design and Development) at UC Berkeley.

Dahan Xiong

Dahan Xiong is pursuing a Masters in Architecture in the College of Environmental Design. Dahan is interested in urbanism and media aesthetics. Previous projects include The Silent Majority, which served as an intervention for Xichang, where cultural tourism around ethnic minorities has been promoted to boost the local economy. Dahan developed a "micro-city" to celebrate traditional activity while recognizing the cultural consumption involved.