Announcing Our Spring 2024 DE & Certificate Cohort

31 Mar, 2024

Announcing Our Spring 2024 DE & Certificate Cohort

We are thrilled to welcome this Spring's graduate cohort – an amazing group of interdisciplinary scholars from Anthropology, Art Practice, Design, German, and Information!

Designated Emphasis

Kayla van Kooten

Kayla van Kooten is a PhD student in the Department of German, with Designated Emphases in New Media and Dutch Studies. Her current research revolves around questions of multilingualism, translation, migration, digital culture and media. At UC Berkeley she co-founded the Language and AI working group that brings experts in language and AI in collaboration with each other. Currently, she is the Creative & Web Designer of TRANSIT and the Social Media Manager of the Townsend Center. She holds a BA from the University of Washington in Middle Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

Yangyang Yang

Yangyang is a PhD student at UC Berkeley School of Information, specializing in experience design and human-computer interaction research. Her work has been focusing on leveraging emerging technologies like mixed reality and physical computing for embodied learning experiences beyond the desktop. Her recent research endeavors have revolved around investigating the application of mixed reality in two critical areas: Post-anthropocentric design - examining how mixed reality as a design provocation can elicit individuals’ sensitivity towards more-than-human perspectives and challenge the anthropocentric functionalism stance; Postcolonial design - investigating how mixed reality co-creation can empower Indigenous youth, fostering culturally responsive STEM learning and promoting their rightful presence in the science museum. Prior to her doctoral studies, Yangyang earned a Bachelor’s degree in Product Design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a Master’s degree in Engineering and Management at MIT. She co-founded Look Alive Studio for experiential marketing and edutainment experiences. More at

Sehee Lee

Sehee is a current PhD student in sociocultural anthropology at UC Berkeley. Sehee’s research interests broadly include nation-state and citizenship, precarity, affect, labor, human-computer interactions, and digital media and platforms. Sehee's work attempts to examine the emergence and substantiation of precarity in global high-tech centers at the intersection of information technology, citizenship, and labor and to explore the political potentiality and affordability of digital platforms in the face of uncertainty. Sehee received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at UC Berkeley and her master’s degree in anthropology at Seoul National University. Sehee has also worked as a data collection researcher and a user experience researcher in the tech industry.


Alexx Zaki

Alexx is a graduate student in the MDes program, currently in their first year. They are mostly interested in exploring BIPOC, queer and neurodiverse design spaces to help create a more accessible and equitable future. Alexx studied CS/SWE at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, where they also worked as a UX Designer/Engineer after graduation. When Alexx is not doing their favorite thing (homework), you will most likely find them playing Dota2, while listening to alternative rock or learning a new language (for fun) or a monologue for theater class. Alexx says hi, they're a little shy sometimes but feel free to say hello back via email. They also have a website.

Rachel Zhang

Rachel Zhang is an MDes (Master of Design) student with a background in Computer Science. Her academic interests lie at the confluence of technology and aesthetics, where she seeks to develop innovative solutions that address diverse needs. With a foundation in Computer Science, Rachel is particularly drawn to leveraging artificial intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction technology and virtual reality to explore new frontiers in art, music, and design. Her ambition extends to creating immersive experiences that not only transport individuals to unexplored dimensions but also serve dual purposes of education and entertainment. This goal highlights Rachel's commitment to merging her technical skills with her creative pursuits, aiming to produce works that are both intellectually stimulating and enjoyable.

Viviana Martinez

Viviana is a first-year graduate student in the MFA program. Viviana works with various forms of visual and sensory storytelling; these forms intersect with photography, film, printmaking, and other forms of media. Her research in eco-pedagogy delves into how our relationship and access to natural open spaces are vital to our lives and communities well-being —highlighting its power as a mediator in creating poetic subjectivities. She sees emotions and memories as useful data. Through an intersectional feminist lens, Viviana's research also investigates female representation and cultural misconceptions depicted in massive media outlets, particularly in the history of photography and film. Aiming to subvert the dominant male dominant gaze, Viviana integrates community and institutional archival research that supports the qualitative aspect of her practice. During BCNM, Viviana is interested in delving into documentary storytelling and learning new technologies in immersive installation development.

Yoojin Leem

Yoojin Leem is a first-year student candidate in the Berkeley MDes program. She has spent her life in Korea creating art. Wanting to connect with people on a deeper level led her to explore UX, eventually working as a UX designer before making her way to Berkeley. Here, she has discovered her interest in tangible interfaces and more physical forms of design. Yoojin is excited to think about creating tools and processes herself.