Announcing the Summer 2024 BCNM Undergraduate Research Fellows

07 Apr, 2024

Announcing the Summer 2024 BCNM Undergraduate Research Fellows

Each year, the Berkeley Center for New Media pairs undergraduates with a graduate student mentor, offering them the chance to complete real, graduate level research while at Cal. We are thrilled to announce this semester's Fellows.

Lauren Chang

Triggered Identities: Unpacking the Online Persona of Asian American Gun Enthusiasts on Social Media

Lauren Chang is a Public Health & Theatre and Performance Studies B.A. candidate. Lauren has taken courses in Probability and Statistics, Data Science, and Histories of Performance. She has been a Professor's Assistant, stage manager, and health communications intern, bringing a variety of exceptional organizational skills to her role in this project.

Lauren will be working with Evan Sakuma. Evan's research project aims to investigate the online behaviors of Asian American Instagram personalities who actively promote and calcify their identity in connection with firearms. By analyzing their posts, captions, and engagement patterns, Evan seeks to understand the motivations behind this unique intersection of cultural identity and gun culture. In particular, Asian American women have a long history of powerful images with guns that date back to the propaganda used in the Vietnam War. Evan is trying to parse how this lineage may be affecting current perceptions of Asian American radicality and why these objects, as prosthesis, related to power, capital, and the upholding of whiteness.

Bonwoo Kuh

Resistance to AI Image Generators in Creator Communities

Bonwoo Kuh is a candidate in Art Practice with a Minor Data Science. Bonwoo has taken coursework in Principles & Techniques of Data Science, Computational Structures of Data Science, and Social Networks. Bonwoo has previously been a communications and marketing intern.

Bonwoo will be working with Janiya Peters. Janiya's project explores the ways visual artists resist participation in generative text-to-image models, and larger algorithmic impositions. Advancements in text-to-image generators place visual artists in a vulnerable position. These technologies are enabled by deep learning models, including General Adversarial Networks (GANS) and latent diffusion, which learn mathematical patterns in space, color and depth in reference images to construct "new" images. Several creative professionals have reprimanded the unpermitted use of their work towards training text-to-image generators. Civil suits alleging copyright infringement have been filed against major developers and platforms. But, copyright law may not provide enough coverage to protect visual artists' works. This project identifies strategies of resistance to text-to-image generators by analyzing: (a) interviews; (b) legal codes, information policies and practices; (c) historical instances of resistance by artists, artisans, and manual laborers. This project will propose interventions at the intersection of information law and critical data studies. This project is supported by the AI Policy Hub at the Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity.

Lark Chang-Yeh

Media Education Research Lab (MERL)

Lark Chang-Yeh is an Art Practice and Sociology major, who has been recognized with a UC Berkeley Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Research Prize (2022), Cal Alumni Association Leadership Award (2020-2021, 2023-2024), and the Dean’s List (Spring/Fall 2022, Spring 2023). Lark has worked as a research assistant at the Graduate School of Education and interned at a variety of organizations, including the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Creative Artists Agency.

Lark will be working with Jaclyn Zhou. The Media Education Research Lab (MERL) is UC Berkeley-based lab led by Professor Abigail De Kosnik that is developing methods for measuring and representing diversity in media. Jaclyn is the head graduate student researcher in the lab, and oversees the team of undergraduate research assistants. Students currently use a three-step process to research and review media texts. First, the researcher (whom we refer to as the "tagger") views the media text and extensively researches the text’s reception, any instances of biased representation in the text, and the text’s major cast and characters. Next, they use their research to generate a numerical score out of 100. Finally, the tagger writes a 250-500 word review summarizing analysis of the text as pertains to diversity and representation. Researchers are currently tagging, scoring, and reviewing the 10 highest grossing films and 10 best-reviewed and most-discussed television series per year between 2019 and 2022. Each of these 80 texts will be tagged and reviewed twice. When completed, these reviews will be published on the MERL website, which will be launched later this year. We envision this website as a tool that media consumers, parents, and students can use to evaluate their media viewing practices.

Viv Kammerer

Tip of the Spear

Viv Kammerer (they/them) is a senior majoring in film and art history. They are a co-founder and member of the Critical Pacific Island Studies Collective at UC Berkeley and are interested in using art and film to research environmental advocacy and colonial issues.

Viv is working with geography graduate student and documentary filmmaker Sophia Perez on her upcoming film. Tip of the Spear is a research project that focuses on the political, cultural, and environmental conflict between the people of the Mariana Islands and the US Department of Defense (DoD). As tensions ramp up in Ukraine and the South China Sea, the DoD and other world superpowers have hastened their return to the Pacific Theatre, pushing their military presences across hundreds of little-known islands in a flurry of strategic war games that echo WWII-era posturing and age-old, colonial perspectives. Nowhere is this allegedly dated worldview more clearly alive than the Mariana Islands, a “strategically located” archipelago hosting two legally-fraught political statuses—the Southernmost island of Guam is an “unincorporated US territory” or modern colony in the eyes of the United Nations, while the Northern Mariana Islands are designated with the obtuse and obscure status of US Commonwealth.