2016 Class Bios

Christina Houle


Central, Southern and West Texas feel like home to me but prior to living in Cambridge I spent my time in NYC working as a socially engaged artist and teacher of digital media arts.   I have worked as a producer for the public art nonprofit Creative Time and the land advocacy organization 596 Acres. Additionally as a film maker I have worked in partnership with the Center for Urban Pedagogy, a nonprofit that partners activists with artists to design participatory products to promote civic engagement. As a leader on the Urban Investigation team I worked with youth in the Bronx to make a short film about how the cost of public transportation is decided in NYC.

At the Grand Central Neighborhood Drop-In Shelter for the Homeless I worked for a year as the first Director of Community and Arts Programing and at Harvard I currently work as the Digital Communications Assistant for the Making Caring Common Youth Advisory Board as well as a Senior Digital Editor for the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. Last fall in collaboration with the African American Student Union at the Harvard Graduate School of Design I designed and implement a civic leadership mapping project with youth from underserved Boston communities.  The project provided tools for youth to map local racial inequity and helped them to horizontally organize with other youth to raise awareness of the issues at stake and seek solutions from local policy makers.

Prior to living in NYC as the recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Idea Fund Grant I worked for a year on a film and performance protest series called Migration Patterns During Wartime along the Us/ Mexico Border. The project protested changing immigration policy and practices in Texas and Alabama. Older projects on trauma, parafictions, and identity swapping can be found on my site https://christina-sukhgian-houle.squarespace.com/.

My current research investigates how civic leadership is changing in the digital age and inquires how activist pedagogy can be taught to youth in this shifting media landscape.

Sands Fish

Sands Fish

My name is Sands Fish. I am currently a first year master’s student in the Media Arts and Sciences program at the MIT Media Lab. I work under Ethan Zuckerman in the MIT Center for Civic Media as a Research Assistant, primarily focused on theMedia Cloud platform. I design data visualizations that reveal hidden patterns in the content and structure of the news at large scales. My current efforts are in detecting conversations and frames in issues discussed online, anywhere from main stream media to citizen blogs. This effort (initially called a “Network of Frames”) is a network visualization that represents media sources and the words they use most frequently. The network shows common usages of words between different media sources and the layout of the network highlights clusters of language, indicating at the very least themes emerging from overall coverage of the issue. Before arriving at the Media Lab, I worked as a fellow and researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and as a senior software engineer and data scientist at the MIT Libraries.

In my role as a designer and artist, I focus on using generative visuals, artificial intelligence, and hardware interfaces to expose beauty and intricacy in patterns from the natural and digital world. I am also one of the organizers of the Cambridge/Somerville based Tech Poetics community; a loose collection of new media and technology artists in the greater Boston area practicing or interested in the use of technology (loosely defined) in their artistic practice.

You can find me on Twitter at @sandsfish and my home on the web is http://sands.fish.

Wenxin Fan

I root for Spotlight to win the Oscar.

Hi! My name is Wenxin. Am a Nieman fellow from China. I report from Shanghai for Bloomberg News/Businessweek, and previously for the New York Times.

A lot of my work involves finding data and then matching them. I spent a large amount of time searching the Web using names, phone numbers, emails, IDs, birthdays etc. as keywords. Then I try to connect those dots by matching a set of those data. An example would be identifying a man with an English name invested in an Australian mine to be the grandson of Deng Xiaoping. The databases I use include social networks such as Facebook or Weibo, company registrations, stock exchange filings, lexis/nexis, and Communist Party propaganda. Most of the times, I start with Google, which had also helped me to help my wife find her primary school classmates.

Am interested in learning the more innovative means of reporting, and am keen to find new ways for story-telling. Eager for my hidden geek-side to be kindled by working with y’all.

Wendi C. Thomas

Wendi Flyer Headshot

Hi y’all! I’m a journalist based in Memphis. I’ve worked as a reporter, columnist or editor at The Indianapolis Star, The (Nashville) Tennessean, The Charlotte Observer, The Memphis Commercial Appeal and The Memphis Flyer. I’m a 2016 Nieman fellow and when I’m done, I’m going back to Memphis to use journalism to spark a citywide conversation about Memphis’ failure to live up to Martin Luther King’s dream of economic justice. (The 50th anniversary of his assassination is April 4, 2018.)

I think a lot about what tools can be used to keep elected officials accountable and how citizens can give elected officials feedback immediately with the goal of shaping public policy to benefit the poor. I know good journalism has the power to change communities but I don’t know exactly how to deploy it in a startup to change my community. (And I don’t know how to fund it either.) Hoping to solve all these challenges this semester, with time left over for whirled peas. 🙂

When I’m not reading studies about racial disparities, I’m playing Ruzzle on my phone, watching the new Beyonce video, tweeting at @wendi_c_thomas or Facebooking.

Naomi Darom


I’m a 2015-6 Nieman fellow.
Before coming here I worked as a magazine reporter at Haaretz newspaper in Israel.
I reported mostly long-form pieces but also news and Op Eds.
Before that I was an art director in advertising agencies in New York and Tel Aviv.
I’m deeply interested in gender and childhood.
I would like us journalists to stop chasing the latest social media platforms, and take control of our storytelling.
I’m particularly interested in two questions:
1. How can technology be used to assist reporting and writing, make them more accessible and interactive, without sacrificing depth and craft?
2. How can technology make journalists more independent of organizations and free in creating the right platform for their content?
I’m excited about this class and the chance for collaboration!

Adrienne Debigare


Hi World!

I’m Adrienne, a former news catalyst and current jack-of-all-trades at the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative. I also moonlight as a Research Affiliate at the Center for Civic Media. A designer by training, and a coder/hacker/maker by nature, I enjoy being a bridge for cross-disciplinary teams. I even worked in sales, once upon a time!

During my tenure at the Boston Globe, I began studying the development and evolution of online communities which continues at HBS and MIT. After being tasked with managing the dreaded comments section of a major media outlet, I became more interested in why certain online communities flourish and others wither. What causes people to treat others as words on a screen, rather than humans on the “other end of the line?”

In my spare time, you’ll likely find me on a mountain somewhere: rock climbing, snowboarding, or just hiking to a remote lake in the middle of a forest.


Jia Zhang


I’m a phd student working with interactive maps and data visualizations here in the Media Lab. My background is in visual art and interaction design.

I am interested in how journalists use maps and visualizations. I am a big fan of Amanda Cox and cannot express how excited I am about her new role as editor of the Upshot. I want to build visualization tools for professional and amateur storytellers alike.

I would like to focus on becoming a better writer through this class. I am especially excited to learn from so many great journalists and writers in the class. I would also like to work on a few map/dataviz-based projects that will contribute to my dissertation research if the opportunity comes up.

Relevant skills: visual design, python, front end web dev, javascript, processing, and mandarin.

Sravanti Tekumalla

11885691_10154334130142281_5778489736523912393_o (1)

I’m a current senior at Wellesley College studying computer science and I’m interested in the intersection between technology and journalism — specifically, how to apply my computer science knowledge to create tools that can help journalists parse data in a meaningful, clear way, whether that be through data analysis tools or data visualization tools.

I’m coming to this class after finishing up a stint as Editor of my college paper, The Wellesley News. During my time at The News, I also started  an online team which created, and now maintains, our website as well as our social media presence.

Skills-wise, I have some reporting and editing experience from the journalism side. From the tech side of things, I’m good with Java, Python, JavaScript and web development-related things. I’m excited to learn a lot in this class, and to create with all of you!

Raafat Majzoub



I’m a Lebanese architect, artist and writer. I am invested in creating a network narrative system where the writing of imagined fiction is coupled with a research and construction process that scripts it into reality — writing as architecture.

My work revolves around a borderless Arab World and has taken various forms as outlets such as film, video, interactive performance, public installation, journalism, erotic and children’s literature. My novel “The Perfumed Garden: An Autobiography of Another Arab World” will hopefully be published soon.

One of my previous projects that is most relevant to journalism is The Outpost, a magazine of possibilities in the Arab World. I co-founded the magazine with Ibrahim Nehme, its editor-in-chief, and was its creative director for the first two years. You can find some info on it here: 





the farewell chronicles (weekly column)

Mónica Guzmán


Hey all! I’m a 2016 Nieman Fellow this year, and to sum it up: I’m out to learn and show how building closer ties with the public makes journalism stronger and more sustainable.

Most recently I’ve been a freelance columnist, writing about technology and culture for The Seattle Times, GeekWire, the Daily Beast and The Columbia Journalism Review. I serve as vice-chair of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Committee, and until I came to Boston was the emcee of Ignite Seattle — a fun community speaker series where anyone and everyone can learn how give a great 5-minute lightning talk to a room full of 800 people.

Here’s my longer bio with more resume bits, awards, the braggy stuff. Among the bigger projects I’m proud of: I wrote the closing chapter in Poynter’s New Ethics of Journalism, called “Community as an End,” and for a couple years I ran weekly meetups for readers of my Seattle news blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. That’s how I became convinced that getting to know readers leads to the best ways to serve them.

On that note, I’m excited to get to know you all, see what we learn together, and get to work making it real 🙂

Brittany Parker

Brittany Parker

At the risk of outing herself as a flack among hacks, Brittany Parker comes to #PartNews from the world of strategic communications where she once managed “spontaneous tweets” for a group of former congressman on budget reform. A recovering campaign staffer, she has worked on local, statewide, and national races from Arkansas to Tel Aviv. Most recently, she served as press secretary for a think tank on US policy in the Middle East — which was the straw that broke the camel’s back into graduate school.

Now at the Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy, Brittany studies communications and civic participation, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to learning and working with with the impressive collective of MAS 700, she looks forward to telling her mother — a former reporter — about the future of news.

Brittany is a StartingBloc fellow and holds a BA in International Relations and Arabic from Washington University in St. Louis. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Jorge Caraballo


I’m a Colombian journalist interested in covering the transformations that digital media have triggered in our communities.

In 2015 I received a Fulbright scholarship after presenting a project that wants to answer one question: How can digital media contribute to the reconstruction of social cohesiveness in Colombia, a country that has suffered an armed conflict for more that sixty years? Thanks to Fulbright I came to the Media Innovation program at Northeastern University. After finishing my studies I want to go back to my country to create a media experiment that supports a reconciliation process among its people.

My skills are in storytelling, multimedia production and community engagement. I enjoy telling stories using different formats –writing, audio, photographs, video–, and building active communities around information.

“Knowledge is what makes us good”, said to me an elder from a native Colombian community where I lived for a week. I liked that relationship between information and goodness, and that’s why I’m excited to be part of this course: I want to learn and imagine new digital tools that help us to create a better understanding of what we are.

Ashley Smart

ashley s

I’m a chemical engineer-turned-science journalist, born and raised in the quiet little college town of Gainesville, Florida. I’m currently a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT, on leave from Physics Today magazine, where I’ve written about everything from infant sand dunes to intergalactic stardust. Before that, I was a postdoc at Caltech and studied at Northwestern University and the University of Florida.

I also have this pet project: A friend and I started HBSciU, a science news blog that spotlights work being done by black scientists and by scientists at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We think it’s a vastly underreported beat.

My biggest projects, however, are my three-month-old and two-year-old boys. If I’m not working, watching a movie, playing soccer, or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen, you can probably find me hanging out with them.

Nemmani Sreedhar


Hello, I am Nemmani, friends also call me Sree. I am a second-year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy student at The Fletcher School with specializations in International Security Studies, Human Security, Negotiations, Conflict Resolution, Gender Studies, and International Communications.

Before coming to the Fletcher School, I worked as a Journalist (Senior Reporter) in India’s noted newspaper, The Hindu, for three years, and before that I worked in Indian Air Force as a Photo Specialist for 15 years. I did my Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from India’s premier J-School, Asian College of Journalism, with a specialization in New Media stream. I also have a Masters in Economics.

I love Martial Arts, Mountaineering, and other outdoorsy activities. Currently, I am also in the process of setting up a new media venture along with some of the best and most creative minds at the Fletcher School. Looking forward for an exciting semester in Ethan’s class.

You can find me on : Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, among others…

Ashley Doliber


Hi, I’m Ashley – and I’m guessing you’ve heard the old adage, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” I’ve taken that idea to heart, as have many across media, business, and government. We know that we remember what we see four times more than what we read, and process images 60,000 times faster than text. Yet we’re still figuring out how to best harness the true power of visual content (produced by professionals and citizens alike) – and strategically address all of the challenges that come with it.

This is particularly evident in today’s global context, where a photo, video, or infographic can deliver an unparalleled immediacy of (mis)understanding. That’s why I earned degrees in both foreign affairs and photography, and am currently a Master’s candidate studying international communications and business at The Fletcher School.

At the moment, I’m focused on initiatives like revitalizing one of Fletcher’s program and research centers to explore the newest trends in journalism, cyber, and public diplomacy. Immediately prior to graduate school, I worked in external affairs and project management for a DC-based NGO that serves as a center for global leadership development. And most importantly, I’m looking forward to learning from all of you!

@aedoliber on Twitter and Instagram

Anika Gupta

2015-11-09 16.53.09

I’m Anika Gupta, a researcher and journalist (and currently a CMS master’s student). I’ve written about science, technology and entrepreneurship for various publications around the world (links to articles here, in case you’re interested in that kind of thing) but these days I’m more interested in the links/interfaces between news organizations and users. I’m doing a thesis that looks at issues related to online comments in context of the evolving relationship between news organizations and audiences.

I am also very interested in the globalization of news. I spent five years working as a journalist and product manager in New Delhi, and started Hacks/Hackers New Delhi (now Hacks/Hackers India). I’m really looking forward to meeting and learning about the other people in this class!

My Twitter.

Holly Haney


I’m Holly Haney, an undergraduate studying Comparative Media Studies. I’m interested in a number of things, but I think that it can largely be broken down into, first, the creation/study of different media and, second, the study of social systems and culture. I am especially interested in popular culture, hip hop culture, internet studies, and celebrities. These institutions tell us a huge amount about a large portion of our society and culture. Celebrities and other successful people involved in popular culture create intelligently sculpted characterizations of themselves that I find fascinating.

I create a lot of digital media (photographs, videos, illustrations, and writings), do journalism for the Boston Hassle, work as a radio engineer for WMBR, and just generally really like making things and talking to people.

I’m a super friendly person and I love to chat. If you ever want to talk with me, I’d love to talk with you.



Joy Buolamwini

PHOTO+2013TN01126+Buolamwini (1)

Joy’s mission is to show compassion through computation and ensure all who aspire to be creators are provided pathways to become full participants in the creation of the future. To realize this mission, she founded Code4Rights to empower individuals to create meaningful technology for their communities. Code4Rights builds on her work in Zambia facilitating the development of the Asikana Network Women’s Rights App available to all Zambia Airtel subscribers.

Joy is an entrepreneur, Rhodes Scholar, a Fulbright Fellow, a Stamps Scholar,  a Google Anita Borg Scholar, Astronaut Scholar, and a Carter Center technical consultant recognized as a distinguished volunteer. At the Carter Center, she created an android-based mobile surveying solution that was initially deployed to survey nearly 40,000 people in Ethiopia to help eliminate blinding Trachoma for over 17 million people. The tools are now used in Nigeria, South Sudan, Mali, and Niger to combat other neglected tropical diseases. She is a former Varsity Blues pole vaulter for Oxford University where she earned a master’s degree in Learning and Technology. She serves as a Business, Entrepreneurship, and Fellowships Resident Tutor at Harvard University.

Assorted Related Links:

Matt Carroll
Matt Carroll is a research scientist with the Future of News initiative, which is part of the Center for Civic Media. Previously he worked as a data reporter for the Boston Globe.
He knows Google Fusion tables, Excel, Microsoft Access.

Leave a Reply