This spring, our team grew to include a talented, passionate group of over 35 interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate student volunteers from 9 universities including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Florida International University and University of Miami. The interns conducted research, storyboarding, prototyping, design, fundraising, stakeholder engagement and program planning for our VR experience.
We are proud and inspired to have brought together this amazing team, united through a common vision to create an empathetic and innovative approach to ignite social change on urgent issues for our generation.
Thank you to each and everyone of our interns:
Grace Chin - RWTH Aachen University, Computer Science
Grace is a Computer Science student with a passion for sustainability and climate justice. As a fellow at the Alliance for Climate Education, she worked with other youth to advocate for the divestment of the Massachusetts state pension fund from the fossil fuel industry. At Young People For, a progressive leadership development program, her "Blueprint for Social Justice" focused on a bill that would restructure the USDA's farm subsidization program. She has also led an Environmental Protection Agency award-winning project that helped to educate homeowners about energy efficiency and to reduce plastic waste in her community.
Maanya Condamoor - Yale School of Management, MBA, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Master of Environmental Management (MEM)
Maanya is a second-year MBA and Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale Schools of Management and Forestry & Environmental Studies. She is interested in helping businesses mitigate their environmental impact and using technology to reduce human environmental impact, and spent her summer as a Sustainability Intern at Facebook. Prior to Yale, Maanya worked in the corporate sustainability space, helping Kaiser Permanente reduce its environmental footprint and as a strategy and transformation consultant at IBM. She excited to bring together her passion for technology and environmental issues through the BITL.
Mario Parker - Florida International University (undergrad, senior), Advertising & Digital Marketing
Passionate about increasing awareness for climate change and sustainability. Communications lead for Virtual reality projects here in South Florida through the FIU Virtual lab. Excited to be a part of the BITL team and to accomplish successful call to actions with an innovative platform!
Natasha Doherty - Wharton (Undergrad, Junior), UPenn, studying Management, Social Impact and Responsibility, and Organizational Design
Natasha is a student at Penn, originally from London, UK. She sees business as a force for good and wants to use it to make life on Earth more sustainable for humans. She loves products and services that make life simpler, more eco-friendly, greener and more fulfilling for people living in urban areas. She is always open to meeting new people and loves to work on multidisciplinary teams that tackle difficult problems, like the BITL team!
Andrew Zucker - University of Miami, Ecosystem Science and Policy, Chemistry, Geology
Andrew is a senior at the University of Miami studying Ecosystem Science and Policy, Chemistry, and Geology. In regards to BITL, Andrew will be working on the Data Sub Team and is beyond excited to educate other on the imminent danger of climate change. Over the years Andrew has worked on projects focusing on the production of biodiesel and has been involved in many climate change events.
Cindy G. Castro - Florida International University, B.S. 2018
Cindy is a communications student focusing on digital media studies. She started working with the Mobile Virtual Reality Lab at FIU in 2016. That fall semester, she was the research lead and main scriptwriter for a VR video on the importance of mangroves for South Florida’s ecosystem. Cindy hopes that working with the BITL team will help make this world a better place, one VR experience at a time.
Kaylee Brent - MIT, BS in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science
Kaylee is in her final year at MIT studying Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science with a focus in climate. She has been engaged with climate change issues both inside and outside the classroom throughout her career at MIT, and is very excited to work on the BITL team and address these problems in an innovative way.
Lisa Johns - University of Miami, PhD 2019
Lisa is pursuing her doctorate in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Miami. Her research combines environmental science, media studies, and her interdisciplinary revisual anthropology to examine the ways that NGOs use digital media to represent environmental problems and advocate for social change. She received her Master’s degree at New York University in Applied Quantitative Research, and is a firm believer in the awesome power of new technologies to transport audiences, improve scientific literacy, and drive transformative change.
Sean Charles - College of William and Mary BA English and Environmental Science and Policy (2008), Virginia Institute of Marine Science MS Marine Biology (2013), FIU PhD Biology
Sean is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences at FIU, where he is focusing on the impacts of climate change on coastal wetland function and vulnerability. Coastal wetlands provide extremely valuable ecological services, but exist at the interface of land and sea and are thus among the most vulnerable ecosystems to climate change. As an English major turned scientist, Sean thinks that the best way to explain complex issues (like sea-level rise) and create change, is through combining powerful stories with quality data.
Alicia Noriega - MIT/ Urban Studies and Environmental Policy, MCP 2018
Alicia is in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT, where she is focusing on sustainable city design and engaging stakeholders around water and energy solutions for resource-scarce areas. Her focus at DUSP is to harness dynamic spatial analysis and gaming simulation to facilitate collaborative visualization of answers to complex problems, particularly those in the arid and rapidly growing areas in the developing world. Prior to DUSP, Alicia worked for 5 years in international development, mainly in the Middle East.
Trevor Thompson - Yale University, MEM/MBA Candidate
Trevor is pursuing a joint Master of Environmental Management (MEM)/MBA at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale School of Management. His main interests are climate change and its impacts on health, environmental health, climate justice and adaptation, environmental justice, environmental racism, and corporate and organizational sustainability in relation to the planetary boundaries framework. Before coming to Yale, Trevor worked as a professional futurist at the Institute for Alternative Futures, where he conducted scenario planning, forecasting, horizon scans, and strategy advising for clients, mainly in the areas of public health, health care, emerging technologies, and sustainability. He is excited to work with this group and impressed with the credentials of the team.
Aisha Jamali - George Mason University B.A. 2017
Aisha is an undergraduate at George Mason University, double majoring in global affairs and environmental sustainability studies with a concentration in policy. Her interests include; International environmental policy, ecotechnology, and sustainable development.
Currently, with her capstone project she is focusing on creating more stronger and sustainable institutions in her local community as one of the U.N Sustainable Development Goals. As part of the BITL Social Science team, she is excited to be a part of the BITL mission and multi campus collaborative to raise awareness of climate change through VR technology.
Cindy G. Castro – See above in Data Team. She is a member of two teams
Jingning (Alicia) Hong - Boston University, M.S. Candidate in Marketing Communication Research 2018
Alicia is a graduate student enrolled in Marketing Communication Research program at Boston University (BU). She has great passion for virtual reality technology and is a strong believer in its power to bolster human intelligence, create awareness, inspiration and social changes for our planet. Her work at BU explores the mind-and-body relationship within different media contexts in VR using biometric devices and psychological measurements. After graduation, she wants to work for a cutting-edge technology company that provides a meaningful service and redefines social rules to further human intelligence. She hopes that her work with the BITL team will help infuse social science in the simulation outcomes to effectively inform audience of the urgent message sent out via the virtual environment.
Roxanne Rahnama - MIT, S.M. Candidate in the Technology and Policy Program (2018)
Roxanne is a first-year S.M. student in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT and fellow at the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Environmental Economics & Policy, with a minor in Global Poverty & Practice from the University of California, Berkeley in Fall 2015. Prior to MIT, she worked as a research assistant on multiple projects with Professor Edward Miguel at UC Berkeley and Professor Jonas Hjort at Columbia Business School, as well as an activist and student organizer for the Raise Hope for Congo Campaign of the Enough Project in Washington, DC. Roxanne is passionate about the intersections of behavioral and development economics, participatory design, natural resource management, climate change and conflict. Her current research at MIT Tata involves investigating financial, socio-economic, political, cultural, behavioral, and regulatory roadblocks that impede rural electrification and energy access, with a focus on India and east Africa.
Anna Hassan - George Mason University BA 2018
Anna is a student at GMU pursuing a degree in environmental and sustainability studies with a concentration in equity and environmental justice. She aspires to be an environmental lawyer and defend those that are most vulnerable to environmental injustices and climate change. Anna hopes that through BITL’s VR she can provide feasible solutions to better serve those who are being affected by climate change.
Ben Wilson - FIU, Ph.D. Candidate in Biology
Ben is a current Ph.D. Candidate at FIU finishing up his dissertation work looking at the effects of saltwater intrusion into coastal ecosystems, specifically the Everglades. His passion is finding ways to turn environmental research into material that can be effectively communicated to the appropriate groups with the goal of enacting effective policy. He served as a science communication fellow with the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and has participated in many outreach events in order to better engage the community in the scientific process. He is looking forward to using his knowledge about the environment and the way it functions to create effective policies and calls-to-action relative to this project.
Johanna Falkenhagen - FIU/ Digital Studies and Mass Comm. 2017
Johanna is a student pursuing her Bachelors in Digital Media Studies and Mass Communications. She has been working with Dr. Gutsche from FIU throughout various projects involving VR and research. Being a part of the BITL team inspires her to keep on participating in these types of research projects which help to shed light on topics that are usually ignored by others who can’t quite comprehend the severity of certain problems in our planet. She is looking forward to gaining more and more experience by cooperatively working with people from Universities from all around the world.
Bridget Power - Harvard Divinity School, MDiv Candidate (2019)
Bridget is a documentary filmmaker interested in using digital storytelling for social and ecological justice. She spent a year living in Southwestern Alaska where she witnessed the impact of climate change on rural communities. Bridget feels fortunate to be part of this interdisciplinary team of storytellers working to address climate change.
Alexandra Cleaver - Florida International University BA
Alexandra is a journalism student at FIU. After graduation she hopes to work for a non-profit. She hopes that her work with the BITL team will help bring a greater awareness of climate change through the immersive world of virtual reality.
Catherine Mieses - Florida International University, B.S.
Catherine Mieses is a student at Florida International University majoring in journalism with a concentration in international relations. This semester, she is the narratives lead at the Mobile Virtual Reality Lab at FIU, which focuses on innovative storytelling. With the BITL team, she hopes we can expand the conversation and develop probable solutions regarding climate change.
Lisbette Castillo - Florida International University, BA
Lisbette Castillo is a communications journalism student at Florida International University with a minor in art history. She is currently a staff writer for FIU’s newspaper The Beacon and plans to go to grad school to study child psychology. Her main interests are traveling, writing, art and music. She is currently exploring and unraveling her interests in production and media and tuning into the virtual reality world.
Sara Rafsky - MIT Comparative Media Studies M.S. 2018
Sara Rafsky is a freelance journalist, M.S. candidate in Comparative Media Studies at MIT and Research Assistant at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab. She was previously Researcher on Central America at Amnesty International in Mexico City, the Americas Program Researcher at the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, and has worked as a freelance journalist and with international foundations, human rights organizations and think tanks throughout Latin America. She has written widely about documentary film and served as a film screener for documentary film festivals. Sara is excited to work with BITL to further her MIT research on how documentary practices and new technologies can advance social justice issues.
Shelby Servais - Florida International University, Ph.D. Candidate
Shelby is a biology Ph.D. candidate at Florida International University. Shelby ’s research focuses on how microbial community structure and function will change in the Everglades as sea levels rise. Shelby is also a science communication fellow at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and is interested in how science is translated to the public.
Tatiana Delgado - Florida International University, BA
Tatiana Delgado is a student at Florida International University who is studying journalism and business entrepreneurship. She loves Disney, traveling, animals and has recently become a vegetarian. Delgado was born in Ft. Benning, Georgia but has lived in Miami since 2007. After graduating with a BA she plans to move back to her home state and study architecture at Georgia Tech. The environment is extremely important to her and is proud to be a part of such a movement that brings knowledge and information to the public about the drastic effects of climate change.
Wan Chantavilasvong - MIT | Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning | International Development | MCP 2018
Wan is in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT, where she is seeking ways to develop economic, social, and environmental sustainability in rural areas in developing countries around the world. Prior to DUSP, Wan has her background in architecture and design, the skills of which used to help various social enterprises in Thailand improve their stories and reach a wider audience. With her backgrounds and aspirations, Wan is interested to find ways to bridge art into the dialogue of sustainable development.
Albert Elias - FIU Masters of Architecture 2016, FIU MAA 2017
Albert is a Research Assistant and Graduate of the school of Architecture at FIU. He is currently designing and developing Augmented/ Virtual Reality solutions for immersive Data Visualizations. His focus is in developing creative workflows that will encourage the communication of ideas, enhance our understandings of complex networks, and better inform policy makers. He is passionate about natural systems and is using his background in computational design to work with scientists to develop an application for Everglades restoration, Sea Level Rise, and their effects on our Urban Environment.
Annabelle Santos - Florida International University, B.S. in Communications, Digital Media Studies, 2018
Annabelle is a digital media studies student at FIU, learning about the world of digital media from the communications perspective. She hopes to integrate what she learns from digital media with her growing background in graphic design, and aspires to be a user experience and user interface and interaction designer (UX/UI). Most of her technical experience comes from participating in various MLH Hack-a-thons across Florida since 2016 as a graphic designer for various short-term hacks. Her involvement in the Mobile VR Lab at FIU is her first step in creating content in a new media, as she’s always looking to add more tools to her creative toolset in creating a portfolio for herself.
Armando Rubi III - University of Miami, Ph.D. Candidate in Communication
Armando focuses on game studies, digital environments and the impact that they are making on society. As an instructor, he has taught and guest lectured on a wide range of topics dealing with culture and technology. By focusing on the direction technology is taking, Armando is researching and pioneering in the fields of virtual and augmented reality, preparing for what the future holds. He is currently conducting research on Pokemon GO and has is working on articles focusing on the impact of social media and online relationships.
Charity Everett - Harvard Extension School, ALB Candidate 2019
Charity Everett has a background in musical VR Experience Creation. She previously was the head of VR Evangelism and Artist relations at Simmetri, and was selected as an Oculus LaunchPad Fellow for her work on creating musical Virtual Reality experiences. She has developed experiences for the Microsoft HoloLens, the HTC Vive, the Samsung Gear VR, and the Oculus Rift. Additionally, she served as a mentor at MIT Hacking Arts, a participant in the Reality Virtually Hackathon, and spoke on a panel on the future of VR and AR development at WECode Harvard.
Erick Pinos - MIT, B.S. in Management, 2017
Erick Pinos is an MIT undergraduate studying management with computer science. His foray into virtual reality began before he knew it was called that. He was working at the Media Lab on projection based augmented reality for urban planners when it clicked for him that the future of mixed reality and holograms he’s dreamed of as a child was right on the horizon. After that, he dove head first into the industry, booking last minute tickets to conferences, borrowing 360 degree cameras to experiment with VR films, and even buying a headset to develop new and interesting applications.
Leslie Ovalle - Florida International University BA 2017
Leslie is a journalism student at Florida International University. She is a freelance reporter for the Miami Herald and is passionate about documentary storytelling. Through her contribution with BITL she plans to illustrate the greater story of the Earth’s environment through South Florida’s story.
Russ Darrow - University of Miami, MFA (Motion Pictures) Candidate 2018
Russ is a second-year University of Miami MFA in Motion Pictures student. Russ spent his undergraduate career at Brown University where he studied Economics and Literary Arts. During his undergraduate studies, Russ spent a semester at Stockholm University where he studied the economic implications of sustainable ecosystems. This experience prompted him to seek work as an intern for Barry Gardiner MP, UK House of Commons Special Envoy for Climate change, in the UK Parliament during the summer of 2012. Russ focused his energies on a documentary about Social Enterprise after leaving Brown. Following these efforts, he spent two years at Google before decided to pursue both his love of storytelling and technology at the University of Miami. A 360-film class at UM sparked Russ’s passion for VR. He believes there are significant, wide-ranging applications for 360-film and VR. He looks forward to contributing to BITL’s effort to facilitate widespread environmental-consciousness with VR-technology.
Ben Wilson – See above in Solutions Team. He is a member of two teams
Russell Darrow – See above in VR Team. He is a member of two teams
Sean Charles – See above in Data Team. He is a member of two teams
Shelby Servais – See above in Stories Team. She is a member of two teams