Team Bios

Publisher and Editor Gabriel Kahn is a professor of professional practice at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. His research focuses on the economics of the media industry. He teaches classes on business reporting, economics and innovation. He drives an electric car, which he’s always eager to talk about, usually, for much too long.



Luciano Nocera is a computer scientist and Associate Director at the USC Integrated Media System Center where his research focuses on data analytics with applications in health, transportation and social media. He also teaches data visualization and develops educational games for various online programs. He is an avid rock climber, an activity that seem to consume too much of his time.



Data Scientist George Constantinou manages the crime and air quality data collection, and develops tools and products for their analysis and visualization. He is pursuing his Ph.D in Computer Science and is affiliated with the Integrated Media Systems Center at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. His research focuses on spatio-temporal location popularity, to identify the hotspots in Los Angeles. You might be wondering where his accent comes from. That’s because he is from Cyprus!


Yao-Yi Chiang is Crosstown’s Chief Technical Advisor and an Associate Professor (Research) in Spatial Sciences and Informatics at USC. Dr. Chiang received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the USC in 2010; his Bachelor degree in Information Management from the National Taiwan University in 2000. His general area of research is artificial intelligence and data science, with a focus on information integration and spatial data analytics. He has a golden retriever named Bob and two young twins.


Former Crosstown managing editor turned project manager Lauren M. Whaley loves working with student reporters, designers and engineers. She is leading the team’s Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge to deliver weekly information to each of the 110 neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles. She’s also working on user testing for Crosstown’s new air quality and other products. She is also a health care reporter and photographer specializing in maternal health and mental illness. She once guided five 18-year-old women on a 45-day canoe trip in the Canadian Arctic. 


Anisha Banerjee is a reporter at Crosstown and is majoring in journalism at USC Annenberg. She compiles data for neighborhoods in Los Angeles. She is from Claremont, California and loves coffee, writing and good television.


Hrushabh Bhadkamkar
is a Master’s student at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering with a computer science major from Indore, India. He loves making software applications for users to provide them with wide functionalities and to make their lives easier.



Shideh Ghandeharizadeh is a designer at Crosstown focusing on illustration for story art. She is currently studying animation at USC Cinema School. She is a native Angeleno, born and raised in Cheviot Hills. In her free time she sells zines and stickers at art markets.


Jean-Daniel LeRoy is a designer at Crosstown, focusing on story art and data visualization. He is currently studying the intersection of arts, technology and business at the USC Iovine and Young Academy but dabbles in UI/UX, cinematography and industrial design. He spends his free time rock climbing and making 35mm film gifs with his Nishika N800.






Sami Sanchez is a designer that works on UX/UI of the website redesign and User Experience Research of various tools and products at Crosstown. She is a former community college transfer student, now a rising senior majoring in Communication with an emphasis in Digital Design at USC Annenberg. In her free time, she likes riding around LA on her fixie, working out by pushing sled or flipping tires and hanging out with her massive (Mexican) family, anytime she can



Kiera Smith is a designer at Crosstown and is a student at the USC Iovine and Young Academy. She focuses on illustrations for stories’ cover art. She is a native to Los Angeles County, as she was born and raised in Pasadena, California. She enjoys roaming around Downtown Los Angeles’ different districts.



Reporter Kylie Storm is from Portland, Ore. and is majoring in journalism at USC Annenberg School. Her specialities include multiple writing formats and reporting on issues that affect people from low-income backgrounds. She loves coffee and telling anyone who will listen about how much better Oregon is than California.




Social Media Editor Katherine Vlamis is helping to grow Crosstown’s social media presence and online engagement. A USC sophomore from Kansas City, Missouri (not Kansas!), she is a Music Industry major and Public Relations minor interested in all things music and social media. She drinks tea in the morning and coffee at night, and has an unexplainable obsession with avocados.



Reporter Ethan Ward  prefers writing about crimes rather than committing them. He is a senior majoring in journalism at USC Annenberg. He’s originally from Washington, DC and loves everything Beyoncé.



Engineer Jiefan Yang is from Jiangsu, China and is a junior studying Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. He is interested in deep reinforcement learning, video games and movies of all kind.






Danielle Boyce, Joshua Chang, Amanda Curtis, Shirsho Dasgupta, Jake de Grazia, Darrell Florence, Racquel Fygenson, Lorraine Ge, Coco Huang, Shirley Huang, Andrew Hulin, Junyu Liu, Kate Lý Johnston, Ava Macha, Sarah Martin, Erick Moen, Naylee Nagda, Roy Pankey, Jaimin Patel, Mara Pometti, Bulbul Rajagopal, Cyrus Shahabi, Heet Sheeth, Emily Stone, Jiao Sun, Dan Toomey, Ivy Tsang, Phoenix Tso, Nisha Venkat, Sihan Wu, Zhuxin Xiong, Xinyi Xu, Juefei Yan, Mingxuan Yue, Lillian Zeng and Lijie Zhao.

Portrait illustrations by Racquel Fygenson.

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