Team Bios

Yao-Yi Chiang is an associate professor (research) in Spatial Sciences, the director of the Spatial Computing Laboratory at the Spatial Sciences Institute, and the associate director of the Data Science Institute at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. Dr. Chiang’s general area of research is artificial intelligence and data informatics, with a focus on information integration and spatial data analytics. He develops computer algorithms and intelligent systems that discover, collect, fuse, and analyze data from heterogeneous sources to solve real-world problems. Dr. Chiang is also an expert on digital map processing and geospatial information system. He hails from Taiwan and shares an office with a golden retriever named Bob.



 Jake de Grazia is a software product manager, research project manager, and editor. Past and present clients include AP Stylebook, the Norman Lear Center, Trueey, the National Football League, and RUST, LTD. He has a master’s degree in journalism from USC’s Annenberg School. He is the one on the right in the photo.


 Giorgos Constantinou is a PhD student in Computer Science at USC. He got his M.Sc. degree also from USC in 2014 after receiving the Fulbright scholarship. His research interests span the areas of data management, spatial crowdsourcing, and distributed computing. If you heard him speak, you might have trouble placing his accent. That’s because he’s from Cyprus.


 Gabriel Kahn is a professor of professional practice at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. His research focus is around the economics of the media industry and 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.


 Yue Li is in the Master’s program at USC Annenberg School of Journalism, which takes her far from her home in Anhui Province in China. Before coming to Los Angeles, she interned at Xinhua News Agency and elsewhere.


 Ava Macha is a junior majoring in journalism at USC Annenberg. In her time at USC, she has developed multimedia projects spanning web, audio and video and also worked with multiple startup media production companies. She comes from Boise Idaho, which is in Canada.


 Mingxuan Yue, from Shenyang, China, is a PhD student in computer science at USC. His research interest focuses on spatial-temporal data analysis, which means he knows the precise moment when the traffic will clear up.

Libo Liu is a graduate student pursuing for his Master of Science degree in Computer Science at the University of Southern California. His expertise is in web development, mobile application development and hardware design. As a full-stack developer, he started his own IoT business back in Beijing, China and led his team to develop distributed wearable devices and mobile applications for monitoring status of human body. 


Crosstown Alumni

 Cyrus Shahabi is a Professor of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Spatial Sciences, and the Data Science Institute and the Informatics Program at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering.  He was the CTO and co-founder of a USC spin-off, Geosemble Technologies, which was acquired in July 2012. Since then, he founded another company, ClearPath (recently rebranded as TallyGo), focusing on predictive path-planning for car navigation systems. He authored two books and more than three hundred research papers in databases, GIS and multimedia with more than 12 US Patents.


 Naylee Nagda is a junior at USC’s Iovine Young Academy. She focuses on interactive design and design thinking. She is currently part of the CrossTown LA team visualizing traffic data. She grew up in Nairobi, a place that makes LA’s traffic look like a water slide.


 Mara Pometti has been working on data since 2014, when she started studying the theory and practice of data visualization. Currently, she is enrolled in the M.A. in Specialized Journalism at USC Annenberg, where she is specializing in data journalism. Her previous education, a B.A. in Classics and an M.A. in Humanities, at the University of Milan, allows her to study data with a humanistic approach. Before moving to Los Angeles, she worked as junior data analyst at Accurat, a global data-driven information design firm with offices in Milan and New York. She is co-author of an upcoming book on data visualization. She has never driven in Los Angeles.


 Heet Sheeth is a Master’s student in computer science at USC specializing in data science. He is passionate about building data-driven applications which can solve day-to-day life problems. In his free time, he likes going for hikes, reads about politics, conspiracies, and entrepreneurship, and also watches movies. Find more about him on LinkedIn. We are expecting him to solve our traffic problem.


Erick Moen is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with both the Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) and the Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things (CCI) at the University of Southern California. He is a multidisciplinary scientist developing new ways for humanity to connect with technology through photonics, high-performance computing, and mixed reality. In addition to his primary lines of research, his expertise extends to sensor technology and artificial intelligence.  Outside of academia, he serves as a scientific consultant and reporter for the Entertainment Technology Center at USC – holding the mirror for an organization meant to help Hollywood “see around corners.” He is trying to replace all of us with machines.