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 led the team’s Crosstown Neighborhood Newsletter project to deliver vital stats 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 product and is helping manage a new partnership with newsrooms in North Carolina and Louisiana. As a journalist, she covered health care, focusing on maternal health and mental illness. She once guided five 18-year-old women on a 45-day canoe trip in the Canadian Arctic. 


Natalie Bettendorf is a senior studying journalism and cinematic arts at USC. In high school, she worked for YR Media, NPR’s youth desk in Oakland and has since reported and produced stories for “All Things Considered,” “Morning Edition,” and other local stations across the country. While working as an editor for the Daily Trojan, Natalie co-launched the podcast section and the newsroom’s Wellness Initiative. She has also reported for the Beacon Project, a student investigative journalism team focused on reporting on stories about USC. She loves reading and welcomes any and all book recommendations!

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.



Taylor Mills is a reporter at Crosstown and is currently pursuing her B.A. in journalism at USC Annenberg. Originally from Kansas, she now spends her free time on her surfboard in the Pacific Ocean.


Ayushi Purohit is currently pursuing her masters in Computer Science at USC. Previously, she was a part of Dell as Software Development Engineer 2, where she had a chance to build a dashboard which was used directly by Michael Dell. She absolutely love designing and developing websites. In her free time, she likes exploring different forms of meditation and learn how mindfulness impacts people’s day to day lives. Reading nonfiction novels and watching Ted talks on psychology are two other hobbies of hers.


Jon Regardie is a veteran Los Angeles journalist who has contributed news, politics, business and entertainment stories to dozens of print and online publications. A recipient of the L.A. Press Club’s 2020 Journalist of the Year award, he also regularly comments on civic matters on local radio stations. He plays basketball frequently, albeit poorly.



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.



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.






Anisha Banerjee, Hrushabh Bhadkamkar, Danielle Boyce, Joshua Chang, Eileen Chen, Amanda Curtis, Shirsho Dasgupta, Jake de Grazia, Darrell Florence, Racquel Fygenson, Lorraine Ge, Shideh Ghandeharizadeh, Coco Huang, Shirley Huang, Andrew Hulin, Simon Khan, Junyu Liu, Kate Lý Johnston, Margaret Lu, Ava Macha, Sarah Martin, Erick Moen, Naylee Nagda, Onur Orhan, Catherine Orihuela, Roy Pankey, Jaimin Patel, Mara Pometti, Bulbul Rajagopal, Sami Sanchez, Cyrus Shahabi, Heet Sheeth, Emily Stone, Kylie Storm, Jiao Sun, Dan Toomey, Ivy Tsang, Phoenix Tso, Nisha Venkat, Ethan Ward, Sihan Wu, Zhuxin Xiong, Xinyi Xu, Juefei Yan, Jiefan Yang, Mingxuan Yue, Lillian Zeng, Ashley Zhang and Lijie Zhao.

Portrait illustrations by Racquel Fygenson.

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