Team Bios


Publisher and Editor 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.

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.

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.


Danielle Boyce is a designer at Crosstown. Her passions include visual identity, female entrepreneurship and big earrings. She has launched her own earring brand, Muchacha Los Angeles. She is currently studying the relationship between brand and community at USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy where she studies the relationship between a brand and a community.


Reporter Joshua Chang, or Jaeha Chang, covers hate crimes in Los Angeles, along with other topics. He breaks down LAPD hate crime reports and loses his faith in humanity every day. He is majoring in journalism at USC Annenberg. He was born in Korea and spent his entire life in Beijing, China, but don’t be fooled: he is fluent in California English.


Data Scientist George Constantinou manages the crime and air quality data collection, and develops tools and products for their analysis and visualization. He is ursuing 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!


Designer Amanda Curtis studies the relationships between interactive media and human behavior. She is a recent graduate of USC’s Iovine and Young Academy and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Oxford University. She comes from the East Coast (New Jersey), so don’t talk about LA bagels around her.


Designer Coordinator Racquel Fygenson is interested in visualizing data to make it understandable and engaging. She is committed to making data-based information about civic safety and the effects of policy more accessible to the public. She is a recent graduate of the USC Iovine and Young Academy.


Designer Andrew Hulin is particularly interested in the intersection between storytelling and technology and how to use design thinking to impact how people interact with and understand their environments. He is studying multidisciplinary design at the USC Iovine and Young Academy. He is from Las Vegas but is a lousy poker player.


Reporter Kate Lý Johnston covers traffic and crime data. She has a background in computer science, strong opinions on Vietnamese food, and is currently studying journalism at USC Annenberg, minoring in Cinematic Arts and Data Analytics. She is lost when it comes to understanding LA freeways, though she can navigate New York City’s subways blindfolded.


Engineer Product Manager Junyu Liu helps set the priorities of the products in the engineering team and works on products development. He loves making bridges between engineering and the rest of the world. He’s from Guanxi Province, China, but spent his high school years in Florida and Maine. He is a graduate student at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering for Data Informatics.


Reporter and Audience Engagement Coordinator Ava Macha has covered crime, traffic and air quality for Crosstown. She has also pioneered our audience outreach through numerous visits to neighborhood councils across Los Angeles. She is a recent alumna of USC Annenberg, where she studied Journalism with a minor in International Relations. 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.


Outreach Coordinator Sarah Martin is a native of Los Angeles. Her specialties are strategic planning and social media outreach. A Los Angeles native, Her knowledge of the culture and atmosphere of the city motivates her to do meaningful local PR work. She is also passionate about political campaigning and your dog. She is a senior at USC Annenberg studying public relations. You can find her at Tito’s Tacos on Washington and Sepulveda.


Emily Stone is a lead designer at Crosstown, focusing on data visualization and illustrations. She specializes in UX design and has done work for The Los Angeles Times and others. She is an avid skier from Sun Valley, Idaho, and regularly sports her “Grumpy’s” sweatshirt, even though no one else here knows what that means. Emily is currently studying technology, innovation, and design at the USC Iovine and Young Academy and working towards a minor in applied computer security.


Reporter Nisha Venkat covers crime and wrote the University Park blotter feature. She’s from Dubai, which is always hot and not full of flying cars (a surprisingly common misconception among Americans). Her interests include creative writing, watching Planet Earth, and exploring every brand and flavor of instant ramen there is. She is a junior studying journalism at USC Annenberg.


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.


When she’s not working on Crosstown stories, Managing Editor Lauren M. Whaley is a health care reporter specializing in maternal health and mental illness. She’s also a childbirth photographer, and she once took five 18-year-olds on a 45-day canoe trip in the Canadian Arctic. 


Engineer Xinyi Xu, from Hangzhou, China, is passionate about data mining and manages the crime data collection in Crosstown. She is a master’s student in Data Informatics at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.


Data scientist Mingxuan Yue, from Shenyang, China, conducts research on spatial-temporal data mining, which means he knows the precise moment when the traffic will clear up. He has helped conceive of and develop Crosstown’s digital products. He is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, where he is affiliated with the Integrated Media Systems Center.



Shirsho Dasgupta, Darrell Florence, Lorraine Ge, Shirley Huang, Erick Moen, Naylee Nagda, Mara Pometti, Cyrus Shahabi, Heet Sheeth, Dan Toomey, Sihan Wu, Zhuxin Xiong.

Safety Map

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Crime Tracker