Ahmanson Lab Innovation Scholars, 2019-2020

Each academic year, a cohort of dedicated and creative students join us at the Ahmanson Lab as Innovation Scholars. Innovation Scholars work over the year with faculty, experts, artists, designers, and fellow students in one of our team-based Collaboratories. As part of their yearlong residence Innovation Scholars are also awarded $1000 stipend and given access to the Lab’s technology and space.

A call for applications is announced each summer. Let us know if you’d like to receive our next call.

Rose An

Environmental Studies

Rose is a sophomore with a passion for environmental issues, especially for the issue of climate justice. In the past year, she has gained extensive experience in both research and youth activism, and she strives to make a real difference for the environment. However, she also has a more creative side, and in her free time she indulges in playing viola, drawing, and learning animation and photoshop.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Pathways to Conflict

Matts Borges

Interactive Entertainment; Specialization in Computer Programming

Matts is a senior in the Game Design program with a minor in Video Game Programming but is focused on interactive education. He has interned for the National Archives and Records Administration for two years, working on educational games like the MUSE award-winning Situation Room Experience.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Building a Virtual Renaissance Library: Julius II’s Stanza della Segnatura

Jane Carpenter

Chemical Engineering (Sustainable Energy); German (Minor)

Jane Carpenter is from the wholesome midwestern suburb of Glenview, Illinois. She considers herself an avid reader, listener, and thinker. She's filled with curiosity about all subjects and always seeking connections between different kinds of knowledge. Wanting to maximize the usefulness of her time has made her an avid list-maker and planner. In any free time she loves to sing, listen to vinyl records, and practice yoga.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Distant Destinations Prototype Exhibit

Eileen Chen

Journalism; Environmental Studies

Eileen Chen is a student journalist who explores innovative storytelling to inform her audience. As a freshman double majoring in journalism and environmental studies (policy and management concentration), she works with Professor Robert Hernandez on reporting climate change and pollution through immersive technologies like AR, VR, and the 360 Camera. Outside of reporting, she spends time editing scripts and audios at Annenberg Radio News, visiting L.A. museums, and making specimens with native plants. She is currently working on an oral history project about independent bookstores of China.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Pathways to Conflict

Ishani Mihir Desai

Economics and Math; Applied Analytics (Minor)

I am a Presidential Scholar sophomore majoring in Economics/Mathematics and minoring in Applied Analytics. My hometown is Yorba Linda of Orange County in Southern California. On-campus, I am the director of the Academic Committee of the Trojans Scholars Society, helping to plan academic and professional opportunities for USC’s merit scholars. For Glimpse from the Globe, a publication focused on international affairs, I serve as outreach chair. I also volunteer for an organization, Eye to Eye, at a local LA charter school, mentoring and doing arts and crafts activities with children that have learning disabilities. I love to listen to a variety of music, write in my journal, read, hang out with friends, and explore new places!

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Pathways to Conflict

Audrey Franklin

Chemical Engineering

Audrey is a junior studying chemical engineering with an emphasis in materials science. Her love for science stems from her love for the natural world and her interest in the durability and flexibility of natural materials. She loves hiking, snowboarding, beekeeping, and being outdoors in general.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Distant Destinations Prototype Exhibit


William Higbie

Cinema and Media Studies

William was born in San Francisco, California and moved to Detroit, Michigan when he was ten. Filmmaking and caring for the environment have always been two key parts of his identity. He loves film because it can create empathy, and offer a window into someone else's reality. In March 2018, he, completed a documentary, Painting the Town a story about Detroit’s surging street art movement and the large impact it is having on the city’s rebirth. He is a current Freshman at USC majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Pathways to Conflict

Lindsay Huang

Computer Science; Designing for Experiences

Lindsay is a sophomore studying computer science and UX design. At her core, she loves to build things! She produces her best work at the intersection of programming and art, and telling stories through rich, interactive user experiences. This summer, she worked as a front-end developer and UX designer, implementing the logic for an AI-powered fashion recommendation search engine. She will present the results from her user study at Grace Hopper this fall! In addition to programming, she is passionate about outreach—she serves as marketing and design lead for AthenaHacks, USC’s all-female hackathon. Besides these interests, she also enjoys creative writing and physics.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Distant Destinations Prototype Exhibit

Priya Irukulapati

Industrial Engineering; Applied Analytics (Minor)

Priya is a sophomore studying Industrial Engineering. During her free time, she enjoys reading about anything, watching movies and documentaries, writing cheesy songs, and improving on her coding skills. In the future, she hopes to work in a field with many intersections between technology and the arts.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Distant Destinations Prototype Exhibit

Kristijana St. Clair

Cinematic Arts; Communication (Minor)

Kristijana is a senior from Los Angeles majoring in Communications and minoring in Cinematic Arts with a passion for digital technology and studying its effects upon patterns of communication and behavior. She is a USC Levan Scholar and attended the Oxford Consortium on Human Rights as a representative of USC. In her free time, she enjoys attending concerts at the L.A. Philharmonic and weekend beach trips as a member of the USC Surf Team.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Building a Virtual Renaissance Library: Julius II’s Stanza della Segnatura

Sabrina Stamnes

Cinema and Media Studies; Performance Science (minor)

Sabrina is a fourth year Cinema and Media Studies major with a Performance Science minor who is passionate about exploring film and Virtual Reality as mediums for storytelling, particularly in relation to education, art, and socio-political challenges. She is an artist, student, and athlete. She has a wide range of interests including women’s health, disability accessibility, sports science, and immersive entertainment. Whether for social, recreational, or educational purposes, we are all constantly engaged with digital media. She aims to help transform and reimagine how digital content can be consumed through innovative technology and new media.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Building a Virtual Renaissance Library: Julius II’s Stanza della Segnatura

Liam Tsao


Liam Tsao is a freshman studying History on the pre-law track. He is a life-long Midwesterner who is passionate about the intersection of history and social justice, specifically relating to the Asian-American community. In his free time, Liam loves playing soccer, birdwatching, hiking, and watching the Green Bay Packers. He is super excited to be a part of the Building a Virtual Renaissance Library Collaboratory this year!

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Building a Virtual Renaissance Library: Julius II’s Stanza della Segnatura

Annie Yang

Business Administration; Economics (Minor)

Annie Yang is a junior majoring in business administration and minoring in economics and applied analytics. On campus, Annie also serves as a research fellow in the Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab, previously researching global power-sharing arrangements, and as a senior consultant in the Association of Innovative Marketing (AIM) Consulting. Annie is passionate about issues at the intersection of political security and economic development. In the future, she hopes to utilize her business acumen to solve public sector issues and work in a field that bridges policy initiatives with technology to bring about sustainable change.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Pathways to Conflict

Katherine Yang

Media Arts + Practice; Computer Programming (Minor): Linguistics (Minor)

Katherine is a sophomore majoring in Media Arts + Practice and minoring in computer programming and linguistics. She is passionate about computational media and creative technology. She loves creating products and experiences that unify the emotional aesthetic of art and the empowering utility of technology. She hopes to make art and tell stories about social issues that fuel her, such as environmentalism, accessibility, and civic participation. She believes that technology is not neutral, and that we, as makers, have a responsibility to use our skills and platforms to create the world we want to live in.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Distant Destinations Prototype Exhibit

Ashley Zhang

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Ashley is a sophomore from the Bay Area pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with a minor in Public Health. Outside the Ahmanson Lab, she dabbles in investigative journalism and is involved in organizations concerning women's empowerment, political advocacy, and climate change. Through her interdisciplinary studies, she seeks to understand institutional injustices, elevate the voices of society’s most vulnerable, and sculpt a more empathetic and informed world.

2019-2020 Collaboratory: Building a Virtual Renaissance Library: Julius II’s Stanza della Segnatura