Announcing the 2015 MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellows

Expanding a global network

When the MIT Media Lab inaugurated its Director’s Fellows program three years ago, we didn’t really know exactly what to expect. What we did know is that we were bringing together an extraordinary group of individuals of unorthodox creativity with whom we sought to collaborate. Fellows have been as varied in their pursuits as they are in their geographic diversity. The 20 fellows selected over the past two years have included chess grand master and educational innovator Maurice Ashley; prison activist Shaka Senghor; ocean explorer Katy Croff Bell; comedian Baratunde Thurston; Detroit Dirt founder Pashon Murray; and director, writer, and producer JJ Abrams.

This year’s fellows include the world’s first bionic pop artist, a healthcare advocate who co-founded Partners in Health, and the former White House chef who spearheaded Michelle Obama’s widely popular Let’s Move initiative. Once again it’s an amazing group who we are honored to have join us at the Media Lab.

Ophelia Dahl: Social justice and healthcare advocate

Ophelia Dahl has been advocating for the health and rights of poor people for nearly 30 years. Dahl has served as chair of the board of Partners In Health (PIH), a Boston, Massachusetts-based nonprofit healthcare organization, since 2000 and served as its executive director from 2001 to 2015.

Gabriella Gomez-Mont: Transforming Mexico City into the most innovative megalopolis south of the border

Gabriella Gomez-Mont directs Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Mexico City’s new creative think-tank and experimental space, created at the invitation of Mexico City’s mayor, Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera.

Eman Jaradat: Community activist in the Middle East

Through her work with Community Media Solutions, media activist Eman Jaradat is currently supporting the Aswatona Network, a group of organizations working on community media, especially community radios, in the Arab world.

Sam Kass: Keeping America healthy

Sam Kass worked at the White House from January 2009 to December 2014, and during this period served as President Barack Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, as executive director for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, and as an assistant chef.

Christine Sun Kim: Deaf sound artist

Christine Sun Kim uses the medium of sound through technology and conceptual art to create a direct connection to society at large. She rationalizes and reframes her relationship with sound and spoken languages and composes visual scores with sign language and musical symbols.

Viktoria Modesta: Singer/songwriter, amputee, bionic pop artist

Viktoria Modesta is a performance artist, model, and bionic woman. After numerous failed procedures to correct a dislocated left leg and hip from which she’d suffered since birth, at the age of 20, she underwent voluntary surgery to amputate her leg below the knee. With the aid of advanced prosthetics, Modesta turned her disability into a personal symbol, challenging society’s modern perception of physical beauty.

Rob Pardo: Game designer

Rob Pardo has worked in the game industry as a game designer, executive, and producer for over 20 years. For most of his career he worked at Blizzard Entertainment, where he was Chief Creative Officer. Pardo is best known for his work as the lead designer on StarCraft: Brood War, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft.

Tenzin Priyadarshi: Buddhist monk

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi Rinpoche is the founding director of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. He has a graduate degree in comparative philosophy of religion from Harvard University, where he also was an undergrad and an Integral Honors Scholar (philosophy, physics).

Allison Tauziet: Winemaker

Allison Tauziet is a full-time winemaker at Colgin Cellars in the Napa Valley. Tauziet graduated from UC Davis with a degree in fermentation science and French. She started her winemaking career at Domaine Chandon, after which she spent five years at Far Niente Winery.

Learn more about all 30 past and present Director’s Fellows.