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RA Spotlight: Arjun, Regina, and Haley

Feb 7 2019

We are excited to introduce a few more of our incredible research assistants here at CESTA.  From coders to artists and tour guides, meet three more of the diverse members on the team!

Arjun Karanam is a freshman and prospective Computer Science major, with a potential minor in Classics or Linguistics. He enjoys the interdisciplinary learning CESTA offers, as he is extremely interested in the intersection of humanities and computer science. Arjun has worked on past projects that explored the intersection of Computer Science and Environmental Science, so the opportunity to investigate that of Computer Science and History drew him to work at CESTA.

He is currently working on the Horton Project, under the umbrella of the Spatial History project. His team is attempting to take the life of 1800s slave poet George Moses Horton and bring it into a VR environment. The goal is to use it as an educational tool and to truly bring his story to life. So far, the Horton Project team have created the storyboards and are currently exploring various history-VR simulations to analyze design choices.

Working on the project has shaped how Arjun views academics; “whenever I see something, I immediately get the idea, ‘Hm, maybe we can incorporate this into VR.’” He has been able to view the merits of VR as an educational tool-- a perspective that pervades in his day-to-day life. Arjun hopes to someday create something using his computer science background. In the future, he is considering either going into the industry or a startup or working with labs like CESTA to build upon projects that use the skill in an innovative way.


Regina Kong is a freshman and prospective English and Asian American Studies major. At CESTA, she works with Digital Humanities Graduate Fellow Rebecca Wall on extracting data from documents that show how a period of severe drought in the early 1970s impacted a transnational organization’s strategies for funding river development projects in West Africa. Exploring questions related to international development as well as environmental and land uses issues, Regina uses OCR software to turn primary source material into formats that can be used for historical and textual analysis.


Regina Kong knew she wanted to work with CESTA the summer before matriculating to Stanford, when she attended the Summer Research Intern Showcase. Since becoming a Research Intern herself, Regina has realized that the best part of CESTA— beyond the thrill of creating new knowledge through data-centric humanities research—is the opportunity to be part of such a supportive, innovative community of people. In addition to painting, writing, and audio storytelling, Regina also enjoys being outdoors and trying to spot her favorite birds (chestnut-backed chickadees) while hiking the Dish.

Haley Hodge (she/her) is a junior Urban Studies major with a minor in Art Practice. She is concentrating in Urban Society and Social Change and intends to work on issues related to housing affordability and access in the future, which is what drew her to the ‘Global Urbanization and Its Discontents’ project at CESTA, led by Zephyr Frank and Erik Steiner. The project aims to explore eviction and displacement processes in upwards of ten cities across the globe to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics which might leave certain populations or areas vulnerable to dispossession.

Haley is working on creating and analyzing eviction flowcharts for individual cities in an attempt to understand patterns and commonalities between eviction processes across the world. She also is contributing to mapping tasks for the project including joining demographic and physical attribute data in maps of specific cities the project is focusing on. Haley is excited for this opportunity to refine and develop these spatial analysis skills, particularly as it may become useful for her future senior project or thesis which is related to analyzing the role of street art in neighborhoods in the US. Outside of CESTA you may find Haley painting in McMurtry, hiking or walking around campus backwards giving a tour.

From the writer’s desk

I’m Arianna Togelang, a freshman majoring in Management Science & Engineering. I’m working here at CESTA as the Communications Intern, which involves chalking up lists, interviewing researchers, and investigating new ways to make CESTA an even more vibrant space.  I’m extraordinarily excited to be here and engage with all the different projects, people, and technologies at play in the Center!