Skip to content Skip to navigation

RA Spotlights: Justin, Emily, and James

May 21 2018

We are excited to continue introducing our incredible team of research assistants. Today, we invite you to meet three more members of the CESTA team: Justin Muchnick, Emily Wilder, and James Thieu.


Justin Muchnick is a sophomore double majoring in classics and American studies and minoring in art history. He is excited to be working with Professor Ceserani on the Grand Tour Project. Working on this project has shown Justin the power of digital humanities—John Ingamells’ Dictionary of British and Irish Travelers to Italy 1701-1800 is coming alive with itinerary maps and cross-references features that allow the text to be used in incredible new research capacities.

Justin was drawn to the Grand Tour Project because of his interest in classical reception. In the past, Justin has worked on a database project concerned with the translation and transmission of classical texts, and he is fascinated with the ways that the classics have been interpreted and reinterpreted throughout history. On this project, Justin works to create new database entries of travelers who were mentioned, but not included in Ingamells’ original dictionary. In his free time, Justin enjoys going to museums, hiking, spending time with his three younger siblings, and playing with LEGO bricks.



Emily Wilder is a sophomore majoring in history with a regional focus on the Middle East and a thematic focus on displacement, migration, and diaspora. Her personal and academic passions drew her to CESTA, where she hopes to integrate her traditional training in historical analysis with data visualization and mapping. She is working on Urbanization and it’s Discontents, a project aiming to understand the movement of people within and out of urban centers, and the factors the precipitate these migrations. In collaboration with CESTA faculty and students, Emily is collecting data on cities throughout the world and is examining specific case-studies that provide insight into global trends.

Apart from studying and working at CESTA, Emily enjoys watching documentaries, reading kids novels, listening to music, eating bagels, hiking, and journaling. She is also a storyteller and a campus and community activist.


James Thieu is a sophomore from Westminster, CA, currently studying Electrical Engineering. Throughout his life, James has had a strong interest in historical narratives, especially as conveyed through maps and other forms of visual media. James’s passion drew him to CESTA, where he combines his enthusiasm for history with his experience working with technology to create visual representations of historical data. James is currently working on the Chinese Railroad Workers Project, which gathers both written records and field research on the lived experiences of Chinese railroad workers in order to reconstruct and share their stories via digital archives, books, and conferences. His current work involves scrutinizing historical payroll records to gather information about Chinese railroad labor networks.

Outside of CESTA, James sings bass (and occasionally does beatboxing) for Stanford Raagapella and is one of the directors for the Stanford Vietnamese Student Association’s annual Culture Night showcase. He also enjoys gardening on campus, listening to music, and watching documentaries.