HI has assembled a unique team of researchers who apply a rigorous, multi-method approach to measuring impact. This means looking beyond marketing indicators to results derived from behavioral and computational social sciences. The skills and capabilities of our core team reflect this multidisciplinary ethos. From a foundation in the social sciences, our researchers specialize in data science, visual design, and media theory to answer complex questions about the impact of entertainment in today’s society. Our team is agile enough to deliver customized research and metrics and capable of sustaining deep, longitudinal research projects.
John S. Johnson, Founder and Executive Director
In addition to establishing HI, John S. Johnson is the Founder and Chair of EYEBEAM, a non-profit center focused on exploring art and technology through education, production, research, and development. He has launched two additional non-profit organizations dedicated to facilitating artistic processes and practice: the Screenwriters Colony, a retreat and workshop for emerging screenwriters, and the Filmmakers Collaborative, a non-profit film and media fund dedicated to re-envisioning art’s relationship to capital.
More recently, Johnson co-founded BuzzFeed.com, one of the fastest growing viral media and web trending sites today. He has written, produced, and directed two feature films, Without a Trace: June 10, 1979 (1991), and Ratchet (1996). In 2003, Johnson was a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a global forum that promotes enlightened and morally responsible leadership. He received a Master’s degree in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences from Columbia University.
Debika Shome, Deputy Director
Debika Shome joined HI from Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) where she served as Assistant Director from 2005 to 2009. In addition to her work conducting and coordinating research at the center, Shome led CRED’s outreach and public policy initiatives. She is the co-author of The Psychology of Climate Change Communication, released November 2009.
In addition, Debika has over fifteen years of experience that includes work in the public, private, government, and non-profit sectors. She has consulted on a diverse range of issues, including environmental best practices, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability. She has worked for organizations such as B Corporation, the US Geologic Survey, the Nonprofit Technology Leadership Program, and Environmental Defense Fund.
Debika completed her MPA from the University of Washington. She holds an undergraduate degree from Barnard College.
Clint Beharry, Director of Design and Technology
Joanna Raczkiewicz, Manager of Research, Strategy, and Development
Joanna Raczkiewicz manages HI Lab’s research into the convergence of narrative entertainment and social change. Raczkiewicz holds an MA from New York University, where she wrote on art and socialist ideology in postwar Poland. She graduated with a BS from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and has worked for print, broadcast, and online news outlets in the US and abroad. Raczkiewicz’s experience in the cultural sector includes program and development positions at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Lauren Hanson, Research Analyst
Lauren Hanson is responsible for providing HI’s projects with social context and implementation frameworks that are grounded in recent academic theory and relevant evidence, as well as managing its communications strategy. She holds an MA in Economics from New York University, where her studies have focused on econometrics, institutional and entrepreneurial theories of economic growth, and law & economics. Prior to her graduate studies, Lauren earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature at SUNY Geneseo with additional studies in Economics. During her time there, she combined her interest in game studies, narrative analysis, and spontaneous market formation to perform a comprehensive study of the cultural, legal, and economic issues surrounding the growth of digital black markets on the periphery of virtual game worlds.
Corinne Brenner, Research Analyst
Corinne Brenner contributes her background in social psychology to HI’s research and product development work. She is deeply interested in using quantitative research methods in applied settings, including technology, the changing media landscape, and social issues. Her previous experience includes studying how mock jurors form opinions about court cases; whether differences in nurses’ communication can prevent medical errors; and determining which cues observers use in their judgments about other people. She holds an MSc in Social Psychology from the University of Amsterdam, where her research focused on the influence of expressions of emotion on interpersonal attributions, and a BA in Psychology from Cornell University, where she studied influences on judgments and decision-making.
Burton DeWilde, Data Scientist
Burton DeWilde is a data scientist specializing in data mining, natural language processing, and network analysis. At HI, his work has focused on aggregating and analyzing the conversations and networks around films and social issues. DeWilde received his PhD in Physics from Stony Brook University in 2012. His research focused on a search for new fundamental particles of matter, including the Higgs Boson, using data collected at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition, he contributed to the software development of two physics analysis frameworks. On the side, he co-produced, filmed, and edited a feature-length, physics-themed zombie movie called “Decay.” DeWilde earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Spanish from Kalamazoo College, where he also dabbled in documentary film making. He is passionate about social justice, the intersection of art and science, and all things data.
Josh Brandoff, Web Developer
Josh Brandoff spearheads the development of web applications that fuse HI’s data science projects, design vision, and social science research into powerful, interactive tools for positive change and discovery. Prior to joining HI, Josh oversaw IT and application development at the National Museum of Mathematics through its grand opening in December, 2012. At the Museum, Josh developed a custom framework to support online ticketing and developed and deployed the tournament software for the Museum’s annual, high-profile Masters Tournament. Josh received his M.Sc. in Systems Science/Biosystems from Binghamton University in 2009. His research involved the development of novel swarm intelligence algorithms, including “genetic stigmergy,” which was the focus of a chapter in Springer’s 2011 “Bio-Inspired Self-Organizing Robotic Systems.” Josh received his B.S. in Bioengineering/Complex Systems Science from Binghamton University in 2008. Josh enjoys exploring the intersection between biology and mathematics, and is particularly excited about complexity science and emergent behavior. He is also beginning to explore the world of sustainable design after finishing a permaculture design certification course in 2013.
Jamie Kingston, Manager of Culture and Operations
Jamie Kingston manages Harmony Institute’s office culture and daily operations. She holds a BS in Media, Culture, and Communications from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, where she specialized in “Interactions & Social Processes” and “Images & Screen Studies.” Her studies focused on understanding media’s influence on unique populations, with a spotlight on race and gender representations.
Previously, Kingston worked with numerous art-based nonprofits in their programming, development, and social media departments, where she developed an interest in the impact of the arts on specific communities.
Solveig Søholm, Assistant Project Manager
Solveig Søholm holds a BA in Film and Media from the University of Copenhagen and is currently enrolled in the Media Studies MA program at The New School, NY. During her undergraduate studies Solveig worked for Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival coordinating and developing its cross-cultural documentary program, DOX:LAB, from the very first launch and until January 2012.
Through her professional experiences and academic studies Solveig has gained a strong interest in ways of using new media platforms to engage and inform people. With her undergrad thesis, researching the impact of analog “live” entertainment in today’s digital world, Solveig has continued her concentration on interactive media in her studies at The New School.
Doris Domoszlai, Research Assistant
Doris Domoszlai holds a B.A. in History and East European studies from Barnard College, Columbia University. During her undergraduate studies, Doris focused on the Cold War era. She spent 3 months at various different archives in Budapest, where she collected and analyzed data for her thesis on propaganda in Cold War era Hungary. Her studies on propaganda deepened her interest in the way states and governments have used media to convey messages in social and political campaigns, and the impact it has had on various populations.
In addition to her work at HI Doris designs and creates jewelry and accessories.
Joe Wheeler, Research Intern
Joe Wheeler graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis in May of 2013 with a BA in Architecture and Religious Studies, and is currently an MFA candidate at Parsons the New School pursuing a degree in Transdisciplinary Design. The Trans Design program focuses on how design thinking can be used to stimulate collaborative innovation that addresses systemic, “wicked,” social issues.
Joe’s overarching interest is in understanding and combating discriminatory social constructs, and he hopes to develop a thesis revolving around how entertainment media might be used to disseminate pro-social thinking rather than perpetuate normative conceptions of gender, sexuality, and race.