A student-assembled air quality sensor. Photo by Leo Castaneda.

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Amy Schmitz Weiss is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University. Schmitz Weiss is a 2011 Dart Academic Fellow and has a PhD in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches journalism courses in basic writing and editing, multimedia, web design, data journalism, and mobile journalism. She is the 2014-2015 recipient of the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education by the Online News Association. Her project will entail investigating air quality in San Diego, called “Investigating Air Quality in San Diego: A Live News Experiment in the Power of Sensor Journalism in Covering the Environment.” She is also the 2011-2012 Recipient of the AEJMC Bridge Grant with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that led to the creation of a mobile news app, AzteCast for the San Diego State University campus population in spring 2012. Based on this project, she created the Mobile News App Educator website for educators that includes the class syllabus, tools and other resources for educators who are seeking to implement a mobile news app project on their campus. She was a co-founder of her college’s online newspaper and has worked at Chicago Tribune Online and Indianapolis Star News Online, where she produced and wrote news packages. She has also worked in business development, marketing analysis, and account management for several Chicago Internet media firms. She has an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and B.A. in Journalism and Spanish from Butler University. Her research interests include online journalism, media sociology, news production, multimedia journalism, and international communication. She has published her research in several peer-reviewed articles, chapters and a co-edited book on a variety of topics related to journalism.

Kevin Robinson

Kevin L Robinson M.S. A geologist, lecturer and father, Kevin has 20 years teaching Earth Science at San Diego State University and elsewhere. In addition to large-lecture and distance courses, he is a STEM educator, science advisor, researcher and developer for programs on and off campus. In collaboration with the SDSU Interwork Institute he teaches distance courses for Pacific Islanders. During summer he teaches geophysics for structural engineers in the COSMOS program for the Jacobs School of Engineering at University of California San Diego. In recent years his designs have been geared for interdisciplinary studies, courses taught include Digital Journalism, Geology for Architecture and Design, Economic Geology, and Earth Systems for International Security and Trade. 

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Steve Birch, PhD

A biomedical engineer with a diverse background, Dr. Birch provides technical support in the creation and use of the sensor systems used by the students, as well as data collection interfaces. When not playing with sensors and computers, he can be found working in a number of areas related to humanitarian assistance/disaster response, geographic information systems, electronic medical records and medium-to-big data. His involvement with the San Diego Regional Firefighters Wellness program further spurs his interest in air quality monitoring technologies, especially in the context of our seasonal wildland fires and protecting the health of first responders through affordable situational awareness sensor platforms.

Lorie Hearn

Lorie Hearn is the executive director and editor of inewsource.

She founded inewsource (formerly called the Watchdog Institute) in the summer of 2009, following a successful 35-year reporting and editing career in newspapers. She retired from The San Diego Union-Tribune, where she had been a reporter, Metro Editor and finally the senior editor for Metro and Watchdog Journalism. In addition to department oversight, Hearn personally managed a four-person watchdog team, composed of two data specialists and two investigative reporters.

Hearn was a Nieman Foundation fellow at Harvard University in 1994-95. She focused on juvenile justice and drug control policy, a natural course to follow her years as a courts and legal affairs reporter at the San Diego Union and then the Union-Tribune.

Joe Yerardi

Joe Yerardi is an investigative reporter and data specialist at inewsource, combining traditional reporting techniques with data analysis to produce investigative stories.

Prior to joining inewsource, Yerardi was the data editor at the San Antonio Express-News. While in San Antonio, he wrote data-driven stories of local and regional interest, assisted reporters in utilizing data in daily and enterprise coverage and produced data visualizations for the newspaper’s print and online products.

Joe holds bachelor’s degrees from New York University and a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Cyrus Saatsaz

Cyrus Saatsaz is an instructor in the Journalism & Media Studies Department at San Diego State University, the host of WaXed, a surf talk radio show that aired on ESPN 1700 in Southern California, the author of Dogwild & Board: Stories, Interviews and Musings from a Surf Journalist, and a writer for The Huffington Post.

Saatsaz was recently honored with the Mark of Excellence Regional Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.  Saatsaz was formerly an editor with USA Today for eight years and a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and AOL.com.  Saatsaz also worked for KNBR 680/1050 in San Francisco and The Mighty 1090 and ESPN 1700 in San Diego for 14 years, serving as a sports anchor, Executive Producer, and Creative Director.

Meet the funders

This project is administered by the Online News Association with support from Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Rita Allen Foundation.

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Leonardo Castañeda was a reporter and economic analyst for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.