Faculty at Sigma 2020

Andrei Antonenko

Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, Stony Brook University

Andrei Antonenko is a lecturer in Linguistics department of Stony Brook University where he is teaching a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses, from introduction to sociolinguistics to advanced seminars in syntax. He has received an MS in Applied Mathematics and a PhD in Theoretical Linguistics from Stony Brook University in 2012. His area of specialization is formal syntax, and he works on a variety of languages, including Slavic, Germanic, Austronesian, East Asian, Caucasian, and others.


Michael Bershadsky


Michael Bershadsky got his PhD in physics from Princeton University in 1990. Immediately after this he came to Harvard University, where he was on the faculty until 2000. In 2000 he resigned from Harvard University and joined a private company.


Victoria Bershadsky

Financial/Administrative Coordinator

Victoria has a degree in Economics and Art History. She worked with numerous cultural organizations and was involved in various history, art, and anthropology programs. Victoria still spends a lot of time on arts and history. At SigmaCamp Victoria wants to show a different angle of life by opening up the world beyond science.



Oksana Ivashkevych

Control Engineer, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, NY

Oksana is a physicist by training, graduate of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology with a Master of Science in Engineering Optics and Laser Physics. She currently lives in Setauket, Long Island, NY and works as a Controls Engineer in Brookhaven National Laboratory. Oksana builds beamlines for new NSLS2 synchrotron, an exciting scientific instrument with half a mile in circumference. This instrument is used to peek into atomic structures of new materials and biological samples using the rainbow of X-rays. Oksana also teaches math at School Nova. At Sigma Camp, Oksana will teach the SemiLab Fun of Electronics with Arduino and Algorithms with Python..


Yuri Salkinder

Managing Director, Equities Technology, Credit Suisse Securities (USA)

Yuri Salkinder’s career spanned academia, telecommunications and financial technology. Yuri started in research in human-computer interaction, then moved on to help create software development tools for Voice response systems. He participated in creation of some standards in wireless messaging. Nowadays Yuri is dealing with messaging of another kind – the one that fuels electronic financial markets. Yuri loves art, music, movies and good math puzzles. Yuri has been a member of the Sigma Camp staff since 2013 and is returning this summer.


Alexander Kirillov

Professor, Department of Mathematics, Stony Brook University, NY

Alexander Kirillov is a professor in the Math Department of Stony Brook University. His research is in representation theory, quantum invariants of knots and low-dimensional manifolds, and Topological Field Theory. He has been working with high school children, teaching math circles and gifted classes since his own high school graduation. In addition to math, he also enjoys hiking, volleyball, and robotics - he is the coach of Islandbots robotics club.


Nikita Nekrasov

Professor at Simons Center for Geometry and Physics

Nikita Nekrasov was born in Moscow, Russia. He studied at Moscow Physical-Technical Institute, and later at Princeton University, where he has got his PhD in physics. He worked at the Institute des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in France, before coming to Stony Brook University where he works as a professor at Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. His research lies at the intersection of theoretical high energy physics and mathematics. 


Mark Lukin

Research Assistant Professor, Pharmacology Department, Stony Brook University, NY

The focus of Mark Lukin's scientific interest are nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) - the molecules responsible for storage and transfer of hereditary information in living organisms. How does DNA get copied? What happens when DNA molecules breaks? To answer these, as well as many other questions, Mark needs to prepare artificial (modified) nucleic acids and their building blocks, the crazy compounds that normally do not exist in nature. The only way obtain them is to do a chemical synthesis, the thing Mark likes the most. Besides that, Mark loves music, history, Greek philosophy, and science fiction. When he was young, he loved to do simple but spectacular chemical experiments. Recently, he realized he still loves to do that. He plans to do some of those experiments in SigmaCamp 2018 with our campers.


Elena Yakubovskaya

Research Scientist, Pharmacology Department, Stony Brook University, NY

SigmaCamp Director

Lena is a molecular biologist. The primary subject of her interest is  the protein-DNA interactions and Lena has studied many of them using such state-of-the-art techniques as X-rays diffraction, electron microscopy, various spectroscopic methods. However, during her work, Lena came to a conclusion that even the most sophisticated device does not make you smarter: Despite the stunning technological progress, humans’ own brain still is their most powerful tool. The thing Lena likes the most is the company of intellectual like-minded people. Lena and her friends got together every summer to talk about science, art and music. Then they realized that their group would be incomplete without a young generation, so they invited motivated and talented kids to join their company, which they called Sigma.


Vyacheslav (Slava) Yurchenko

Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics, Department of Biology and Ecology, University of Ostrava, Czech Republic

Slava Yurchenko is a molecular biologist by education, training and the way of thinking. After spending several years in some of the best universities in the United States, he has recently established his own laboratory in the Czech Republic. His group is tackling some of the fundamental questions of life, such as evolution of eukaryotes. He is also involved in research on parasites and their relationships with the host. Slava has been a faculty of SigmaCamp from its very beginning 9 years ago.


Tatiana Yurchenko

Research scientist in the lab of Protist Genomics at the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic

Tatiana Yurchenko, Ph.D. is a research scientist in the lab of Protist Genomics at the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic. Her way back to scientific research was long and eventful. Having graduated from the Department of Applied Math and Cybernetics at Moscow State University, she never finished her PhD as her family had to move to the U.S. Tatiana spent many years working as a software engineer and project manager in IT and multimedia companies, gaining real world computer science experience. Her passion for science led her back to the student bench. She recently finished her PhD studies in bioinformatics and works happily in scientific research.


 Igor Zaliznyak

Physicist, Neutron Scattering, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY

Igor Zaliznyak is a Physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He uses scattering of neutron particles to study microscopic magnetism in various materials, searching to discover and understand such properties that would lead to future technological advances. In his everyday professional activity, various aspects of Physics and Mathematics, many of which are already taught in high school, are used in a quest to understand how the nature works. Igor is eager to share his passion for science and enthusiasm for experimentation with students, introducing them to various aspects of Physics and Math that are used in his everyday research. Igor firmly believes that physical and mathematical knowledge and erudition acquired at school age, on par with arts and literature, makes for a unique individual, and provides solid foundation for everybody's success in his/her future life. In his free time, Igor likes to read popular Math and Science books and solve problems, puzzles and brain teasers. He also taught 9th and 10th grade Math at School Nova.


Tatiana Zaliznyak

Pharmacology Department, Stony Brook University, NY

Tanya Zaliznyak is a research scientist in the pharmacology department at Stony Brook University. Her scientific interest lies in the field of structural biology and molecular modeling. She loves to use her knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology in the kitchen, creating tasty dishes that satisfy her passion for cooking.


 Eugene Pinkhassik

Associate Professor, University of Connecticut

Eugene Pinkhassik graduated from Kazan State University in Russia and obtained his PhD in Chemistry in the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic. After a visiting scientist stay in Parma, Italy and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he began an independent faculty career. He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut. His research interests focus on making nanomaterials and nanodevices with new and superior properties to address current problems in energy-related technologies, medical imaging and treatment, and environmental sensing.


Alexei Tkachenko

Theory & Computation, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY

Alexei Tkachenko is a theoretical physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory working on nanoscience and in the field called soft condensed matter. He studies problems that range from from living matter (DNA, proteins, membranes) to nanoparticles, plastics and even sand. He also teaches physics at School Nova. At SigmaCamp, Alexei, together with Tanya Zaliznyak, is responsible for the tastiest of all the semilabs, called "The Science of Cooking".


Anar Amgalan

Graduate student, Stony Brook University

Anar is a graduate student in physics at Stony Brook University working on neuroscience problems. His background in physics and mathematics helps him solve computational problems arising in human brain at scales from a single neuron to the entire brain network. He also tries to predict what will happen to our brains as we age. In the past, he taught the Codes and Ciphers semilab. This year he will be teaching a semilab on games and how to play your best against the best possible opponent.


Yakov Kononov

Graduate student, Columbia University

I am a fourth-year PhD student studying mathematics at Columbia University. My advisor is Andrei Okounkov. My main research area is mathematical physics, in particular various mathematical structures arising in quantum field theory and string theory. Besides mathematics, I love music and playing piano.



Yaroslava Polosina

Yaroslava Polosina received her PhD in molecular biology from the Institute of Protein Research of Russian Academy of Sciences, studying peculiarities of proteins from extremophilic organisms. She did research in DNA repair and DNA replication areas and taught students at Stony Brook University, NY; University of Victoria, BC; Simon Fraser University, BC; and University of Washington, WA. She loves mountclimbing, kayaking, hiking, travelling, photography and many other ways of exploring the world.


Valentina Pogudina

Software developer, Softheon Inc.

Valentina Pogudina was studying Mathematics at Moscow State University and later graduated from Stony Brook University with a Computer Science and Mathematics degree. She is now a software developer at Softheon Inc. She truly believes that Mathematics is fun and she strives to help students to learn it by sparking their interest in such a wonderful subject! She deeply enjoys playing mathematical games and creating new ones. Talk to her if you have a new game in mind!