SigmaFaculty 2014


Sasha Abanov

Assoc. professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Deputy Director of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Stony Brook University, NY

Sasha Abanov is an associate professor of physics at Stony Brook University and a deputy director of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. His research is in theoretical condensed matter physics and in mathematical physics. He is mainly interested in systems whose properties are defined by the laws of quantum physics. Some examples of such systems are superfluids, superconductors and Quantum Hall effect systems. Sasha enjoys teaching physics and mathematics at different levels. He has a lot of experience in teaching school students in various summer camps and math circles.


Dmitri Kharzeev

Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy Stony Brook University; Senior Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY

Dmitri Kharzeev is a professor of physics and director of the Center for Quantum Materials at Stony Brook University; he is also a senior scientist at nearby Brookhaven National Lab. His theoretical research touches upon all things extreme - extremely high temperatures, high energies, and extreme quantum behavior of matter. He likes connecting things that traditionally belong to different areas of science, and range from tiny subatomic particles to the entire Universe.


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.


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.


Kostantin Khrapko

Assoc. Professor of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, MA

Konstantin Khrapko is a molecular biologist interested in mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA, especially in relation to why we age. He uses PCR amplification from single molecules to study mutations in mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria within a cell in fact behave as a population of individuals, and studies of the dynamics of this population helps to understand why and how mutations in mtDNA accumulate in our cells as we age and how they affect health and disease. Konstantin is also interested in the mechanism that cause mutations. As a hobby, he uses mtDNA sequences to explore the structure of ancient pre-human populations to explain how humans emerged form their predecessors. Konstantin's passions are travel, photography and hiking.


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 2014 with our campers.


Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi

Director of the Laboratory for Computational Neurodiagnostics, Associate Professor in Stony Brook University's Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Associate Neuroscientist at the A. A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging (Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School).

Lilianne's research looks at brain circuits from an engineering perspective, with a focus on psychiatric and neurological diseases that occur when the networks in our brains fail to work properly. As a hobby, she likes to befriend wild animals (this picture was taken in Australia, with a young kangaroo).


Helmut H. Strey

Director of the Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnologies ( and Associate Professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Stony Brook University.

Helmut Strey is a Biophysicist who is interested in developing micro- and nanotechnologies for applications in basic and applied research.  Specifically, his lab is working on 1) microfluidic techniques for single-cell cancer genomics, 2) study of DNA dynamics in confined geometries to understand how gene regulation works, 3) developing wireless biosensors for home sleep studies.  Helmut received the Dillon medal for research in Polymer Physics from the American Physical Society in 2003.  He recently converted to Bayesianism and is passionate about making things, Soccer and Table Tennis.




Olga Maslov

Olga Maslov has BFA in Directing from Kharkov University in Ukraine, MFA in Dramaturgy (SUNY at Stony Brook), and MFA in Costume/Set Design from NYU TSOA. She directed and designed many plays, dance pieces and operas in New York, Boston, Harrisboursg, Ithaca. Olga's work was positively reviewd in the New York Times, New Yorker, Village Voice, Boston Globe. She worked in one of the first Waldorf Schools in Chernogolovka, Russia, and had her own children theater associated with that school. She also tought at SchoolNova a program she developed herself, "Arts of the World," based on similarities of themes and motives of the folk art in different culltures. This will be here first year teaching at Sigma Camp. Olga will be teaching Stanislavskij Method acting, based on physical understanding and personal interpretation of the written material as well as events of the young student's life.


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.


Vyacheslav (Slava) Yurchenko

Assistant Professor, 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 is a faculty of SigmaCamp from its very beginning 2 years ago.


 Irina Sourikova

Advanced Applications Engineer, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, NY

From the days of her PhD thesis on Solar flares to her current work at the PHENIX experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), called 'The Hottest Science experiment on the Planet' by Discover Magazine, Irina Sourikova has always thought that science is hot. Working with massive amounts of data from spacecrafts and particle accelerators, she realized that in order to answer the burning questions in science one needs the power of the most advanced computing technologies. After getting a second degree in Computer Science, Irina is now responsible for making distributed databases available 24 x 7 to 74 collaborating universities in 14 countries, so that physicists can analyze the data produced at BNL around the clock. What do these physicists have in common? While not all of them speak English, they all speak C++. At SigmaCamp, Irina wants to help children make their first steps in programming and show that it is fun and sometimes addictive.



Oksana Ivashkevych

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

Oksana is a physicist by training, graduate from Moscow Institute of Physics and technology, now works as control engineer at Brookhaven National Lab. She designs and builds control system for the beam-lines at the new state of the art third generation synchrotron facility (NSLS2) to be operational in 2015.  Oksana also teaches math at School Nova. At Sigma Camp Oksana’s semi-lab will research “Energy in Life, Science and Technology”. 


Tatiana Yurchenko

Technical Project Manager with strong mathematical background

During her years as a Computer Science student in Moscow Tatiana Yurchenko learned what a powerful tool a computer could be in scientific research. But it is never smarter than the person who programs it. Later, working in financial industry, Tatiana discovered that the best world currency is information, and it is important to know how to protect it. Her interest in cryptography and her love for a company of interesting and never-sleeping people led her to Sigma.


Boris Podobedov 

Physicist, Photon Sciences Directorate, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY

I got my PhD from the Stanford University Department of Applied Physics. My expertise is to design, build and operate large particle accelerators. These are mostly used as research tools for high energy physics, or serve as light sources, that provide powerful X-ray beams to the researches from many different fields of science. At Brookhaven Lab I contributed to numerous accelerator upgrades and provided accelerator physics support to the presently operating National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS). I was also heavily involved in the R&D work towards the Brookhaven future light source, NSLS-II, which we are currently commissioning.  As you might guess, my job has a lot to do with all aspects of electricity and magnetism, and this is exactly the topic of the Semilab I am teaching at SigmaCamp. For fun I enjoy playing ping-pong, running, and, of course, fishing.


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 "Cooking and Science.



Marina Polonskaia

Director of SchoolNova Weekend Academic Enrichment Program

Theoretical biophysicist by training, Marina Polonskaia came to US and made a sharp turn in her career: she became a molecular biologist. After working in this field for 11 years (Chicago, Boston, Stony Brook), she made another sharp turn and became a Director of an academic enrichment program at Stony Brook. The program is known to many children in and around Stony Brook as SchoolNova. While in high school Marina herself was a student of a similar program as well as a student of Krasnoyarsk Summer School for gifted children in Russia. She returned to that summer school as a counselor and lecturer while in undergraduate and graduate school, and continues to travel to teach in Siberia almost every summer since 2006 (apparently she loves to travel). Marina is a faculty of SigmaCamp from its inception and once again she is happy to spend a week among interesting and talented people working in the camp.


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.



Dima Kozakov

Boston University, Boston, MA

Mathematician and Physicist by training, Dima Kozakov likes to develop new approaches for prediction and design of molecular interactions using elegant concepts from theoretical physics and mathematics. He also enjoys mythology, traveling around the world, and alpine climbing.


Tanya Tcherevik

Junior Instructor Coordinator

Tanya Tcherevik  is teaching Russian at SchoolNova, and she enjoys working in a multi-cultural environment where a collective of talented teachers and scientists created an atmosphere that is stimulating, encouraging, and adaptive to the varied needs and interests of our students. Last year Tanya organized the Junior Instructor challenge at the SigmaCamp. We discovered many motivated, enthusiastic, and dedicated young instructors who helped make the program a big success. Tanya is looking forward to work with all of you to build on that success this year and deliver an unforgettable learning experience to Sigma campers.


Yuri Salkinder

Director, Electronic Trading Technology, Credit Suisse

Yuri Salkinder’s career spanned academia, telecommunications and financial industry technology. Yuri started doing research in human-computer interaction when the word Windows was still a novelty. He moved on to help create software development tools for Voice response systems, which are nowadays ubiquitously answer the phone whenever you call any large institution. He participated in creation of some standards in wireless messaging industry and even took part in the first implementation of AOL instant messenger on a mobile device. Then Yuri turned to messaging of another kind – the one that fuels electronic financial markets. He is working at Credit Suisse, where he is managing a number of computer systems that handle one sixth of all the stock market transactions in the United States. Yuri loves art, music, foreign movies and good math puzzles. Yuri was a member of Sigma Camp staff in 2013 and is returning this summer.


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. 



 Tatiana Pyatina

Material Scientist, Sustainable Energy Technologies Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Tatiana Pyatina was born in Moscow, Russia. She studied at Moscow Mendeleev Chemical Institute, and later at the California Institute of Technology, where she has got her PhD in environmental engineering and chemical engineering. She worked for ten years in France for Schlumberger Inc. developing materials for oil industry. She now works for Brookhaven National Laboratory researching materials for geothermal energy production.

Sergei Maslov

Biology Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY

 Sergei Maslov is a tenured scientist at department of Biosciences, Brookhaven National Laboratory and professor at the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology, Physics Department, and Department of Biomedical Informatics at Stony Brook University. He works on computational and evolutionary biology where he is especially interested in quantifying evolution of genomes and modeling complex biomolecular networks.In addition to biology he is also interested in problems related to search and ranking in information and social networks: World Wide Web, Internet, software, scientific citations, Facebook, etc. 


Oxana Litvine

Director of Libra Learning, Adjunct Biology Instructor at Purchase College, SUNY
Biology and Chemistry Faculty at EF Academy in Tarrytown, NY
Director of Libra Learning, Adjunct Biology Instructor at Purchase College, SUNYOxana’s curiosity about the unknown is the backbone of  her education: she majored in biology as an undergrad, studied behavioral neuroscience in graduate school, and worked as a research scientist in Russia, Switzerland, and the United States. Oxana’s love for science grew into her love for teaching. Oxana first started teaching as an 18 year-old undergrad, and never stopped. Over the years, she has  taught scientific techniques and methods to gifted high-schoolers, Ph.D. and medical students, and postdoctoral fellows and research scientists from the USA, Europe, and Asia.


Marina Kreydina

Assistant to the SigmaCamp Director

Marina Kreydina has a degree in Physical Education and Sports Management. Nowadays she is engaged in medical business management. Marina loves specialized summer camps and has been a staff member of a number of them. She was at Sigma Camp in 2013 and is returning this summer.

 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.