SigmaCounselors 2017


Dr. Alex Treyer

Post Doctoral student, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

I spent the last eight years trying to figure out how cells of the kidney make and move about their proteins. This year will be the first Sigma I attend since obtaining my PhD. Throughout its previous incarnations, Sigma has been a gateway into a different world, one where I could see and practice science I would not otherwise encounter, and meet other Sigmoids who would have things to say about the world that I would otherwise not consider. I bring what I can to the camp, thanks in large part to my continued hobby of making and discovering new music with a few talented friends, and my recently found appreciation for fiddling with analog circuits, which ties in nicely with the former. With a sedentary lifestyle of a scientist, I am quite fond of sports, and never turn down a good soccer match. I look forward to the Euro 2016 top goal reenactments at camp this year and, of course, I look forward to seeing all of my new and old Sigma brethren soon.  


Anar Amgalan

Graduate student, Stony Brook Univeristy

I am a student of physics seeking a PhD, who exhibits an unhealthy obsession with striking combat sports. Normally, I get interested with everything involving computations OR probabilities OR complexities OR clever approximations. But on certain occasions, all I can think of is boxing gym and taekwondo dojang. The two, clearly, need to be reconciled. In rare moments of extreme boredom, I work on pieces of codes that solve game of sudoku or jigsaw puzzles, or play flash games for me in my absence.

I am currently occupied with figuring out i) how and when new biological species emerge, ii) what machines can learn about our brain and iii) how social networks self-organize, getting all the while amazed by Muhammad Ali's footwork and Roy Jones Jr.'s reflexes. Depending on the volume of interest, I consider hailing into Sigma with my heavy bag...


Daniil Lukin

Graduate student, Stanford University

My PhD work is related to making really tiny optical structures and manipulating quantum states of individuals atoms, with the goal of contributing to the world-wide effort on making optical quantum computers. When I go to Sigma, I like to bring with me various tech contraptions so we can take them apart. This year, we will breaking into a turbo-molecular vacuum pump. I also participate in teaching West Coast Swing, teach physics-related workshops, and play classical guitar.



Jenny Nitishinskaya

Undergraduate, Harvard College

I'm excited for my fourth year as a SigmaCounselor! I study physics and math and sort of CS, but before coming to Sigma this summer I'll be working in biotech. I'm not sure what I'll be up to a year from now, but that's part of the fun :) I love dancing (everything from blues to waltz) and reading (lately, existentialist literature and cyberpunk). Come find me any time of the day if you want to play a board game! (Unless it's Catan).


 Harriet O'Brien

 Undergraduate, Carnegie Mellon University

This is my second year at SigmaCamp and I’m excited to return! I’m pursuing Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering at CMU. While my past research focused on neuro-immune interactions, specifically the pharmacology of CNS microglia, I am looking forward to a summer of research exploring the complex interfaces between biology and nanotechnology before I come to Sigma. On the side, I’ll be tackling a couple of courses and assisting a study investigating the sounds made by the human gut and how they relate to the rest of the body. In my free time, I enjoy drawing and painting, playing lacrosse, cycling, running, and traveling. I look forward to meeting my campers this summer!


Arina Nikitina

Graduate Student, Georgia Institute of Technology

This is going to be my fourth time being a counselor at Sigma. I love this place; although sometimes I can seem moody - don't worry, it’s just my normal face. This year, I entered Georgia Tech’s Bioinformatics PhD program. Back in Russia I taught math to students in grades 5 - 11. Aside from my work and studies, I love music; every year at Sigma I try to find like-minded people to perform as a rock-band at the Talent Show!


Andrey Lukin

Undergraduate, Georgia Institute of Technology

I have come to SimgaCamp as a student since the very beginning, and have felt how fun and interesting this camp truly is. I come up with the craziest ideas for my projects, which are rarely incorporated into their final design, but may contain slight hints of it. For example: constructing a large scale Stirling engine that would run from the equator and down to Antarctica, thus producing the much needed energy for the human race. Another idea is making a train that would run back and forth without energy, in a tunnel that would be dug like a chord, running through the Earth's crust. I would love to listen to other people's amazing ideas, even if they are as unrealistic as mine. If anyone has anything they need help with, feel free to come to me, and I will try my best to assist you.


Angie Shtenger

Undergraduate, Stony Brook University

This will be my 5th year at SigmaCamp and I can't be more excited! I'm graduating a whole year early from Stony Brook University with my Bachelor's degree in Linguistics. I love languages and everything about them. Hopefully linguistics will be more incorporated into Sigma this year so you can learn to love it as much as I do! Currently I'm learning Spanish and German and trying to perfect my Russian. My goal in life is to visit more countries than the years I've been alive. So far, 21 countries in 21 years, but this summer that number will go up to 24 countries and my goal will be on its way to completion! I see that this could prove to be very difficult once I turn 40 or something...

Besides languages and travel, I am fascinated by all the sciences and learning about anything new to me in general! I also love to read (anything with words) and take lots (think thousands) of pictures with my digital, film, and polaroid cameras! I can't wait to see returners and plenty of new faces in 2017!


Natasha Zaliznyak 

Undergraduate, Yale Unversity

Like many of my fellow Sigma staff members, I love science and am always curious about how things work. The fields I am most interested in are chemistry and biology, as I am fascinated by the molecular mechanisms of life — I am currently in college working towards a major in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. My hobbies include cooking, baking (I’ll likely be running a workshop at Sigma about the science of baking chocolate chip cookies!), and different forms of art; I love drawing and painting, as well as both digital and film photography. I also enjoy traveling and learning new languages. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you this summer — I can’t wait to both meet our newcomers and see our returning campers as Sigma comes together for its sixth summer!


Andrey Khesin

Undergraduate, University of Toronto

I have been at SigmaCamp since the very beginning. Currently, I am halfway through my undergraduate studies. My degree is in math and physics and I am always open to chat about either! Alternatively, you can always hit me up with questions about computer science and I will be happy to answer. At SigmaCamp, you can usually find me running things, whether it be my oobleck (look it up) workshop or the evening Mafia games. Feel free to come by for both! Alternatively, you might find me at the evening dance classes or facing off in chess or ping-pong.

My research in mathematics is currently focused on knot theory, where I am researching properties of ribbon knots, as well as tabulating the number of knots with a certain crossing number. In physics, as of this summer I am joining the international ATLAS collaboration (yes, the Higgs boson people) and will be doing research in particle physics.


Alex Frenkel

Undergraduate, UC Berkeley

This will be my third year as a Sigma counselor. I just finished my second year as a physics major at UC Berkeley, and I plan to go into theoretical physics research afterwards. Currently my main area of interest is in quantum gravity, where I'm in the process of joining a research group. My other academic interests include mathematics, computer science, and history.

I'm an officer in Berkeley's tennis club, and in general I spend lots of time on tennis (as well as other racquet sports) and would be happy to talk about it any time. :)


Alec Douglas

Undergraduate, Harvard College

This will be my fifth year at sigma camp and I look forward to it once again. I am a prospective physics and math major but I also dabble in history, the occasional video game, and philosophy. I also enjoy reading and listening to audiobooks (which I heartily recommend if you’re like me and spend a lot of time going hither and thither). I’m always looking to expand my repertoire and worldview, and as such would be delighted to talk to you and learn about your interests and hobbies. I’m returning to the States right before Sigma after a year abroad in Paris where I studied the mechanisms of T Cell receptor generation and the activation of various genes in fly embryos. I look forward to meeting each of you, and the discussions we might have.


Ilya Yurchenko

Undergraduate, Tufts University

My favorite part of Sigma has always been meeting the most creative and brilliant minds around. So- let's start with me. I’ve been with Sigma since the beginning first as a camper and then as a Counselor for the past two years. As a prospective Physics major at Tufts, I’m sure we will have tons of academic to talk about (my fields of preference are Optics and Electrodynamics). Outside of Physics, I have been exploring Markov chains and Correlation functions in a variety of data sets for the last few years under the mentorship of Dr. Alexandre Abanov (a member of SigmaFaculty). Around Sigma, you can find me doing the things I love to do most: playing soccer and making music. I am on the varsity soccer team for my school and have sung, arranged and composed music for both the piano and the acapella group that I am a part of. I look forward to meeting some of you on the soccer field, others on the chess board, and all of you at Sigma Camp 2017. 


Phillip Kadaev

Undergraduate, Harvard College

I have attended Sigma Camp for the past four years and am eager to continue my Sigma experience as a counselor. My main interests include biochemistry and astronomy. I am particularly interested in the study of exoplanets and currently research the effects of several different chemical agents on the regeneration of the recurrent laryngeal nerve. I am also an avid coin and stamp collector, who specializes in Russian and American currency and postage. I also enjoy playing an array of different sports including soccer, basketball, and ice hockey.


Sam Lazarev

HS senior

My name is Sam, and I am a graduating senior at Stuyvesant High School. I have been involved with Sigma for a number of years, and this year will be my second year as a counselor. I will again also be helping with any technical aspects. I am primarily interested in audio engineering and producing, as well as playing music. I enjoy working with people on creative projects, and seeing the unique minds of Sigma campers solve and create. When I was a camper, my favorite semilab was Electricity and Sound, which opened up a completely new perspective for me. I hope that all the incoming campers find, or are able to extrapolate, something meaningful to them from Sigma Camp. I am looking forward to seeing campers from previous years as well as meeting the newcomers.


Zofii Kaczmarek

Undergraduate, California Institute of Technology

This will be my second year as a Counselor at Sigma Camp! I had a great time last year and I’m excited to return. I love social dancing and look forward to teaching lessons on west coast swing as I did last summer. I have varying experience with west coast swing, tango, contra, and waltz, and I'd be happy to teach or learn from you. Or, if you just want a hug, come find me. I also enjoy playing around outside with a frisbee or soccer ball, making food, taking photos, and talking about how we can improve the world or challenge our assumptions. I will have recently graduated from Caltech in applied physics, and I’m looking forward to applying physics to biological contexts. If you want to hear (or tell me) about how physics can contribute to biology, let’s talk!


Lena Kirillova

Undergraduate, University of Vermont

This is my first year at Sigma as a counselor - I used to be a camper just like you, and I'm so so excited to have fun with everyone this summer! I'm pursuing a degree in elementary education at school, but I'm highly interested in psychology and neuroscience as well! Honestly, I love discussing any cool subject in the world, so if there's anything random and cool and maybe a bit weird you want to talk about, I'm always ready to give it a shot. In my free time, I enjoy reading, travelling, spending time with friends, and singing (even though my voice sounds horrible). Can't wait to meet you all!


Emily Castner

Undergraduate, Mount Holyoke College

I'm excited to join SigmaCamp this summer! I'm a math major and music minor, and I also enjoy Spanish and German. I will be researching Side-Angle-Side congruence before coming to SigmaCamp. I'm currently most passionate about Combinatorial Commutative Algebra and graph coloring. (Sometimes I use colored chalk, but it's not that type of coloring!) My claim to fame is knitting two Hogwarts scarves in five weeks. I look forward to this adventure with you.


Siranush Babakhanova

Undergraduate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I am excited to take part in Sigma for the first time this summer and get to know you all! I study Physics and Biology and currently do a UROP at Synthetic Neurobiology group trying to find new ways to study the activity of the brain. You are more than welcome to join me in stargazing, singing, dancing and doing art. I look forward to being engaged in (omnilingual :D) discussions on literature, science or anything that inspires you before, during and after Sigma. I am excited to show you the culture I am coming from and discover for myself the worlds of each one of you. See you soon!  


Lev Bershadsky

Undergraduate, Princeton University 

Lev was senior at Port Jefferson High School and a member of Team Islandbots. He has attended Sigma camp as a camper 3 times and was junior counselor last year. Lev is a member of National Honor Society, and he participates in Quiz Bowl, math teams, and Science Olympiad. Other than STEM, Lev enjoys tennis, sailing, and reading. During his time at Sigma he ran a workshop that taught people how to fly quadcopters. Lev was teacher's assistant at School Nova where he assisted a 7th grade math class. In his spare time Lev likes to build multirotors.


Sophia Abanov

Undergraduate, The University of Chicago

I've attended Sigma Camp as a camper every year since it began. This year, I'm excited to be a counselor for the first time. I graduate high school in June, and will be attending The University of Chicago in the fall. There, I will probably major in physics, with a minor in either sociology or global studies. I enjoy learning languages, and I speak Russian, French, and Spanish in addition to English. If I'm not sleeping, eating, or teaching a workshop, you'll most likely find me braiding someone's hair or flipping backwards, and I can teach you how to do both of those things if you’re interested.


Jacob Kudria

Hi! I am a senior in high school, though I’m not yet sure where exactly I’ll be going to college in the fall. I have been at Sigma for 5 years - 3 as a camper, and this will be my second time as a counselor. Academically, I enjoy any sort of mathematics, but I also LOVE to talk about anything biology or medicine. You might also sometimes catch me with some code on my screen, but that’s becoming rarer these days. Otherwise I'll most likely be listening to music, drawing, messing about with a camera or reading (I love recommendations!) There might also be times where I emit noise from a wooden box, also known as a viola (NOT a violin), and at times this noise can even be pleasant to the ear. Look (listen?) for it during our annual SigmaConcert! I look forward to meeting you all at Sigma 2017!


Nikita Podobedov

Senior, Ward Melville High School

I have been coming to Sigma Camp since its very beginning, and this year I am very excited to be back as a Counselor. I am interested in many diverse subjects, both scientific and not. I like biology, history, geography, and linguistics, to name a few. I am also excited about robotics. I am a member of the FTC team, the Islandbots, which meets in my basement. I love trivia games, so I’m on the varsity quiz bowl team at my school. I also enjoy playing racket sports, and I organized the Sigma ping pong tournament last year.


Michelle Roitgarts

Undergraduate, Tufts University

After 4 wonderful years as a Sigma camper and a 5th year as a Junior Counselor, I’m very excited to come back as a counselor for Sigma 2017! I’m fascinated by biology and enjoy learning about how organisms function and interact. However, as a prospective Cognitive Science major, my real passion lies in psychology - studying the human mind and human behavior - and its many applications within neurobiology, computer science, linguistics, and so on. Some of my hobbies include tennis, ballroom dance, and movie-making; I’m also an avid music fan. In my spare time you might find me playing on the piano or guitar. I speak Russian and English; please don’t hesitate to approach me - whether it’s to ask questions or just talk and share ideas! If you are interested in participating in the annual Sigma Music Concert, let me know at I can’t wait to see all of you this summer!


Priya Srikumar

Undergraduate, Cornell University

Last year was my first year at Sigma, and I’m excited to rejoin Sigma this year as a Counselor. I enjoy all sciences, but I particularly like physics and chemistry. I’m also passionate about engineering, and am a member of my school’s robotics team. I love to bake (white chocolate macadamia nut cookies are my favorite) and I’m an avid reader of both fiction and nonfiction- come talk to me for book recommendations! I also enjoy singing with friends and engaging in combat sports such as boxing and wrestling. I speak Tamil, French, and some Korean, and I'm trying to learn Russian- I would love to practice with someone! I look forward to getting to know everyone this summer. Go Sigma!


Nestor Tkachenko

Undergraduate, Harvard College

I am someone who loves doing new things, exploring possibilities nobody has ventured through and creating what has never been thought of before. I hope to share my love of creativity and innovation with all of you and help you discover your passions. I am personally very interested in physics and engineering as well as entrepreneurship. I do everything from building robots cars and helicopters, creating levitating vehicles, cooking the best damn Crème brûlée you'll ever have, to making luminescent toy startups. 


Ian Baram

Senior, Ward Melville High School






Rita Abanov

Senior, Ward Melville High School






Luigia Than (JC)

Junior, Port Jefferson High School

Hi! I’ve been a camper for three years, and I’m super excited to come back for a fourth as a Junior Counselor! I love science (especially chemistry - my favorite reaction is elephant toothpaste) and math (drawing Serpinski’s triangle is a habit). I also love to read (sci-fi and fantasy, mostly), watch movies/TV/musicals, make stuff (bracelets with kumihimo, or cosplay), draw, and captain my Quiz Bowl team at school. I play the cello and piano (you might’ve seen me playing a duet with my sister last year). Talk to me if you want to rave about a favorite show, a strange “what-if,” or have a sing-a-long (I do musical theater & I know a lot of lyrics from Hamilton)! See you this summer, and live long and prosper! 


Masha Zorin (JC)


I have gone to Sigma Camp for the past four years as a camper, and I'm super excited to be a junior counselor this year! Sigma Camp is a place like no other (I mean, where else will you have a bunch of crazy professors gather up to teach you?), and I'm really happy that I get to keep being a part of it. I'm interested in computer science, math, and physics, and I want to be an engineer of some kind (but I'm not sure which kind). I also love to read, draw, and build things using power tools. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone at Sigma Camp!


Michael Zorya (JC)


After five unforgettable years as a camper, this year I return to Sigma as a junior counselor to enjoy and experience the. I am excited to experience Sigma from a different angle. Subject wise I enjoy studying Biology, Mathematics and History.In fact even in my spare time I read various articles related to both major and minor historical events that occurred around the world. As a result this helps me participate in my schools varsity quiz bowl team. In other times I enjoy playing various strategy games and sports. I cant wait till the summer to see you all!