Faculty 2017


Michael Bershadsky


Victoria Bershadsky

Financial/Administrative Coordinator

Anya Cartwright

Art Teacher, SchoolNova, "Running With Color" Art studio

Anya Cartwright is currently working as an Art teacher at SchoolNova, as well as at "Running With Colors" Art studio. Her education, work background  and present projects include photography, computer graphics and illustration. Anya's special interests include alternative photographic processes, micro photography and studio photography, concept art, ceramics and woodwork. A special place in Anya's heart belongs to wildlife. She loves hiking, birdwatching and interacting with animals. As a hobby, Anya and her husband Peter are working together on compilation of wildflower and fungi field-guides through watercolor illustration, micro photography and Peter's writing.


Sergei Dubovsky

Associate Professor of Physics, Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, Physics Department, New York University.

Sergei Dubovsky received his PhD in physics in 2001 from INR (Moscow, Russia). He served as a junior research fellow at CERN, Harvard and Stanford before joining the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics at NYU in 2010. He is currently also a Visiting Senior Faculty at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (Waterloo, Canada). Sergei works on the interface of string theory, particle physics, and cosmology.


Mitsuko Hidaka


Mitsuko has worked as a psychological counselor at clinical settings, treating kids and families with mental/psychological disorders. She also has a background in Psychology in Education working with kids in school settings. At Sigma Camp, she will be playing a role in supporting the counselors/staff as well as the campers to make their stay comfortable and memorable.


Natalia Ilina


I am based on Long Island, NY and specialize in family and events photography. I received an engineering degree in multichannel telecommunications from Bonch-Bruevich St. Petersburg State University of Telecommunications and have studied professional photography in The New York Institute of Photography. I was proud to photograph SigmaCamp in 2014. I love capturing human relations, characters and emotions, especially when people learn new things, experience joy of discovery and share their lives’ passions. All of those are abundant at SigmaCamp, that’s why I’m so excited to be part of it in 2017. My mission is to make happy moments last!


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 "Microcontroller Programming for Young Inventors”.


Alexander Kirillov Sr.

Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Alexander Kirillov Sr. was born in Moscow, Russia, and studied at Moscow State University. In 1961 he presented the Ph.D. thesis, for which he received the degree of Doctor of Science. He was a professor of Moscow University till 1994 and worked in the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics till 1990. Now he is a professor of UPenn and a member of the Institute for Problems of Information Transmission (Russian Academy of Sciences).

His research is in representation theory, functional analysis and mathematical physics. He participated in the creation of Gelfand Correspondence School and the Independent Moscow University. Regularly gives lectures in Summer and Winter schools for students and young mathematicians.


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.


Marina Kreydina

SigmaCamp Associate 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, 2014, 2015, 2016, and is returning this summer.


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 2017 with our campers.


Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi

Lilianne Mujica-Parodi received her Ph.D. from Columbia University, studying mathematical logic and its applications to certain puzzling aspects of quantum mechanics.  She is Director of the Laboratory for Computational Neurodiagnostics, Associate Professor in Stony Brook University's Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Associate Neuroscientist in the Department of Radiology at the A. A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging (Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School).

Lily's research looks at human brain circuits from an engineering perspective, with a focus on the process and dynamics by which mechanisms of network failure lead to psychiatric and neurological diseases. As a hobby, she likes to befriend wild animals (this picture was taken in Australia, with a young kangaroo).


Nikita Nekrasov

Professor at Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Stony Brook University, NY

Nikita Nekrasov was born in Moscow, Russia. He studied at Moscow Physical-Technical Institute, and later at Princeton University, where he received his PhD in physics. He worked at the Institut 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.


Boris Podobedov

Physicist, Energy and Photon Sciences Directorate, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Boris got his PhD from the Stanford University Department of Applied Physics. His 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 providing powerful X-ray beams to researchers from many different fields of science. At Brookhaven Lab Boris contributed to numerous accelerator upgrades and provided accelerator physics support to the presently decommissioned National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS). Over the past decade he was also heavily involved in the R&D work of the Brookhaven brand new light source, NSLS-II, a billion dollar facility that has just started user operations. As you might guess, Boris’ job has a lot to do with all aspects of electricity and magnetism, and this is exactly the topic of the Semilab he is teaching at SigmaCamp. For fun, he really enjoys fishing as well as playing ping-pong. Finally, Boris also is rather tolerant to all kinds of geeky teenagers, even to the extent of hosting an FTC robotics team in his basement for the third year in a row.


Eugenia Poliakov

Staff Scientist, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Eugenia Poliakov obtained her Master degree in chemistry from Moscow State University, Russia in 1996, doctoral degree in Chemistry from the Case Western University, Chemistry Department, Cleveland, OH in 2001. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Eye Institute, NIH. She joined LRCMB, NEI as staff scientist in November 2006.  Her major scientific focus is beta-carotene oxygenases 1 and 2 and their role in carotenoid (fat-soluble vitamins) metabolism and vitamin A biosynthesis. She is focused on the design of small molecules inhibitors for carotene oxygenases and closely related enzyme RPE65 isomerase which is required for human vision.


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.


Igor Rogozin

Staff Scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, NIH

Igor Rogozin received his PhD in computational biology from the Novosibirsk State University in 1992. After that he was serving as a visiting scientist at the Institute of Advanced Technologies in Milan and completed his postdoctoral training at Penn State University.

For the last 15 years, he has been working on various aspects of molecular evolution and comparative genomics at the National Institute of Health. He is interested in comparative analysis of completely sequenced genomes, population genomics of human diseases, analysis of long non-coding RNAs, phylogenetic analysis of sequences, theoretical analysis of mutagenesis, genome biology of carcinogenesis, analysis of functional regions and signals in biological sequences, and the computational analysis of immune systems.


Yuri Salkinder

Managing Director, Electronic Trading Technology, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

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.


Helmut H. Strey

Director of the Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnologies (www.streylab.com) 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.  


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.


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

Associate 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 5 years ago.


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 world's 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.


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.



Natasha Zayfman

Math Teacher, Louis Armstrong Middle School, Queens, NY 

Natasha Zayfman teaches math in a public school in New York City. She was always passionate about math and very curious about how mathematical sense develops in young children. Natasha enjoys watching her students discover mathematical concepts every day. Natasha is also a coach for her school's robotics team. She is very excited to be joining SigmaCamp 2017.