Counselors 2021


Daniil Lukin

Graduate student, Stanford University

My PhD work is related to making nanoscale 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 dance, teach physics-related workshops, and play classical guitar.



Andrey Lukin

Software Engineer

I have come to Sigma Camp as a student since the very beginning, and have felt how fun and interesting this camp truly is. I love to discuss and hypothesis different crazy ideas, something like 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. I would love to listen to other people's amazing ideas, even if they are as unrealistic as mine. I am currently pursuing my Bachelor degree in Computer Science at Georgia Institute of Technology. Outside of my studies, I love playing music, running, and sometime rock climbing!



Andrey Khesin

Graduate student, MIT

I have been at SigmaCamp since the very beginning. I am working on my PhD in Math at MIT. I am always open to chat about math, physics, or computer science! At SigmaCamp, I usually run the semilab "From A to B", the oobleck workshop, and the Mafia and Hanabi evening clubs. Additionally, I greatly enjoy square dancing and contra. I try to find time to play guitar, so if you want to jam together, let me know!

My research is in quantum computing and quantum information theory. I am investigating how efficiently can classical computers simulate quantum computation and how much does having access to entanglement help spatially-separated parties trying to measure simultaneously to determine an unknown quantum state.


Alex Frenkel

Graduate student, Stanford University

This will be my fifth year as a counselor at Sigma Camp. I am graduating from UC Berkeley as a physics major this May (2019), and I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in theoretical physics at Stanford University as an NSF Fellow afterwards. My current research is in the realm of quantum gravity, and for my graduate work I will be studying both high energy and condensed matter theory. My other academic interests include math, computer science, political science, and history.

I play a lot of tennis, some chess, and enjoy following both tennis and other professional sports.


Luigia Than

Undergraduate, Stony Brook University


<p ">Hello, I'm super excited to be back for my fifth year as a counselor at Sigma! I am a rising senior at Stony Brook University, studying electrical engineering with a minor in digital art. At SBU I'm part of a team designing medical devices, and I'm vice president of the student IEEE chapter, where we run electronics workshops and keep a student lab space. In my spare time I enjoy baking, making art (digital or paint), playing board/card/tabletop games, and crafting (I've run workshops on origami, sewing, and kumihimo, a kind of cord braid). I'm excited to get to know all of you this summer! 

Alexander Suponya

Student, Rutgers University

Hello there! It's super exciting to be back at Sigma for my third year as a counselor. I am a rising sophomore studying biomedical engineering (and, potentially, computer science) at Rutgers University, and I'm also a huge fan of all things linguistics. Currently, I'm researching the effects of an epigenetic drug in the Cognitive Science department, though I'm hoping to start manufacturing for our rocket propulsion team and possibly other clubs once college resumes in-person. I play the piano and guitar, so any song recommendations during camp are welcome. Cheers to another year of learning from one another and making wonderful Sigma memories!


Alec Douglas

Undergraduate, Harvard College

I've been a member of SigmaCamp since 2013, both as a camper and as a counselor. I am a physics and math major but I'm also interested in history, the occasional video game, philosophy and religion. I currently do research in quantum optics where I design and implement control sequences for many body systems. I'm looking forward to meeting all of you and talking about your interests, both scientific and otherwise.


Anastasia Zhurikhina

Graduate Student, Georgia Tech

I am a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering trying to save the world through synergetic combination of computational and experimental biology by squeezing the most out of my applied mathematics and physics BS degree. My thesis is related to cracking the problem of brain blood vessels abnormalities that lead to hemorrhagic strokes. I have some experience in teaching as I've taught physics and biomechanics for high school and college students. The process of outlining the classes, stumbling upon unexpected questions and pulling consultational all-nighters with cookies for my students feels like part of my habit now. Aside from that I am an art and sport enthusiast: painting, photographing, swimming, windsurfing, kiteboarding, rock climbing, playing tennis, badminton, stretching and etc.  


 Natasha Butkevich 

Undergraduate, Cornell University 

I am delighted to return to Sigma for my third year on the SigmaStaff, and fifth year overall. My academic interests include microbiology and infectious disease (mainly bacteria, although I am fascinated by parasites and other miniscule creatures), marine science, immunology and printmaking. I spent my summer in Ithaca studying the bacterial composition of biofilms formed in nitrogen bioreactors. In my free time, I enjoy making detailed drawings or three-dimensional, geometric structures out of paper using unnecessarily complicated printmaking processes. Recently, I’ve picked up ballroom dancing (after 12 years of ballet); I lead Latin/Rhythm and follow Standard/Smooth. I’m excited to meet everyone at SigmaCamp this year!


Zofii Kaczmarek

Research Associate, Beyond Meat

My background is in physics and biophysics, but now I work mostly on chemistry (go figure!) and other analytical testing. At my work, I develop methods to characterize food samples, and I think about how to make data easily and quickly understood. I also look for ways to improve communication and other coordination processes between team members. On the dance floor, I practice improving my own communication and coordination processes with friends and strangers. I enjoy blues, fusion, west coast swing, tango, and contra dancing. I also run a monthly contra dance, and I’m president of a local dance cooperative. 

This will be my 6th year with Sigma, and whether I’ve met you before or we’re meeting for the first time, I’m looking forward to seeing you!


Arina Nikitina

Graduate Student, Georgia Institute of Technology

This is going to be my fifth 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. I am a graduate student at 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!



Sophia Abanov

Undergraduate, The University of Chicago

I have been coming to Sigma since the very first year, and I’m excited to be back for my fourth year as a counselor. I am a math major at UChicago and I’ve also taken several classes in physics, computer science and economics. In my free time, I like staying active and though I’m not particularly great at any sport, I’ve dabbled in quite a few like soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and cheerleading. One of my favorite things at Sigma are workshops. I enjoy teaching them and attending those done by other counselors because everyone at Sigma is really really cool and has amazing things to share. One workshop I have taught in the past is about the geometry that can be found within the card game SET.


Jacob Kudria

Undergraduate, Stony Brook University

Hi! I’m currently a senior at Stony Brook University, studying Applied Mathematics and Statistics on a pre-med track, with minors in both biology and chemistry. Despite my major, my ultimate curiosity lies with neuroscience, and I’m part of a lab that studies how neurons talk to each other at a synaptic level in the brain. All that said though, what I really want to do is medicine. Outside of academics, you’ll probably find me engaged in some musical activity, or else curled up with a good book. At Sigma I do a variety of things, from taking photos of everyone to setting up for the chamber concert. The most exciting thing of course is meeting all the campers, so I’m looking forward to this year, finally in person again!


Nikita Podobedov

Undergraduate, Columbia University

I've been coming to Sigma since the beginning, and I'm really excited to be here for another year. I am a rising junior at Columbia University studying biomedical engineering and computer science. Outside of STEM, I'm interested in history, geography, and linguistics. I love trivia, and I play quiz bowl at my university. I also really enjoy playing racket sports, and I'm looking forward to organizing the ping pong tournament at Sigma again. 

Nestor Tkachenko

Founder/CEO of Rito

Hello, I'm Nestor and I'm very excited to return to in-person Sigma as a counselor again! My primary work is as a professional Dogecoin investor, but on the side I'm a founder of a food robotics startup called Rito which I dropped out of Harvard to start. I also love philosophy, iced lattes, and hot takes.

I am personally very interested in physics, technology, and entrepreneurship. I do everything from building burrito-making robots and creating levitating vehicles, to shocking people to make them dance.

I love meeting new people and enjoy understanding how others think, and always appreciate interesting discussions on any topic, from questions of morality to cultural trends, so feel free to talk to me about anything!


Melissa Guidry

Graduate Student, Stanford University

Hi, I’m Melissa -- this will be my first year as a counselor at Sigma. My scientific interests are centered around the physics of light, with a focus on how light interacts with matter. My PhD work is all about using nanometer-scale structures (smaller than the width of a hair) to generate entangled quantum states of light. I’m interested in art, books, and gardening – I run a community garden at Stanford and love spending a Sunday afternoon with my hands in the dirt. I can’t wait to meet you all and share our love of science and learning.


Giuseppina Than

Undergraduate, Stony Brook University

Hello! I was a camper at Sigma for five years and am so excited to come back as a counselor for the first time! I am a rising sophomore at Stony Brook University majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Biology is one of my favorite subjects, and I've done research projects on gene expression and variant nucleosomes (ask me about it if you're interested). Beyond STEM, I love Broadway (I performed in two zoom plays in my school's theater club!), making music (piano and flute), and reading (Lord of the Rings is the best!), among other things. Come talk to me about anything - I'm always interested in learning something new!



Michael Zorya

Rutgers New Brunsiwck Undergraduate

Hi my name is Michael Zorya, I have been with Sigma ever the since the start and I plan to return once more as a counselor. I have been admitted to Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences for a Biomathematics major. My other passions include strategy games of any type, and the occasional tv show. If you ever want to chat about any random subject, I'll be there to entertain. I can't wait to to see you all in the summer!



Tarika Mane

Undergraduate, University of Chicago

Hi I’m Tarika and I love being a counselor here at Sigma! I love math, especially anything involving geometry or any kind of math puzzle, and I'm now majoring in math. I particularly enjoy creating (and solving) hard math problems/puzzles too. I’m very fond of engineering and ever since I was little I loved building and creating things because I always have crazy ideas. On top of math and engineering, I love computer science, and I'm specifically interested in machine learning. I also love playing games, whether that be math games like set, or board games like catan, or games such as mafia! I’m looking forward to meeting all of you and making more unforgettable memories at Sigma this year!


Iris Brook

Undergradaute student, Tulane University

Hi, I am Iris and I am a rising junior at Tulane University where I am majoring in business management and computer science as well as working towards my minor in math. I am really interested in data science as well as business analytics especially with their ties to the technology industry. I am highly involved in outreach tutoring especially for young girls in STEM at my school, as well as being a part of multiple art and dance clubs.


Nikolai Styrkas

High School Senior

Hello everyone! I am very excited to be part of the staff this year after all my years at Sigma as a camper. Throughout high school I have developed many interests in chemistry, 3D design, architecture, and mathematics. I enjoy a multitude of hobbies including, tennis, piano, swimming, ballroom dancing and quite a few others that I am just trying out. I am looking forward to being a counselor again, and I am eager to see what Sigma will bring to the table this year.



Sofiya Filippova

High School Junior

Hello everyone! I have attended SigmaCamp as a camper for the past three years and am very excited to return to Sigma this year as a JC! My academic interests are physics, mathematics, and engineering (generally any problem solving), but I like to dabble in computer science as well. I am a competitive figure skater, and have recently taken up ballroom dancing; I also love to play the piano, read, draw landscapes, and create with my hands. I look forward to SigmaCamp every year and cannot wait to help make this an unforgettable week for all the incoming campers, as my counselors once did for me.



Polina Zavyalova

Graduate, University of Toronto

Hi! I am a PhD student at the University of Toronto in the department of electrical and computer engineering and I've been at Sigma since 2019. My research lies in the field of laser fabrication of sensing devices in optical fibers for astronomical applications. I am also interested in biology and chemistry and I am looking forward to discussing everyone’s science-related (and otherwise!) interests and ideas. Outside academics, I play tennis, read, and really enjoy baking, embroidery, and creative writing.



Paula Laziuk

Graduate Student, Stony Brook University

This will be my first year at Sigma. I am excited to be joining this group of distinguished counselors. I am currently a PhD student at Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and my research involves studying sulfide oxidizing bacterial groups found at anoxic depths in the Cariaco Basin. I spent three years of my undergraduate career studying the structure of collagenous mimetic proteins at Hunter College. Apart from my academic experience, I volunteered as an EMT at my local fire department for several years. In my free time I enjoy visiting the national parks, surfing and snowboarding. I have also recently begun scuba diving, and I am looking forward to exploring underwater.

Andrew Mata

Graduate Student, Stony Brook University

Hello! I have been a camper or counselor at Sigma Camp since its inaugural year and hopefully for years to come. Throughout the years I've attended Sigma, I have graduated high school, attended Cornell for my undergraduate degree and started a PhD at Stony Brook University in the Computer Science department. I usually help with programming in a semi-lab and set up sports and sport events like Chessball. I look forward to meeting you all and don't hesitate to come talk with me about any of your scientific or sporting interests.


Nikita Khesin

High School Student 

Hello! I have been at Sigma since the third year, and I love it every single year. I really enjoy mathematics and engineering, I design 3D models as a hobby. I love to play frisbee, run, and cycle. I also enjoy algorithmic programming (Python). With a fair bit of experience doing math contests, feel free to discuss tricky questions with me! I really enjoy problems involving logical deduction and math. As ever, I'm really excited to see you all at camp this yea

Tim Pinkhassik

High School Student

I've been coming to Sigma Camp since 2016, and I'm really excited for my first year as a Junior Counselor!  I'm mainly interested in synthetic organic chemistry and supramolecular chemistry.  I'm also interested in electrical engineering and physics.  I'm in my school's debate team and I run my school's chemistry club.  I love science fiction and I'm really interested in history.  I can't wait to meet everyone this year!



Ivanka Tkachenko

High School Student

Hello! This will be my first year as a counselor and I am very excited! I can’t wait to meet and interact with everyone. I love math, specifically calculus, and wish I had started coding sooner because it's very cool. Other than my scientific interests, I love video games, anything artistic and like to play Dungeons and Dragons in my free time. My real passion is professional stage lighting for plays and concerts, and it is what I (used to) spend most of my time after school doing



Iana Podobedov

High School Student

Hi everyone! My name is Iana, and I’ve been with Sigma since the very beginning — first as a junior camper, then as a camper for six years, and now as a JC. My main interests lie within engineering and computer science, and I hope to pursue both in the future. I’m a member of Science Olympiad, the Chamber Orchestra of my school where I play the violin, and Bluegrass Club. I’m also on an FTC robotics team, Islandbots, which meets in my basement every week. One of my favorite pastimes is listening to all types of music (I almost always am.) I can’t wait to meet you all this summer! 


Daniel Salkinder

High School Student

After my 8 years of being a camper at Sigma, I am extremely excited to contribute as a junior counselor! Academically, I am interested in math, physics, linguistics, cs, and chemistry, but especially passionate about pure math. I like to beat people at board games and ping pong, create and solve puzzles from Rubik's cubes to escape rooms, and play the saxophone. I cannot wait to meet everyone and annoy you with my stuffed animal snakes!



 Yavor Litchev

High School Student

Hello! After being a camper for 5 years, I am excited to now come back as a Junior Counselor! I am interested in math, engineering and computer science, and in particular I am very involved with cryptography. I love to participate in math competitions and solve hard math problems, ranging from geometry to number theory. I also like robotics, both teaching it and building with a team. Otherwise, I love to ski, hike in the mountains, and canoe with my family, and I especially like driving and cars. I am very excited for another great year at Sigma!



Sam Rosner

High School Student

Hi, I’m Sam. I have been going to SigmaCamp as a camper for four years, and I am really excited to join the staff as a JC this year. I am really interested in physics, mathematics, and the vast variety of applications of those fields. I also enjoy playing the violin, hiking, and taking pictures. I look forward to seeing everyone at SigmaCamp this year!



Katya Donetski

High School Student

Hi - thanks for reading my bio! I’ve come to Sigma for 5 years, as a camper, and I’m excited to say that I will return this year, now as JC! There’s nothing quite like Sigma. Even though it’s only a week of your summer, it’s definitely the best one. Recently, I’ve been learning deeper about neuroscience, fascinated with exploring the potentials of the human brain. There’s so much we don’t know, and therefore so much to learn! Aside from that, I enjoy piano, skiing, *learning* electric guitar, being the funnier sibling, and other random hobbies that I’ve picked up in quarantine. I can’t wait to meet all of you at Sigma 2021!