Counselors 2022

Daniil Lukin

Postdoctoral fellow, Stanford University

My PhD work was 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 -- I'm continuing along the same lines now as postdoc. 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 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

PhD Student, Stanford University

Hi Everyone! This will be my (oh god) - eighth?! year at Sigma, having joined for the first time as a counselor right before college. I am now entering the fourth year of my PhD, splitting my time between Stanford in California and Cambridge in England. My main field of study is quantum gravity and string theory, although I'm broadly interested in all of physics and work on some condensed matter theory projects as well. Besides work, I love tennis (having played almost my whole life), basketball, and chess, and am happy to go on about any of them on end. I really look forward to meeting all of you, and learning about your interests!

Luigia Than

Graduate Student, NYU

Hello, I'm super excited to be back for another year as a counselor at Sigma! I'm a grad student at NYU studying electrical engineering. In undergrad, I was part of a team designing wearable medical devices, and I also worked on an art display to highlight collaboration between the art and engineering schools. In my spare time I enjoy making art (digital, traditional, and textile!) and playing board/card/tabletop games. Recently, I've been experimenting with making video games. I'm excited to get to know all of you this summer!!

Alexander Suponya

Undergraduate Student, Rutgers University

Hi everyone! I am a rising junior studying biomedical engineering and CS at Rutgers. After spending a summer and semester doing neuroscience research at Rutgers, I'm hoping to find a way to pursue my interest in stem cell research. I'm also a huge fan of all things linguistics — an often overlooked scientific field. 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

Graduate Student, Harvard

I'm a Harvard Physics Graduate student. My PhD work is related to simulating exotic materials, such as high temperature superconductors by trapping and observing the collective behavior of many atoms tapped by light. In particular we can simulate the behavior of insulating materials by mapping the behavior of electrons hopping around in a crystal of atoms to atoms hopping around in crystals made of light.

When I'm not in the lab I enjoy biking, rock climbing, video and board games.

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

Graduate Student, Stony Brook University

I am delighted to return to Sigma for my sixth year on the SigmaStaff, and eighth year overall. My academic interest falls at the intersection of marine science and microbiology - I'm working on vesicle production in E. huxleyi and spend time thinking about viral gene transfer in the oceans or the role oceans play in the global carbon cycle. If that sounds interesting, feel free to find me and we'll talk. In my 'copious' free time, I enjoy making detailed drawings or the occasional three-dimensional structure using unnecessarily complicated printmaking processes. I’ve picked up ballroom dancing (after 12 years of ballet), and I'm down to try anything artsy or active. Looking forward to meeting everyone 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

Trader, Akuna Capital

I am a 2021 graduate of the University of Chicago where I studied math and computer science, and I currently live in Chicago and work as a trader at Akuna Capital. At my job I get to work on interesting projects of my choosing and I constantly apply principles of calculus, statistics, probability, and my (sadly pretty weak) programming skills to my work. Outside of work, I like stay active by doing gymnastics, volleyball, and coaching cheerleading for my former college team. I also love playing soccer and tennis whenever I get the chance. Most of my remaining free time is spent reading and watching shows; my favorite book I’ve read this year is a series called The Three Body Problem and my favorite show is Severance. If anyone has book or show recommendations, I’d love to hear them! This year will be my 7th year as a SigmaCounselor. My favorite part of the camp is interacting with all of the campers and staff, and I also love that Sigma is a learning experience for campers and staff alike. Every year I learn so many new things from lectures, tournaments, workshops, and just from talking to other people. I’m counting down the days until August 14th and can’t wait for another great camp!.

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 recently finished my undergrad studying biomedical engineering and computer science and I’m going to be starting a PhD at MIT in the fall in biological engineering. Outside of STEM, I'm interested in history, geography, and linguistics. I love trivia, and I used to 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. Looking forward to seeing everyone this summer!

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

My scientific research is on quantum photonics. I engineer optical circuits to study the quantum mechanics of light. One device that I often engineer is a “microring”, a micron-scale ring-shaped optical cavity: once light enters the ring, it can travel around thousands of times before it exits, going around in tight circles with a circumference close to that of a human hair. This intense optical confinement enables interesting physics: for example, we can convert one color of light to many other colors, often entangling the new colors of light in the process. Some researchers are trying to use this phenomenon to build chip-scale quantum computers. Outside of the lab, I like to read. My favorite books I’ve read this year were The Red and the Black and The Portrait of a Lady.

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! I am studying Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University. 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've performed and stage managed for 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!

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

Hello! I am Iris and I am a rising senior at Tulane University in New Orleans. I am majoring in business management and computer science as well as minoring in math. I am really interested in business analytics and in the business side of the tech industry, specifically how we can make product development and production more efficient. I am highly involved in STEM tutoring for girls and how to better encourage more women to pursue their STEM careers. Outside of academics, I love music, dance, art, and baking. I am excited to help make this week unforgettable for all of you!

Nikolai Styrkas

Undergraduate, Rutgers University

Howdy! I am a senior studying chemical engineering and computer science at Rutgers University. The two majors help me to pursue my interests nano materials, which I am currently doing research on. I am involved in many chemical engineering clubs at my school but I make sure to mix up a few non stem activities. I also love ballroom dancing, rowing, long distance running and building cars. I'm very excited to join sigma this year and I hope you are too!

Sofiya Filippova

Undergraduate, Boston University

Hello everyone! I was a Sigma camper for three years and now return as a counselor for the fourth time! Outside of Sigma, I am an undergraduate student at Boston University studying mechanical engineering with a concentration in energy technologies. I'm really interested in developing sustainable technologies and currently work on several projects doing just that! I would love to talk anything engineering related with you! I am also a figure skater, ballroom dancer, and recently a climber! I also love to read and paint, and I sometimes play the piano. 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.

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.

Iana Podobedov

Undergraduate Student, Columbia University

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 counselor. My main interests lie within engineering, computer science, and especially robotics. In my freetime I enjoy biking, hiking, embroidering, and playing the violin. I am almost always listening to music (of virtually any genre) and I'd love to hear any recommendations. I can’t wait to meet you all this summer!

Daniel Salkinder

Undergraduate, Harvard

After my 8 years of being a camper at Sigma, I am thrilled to contribute as a counselor again! Academically, I am most interested in pure math and physics, but enjoy learning about linguistics, psychology, computer science, and everything else. 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

Undergraduate Student, Stanford University

Hello! After being a camper for 5 years, I am excited to come back for my 2nd year 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

Undergraduate Student, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

I was a SigmaCamper from 2016-2020, and was a counselor in 2021. I am really interested in physics, mathematics, and the vast variety of applications of those fields. I also enjoy playing the violin, cycling, and taking pictures. I look forward to seeing everyone at SigmaCamp this year!

Katya Donetski

Undergraduate Student, Cornell University

Hi - thanks for reading my bio! I’ve come to Sigma for 6 years, as a camper, as a JC, and I’m excited to say that I will return once again as a counselor! 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 2022!

Michelle Roitgarts

Marketing Data Analyst

Hi! My name is Michelle, or Mishka for short. I've been at Sigma since its first year in 2012, first as a camper and later as a counselor. Very excited to be back for Sigma2022 and can't wait to meet everyone! I recently graduated Tufts University with a neuroscience degree and am now working in analytics and marketing at a health-tech startup. I'm really interested in artificial intelligence and the ways in which it applies to disciplines ranging from human psychology to philosophy to data science. I have various hobbies including music (my first love and the reason I run the Talent Show every year!), tennis, ballroom dance, learning languages, and cooking. Come talk to me about anything and everything. :)

Alexey Tatarinov

High School Student

Hi! I've gone to SigmaCamp as a camper 3 times, and have enjoyed each one more than the last. I can't wait to meet all of you this year and hope to make it even better as a JC! My primary interest is in engineering, especially robotics, where I have done everything from design and construction to electronics and programming. I am interested in how software is designed and developed from the ground up and the practical applications of computer science. I have also participated in a variety of math and science competitions, and love doing challenging problems in general. Beyond that, I enjoy folding origami, solving puzzles, hiking, biking, and skiing, both downhill and cross country. I look forward to seeing all of you this year!

Anat Dubinsky

High School Student

Hey everyone! I'm beyond excited to serve as a junior counselor this year! Some topics that interest me include math, especially interesting logical puzzles, and chemistry. Outside of school, you can find me practicing classical guitar, attending Model United Nations conferences, teaching skiing, creating art, and admiring my extensive scented candle compendium. Although I'll have to part with my dear candles during Sigma, I'm looking forward to meeting you all this summer!

Anna Rosner

High School Student

Hello! After three years as a camper, I'm incredibly excited for my first year as a Junior Counselor! I love anything robotics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or computer science related, something I've loved being able to explore at Sigma. When not staring at a computer screen, I enjoy graphic design, singing, and playing my viola. I can't wait to see everyone at Sigma 2022!

Maya Smith

High School Student

I have attended Sigma for three years as a camper and am excited to be returning as a junior counselor. I love math, and my favorite part of math is whatever I happen to have last learned about. Apart from STEM, I love to debate and am a regular participant in my school's theater productions. The languages I know best are English, Russian, Python, and Spanish, in that order. I am looking forward to meeting all of you at SigmaCamp and learning new things!

Joel Brook

High School Student

Hi! After attending Sigma for the past 5 years, I am excited to return as a junior counselor this summer. In school, I am always interested in anything that is math or science-related. One of my biggest hobbies is playing video games and card games such as Apex Legends or Magic: The Gathering. I am also the captain of my school's Fencing team and am an active member in my school's Jewish Student Union.

David Bershadsky

Undergraduate, Princeton University

Hi, I was a camper at sigma camp every year from the first sigma until I became a counselor! I am studying Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. In addition to Electrical Engineering I am interested in 3D printing, Biology, Robotics, and Material Science. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you and making more unforgettable memories at Sigma this year!

Boris Barron

Graduate Student, Cornell University

Hello everyone! I'm Boris and this will be my first time at Sigma. I tend to have very broad interests (biophysics, mechanical engineering, laser physics, evolution, etc.) which I like to summarize as saying that I am interested in the 'best' way to solve a problem. Most recently, I have been working on using information theory to create demographic models (where the available data is insufficient to capture the full complexity of the system) during my PhD in physics at Cornell. Outside of academics, I have a similarly eclectic background: I have lived in 4 countries (Israel, Canada, England, USA) and competed at a note-worthy level in ballroom dancing while doing running, taekwondo, ballet, swimming, and dragon boat somewhat more moderately. In the last few years I have been nowhere near as active as I should be and spend most of my free time chasing big ideas or not thinking much at all (video games). Happy to talk about anything!

Anatoly Zavyalov

Undergraduate, University of Toronto

I’m studying mathematics, computer science and physics at the University of Toronto. I’ve done research in theoretical computer science and astronomy, and I am absolutely in love with automata theory and computational complexity theory. Outside of academics, I’ve been playing piano for more than a decade, and I get a huge kick out of solving programming problems. I’m also really into game development; I’ve been making games as a hobby for years now. Come talk to me about literally anything, I’m really looking forward to seeing all of you at Sigma this year!

Lev Bershadsky

Graduate Student, NYU 

Lev goes to NYU and was a member of the Harvard Undergraduate Aeronautics club. He has attended Sigma camp as a camper 3 times and was counselor before. Lev was a member of his high school's competitive roblox team, and he participated in Quiz Bowl, math teams, and Science Olympiad. Other than STEM, Lev enjoys tennis, sailing, and environmental advocacy. During his time at Sigma he ran a workshop that taught people how to fly quadcopters and build rocket engines. 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 and destroy the patriarchy.

Max Strey

Undergraduate Student, Cooper Union 

Hello! I have been at Sigma Camp since 2014 as a camper. I just finished my first year of college at Cooper Union in New York. I am majoring in electrical engineering with a minor in computer science. My passions include physics, robotics, and history. I love outdoor sports such as soccer, tennis, and hiking, but I also love ping-pong and rock climbing. I am very excited to be a part of the camp this year and am eager to meet you all!

Gleb Aminov

Graduate student, Stony Brook University 

This is going to be my first year of SigmaCamp and I'm very excited to join this wonderful community! I'm studying theoretical physics at YITP in Stony Brook. My current research interests are mathematical physics, phenomenological string theory and a bit of black-hole perturbation theory. I practice a very hands-on approach and like to use programming as a way to tackle some hard mathematical problems. In my spare time I like to stay active (strength training, BJJ) and sometimes cooking. I did play some musical instruments in the past, including cello and drums (hopefully I will do it again in the future).

Sanjana Rao

Undergraduate student, University of Chicago 

Hi! This is my first year at Sigma, and I’m super excited to meet you all! I’m a rising senior studying biology and neuroscience at the University of Chicago. I do research in tissue engineering and cancer research labs, and I also love photography and history (especially ancient civilizations and mythology)!

Tim Pinkhassik

Undergraduate Student, University of California, Berkeley 

I've been coming to Sigma Camp since 2016. I really enjoy chemistry, and I am also interested in electrical engineering. My undergraduate research is in organometallic chemistry, particularly in the chemistry of iridium catalysis. In my free time, I play piano, guitar, and balalaika. I also enjoy cooking. I can’t wait to meet everyone this year!

Nikita Khesin

Undergraduate Student, Waterloo University

Hey! I'm a Mechanical Engineering student at UWaterloo. I have been at Sigma since the third year that it ran, and I've loved 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 and finding creative solutions to clever problems. 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 always, I'm really excited to see you all at camp this year!

Mark Shapiro

High School Student