Faculty 2023

Check back later for a more complete list.

Adam D. Smith

Professor, Department of Computer Science, Boston University

Adam is a computer scientist at Boston University, where he is a founding member of the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences. His areas of research include cryptography and information privacy. He is known, along with Cynthia Dwork, Frank McSherry, and Kobbi Nissim, as one of the co-inventors of differential privacy, for which he won the 2017 Gödel Prize and the 2021 Paris Kanellakis Award. When at Sigma, he can be found juggling and marveling at the campers' talent, curiosity and enthusiasm.

Alex Frenkel

PhD Student, Stanford University

I am currently a grad student studying quantum gravity and string theory, primarily based at Stanford University but also spending a lot of time at the University of Cambridge in the UK. My primary research interests are in how the fabric of spacetime emerges from strongly interacting chaotic quantum systems, and in the nature of black hole microstates within these systems. At Sigma this year I will teach two semilabs - one on Cosmology (the study of the history and eventual fate of our universe) and one on black holes and how we think about them from both a classical and a quantum perspective.

I am always very approachable, especially if you want to chat about physics or hear me rant about tennis :-)

Alexander "Shurik" Kirillov

Professor, Stony Brook University, Department of Mathematics

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.

Alexander Galkin

Associate Professor

Dr. Galkin received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 2001 at Moscow State University and completed postdoctoral studies at Frankfurt University and University College London. In 2009 he established his research group at Queens University Belfast, UK. In 2017 he moved to the US and currently he is an Associate Professor in Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Galkin research lab studies the energy metabolism and mechanistic details of cellular injury during cardiovascular diseases or neurodegeneration.

Alina Aminova

UX/UI Designer and Art Educator

I earned my Master's degree in Architecture from Moscow State University of Civil Engineering and worked as an architect for seven years participating in residential, recreational, and urban development projects. Recently, I pivoted my career to Interface and User Experience Design, following my passion for design, technology, and real-world problem-solving. In addition to my professional pursuits, I also teach art to children from first to third grade at SchoolNova. This role allows me to share my love of creativity with the next generation and inspire them to express themselves through art. In my spare time, I enjoy biking, beachcombing, and taking pictures of accidental art.

Anar Amgalan

Postdoctoral scholar, University of Southern California

Anar is a neuroscientist. His background in physics and mathematics helps him solve computational problems arising in human brain at scales from a single neuron to the entire brain network. He also tries to predict what will happen to our brains as we age. In the past, he taught the Codes and Ciphers semilab. This year he will be teaching a semilab on games and how to play your best against the best possible opponent.

Arina Nikitina

Postdoc at UC Santa Barbara

It is going to be my first Sigma as Doctor Nikitina. Overall, it is actually my 10th season! For the last five years, my research has been connected with human stem cells. After spending a PhD growing beating heart tissue in a dish, I decided to pivot towards growing tiny brains in a dish, and it only got more exciting! Apart from growing human tissue in the lab I do biological data analysis, play guitar, sing and dance a lot!

Elena Yakubovskaya

Research Scientist, School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Stony Brook University

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-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, and various spectroscopic methods. However, during her work, Lena came to the conclusion that even the most sophisticated device does not make you smarter: Despite the stunning technological progress, humans’ own brains are still their most powerful tool. The thing Lena likes the most is the company of intellectually 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. We are inviting you to become a part of our community!

Helmut H. Strey

Associate Professor at Stony Brook University

Director of the Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnologies (https://you.stonybrook.edu/streylab/) 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) micropatterning techniques for single-cell studies, 2) study of gene circuit dynamics using probabilistic modeling, 3) developing software to simulate the human brain (Neuroblox.org). 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, Chess and Table Tennis.

Jaime Ide

AI Research Engineer at Lockheed Martin & Associate Research Scientist at Yale University

Intelligence from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and received his training in MR imaging at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Broadly, he is interested in the application of Bayesian methods, computational modeling, and machine learning in cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, and decision-making, as well as in real-world predictive and reinforcement learning problems (autonomous vehicles). He is passionate about robotics, chess, and table tennis.

Lilia Frenkel

ADS Fellow, American Data Solutions, Atlanta GA

Lilia Frenkel is a lead software developer at ADS (American Data Solutions), working on the next generation of Interactive Manuals. New approaches in handling electronic instructions enable vendors (ranging from commercial airlines to medical professionals) to apply AI and Machine Learning methods to troubleshooting, automate maintenance, training, and facilitate business-to-business social networking using private communication hub. At SigmaCamp, Lilia hopes to excite campers  with building fully customizable smart house models using MicroPython, and setting up a local server/network that enables communication between these models without relying on the internet.  Lilia loves to play chess, ping-pong, hike and .. work on IoT projects.

Mark Lukin

Researcher. Stony Brook University and VA Hospital

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.

Natalia Ilina

Photographer, Green Ray Studio

Hello, I am Natalia, a portrait photographer on Long Island, New York and image creator for small business and service.

I proud to photograph SigmaCamp from 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.

Natasha Butkevich

Graduate Student at Stony Brook University

I am delighted to return to Sigma for my seventh year on the SigmaStaff, and ninth year overall. My academic interest falls at the intersection of marine science and microbiology - I split my time between studying marine vesicles and determining the key bacterial taxa and their contributions to chemoautotrophic and heterotrophic processes in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific oxygen minimum zone. Otherwise, I 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 abstract drawings, dancing, or training for the next spartan race. 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!

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.

Sofya Raskhodnikova

Professor, Department of Computer Science, Boston University

Sofya received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and computer science from MIT. She works in the areas of randomized and approximation algorithms and also data privacy. These areas are part of theoretical computer science. Before joining the faculty at Sigma, Sofya taught at Epsilon Camp and C.A.M.P. (Camp for Algorithmic and Mathematical Play). Her best memories of her childhood are from a math camp she attended in Belarus. As far as her hobbies go, recall that she works on privacy.