Faculty 2023

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.

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.

Michael Bershadsky


Michael Bershadsky got his PhD in physics from Princeton University in 1990. Immediately after this he came to Harvard University, where he was on the faculty at Physics Department until 2000. In 2000 he resigned from Harvard University and joined a private financial company. In January 2023 he resigned from the financial company. He is now studying biology.

Vicka Bershadsky


Vicka has a degree in Economics and Art History. She worked with numerous cultural organizations and was involved in various history, art, and anthropology programs. Victoria still spends a lot of time on arts and history. At SigmaCamp, Victoria wants to show a different angle of life by opening up the world beyond science.

Evgenii Boriushkin

Scientist at Topocan Therapeutics

Evgenii Boriushkin is originally from Russia where he earned both his MD and PhD degrees with a research interest in vascular biology, angiogenesis, and cancer metabolism. During his career, he works on hidden secrets of biology and applies this knowledge for the development of new therapies. At SigmaCamp, Evgenii will show how the understanding of nature helps to solve scientific and medical problems. In his free time, Evgenii enjoys soccer, volleyball, and hiking.

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!

Alexander Douglas

Graduate Student

I am a graduate student studying physics at Harvard. I work on cooling atoms to ultracold temperatures (10^-10 Kelvin) in order to observe behavior similar to electrons in insulators. In particular I work with magnetic atoms that quantum tunnel to move around and interact at distances like tiny bar magnets. These atoms can realize exotic states of matter such as crystals that flow without resistance, as well as other collective phenomena.

In my spare time I can usually be found playing with my cats or skiing.

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 :-)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Julia Kempe

Professor of Computer Science, Mathematics and Data Science at new York University

Julia has a PhD in Mathematics and Computer Science and MS degrees in Math and Physics. In the first decade of her research activity she has worked in quantum computation and information, studying algorithms for quantum computers. She has then worked nearly a decade finance before returning to academia, where she is now working at the interface of data science, machine learning and science, while directing NYU's Center for Data Science. Julia has been to Sigma camp twice so far as a guest lecturer on crypto and bitcoin, assisted by her daughter Emma.

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.

Sasha Kuznetsov

Art Program Coordinator

Sasha is a Brooklyn-based artist who has lived in the New York City area since age one, when his family came to the US from St. Petersburg, Russia. Since graduating from the Cooper Union in 2013 with a degree in Fine Arts, he has continuously worked part-time as an art and art history teacher, and he has experience teaching students of all ages from 3 years old to adult. Alongside teaching art, Sasha has held various full-time jobs including being an Art Handler and Installer at a large auction house, being a designer at a firm specializing in awards and trophies, and even working as a lead pre-K teacher. Currently, he works as a graphics designer and event coordinator and has been moving into the world of User Experience (UX) Design. Outside of work, Sasha is constantly trying to find ways to be creative and enjoys writing songs, making music, and designing games. He also gives museum tours at several NYC museums, primarily at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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.

Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi

Professor, Stony Brook University (Biomedical Engineering)

Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi is Director of the Laboratory for Computational Neurodiagnostics, Baszucki Endowed Chair of Metabolic Neuroscience, and Professor in Stony Brook University's Department of Biomedical Engineering. She also holds academic appointments in the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology, Program in Neuroscience, and Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Physics. In addition, she is Research Staff Scientist and Lecturer in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging).

Dr. Mujica-Parodi received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Georgetown University and Columbia University, respectively, studying mathematical logic and foundations of physics. After her Ph.D. (Niles G. Whiting Fellow), she completed an NIH Training Fellowship in Clinical Neuroscience at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was subsequently promoted to Assistant Professor there, where she performed research until being recruited by Stony Brook University. She is the recipient of the the National Science Foundation’s Career Award, the White House’s Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, and the Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award.

Dr. Mujica-Parodi’s research interests focus on the extension of control theory to allostatic regulation of neural circuits and their interactions with other physiological systems, in health and disease.

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!

Krerley Oliveira

Full professor at UFAL

Krerley Oliveira holds a BA, Master's and PhD in Mathematics specializing in Dynamical Systems and Ergodic Theory. He was elected an afiliated member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, founded the graduate program on Mathematics at the Federal University of Alagoas and mentored numerous students. He also played a pivotal role in the Mathematics Olympiad Program in Alagoas, nurturing young mathematical talents since 2003. With a background from math competitions, including leading the Brazilian Team at the IMO 2017, Krerley's expertise is widely recognized. Currently, they are spearheading research projects in Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision applied to justice, public purchases, analysis of medical records and the fight against corruption. These projects are sponsored by the Justice Court of Alagoas, TCE-SP and WHO. Outside the realm of mathematics and research, Krerley possesses a passion for triathlon. He has participated in 12 Ironman races and secured three drafts for the Brazilian national age group team at triathlon world championships.

Eugene Pinkhassik

Associate Professor, University of Connecticut

Eugene Pinkhassik graduated from Kazan State University in Russia and obtained his PhD in Chemistry in the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic. After a visiting scientist stay in Parma, Italy and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he began an independent faculty career. He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut. His research interests focus on making nanomaterials and nanodevices with new and superior properties to address current problems in energy-related technologies, medical imaging and treatment, and environmental sensing.

Boris Podobedov

Physicist, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Boris is an accelerator physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). He 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 colliders for high energy and nuclear physics research, or serve as light sources that provide powerful X-ray beams to researchers in many different fields of science. Having spent two decades working with light source accelerators at BNL and elsewhere, Boris recently joined the Electron-Ion Collider project at Brookhaven, which will be building the most powerful collider-accelerator in the US. 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 Sigma. For fun, he really enjoys fishing as well as playing ping-pong.

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.

Yuri Salkinder

Managing Director, Investment Banking Technology, Credit Suisse Securities (USA)

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.

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.

Nathan Anthony Smith

Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion for Research and Research Education, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr. Nathan A. Smith is the new Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in Research and Research Education and Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. His research focuses on neuroglia interactions, specifically exploring novel mechanisms by which neuromodulators mediate interactions between neurons, astrocytes, and microglia in both normal and disease states. His studies aim to reveal pathways suitable for manipulation to alter disease progression in the central nervous system using a combination of transgenic animals, electrophysiology, pharmacology, behavioral assays, and 2-Photon Ca2+ imaging. His program is supported by National Institutes of Health NINDS, National Science Foundation Frontiers, and the Department of Defense Army Research Awards.

Gabriella R. Sterne

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Genetics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr. Gabriella Sterne is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Genetics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. The overarching goal of her research is to understand how neural circuits generate and shape complex behaviors. Her lab uses feeding behavior in the fruit fly as a simple yet powerful model system. By combining advanced genetic tools, connectomics, optogenetics, imaging of brain activity in awake, behaving animals, and high-resolution behavioral analysis, her research will reveal general and fundamental principles about how neural circuits order, time, and remember feeding behavior. This is her first year at SigmaCamp, and she hopes that some of her enthusiasm for fruit flies and brains will rub off on all of you!

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.

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!