Our community

Amanda Truitt

Amanda Truitt is a researcher at Los Alamos Natioanl Laboratory and a professor of physics and director of the Planetarium at Santa Fe Community College. Amanda’s research interests include stellar evolution, planetary geology, astrobiology and habitable exoplanets. She has a bachelors degree in Astrophysics from the University of Oklahoma and a PhD in Astrophysics from Arizona State University. Amanda is a lecturer at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Ashley Teufel

Ashley Teufel is a biologist, computer scientist and mathematician at the Santa Fe Institute

All of biological life is the result of simple biochemical reactions and the diversity of life that we see today has been ~3.5 billion years in the making. Although, over most of this time the biosphere was dominated by prokaryotic and unicellular species. A dramatic shift in the complexity of life occurred ~0.55 billion years ago, and all the major groups of multicellular animals begin to appear in the fossil record. The goal of Ashley’s research is to uncover how the physio-chemical laws that govern all biochemical reactions led to the emergence and expansion of complex life. Using a combination of computational and theoretical approaches Ashley’s research is focused on the functional diversification of biological systems across multiple layers of organization. Thus far her research has centered on the evolution of proteins, duplicated genes, and metabolic pathways. In her future work, she plans to continue to study these molecular systems while also extending her work to examine how changing environments and ecological interactions further shape functional diversification.

Prior to joining SFI, Ashley was a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Integrative Biology. She holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from The University of Wyoming, and B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from New Mexico State University. Ashley is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Jason Schaefer

Jason Schaefer is the founder and owner of Schaefer IT Consulting, a high-end IT consulting business deeply rooted in free/open-source software. Jason also has a strong interest in security, privacy, and digital freedoms. Jason is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Ivan Pupulidy

Ivan Pupulidy applies his experience and research to operations in complex systems and high-risk environments, such as wildland firefighting, aviation, military and medicine. As a U.S. Forest Service Director, Ivan developed and implemented the Learning Review, which is a process designed to improve how large and small organizations respond to accidents and incidents. The Learning Review is centered on understanding and mapping systemic conditions that influence human actions.

Ivan’s ability to integrate academic research with real world application comes from his varied life experiences, which have included work as a mine geologist, exploration geophysicist, and a U.S. Coast Guard pilot for rescue and law enforcement missions. Ivan served in the U.S. Air Guard and Air Force Reserves, where he flew the C-130 Hercules, including missions as a Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) tanker pilot on wildland fires. He also served on active military operations for combat and humanitarian support in Iraq, Afghanistan and Central Africa.

Ivan earned a Master’s of Science degree in Human Factors and Systems Safety at Lund University, Sweden, under Professor Sidney Dekker. He completed his PhD in Social Science at Tilburg University, Netherlands. He now brings his academic credentials and real-world experiences to the University of Alabama as an Adjunct Professor.

Ivan is an international consultant and organizational coach who focuses on topics related to human factors, Organizational Culture, real-time risk perspectives, learning from events, organizational dialogue, development of high-leverage learning products, and the connection between resilience & high reliability organizing. He had the honor of being invited to the Obama Whitehouse for a discussion regarding Risk and Wildland fire operations.

Paige Prescott

Paige Prescott has been involved in Computer Science education for more than twelve years. As Executive Director of the newly formed Computer Science Alliance, she is interested in strengthening the community of people involved computer science education and to advocate on a state, district and local level to see more computer science offerings in New Mexico, especially to the underserved areas in rural and tribal communities.

She has been the President of the Computer Science Teachers Association of New Mexico (CSTA-NM) since 2015 and is pursuing a PhD in Learning Sciences at UNM where she is focusing on computer science education. Paige has trained over 500 teachers to bring computer science to their students K-8 through CS Fundamentals and CS in Science curriculum for Project GUTS. Paige is a co-founder of the Institute for Computing in Research.

Cathy Plesko

Cathy Plesko is a Research Scientist in Applied Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She uses the supercomputers there to study what happens when asteroids and comets hit a planet and how to prevent them from hitting Earth. She was a teenager when she became interested in asteroids and comets. Cathy was awarded her Ph.D. in Geophysics and Planetary Sciences in 2009. That was at UC Santa Cruz where she studied the effects that large asteroid and comet impacts had on the climate of Mars early in the history of the solar system. She has also studied asteroid impact mitigation, and uses those supercomputers to model how a nuclear explosion might deflect an asteroid just enough to miss our home planet. Cathy is a lecturer at the Institute for Computing in Research.

David Palmer

David Palmer received his PhD in Physics from the California Institute of Technology for gamma ray observations of Supernova 1987A from a balloon-borne telescope. Since then he has worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has worked on gamma ray astronomical spacecraft including Compton GRO, the TGRS instrument on WIND, and Swift. He was part of the initial proposing team on Swift, and developed the on-board scientific analysis software for its BAT instrument. He has since applied the skills learned with individual gamma ray photons to the optical regime, five orders of magnitude down in energy. David is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Henrik Olsson

Henrik Olsson is an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He
is a cognitive scientist studying decision making, judgment under
uncertainty, social cognition, categorization, and visual perception.
A recurrent theme in his research is the development of new
psychological theories and the use of formal mathematical models to
try to understand the underlying psychological processes. Another
theme is the ecological perspective. To understand adaptive behavior,
we must consider how the environment, social or physical, is
structured and how psychological processes exploit, or fail to
exploit, these structures. Henrik’s current work focuses on
understanding how properties of individual decision strategies and
social network structures affect group performance by connecting
research in social cognition and decision making with insights from
statistics and machine learning. Henrik is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Joann Mudge

Joann Mudge works on structural genomics, studying how genomes are organized and how genome structure affects gene expression, phenotypes, and genomic plasticity. Her main area of focus is in plant genetics, especially of nitrogen-fixing species in the bean and pea family (legumes). Her current projects include de novo sequencing, assembly and analysis of multiple genomes in Medicago truncatula and its relative, alfalfa. She also has a project on pangenomics algorithm development and is applying these algorithms to gain biological insights in multi-genome datasets, including Medicago truncatula. In addition, she works in the area of plant microbiomes, especially looking at plant/fungal interactions that buffer plant growth against abiotic stressors and implications for climate change. Joann has also worked in human genomics, playing a major role in the sequencing of the 6th ever human genome (of a Korean individual) and of female monozygotic twins discordant for multiple sclerosis. Joann is also dedicated to outreach and helping the upcoming generation to develop an interest in science. An NIH-supported project allows her to work with elementary and secondary education teachers to teach them about genomics and bioinformatics and to help them develop computer-based case studies for their classrooms. She also has an innovative high school intern program in which she works with high school students, teaching them about DNA sequencing and bioinformatics and helping them to develop case studies. She regularly visits schools and science fairs to teach and promote science. Joann is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Amanda Madden

Amanda Madden is a research physicist in the Space Science and Applications group in Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she works on neutron imaging and nuclear nonproliferation. Amanda has a PhD in physics from the University of New Hampshire and a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from SUNY Oneonta. When not doing scientific work Amanda plays the viola in the Eternal Summer String Orchestra and the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra, and spends as much time skiing as possible. Amanda is a lecturer at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Nicole Lloyd Ronning

Nicole Lloyd Ronning is a research scientist at the Center for Theoretical Astrophysics in Los Alamos and a professor at the university of New Mexico, Los Alamos. Nicole was awarded her PhD from Stanford University and has worked on gamma-ray bursts, studying their intrinsic properties as well as their role as cosmological probes. Nicole has been involved with the Swift satellite mission. Nicole also works extensively with outreach to young students and underrepresented groups in New Mexico and worldwide. Nicole is a lecturer at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Leina Gries

Leina Gries is a matriculating student at Pomona College, where she plans to study computer science and biology in pursuit of a career in computational biology. Leina has a strong interest in researching the connections between computing and the natural sciences and has been a co-developer of the “Serious programming – small courses” curriculum and textbook with Mark Galassi. A graduate of Santa Fe’s Desert Academy, Leina is the recipient of the Los Alamos National Laboratory foundation Gold Scholarship, and is also Desert Academy’s 2019 Valedictorian. When not doing scientific work, Leina can be found volunteering with an equine therapy program, dancing, tutoring, or caring for her many fish. Leina is a co-founder of the Institute for Computing in Research.

Mirta Galesic

Mirta Galesic is Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, External
Faculty at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, Austria, and
Associate Researcher at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the
Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. She
studies how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with properties of
the external environment to produce seemingly complex social
phenomena. In one line of research, she investigates how apparent
cognitive biases in social judgments emerge as a product of the
interplay of well-adapted minds and the statistical structure of
social environments. In another, she studies how collective
performance depend on the interaction of group decision strategies
and network structures. A third line of research investigates opinion
dynamics in real-world societies using cognitively-enriched models
from statistical physics. And, she studies how people understand and
cope with uncertainty and complexity inherent in many everyday
decisions. Mirta is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Mark Galassi

Mark Galassi is an astrophysicists and computer scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has worked on the HETE, HETE-2 and Swift satellites, as well as in Los Alamos’s nuclear non-proliferation effort and many other areas of space physics. Passionate about free/open-source software since 1984, he has contributed to the GNU project since then – most notably he designed and led the implementation of the GNU Scientific Library, and has consistently pressed for the use of free/open-source software in scientific research. He also is the chairman of the board of the Software Freedom Conservancy.

Raised in Italy studying classics, Mark then got his undergraduate degree in Physics from Reed College (1987), and his PhD in mathematical and computational physics from Stony Brook University (1992). He has been in Los Alamos ever since, except for a two-year sabbatical working for Cygnus (the first free/open-source software company, now part of Red Hat). Mark is a co-founder of the Institute for Computing in Research.

Ed Fenimore

Ed Fenimore received his PhD from the University of Chicago and spent his career at Los Alamos as an astrophysicist, mostly studying gamma-ray bursts, which are the birth of black holes and can be seen across the Universe, and the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Appointed a Laboratory Fellow in 1998, Fenimore has won the Los Alamos Distinguished Performance Award nine times as well as the Los Alamos Distinguished Mentor Award. He was a member of the 2007 team that won the Rossi Prize, the highest honor in high-energy astrophysics research. He was the lead LANL scientist on several satellites including the Swift satellite, launched by NASA in 2004 and still producing major scientific results. He currently splits his so-called retirement between working at Los Alamos, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and volunteering at elementary schools. Ed is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Jonathan Haack

Jonathan Haack is currently Adjunct Faculty at Santa Fe Community College, where he teaches Mathematics and Computer Science. Jonathan also gets a chance to apply these skills as a technology consultant at Schaefer IT Consulting. Jonathan serves on the Board of Directors for NM Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the NM Partnership for Math & Science Education, and Learning Through Horses. Jonathan has two children and is a happy husband. In his spare time, he jogs, hikes, backpacks, studies *nix and free software solutions, and writes/thinks about math, politics, philosophy,  technology, and more, on his personal wiki. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College Santa Fe, an M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction from New Mexico Highlands University, is a National Board certified teacher in mathematics, and is a doctoral candidate at UNM in Education Leadership. Jonthan is a lecturer at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Rhonda Crespo

Rhonda Crespo was raised in Kentucky and has lived in Santa Fe for more than twenty years. Upon hearing that there were classes without teachers she quit her job in banking and became a teacher. Rhonda earned her Bachelors degree from NMHU and Masters degree from NM Tech, with an emphasis in Environmental Geology. She is on the faculty of Monte del Sol Charter School, and has taught biology, chemistry, and computer science for seventeen years. She has actively sponsored winning students in Science Fair and the Supercomputing Challenge and was a Golden Apple Nominee in 2011. Rhonda is the program manager for the Institute for Computing in Research.


[…] said Gandalf. “And there are names among us that are worth more than a thousand mail-clad knights apiece. No, he will not smile.”