Our community

Agnes Chavez

How can the merging of art, science and technology develop empathy and new approaches to humanitarian and ecological challenges?

Agnes Chavez is an interdisciplinary artist and educator whose work integrates art, science and technology as tools for social and environmental change. Her work integrates data visualization, light, sound and space to create sensorial experiences that seek balance between nature and technology.  She is the founder of STEMarts Lab, which delivers sci-art installations and STEAM programming for schools, art/science organizations and festivals. STEMarts Lab produces the STEMarts Curriculum Tool, an online platform that complements sci-art festivals and events with STEAM teacher resources built around the work of curated artists. She has developed STEAM programs for ATLAS@CERN, Scholastic, 516 Arts, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and for the ISEA2012 electronic arts festival. In 2014 she co-founded The PASEO outdoor participatory art festival in Taos New Mexico, whose mission is to transform community through art and art through community. She developed the SUBE, Language through Art, Music & Games program, now in its 24th year, which won her numerous awards including the “Educational Innovation in the Americas” (INELAM) award and the New Mexico Women in Technology Award. Agnes is a mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

(Download Agnes Chavez CV)

Albert Kao

Albert Kao is currently a Baird Scholar and Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute.

Prior to SFI, Albert spent three years at Harvard University as a James S. McDonnell postdoc fellow. He was awarded his Ph.D. in 2015 from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, under the supervision of Prof. Iain Couzin, and received his A.B. in Physics with an emphasis in Biophysics from Harvard College in 2007.

Using a range of experimental and theoretical tools, Albert Kao studies the mechanisms and adaptiveness of collective behavior across biological systems, including slime molds, fish schools, ant colonies, and human groups. He is particularly interested in collective decision-making, and how features of animal groups, or the environment in which they live, affect the quality of these decisions.  His research web site has more information about specific projects. Albert 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.

Amanda Truitt

Amanda Truitt is a researcher at Los Alamos National 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.

Amanda Ziemann

Amanda Ziemann is a research scientist in the Space Data Science and Systems Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Her main areas of research are data science and signal detection, primarily applied to multispectral and hyperspectral remote sensing of the earth. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, a master’s degree in Applied and Computational Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Imaging Science, all from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her most recent research has focused on data fusion using remote sensing imagery along with non-traditional data streams (like social media and weather) for applications ranging anywhere from mosquito-borne disease forecasting to national security. Amanda is a lecturer at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Ameeta Agrawal

Dr. Ameeta Agrawal is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University. Dr. Agrawal’s primary areas of research include natural language processing, machine learning, and computational social science.

Her current work focuses on unsupervised learning, fairness in computational models, affect analysis (e.g., sentiment, emotion and sarcasm) and knowledge graphs. She is also interested in exploring real-world applications of her research, and some of her recent projects include analyzing early indicators of population displacement and covid-19 patterns from social media data. Dr. Agrawal is the director of the NLP lab at Portland State University, and she received her MSc. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from York University in Canada. Ameeta Agrawal is a mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research in Portland.

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.

Bart Massey

Bart Massey’s research interests are quite broad, but all contain an emphasis on open source technology development and software engineering. Some of his research is around applications of search and machine learning in autonomous systems, planning and scheduling, and one- and two-player games.

Bart received a B.A. in Physics from Reed College, worked in the TV Measurement Systems group at Tektronix as a DSP programmer and a systems, languages, and tools expert. He then received as M.S. in Computer Science from University of Oregon, working in concurrent logic programming language implementation. He then was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon Computational Intelligence Research Laboratory.

Bart has also been involved in the development of the X Window System, and in the Portland State Aerospace Society, taking a strong interest in advanced amateur avionics.

Bart is a mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research in Portland.

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.

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.

Grant Meadors

Grant David Meadors is a Research Scientist in the Space Data Science and Systems group in Los Alamos National Laboratory.  On his way to Los Alamos:

After a Senior Reactor Operator license and 2008 BA from Reed College, Grant earned his 2014 PhD in physics from the University of Michigan. His research included a LIGO Fellowship on filtering noise using feedforward subtraction and helping build a quantum-optical squeezer, alongside outreach at the World Science Festival & LaserFest. He also was a data-analysis challenge winner. A 2015-2017 postdoc at AEI Hannover (the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics) yielded computational acceleration and statistical improvements to frequentist searches for continuous gravitational waves from binary neutron stars. A 2018-2019 Monash University postdoc in Australia contributed to Bayesian inference, while serving on the OzGrav Early Career Researcher and Equity & Diversity Committees. He was an internal reviewer for LIGO Scientific Collaboration analyses and is a coauthor on almost a hundred publications.

Before joining his current group in Los Alamos, Grant worked in the Computational Physics division, with work ranging from bringing software carpentry and the diversity working group to the division, to theoretical biology, to particle-filter optimization of solar-wind physics models from NASA, and inertial confinement fusion.

Grant is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Helena Miton

Helena’s research agenda approaches culture as an emergent effect of human everyday life. It aims to understand how individuals interact to produce, organize and transmit cultural systems. Aiming to redefine how we study culture, her research program includes both theoretical advances and empirical case studies. She studies cultural evolution using data from human and social sciences, with a strong emphasis on cognitive science. She plans on investigating how characteristics of small-scale interactions can impact cultural productions at larger scales, in the context of both technical knowledge and economic practices. 

In her previous works, she has reviewed cultural transmission experiments in an attempt to bridge back these experiments and the theoretical constructs they aim to test, tested hypotheses on how maladaptative medical practices (e.g., bloodletting) can thrive, and on how complexity evolves in graphic communication systems (e.g., heraldry, writing).

Helena received her PhD in Cognitive Science from the Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). Prior to that, she earned a M.S in Cognitive Science from the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and Paris Descartes University, and a B.A. in Sociology from Paris Sorbonne University.

Ignacio (Nacho) de la Higuera

Nacho de la Higuera is a research scientist in the Extreme Virus Lab, in the Portland State University biology department. His research interests include the evolution and structure of cruciviruses and viruses of extremophilic archaea. His major interest is to understand the origin and evolution of life, and how virus are involved in this process.

Nacho de la Higuera holds bachelor’s degrees from Swansea University and the Universidad de Granada, a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and a PhD in molecular biology from the Universitad Autonoma de Madrid. Nacho is a mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research in Portland.

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.

Jerawan Armstrong

Jerawan Armstrong is a research scientist in the Monte Carlo group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is an MCNP (Monte Carlo N-Particle) transport code developer. Her research focuses on developing algorithms and computational codes for radiation transport applications. Jerawan received her PhD in Mathematics from Virginia Tech. Jerawan is a 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.

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.

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.

Leif C. Rasmussen

Leif C. Rasmussen serves as the general counsel to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Previously, Leif respectively clerked for judges and a justice on the New Mexico Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Before returning home to New Mexico, Leif worked at the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the American Chamber of Commerce-China (AmCham China) in Beijing, and the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Leif is a graduate of the University of Southern Denmark, where he received a bachelor degree in Commercial Law and Business Administration and received credit toward a master’s degree in International Security and Law.  He completed his Juris Doctor at Vermont Law School.

Leif is generally interested in understanding how constitutional interpretation, legislative acts, or regulatory schemes cause systemic risk in various environments (economic, ecological, social, etc.) by operation of law.

Leina Gries

Leina Gries is a 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 and alumna of the Institute for Computing in Research.

Mark Galassi

Mark Galassi is an astrophysicist 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 chair 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.

Melanie Mitchell

Melanie Mitchell is the Davis Professor of Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute, and Professor of Computer Science (currently on leave) at Portland State University. Her current research focuses on conceptual abstraction, analogy-making, and visual recognition in artificial intelligence systems. Melanie is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly papers in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and complex systems. Her book Complexity: A Guided Tour (Oxford University Press) won the 2010 Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award and was named by Amazon.com as one of the ten best science books of 2009. Her latest book is Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). Melanie is a lecturer and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

Michal Kucer

Michal Kucer received his BS in Microelectronic Engineering and Applied Mathematics from the Rochester Institute of Technology (2014), and his PhD in Imaging Sciences at RIT (2020). He is currently a Postdoctoral researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory working on problems in computer vision, image retrieval, and machine learning. His doctoral work focused on development of methods for predicting the aesthetic value of images and composition ranking with its application to image enhancement. His broader interests include various topics in Computer Vision, Remote Sensing and Machine Learning. Michal previously completed internships at the LANL in ISR-3 group working on target and anomaly detection, and with Naver Labs Europe working on semantic fashion understanding and fashion image retrieval.

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.

Mohit Dubey

Mohit Dubey is a physicist, computer scientist and musician with wide-ranging research interests. He holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and music performance from Oberlin College and a master’s degree in classical guitar performance from Universitat d’Alacant in Spain. Mohit currently writes software for the startup Motifai company which develops music education software company, and teaches science at his alma mater, the New Mexico School for the Arts. You can learn more about Mohit from his musical web site at http://mohitdubeymusic.com/

Mohit Dubey is a mentor and 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 and mentor at the Institute for Computing in Research.

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.

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 a co-founder and 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.”