Staff

yan_edited.jpg
Yan Zhang

SPARC DIRECTOR

Yan is an assistant professor in mathematics specializing in combinatorics at San Jose State University, after receiving his PhD from MIT. He wants to help people everywhere become more human and awesome. He has mentored students at the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program (where he represented the U.S. at the International Mathematics Olympiad with a silver medal), RSI, and MIT-PRIMES. He received the Undergraduate Math Association’s Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award for his postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley.

yan_edited.jpg
Paul Christiano

INSTRUCTOR

Paul works at OpenAI, a non-profit AI research lab. His research focuses on communicating goals to AI systems. He recently finished a PhD at UC Berkeley in statistical learning theory, working on algorithms for quickly deciding who to trust in large networks. In 2008, he represented the U.S. at the International Mathematics Olympiad.

yan_edited.jpg
Damon Sasi

INSTRUCTOR

A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Damon writes Pokemon rational fiction by night. He’s a strong believer in the power of rationality to improve therapeutic practices, as well as stories as a catalyst for growth, and is working to combine all three in as many ways as possible.

yan_edited.jpg
Catherine Wu

INSTRUCTOR

Catherine is a product manager at Shopify, after studying applied math with a focus on neuroscience at Harvard University. Long term, she wants to learn what makes people tick — how humans behave on an individual and population level. Previously, she has taught at USABO, after winning a gold medal at the International Biology Olympiad. When not working, Catherine enjoys reading, social board games, and (recently) getting knocked down in Aikido.

yan_edited.jpg
Chelsea Voss

INSTRUCTOR

Chelsea works as a software engineer for Pilot.com. She studied computer science with a minor in mathematics at MIT, and enjoys doing deep dives into complexity theory, type theory, and biochemistry. During her master’s thesis research, she learned how to apply logical inference with SMT solvers to problems in systems biology. In the past, she has worked at Wave.com and Khan Academy, taught as an instructor at USABO and USACO, presented computational biology research at the Intel STS, and competed on the USA teams to the International Biology Olympiad and International Linguistics Olympiad.

yan_edited.jpg
David Yu

LOGISTICS LEAD

David researches scalable collaborative cultures – thinking about how we can design better ecosystems for humanity to thrive and solving some of the largest social-technical problems facing us today. In the past, he has spent 5 years in tech startups as a director of growth at one, and an anthropologist at another. He loves talking about how we learn, communicate, and relate to each other.