Staff

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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.

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Hugh Zhang

INSTRUCTOR

Hugh is a SPARC 2014 alumni. He is now a graduate student in game theory at Harvard University, where he studies how to use game theory to design better machine learning algorithms. In his spare time, Hugh enjoys writing, playing Go, and climbing buildings.

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Eric Neyman

INSTRUCTOR

Eric is a PhD student at Columbia studying theoretical computer science. He loves building mathematical and statistical models to understand language, politics, social dynamics, and other facets of the world. In his free time, Eric enjoys writing about his thoughts and solving puzzles.

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Neel Nanda

INSTRUCTOR

Neel is an AI Interpretability researcher, currently taking a Sabbatical. He most recently worked at Anthropic on language model interpretability, and previously did research with DeepMind, UC Berkeley and the University of Oxford. Before this, he came top of his year in the Cambridge maths undergraduate degree, and earned two gold medals representing the UK in the International Maths Olympiad

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Lulie Tanett

INSTRUCTOR

Lulie was home-educated, and now lives in Oxford where she works on applied epistemology. Her main interests are philosophy, the psychology of how to get unstuck and flourish, non-coercive education and parenting, and art. She is currently in teacher training for Alexander Technique – an embodied mindfulness technique that has implications for rational thinking and enhanced agency.

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Damon Sasi

INSTRUCTOR

Damon is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author of Pokemon Rational Fiction, and teacher at various camps and workshops. 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.

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Sicong Shen

INSTRUCTOR

A programmer by default, Sicong is on break from work to deepen his interests in applied psychology and spirituality. He enjoys inquiring around issues of self-understanding, believing that a lack of it is often a primary bottleneck to people's growth and development. As he learns interesting things, he tries to write about them. Sicong is a former USAMO contestant and SPARC alum, and studied math and computer science at MIT.

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David Girardo

INSTRUCTOR

David did cancer research at Broad, data security research at Lincoln Lab and boutique security firms, and cybernetics research supported by individual grants. He cofounded New Science and spends much of his time striving to foster robust epistemic institutions. He enjoys being off-grid for extended periods.

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David Yu

LOGISTICS LEAD

David is currently doing research in scalable collaborative cultures – how we can design better ecosystems for humanity to solve 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 is currently interested in information theory, complexity theory, and philosophy.