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Our Team


Our Founders

Richard Rusczyk

Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard is the author or a co-author of 7 AoPS textbooks and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.

Glen Dawson

In 2014, Glen founded a learning center in Morrisville, North Carolina, that two years later became the first AoPS Academy campus. Glen served as the National Director of AoPS Academy until his retirement in 2019. He has experience as a college math professor, statistician, and expert SAS programmer. He has been a professional math tutor for many years, and specializes in training academically-advanced and high-performing math students. Glen is a graduate of Duke University and holds a graduate degree in statistics from Boston University.

David Patrick

Dave joined AoPS in 2004. He is the author or a co-author of 4 AoPS textbooks. Dave earned the sole perfect score on the American High School Mathematics Examination (AHSME) in 1988 and was a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner that year. He attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) in 1987, and the Math Olympiad Summer Program in 1988, where he first met fellow student Richard Rusczyk. He also finished in the top 10 on the Putnam exam in 1991. Dave graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1992 with a BS in Mathematics/Computer Science and an MS in Mathematics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1997. He was an acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington from 1997 to 2001. Dave is originally from Western New York and is an alumnus of the SUNY Buffalo Gifted Math Program.


Directors

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Matthew Heid

Matthew Heid Campus Director

Matthew is the Campus Director at AoPS Academy Mountain View. He has known Art of Problem Solving since his high school days. During school, he participated in the American Mathematics Competitions and used contest math to deepen his understanding of different topics. He went to the University of Washington for undergrad, where he received a BA in Math. He has also received an MA in Education from UC Berkeley and an MA in Mathematics from SF State. He has always loved teaching mathematics, and he has taken on roles to guide and mentor students throughout his academic career. Matthew joined AoPS Academy in 2021 as an Associate Director at the Santa Clara campus. In 2022, he helped open AoPS Academy Fremont. When he is not doing math, Matthew loves doing crossword puzzles, playing bridge, and baking cupcakes.

Portia Whiteted

Portia Whiteted Associate Director

Portia is an Associate Director for AoPS Academy Mountain View. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in political science and a teaching credential from SFSU, Portia began her career in education by teaching history and English in the US and China. Returning to the Bay Area to be closer to family, she spent seven wonderful years as an elementary school teacher and a director of a learning program for neurodiverse students. After obtaining a nursing degree, she worked in small villages in Cambodia and Nicaragua and loves serving her global and local communities through healthcare and education. Her primary goal teaching children is to build their confidence by giving them the tools they need to succeed because with every success, they become eager to tackle new goals and challenges. In her free time, she loves going on hikes, playing board games, and traveling, but her favorite thing to do is spend time with her niece, the silliest and smartest girl she knows!

Kristen Kaliski

Kristen Kaliski Associate Director

Kristen is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Mountain View. She has a passion for teaching and loves to learn. She earned her bachelor’s degree from New Hampshire College in business communication and then embarked on a long career as a freelance STEM editor for academic publishers. Freelance work allowed her to volunteer extensively in her sons’ activities, which led to a career as a teacher. She has taught all levels of math and language arts, middle school history, and elementary science and cannot choose a favorite subject because she likes them all. She is an experienced math circle instructor and recently started a middle school STEM club as a community service. She believes in empowering students and building their self-confidence. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her sons and friends, cooking and baking, walking her dog, reading, and volunteering.


Instructors

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Dr. Catharine Alvarez

Dr. Catharine Alvarez

Mathematics is an enduring passion for Catharine, who was a math major as an undergraduate and minored in physics. She continued her math studies, earning a Ph.D. in applied mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. Catharine loves sharing the joys of mathematics with students and is a highly experienced professional tutor. She has also worked as a math coach and instructor for various online course providers and has experience with classroom teaching as a volunteer math lab coordinator at Warwick Elementary School and as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When she is not scribbling solutions to math problems on her phone notepad, Catharine enjoys riding her bicycle on the Bay Trail and taking photos of her pet plecostomus, Hoover.

Dr. Izhak (Zachi) Baharav

Dr. Izhak (Zachi) Baharav

Dr. Baharav earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He worked in tech as a researcher, manager and Chief Technology Officer. He holds more than 30 issued US patents, published over 40 scientific papers and book chapters, and is a distinguished lecturer and a senior member of the IEEE. Dr. Baharav's experience as a teacher spans the gamut from being an engineering professor to high school teacher. He especially enjoys exploring new subjects with students. His teaching style combines an emphasis on basic principles together with a strong belief in the value of reflection and contemplation. Dr. Baharav enjoys the outdoors, is an avid runner (100 mile runs), and when not running/reading/drawing, he can often be found enjoying a game of chess.

Thomas Cai

Thomas Cai

Ever since he was a child, Thomas has enjoyed solving math problems. For that reason, he got a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from UC Berkeley and a master's degree in mathematics from SJSU. During that time, he found that the only thing he likes more than doing math is talking about math! He loves talking through problems with students and hearing their thought processes. In his free time, he likes to play strategy games, especially obscure turn-based strategy games. He is a top ranked player in Prismata.

Dr. Pete Dunten

Dr. Pete Dunten

Pete loves learning new math and teaching and tutoring local students. His favorite thing is when his students persevere in solving hard math problems! Pete has a PhD in biochemistry from UC Berkeley and specialized in X-ray crystallography, a field that took him deep into applied math. Pete enjoys the ways that math is elegant as well as interesting and spends his free time tracking local birdlife and visualizing the data from his observations using graphs and histograms.

Jing Ge

Jing Ge

Jing deeply believes in the power of language. When she was young, she extensively read different genres of literature and wrote essays as part of her daily routine. She also has an engineering soul. In her college, she studied computer science and obtained a master's degree at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. She then worked as a software engineer for six years. Over the years, she realizes that no matter how things have changed externally, she can always find inner peace and solace in literature and writing. She has continued to read and write and attend creative writing workshops. She loves discussing writing pieces and literature with others, which is what brought her to AoPS as a language arts instructor. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring wild nature, exercising, and spending time with her loved ones.

Sierra Gordon

Sierra Gordon

Sierra Gordon is enthused about teaching Language Arts with AoPS Academy; she recently joined in the summer of 2022 with over 10 years experience working with children and 5 years teaching experience. She graduated with her degree in psychology with an emphasis on child development. She is passionate about teaching elementary ages so much so that she is currently teaching a group of fourth graders whom she also taught 3rd grade humanities to last year! Her life passion has become fostering young minds above their capabilities and helping those under grade level reach above grade level. As exciting hobbies, she enjoys building famous Lego structures as well as cooking and writing. However, some of the most cherished time spent is with her two children, Alexa and Eli and their 2 year old cat, Zara.

Erin Hamson

Erin Hamson

Erin has always loved math. Her math love lead her to a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University in Utah. While she worked on her bachelor's, Erin joined a study abroad program in Peru where she used her knowledge to teach others how to solve their everyday problems. After earning her degree Erin started working as a manufacturing engineer, but that spark from teaching others eventually led her to a master's degree in teaching from the University of California, Irvine. After 4 years of teaching elementary school, Erin is now teaching middle school math during the day and AoPS students at night! When she's not teaching, Erin can usually be found in a different state or country. Erin is now over halfway to visiting every state in the USA!

Katrina Hough

Katrina Hough

Katrina discovered her passion for education when she was just ten years old serving as a volunteer teaching assistant at the pre-school across the street from her childhood home. Her love for teaching continued as she got to pursue additional opportunities for teaching like the Peninsula Bridge Program. Ultimately, Katrina hopes to encourage curiosity and empathy in her students so they can be well-rounded learners. In addition to teaching, Katrina works as a clinical research coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School where she seeks to provide care and social opportunities to the geriatric population. She has degrees in both English and neurobiology from the University of California, Irvine. When she isn’t working, Katrina loves to read (or re-read) classic novels, bake cookies, and knit scarves for her loved ones.

Indrani Kar

Indrani Kar

Indrani is passionate about English literature and loves to share her literary ideas with young inquisitive minds. She started teaching while she was pursuing her master's degree in English literature in Kolkata, and spent a year as a guest lecturer of English in Oxford School of Management, Bangalore. After earning teaching credentials from Bangalore University where she was a university rank holder, she worked as a high school teacher in a reputed institution in Bangalore and a member of CISCE evaluators team. Here in California, she is working as an English language instructor in various learning centers in the Bay Area.

Traptilisa Kumar

Traptilisa Kumar

Traptilisa’s greatest passion in life is teaching math and science. Her interest in teaching stems not just from her commitment to quality education, but also her desire to enrich the lives of students. She has been tutoring and teaching middle school to college-level students for 14 years in various settings – tutoring small and large groups, individual private tutoring, and teaching in classroom settings. She is currently adjunct physics faculty at Foothill College, Los Altos. Her background includes a BS in mathematics, a master’s degree in physics from India and an MS in physics from San Jose State University. Outside the classroom, she likes to solve math puzzles and enjoys hiking and spending time with her son.

Kendra Lafond

Kendra Lafond

Kendra loves the concreteness and creativity of math, and she enjoys engaging with students who also love exploring and understanding new concepts. She is a preschool teacher in Santa Clara going on her third year, but she has her bachelor’s degree in child life psychology, and is currently working on her master’s degree in counseling abnormal psychology. She has worked as a math tutor for two years, teaching bundling to kindergarteners all the way up to exponential equations and pre-trigonometry to 8th graders. Her favorite thing about working with younger students is creating a safe environment for them to learn and explore new, and sometimes hard, concepts. The look of accomplishment on their faces when they are able to apply what they’ve learned to their own work, nothing beats that! In her spare time, she loves singing with the worship team at her church and eating lots of poke.

Huy Lam-Vu

Huy Lam-Vu

Huy has a passion for mathematics that he's been eager to share with students for over ten years. As a dedicated math teacher, Huy strives to bring math to life in the classroom, fostering love for numbers, problem-solving, and critical thinking among his students. Huy holds a bachelor's and a master’s degree in mathematics from California State University: East Bay. His educational background has equipped him with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively communicate mathematical concepts in a relatable and engaging manner. His teaching philosophy is centered on the belief that every student can succeed in mathematics. Huy is committed to creating a positive learning environment where students feel supported and encouraged to ask questions and explore mathematical ideas. Huy firmly believes that understanding the “why” behind mathematical principles is just as important as mastering “how”. When not teaching, Huy enjoys solving math problems and reading mathematics literature. For relaxation, he enjoys watching and playing chess games. His favorite chess streamer is Hikaru Nikamura. For games, Huy likes to play League of Legends. At his peak, he was a Master Ranked Solo Queue player; right now, he is an average Diamond Ranked player.

Uma Sridevi Nadiminti

Uma Sridevi Nadiminti

Uma has been very passionate about teaching since her childhood. Inspired by her father who was a high school math and science teacher, she used to tutor her peers in school and college. Uma was a valedictorian in high school and university, and always loved math and math riddles. She earned a master’s degree in materials science and metallurgical engineering from IIT Kanpur and has research experience in computational modeling of materials from IIT Bombay. She worked as an Assistant Professor in College of Engineering Pune, India, where she taught engineering undergraduates. She is also a home educator for her homeschooling kid. She believes in student-centered pedagogy and nurturing critical thinking & analytical skills. Uma is a trained Indian Carnatic singer and enjoys singing, writing stories, photography and biking. She also does volunteering in schools and non profit organizations whenever possible.

Lisa Ni-Lewis

Lisa Ni-Lewis

Lisa was amazed at the simplicity behind complexity in mathematics when she was a kid. After obtaining a PhD in computer science, she worked for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for over 10 years as a software researcher and developer. Her research has mainly involved mathematics, statistics, and advanced algorithms in computer science. The last project she has worked on in the tech industry is deep learning-based 2D and 3D perception for self driving cars. In the past few years, her interest has shifted to the financial industry and equity analysis. Most recently, after she tutored her 9 year old son, she learned that she loves to teach math, especially competitive math, to kids. When she is not working, she likes reading, exercising, and traveling.

John Pelias

John Pelias

John loves mathematics so much that he has been doing it as a profession his whole life! He has a master's degree and is currently finishing his doctorate degree in mathematics at UC Santa Cruz (where he also teaches). He studies geometry and topology, particularly geometric concepts and techniques that are inspired by physics. He loves studying and teaching "hard but awesome" mathematics, like topology! (By the way, topology is the branch of mathematics where a coffee mug and a donut are considered the same shape!) He also loves understanding and teaching the motivations and history of concepts, because doing so helps us remember them. When John isn't doing mathematics, he likes to play table tennis, play board or word games, talk about philosophy with his friends, sit by the beach while reading a novel, play the piano, pet random dogs at the park, watch anime, or cook.

Dr. Dok Rupnik

Dr. Dok Rupnik

Dr. Rupnik has a doctorate in public health and a master’s in psychology from Capella University. He also has substantial education in medical anthropology. He is an accredited ESL instructor and has taught English language skills in the classroom setting in Indonesia as well as online to students in Japan and China. As a Doctor of Public Health, Dok traveled to Asia to study the effects of Ramadhan prayer and fasting on tobacco use and to conduct ethnographic research on traditional Indonesian healing and medicine. Having made presented his research to the American Anthropological Association, the National Council on Tobacco or Health and other scientific organizations, he knows how important language arts skills are in effectively comprehending and sharing important information. Teaching these skills to others is his passion and he is excited to be part of the AoPS instructor cadre.

Our family regularly talks about AoPS. We try to think about how our life would be different without you all. What if my daughter hadn't learned to love math? What if she never experienced being pushed to her limits? Overcoming failure? She wouldn't be who she is. And she is AWESOME! A very proud mom here. We are so fortunate that we found AoPS Academy. I credit AoPS for much of her confidence.

Kelly B.,

AoPS Academy parent to 16-year-old engineering major at UW and future cancer researcher