Faculty, Staff & Advisors


Matthew Bethancourt, Instructor, is an educator, composer, musician and interactive designer. His current work focuses on using external datasets for experimental electronic musical expression. Past work has touched on nostalgia, collaborative frameworks and innovative gestural controllers. He has taught audio production, sound synthesis, sound design, game design and development, web design, physical computing, and installation/performance with Max/MSP at various universities in New York City. He holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons the New School for Design.

August Black,Technologist in Residence, is an artist, engineer, and technologist. His past work focused on live networked audio, often mixing FM radio with user input through online software. His current interests include techno-politics, functional reactive programming, alternative web architectures, AI/machine learning, and building instruments for creative and technical expression. He holds a PhD in Media, Arts, & Technology from UCSB and is part of the web engineering team at Cycling ’74.

Laura Devendorf, Assistant Professor, explores relationships with technology and the poetics of technology that doesn’t quite work. She designs, develops, and studies interactive systems that leave room for the user to be challenged in order to provoke curiosity and enchantment with the everyday. She holds undergraduate degrees in Studio Art and Computer Science from UC Santa Barbara and a PhD from Berkeley’s School of Information. She continues to practice art in parallel with academic research.

Jill Van Matre Dupre, ATLAS Associate Director, conducts research on technology policy and legal issues surrounding digital content (particularly privacy and intellectual property law issues). Prior to working at ATLAS, she was a Research Fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado School of Law. University of Colorado School of Law, J .D.; member, Colorado Bar Association.

Mark D. Gross, Professor and ATLAS Director, has worked on intelligent computer aided design, virtual environments and design simulation, modular robotics and computationally enhanced construction kits and craft, tangible interaction design, sketch and diagram recognition, digital fabrication and more.  MIT Ph.D. 1986, BS. 1978.

Ian Hales, Instructor, is a graphic artist and designer who is currently an instructor at the University of Colorado, Boulder,in the Technology, Arts, & Media Program. Ian is a CU graduate from the School of Fine Arts who teaches courses focusing on digital art, 2D and 3D animation, new media design, as well as gaming and virtual societies. Ian’s work strives to push the standard conception of digital art and graphic design and establish new methods of conveying themes and ideas in visual mediums.

Arielle Hein, Instructor, is an artist, technologist, and educator whose work explores the imaginative use of emerging technologies and spans the fields of physical computing, interaction design and conceptual art. Drawing on a background in architecture, visual design, and a research-based creative practice, Arielle is passionate about the intersection of technology and human interaction. As an educator, her focus is on empowering students and communities through the exploration of interactive systems and the use of digital tools.

Kevin Hoth, Instructor, is a multimedia artist, commercial and fine art photographer, and photography/digital media educator. He has used traditional and digital photographic technologies creatively since 1995 and has exhibited photography, digital images, video, and solo performance work in over 70 exhibitions around the U.S. He has taught design, digital art, and photography at several universities and now teaches design and digital media studies at University of Colorado at Boulder.

Mustafa Naseem, Instructor, is a Pakistani educator, researcher and social entrepreneur whose interests lie at the intersection of technology, policy and entrepreneurship geared towards solving global development challenges. His recent work has focused on the use of ICT in Global Health, and Water and Sanitation (WASH) sectors. Prior to joining ATLAS, Mustafa was the founding Director of the Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL) in Lahore, Pakistan. He received his Master’s in ICTD from the ATLAS Institute, University of Colorado Boulder on a Fulbright Scholarship.

Aileen Pierce, Senior Instructor, has been with the Technology, Arts, and Media program at the University of Colorado at Boulder since 2004. Aileen teaches courses focusing on the intersection of technology and society, as well as the integration of programming into new media. Aileen holds a B.S. in Math/Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University. She spent nine years in Silicon Valley working at Oracle and two startups in product marketing and technical support before moving to Boulder.

David Schaal, Lead Multimedia Instructor,  is a digital artist showing work nationally and internationally and is currently the lead instructor for the TAM program. He received a BFA in Fine Art, a BA in Psychology, and an MFA in Integrated Art. He has developed and taught Technology Arts Media courses since its founding in 1998 as the first faculty hire in ATLAS. He is interested in all aspects of digital culture and media theory. He also serves on the steering committee for ASSETT, education director for the Communikey Festival of Electronic Arts, and as a board member for ICAS (International Cities for Advanced Sound).

Ben Shapiro, Assistant Professor investigates how to enable kids from diverse backgrounds to learn computer science through collaborative, creative expression and through the design of networked technologies to solve problems in their homes and communities. He received his PhD in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.

Joel Swanson, Assistant Professor,  is an artist and writer who is currently the Director of the Technology, Arts & Media Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He teaches digital art, media theory, and the history of design.  His art work is motivated by literary theory and exists as a series of installations, both real and virtual, that explore the nature of language and its embodiment. Swanson’s work has been shown in national and international venues. Research and teaching interests: digital art, digital media theory, design, typography. University of California at San Diego, M.F.A., 2005; University of Colorado at Boulder, B.F.A., 2002.

Dan Szafir, Assistant Professor, focuses on human-robot interaction (HRI) and human-computer interaction (HCI).  He studies the design and use of robots and related novel technologies, including brain-computer interfaces and virtual reality, with the goal of improving usability and outcomes such as learning and collaboration.   University of Wisconsin, Ph.D. 2015.

Michael Theodore, Associate Professor of Composition , creates large scale sound/art installations with roboticist Nikolaus Correll, has created a number of touring pieces with performance artist Michelle Ellsworth, is 1/2 of the electroaoustic “hardcore Americana” project Batteries Die with punk-folk artist Tim Eriksen, and released a recording with Glen Whitehead (Psychoangelo/Panauromni) that received a “Top Ten Classical Music Recordings of 2010” pick from Timeout Chicago.   


Ruscha Cohen, Graduate Programs Advisor, has a master’s in Counseling Psychology for CU Denver and holds a graduate certificate in Global Mental Health Trauma and Recovery from Harvard. Ruscha has been a part of ATLAS since 2011 and is focused on graduate program and curriculum development, as well as graduate student community building.

Hillary Faichnie, HR Liaison, has been a part of the CU community since 2006, first as a humanities and philosophy undergrad, then with the Office of Admissions and, now, she is thrilled to have joined ATLAS to support HR and serving as the graduate program assistant. In her free time, Hillary enjoys taking full advantage of all that CU has to offer, making the most of life in Colorado and coining bad portmanteaux.  

Alicia Gibb, BTU Lab Director, is founder and Executive Director of the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA), an organization to educate and promote building and using open source hardware.  She is a member of NYCResistor, where she has curated two international art shows. Her electronics work has appeared in Wired magazine, IEEE Spectrum, Hackaday and the New York Times.

Susan Glairon, Communications Specialist, assists with communications for ATLAS. Prior to joining the ATLAS team in January 2017, she worked in CU’s Office of Strategic Relations and as a project manager for a media nonprofit. Susan has also worked as a staff features writer for the Daily Camera and Longmont Times-Call, and she has written for a variety of newspapers and magazines as a freelancer. She holds a master’s in journalism from CU Boulder.

Stephen Hawthorne joined the CU Boulder advancement team in November 2014 as Senior Director of Development. He is responsible for raising private philanthropic support for the BioFrontiers, Engineering, Science & Technology (BEST) areas. Steve’s previous advancement experience includes serving as Director of Development for the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University and as Director of Major Gifts at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Steve is Founder of Vertical Runner, a group of specialty running stores located in Ohio and Colorado.

Dave Kalahar, TAM Advisor, has been employed at CU-Boulder since 1983.  Academic advisor for the last 25 years (14 with Aerospace Engineering Sciences; 11 with ATLAS).College of Engineering’s Outstanding Advisor Award, 1991, University of Colorado’s Outstanding Advisor Award, 1992, University of Colorado Athletics Department Advisor Award – 1995, Minority Engineering Program’s Appreciation Award, 1996, City of Longmont’s Phenomenal Umpire Award, 1996 & 1997, Aerospace Engineering Sciences Appreciation Award – 1999, ATLAS Award, 2009, Chancellor’s Employee of the Year Award, 2013.  

Bret Mann, Technical Manager and Broadcast Engineer for the ATLAS Center for Media, Arts and Performance (CMAP), works at the crossroads of art and technology. Besides his engineering duties, his background in music, videography, theater and broadcast/web television helps bridge student’s concepts to completion by using a collective approach to technology and the creative. University of Colorado, B.S. 1988. 

Gary McCrumb, Performance Production Manager, is CMAP’s lighting designer, audio engineer, tech crew mentor, and events manager for the ATLAS Black Box Experimental Studio. He schedules CMAP facilities, and creates performance production schedules. Prior to ATLAS, Gary managed the Performing Arts Center at Naropa University where he taught audio recording and production. An active professional audio engineer, Gary has engineered shows for touring artists at the Boulder and Fox Theaters, Chautauqua Auditorium, the eTown radio show, and summer music festivals with Planet Bluegrass. Gary lives in Lyons where he is designing and building a net zero energy house. BA Philosophy/Music, Trinity College 1991.

Betsy Noecker, Administrative Assistant, is the ATLAS front desk manager and event planner. Before joining ATLAS in April 2017, she worked as an administrative assistant in the Engineering Center on the CU Boulder campus. She is a Boulder native and CU graduate, obtaining a B.A. in journalism and astronomy in 2015. Outside of work she enjoys cooking and playing/singing classical music in local ensembles.

Sara Preston, Business Manager, has been part of the ATLAS accounting team since 2010. Having spent the first 10 years of her career in the computer industry, she enjoys being part of ATLAS’ unique program and enjoys seeing the technology change and grow. She is a CU alumni with her Bachelor Degree in Communication and her Master’s Degree in Accounting.

Marisa Reynolds, Academic Advisor, BS TAM, worked as a career counselor at CU-Boulder’s Career Services Dept. and served as an academic advisor at the Leeds School of Business before transitioning to ATLAS. She loves being an advisor and enjoys serving as a resource and sounding board for students as they make decisions related to their major and career aspirations. Marisa was born in Michigan but moved to beautiful Manitou Springs, CO when she was a teen. She graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor Degree in Communication and received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Regis University.

Nick Sutcliffe, Director of Communications,  oversees all aspects of outreach and communications for the institute. Prior to joining the ATLAS team in January 2015, he spent 13 years with the Colorado School of Mines, the majority working for the alumni association as editor of the alumni magazine, Mines, and director of communications. He also served as director of donor relations for the CSM Foundation and taught writing for the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies. He holds a BA in English and a master’s in English education from the University of Virginia. Outside his professional life, his overriding obsession is whitewater kayaking, and he’s also a regular swimmer and skier.

Randi Viola, Business Manager, has been the lead accountant for ATLAS since April 2006 and believes ATLAS is the very best place for her to be and she loves her  job.  Previously her accounting skills handled manufacturing, hospitality and 20 years in the Securities Brokerage industry in various accounting management positions.  

Stephanie Wanek, Chief of Operations, manages ATLAS’ operations and outreach activities, including spaces, programs, people and some of the big picture, strategic planning as ATLAS continues to grow. A part of ATLAS, CU Foundation and University since 2006, Stephanie has served in roles including development/fundraising, communications, event coordination and as program manager at ATLAS’ partner, NCWIT.  Mostly, she thrives being in a dynamic place where every day looks different, her colleagues are inspiring and surrounded by students doing fun and amazing things! 



photo of george deriso

George Deriso Deming Center for Entrepreneurship is an experienced executive, entrepreneur and consultant who has worked with businesses of all sizes worldwide. Prior to founding Cosmos Partners, George worked for Falcon Venture Partners, a Colorado private equity firm.

photo of michelle ellsworth

Michelle Ellsworth, Theater and Dance, makes solo performance work, performable websites, drawings, and videos. She has performed and taught at Brown University, Columbia College, Naropa University, The University of Costa Rica, and in Ireland.  Her drawings and spreadsheets have been published in CHAIN and her screen dances have been seen around Europe and throughout the U.S.  The New York Times has described Ellsworth’s solo work as “virtuosic,” and “completely winning.” 

photo of Noah Finkelstein

Noah Finkelstein, Physics conducts research in physics education. He serves as a director of the Physics Education Research (PER) group at Colorado. Finkelstein is also a Director of the national-scale Center for STEM Learning at CU-Boulder, which has become one of eight national demonstration sites for the Association of American Universities’ STEM Education Initiative. 

photo of harsha gangadharbatia

Harsha Gangadharbatla, Advertising, Public Relations, & Media Design
Gangadharbatla’s research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and communication. He has authored (or co-authored) over 40 publications including conference proceedings. His work has appeared in the Journal of Advertising, Journal of Business Ethics, International Journal of Advertising, and Creativity Research Journal, among others. In his other life, he was an electrical engineer and worked for Cognizant Technology Solutions as a programmer writing code in assembly language and COBOL on legacy systems.

photo of kristelia garcia

Kristelia Garcia, Law. In addition to teaching trademark, property, and copyright-related courses, Kristelia García serves as Director of the Content Initiative at the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. Her research is focused on the intersection of law and technology, especially comparative efficiency, access, competition, private ordering and the role and influence of technology on growth, innovation and public policy. 

photo of john gunther

John Gunther, Music
is a composer and multi-instrumentalist playing Saxophones, Clarinet, and Flute.   With a restless musical spirit, he enjoys exploring all forms of jazz from traditional to avant-garde as well as classical music, world music and experimental electronic music. His work with BLOrk has led to further collaboration with the STEM program at CU exploring informal science education through the arts.  

photo of mike hannigan

Mike Hannigan Mechanical Engineering has been teaching engineering core classes like Statics and Measurements as well as electives like Cookstove Assessment and Project Based Learned in Rural Schools.  His research interests focus on improving human and environmental health through improving air quality.  He likes to develop and apply novel measurement tools to these research interests.  In his spare time, Mike likes to play with his three boys, Galileo, Calder, and Darwin, and go for hikes with his wife.

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Liz Jessup, Computer Science.
Liz Jessup’s research concerns the development of efficient algorithms and software for matrix algebra problems. She has been actively involved in computer science education, beginning with her role as co-creator of an award-winning, NSF-funded undergraduate curriculum in high-performance scientific computing. She has also worked to promote the participation of women in computing and has carried out research into factors influencing women’s choices to study computing. 

photo of helmut müller-sievers

Helmut Müller-Sievers Center for the Humanities and the Arts
(MA in German and Latin Literature, FU Berlin 1985, Ph.D. in German and the Humanities, Stanford 1990) is Professor of German and Courtesy Professor of English. His work is concerned with the interrelations of literature, science, philosophy, and with the history of philology and interpretation.

Leysia Palen Information Science is Professor of Computer Science, and Professor and Founding Chair of the newly established Department of Information Science. In 2016, she was elected to the ACM CHI Academy.  Prof. Palen is a leader in the area of crisis informatics, an area she forged with her graduate students and colleagues at Colorado. She brings her training in human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported cooperative work and social computing to bear on understanding and advancing socio-technical issues of societal import. She conducts empirical research in the interpretivist tradition. 

photo of joe polman

Joseph Polman, Education is Associate Dean for Research in the School of Education and Professor of Educational Psychology & Learning Sciences. He interested in how people learn science and history through inquiry and with the support of technology, both in community-based out-of-school programs and in schools. An important goal of his research is to inform the design of learning environments that involve young people with powerful tools for democratic participation, in order to better prepare them as citizens. 



Susie Armstrong Senior Vice President, Engineering, Qualcomm

Susie Armstrong is one of the pioneer engineers of mobile internet. Working at Qualcomm for over 22 years, Armstrong invented the software that deals with data on cell phones including web page access, phone apps, and photo viewers. She has led a variety of teams at Qualcomm including mobile chipset division and software engineering. She leads the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab and has also served as the head of worldwide customer engineering.

Donna Flynn Vice President, WorkSpace Futures, Steelcase

Donna Flynn is Vice President of WorkSpace Futures and leads a global team conducting future-thinking research on work practices across corporate environments, small businesses, healthcare, and higher education. An anthropologist by training, Donna has a rich background in research, design and business strategy across public policy, technology, and corporate contexts. She is passionate about insight-led strategy across all levels of a business, from future-thinking opportunity exploration to product design to customer engagement and relationship development. 

Kyle Kuczun
CEO, Blank Slate Systems

As a social entrepreneur, Kyle’s passion is creating tools to help people. He is experienced in overseeing product operations of this private social enterprise company that works with non-profits and government organizations. Kyle has helped author several data standards, including the Client Data Standard for Disaster (DCDS) — in use by the American Red Cross. He has presented his research on network design internationally and served as adjunct faculty at the University of Colorado. Kyle holds a BA in Economics from the University of Colorado.


Margaret Minsky
Minsky Consulting

Margaret Minsky is an internationally-known researcher in the field of learning technology and haptic interfaces. She developed the first technique for creating haptic textures while at the MIT Media Lab.  She was a Research Lead at Atari Cambridge Laboratory and Interval Research Corporation. She founded a design/manufacturing company to produce innovative clothing and textile processing, and she has published research computer graphics, haptics, and mechanical engineering. Most recently Margaret produced an online learning environment about Marvin Minsky’s Mind and Music ideas. Margaret also is a recreational performer in Trapeze and Circus Arts.

Ram Narayanswamy
Director of Sensing, Occipital

Ram Narayanswamy helped pioneer digital imaging. Beginning his career at NASA’s Langley Research Center in the Visual Image Processing lab, Ram worked on imaging system design and optimization, helping to established a benchmark test for optics commonly knows as the “slanted-edge test.” He was an early member of CDM Optics, a Boulder startup that pioneered computational imaging, and he played an important role in the development of mobile phone cameras, specifically with regard to improving depth of field.  Before joining Occipital Ram was Computational Imaging Leader at Intel Labs in Santa Clara.

Eric Schweikardt
CEO and Design Director, Modular Robotics Incorporated

Eric Schweikardt serves as Design Director at Modular Robotics LLC. Eric Schweikardt was a Visiting Scientist at the Cornell Computational Synthesis Lab in Ithaca, New York from 2008 to 2009. Eric Schweikardt worked on roBlocks and the Erstwhile Agent, an evolutionary design program for modular robotic constructions. Eric Schweikardt holds a PhD from the Computational Design Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University.

Nathan Seidle (BTU Lab Hacker-in-Residence)
Founder Sparkfun Electronics 

Nathan Seidle founded SparkFun Electronics in 2003 while an undergraduate student studying electrical engineering, to fulfill his vision of a company with clear product photos with multiple views, linked to datasheets, with tutorials on every product they sold. In the years since, the company has grown to over 130 employees and is a leader of Open Source technology. SparkFun provides tools, hardware, and educational resources for artists, engineers, prototypers, and hobbyists who want to explore electronic gadgetry.