BEAM 6 will take place in 2018 in two cities, New York and Los Angeles. Staff bios for 2018 are coming soon! Here are the staff from last summer. 

NYC Staff


Ben Blum-Smith, New York University

Ben Blum-Smith began his career as a high school mathematics teacher in Boston. After moving to New York, he first taught middle schoolers at East Side Community High school, and then teachers, as a math coach and through Bard's teacher preparation program. He has spent the last six years learning more math, having just completed a PhD in Algebra at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. In addition to BEAM, he still gets a chance to teach by giving math workshops at Math for America and the New York Math Circle. Besides math, he enjoys playing guitar, traveling the country, cooking, reading novels, and spending time with his nephews and godchildren.

Tanya Finkelstein

Tanya Finkelstein, William Diamond Middle School

Tanya was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she taught grades 4 to 11 (graduation from "high school") in various schools. She came to US in 1991 and after 4 years of working in the "adult world" and learning English, got back to teaching. Later, Tanya came to PROMYS as a participant in 2000 and stayed as a counselor for teachers on and off for the next 15 years. Many of her students went on to PROMYS, some became counselors, some are teaching mathematics in colleges and universities. She loves solving problems with students, thinking and experimenting in teaching mathematics, walking, hiking, biking, reading, and more.

Nate Kirsch

Nathan Kirsch, Hamilton High School
Nate Kirsch is a graduate of Taylor University in Upland, IN where he majored in mathematics and minored in physics. He has also earned a Master of Urban Education Degree from Union University in Jackson, TN. He is currently a high school math teacher, and coaches cross country and track & field at the school where he teaches. In his free time, he likes to be outside playing sports, hiking, or reading.


André Mathurin,The Northwest School

André has been teaching high school mathematics and learning how to help students gain an appreciation of math for the past 25 years. While cool with algebra and trigonometry, André really enjoys Discrete Math topics, especially Cryptography and Number Theory.

Javier Ronquillo


Javier Ronquillo, Ohio University

Javier is a fourth-year PhD student in mathematics at Ohio University. Javier grew up in Guatemala City where he enjoyed leading the program that prepared high school students to participate in International Mathematics Olympiads. He loves finding connections between theater games or dance with math. Outside of math Javier likes acting, singing, playing the guitar, hiking and playing soccer.

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor, Bronx Community College

Karen Taylor was raised and educated in Philadelphia. She has taught mathematics for a number of years at the college level. She held full time positions at Lincoln University, Hunter College and, currently, is an Associate Professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Bronx Community College. Karen earned a Ph.D. in mathematics in 2006 from Temple University and completed a two year postdoctoral position at the University of Nottingham.


Seth Farkas, Columbia University 

Seth is a rising senior at Columbia University studying Neuroscience & Behavior and Russian Language & Culture. Although not studying math, he enjoys exploring how mathematics can be applied in biology, psychology, chemistry, and other sciences. At school he writes and edits for the satirical newspaper and participates in several other clubs. Outside of academics, he enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities, running, exploring new places, and, especially, trying new foods. Last summer Seth was a counselor at BEAM 6, and this year he is excited to join the BEAM 7 staff.

Eden Harris, University of Pennsylvania

Eden Harris is a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania, studying bioengineering. She is involved with tutoring in West Philadelphia as well as running competitivel for the club cross country and track team. She is pursuing a French minor and hopes to travel abroad after completing a master's in bioengineering. She especially enjoys reading and writing, and keeps a journal of life stories.

Rock Hoffman, Brown University

Rock Hoffman is a rising Sophomore at Brown University where he concentrates in Applied Math - Economics. He works in the Admissions Office as a Minority Recruitment Intern, and he is on the Brown Men's Rugby Team. In his free time, he likes to make music and lift weights.


Manuel Fernando Perez Archila, Columbia University

Manuel Fernando Perez Archila is an undergraduate student at Columbia University majoring in Applied Mathematics and Economics. He was previously involved in the math olympiads in his native Colombia and is currently a facilitator for the Columbia SIAM's Math and Coding bootcamp. He also works with the Columbia Economics Review and Engineers without Borders at his university. He is passionate about Latin America and in the future he hopes to apply his knowledge of Economics, Math and Education in his home continent.


Efua Peterson, Columbia University

Efua Peterson is a rising senior at Columbia University studying math and computer science. She was a counselor at BEAM 6 last summer, and can't wait to join BEAM 7 this year! She loves math, and especially loves working with students as they grow to love it more too. In her free time, she loves to read just about anything and go backpacking just about anywhere.

Bianca "B" Salinas, St. Edward's University

Bianca “B” Salinas is an undergraduate student at St. Edward’s University, where she majors in Mathematics with a minor in Philosophy. There, she is an officer for several student organizations, including the Math Club and the chapter of the Society of Physics Students. In her free time, you can find her running errands for different organizations, catching up on her homework, or in her professor’s office hours.

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Dave Segall, Wake Forest University

Dave Segall is a rising junior at Wake Forest University where he majors in statistics with minors in neuroscience and education. While at school, Dave works as a math tutor in the math department, plays on intramural sports teams, and volunteers in Winston-Salem's local animal shelter. This is his second year at BEAM, spending his first summer in New York City at BEAM 6. Dave's hobbies include drinking and learning about coffee and tea, as well as reading, cooking, and rollerblading.


Kaylynn Tran, Bard College

Kaylynn will be a junior majoring in Mathematics at Bard College. Although she mainly focuses on math, Kaylynn is also interesting in the other sciences i.e. biology, chemistry, and psychology. She has loved math since she was little and is super excited about this upcoming summer with BEAM. Outside of academics, Kaylynn is a varsity member of the women's volleyball and women's lacrosse teams at Bard. She enjoys being active, watching movies and learning about all kinds of new things. This summer will be Kaylynn's first year with BEAM and she is looking forward to working with everyone!

Other Staff

Ayinde Alleyne

Site Director: Ayinde Alleyne, The Art of Problem Solving Foundation

Ayinde Alleyne is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in mechanical engineering. There, he was on the board of an on-campus group called the Race Dialogue Project that holds events to talk about race and race relations. Their goal is to help improve relationships and communication in Penn's community. In his free time, you can usually find him catching up on a TV show, writing a poem, or running to try and relive his high school track "glory days."


Site Director: Malcolm Eckel, Thomas Jefferson High School

Malcolm Eckel teaches mathematics and computer science at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, VA, one of the best schools for science and technology in the country. He has written district-wide curriculum for Washington DC public schools, created a middle school math extension program to stretch advanced learners, and taught other teachers techniques for emphasizing problem solving in their classrooms. At TJ, he also works with LIFT, a program designed to increase the number of students from low-performing middle schools that have a chance to get into TJ and excel. In his spare time, he reads voraciously and plays several instruments. This is his fourth summer working with BEAM, and his second summer co-directing the Bard site.

Amanda Cooper

Director of Student Life: Amanda Cooper

Amanda Cooper has a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, and a Master's in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She currently lives in Jersey City, just across the Hudson from Manhattan. Before realizing her passion for eduction, she spent five years working for a bank and then an actuarial consulting firm. Since receiving her master's degree, she has worked as an educator in a public school, a museum, and private homes. In her spare time, she loves watching movies, going for long walks, and playing all kinds of games and puzzles.


Nurse: Karen Hansen

Karen is originally from NYC but fell in love with the Hudson Valley while attending SUNY New Paltz. She has lived here for 25 years and always finds something new and interesting to do- like becoming the nurse for an awesome math program at Bard over the summer! She has been a Registered Nurse since 1995 and loves working with her students at Onteora Middle school. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family hiking, biking, playing board games and she loves to cook (mostly because she loves to eat)!

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Guidance Counselor: Gianni Palanca

Gianni Palanca is a graduate of Siena College (Bachelor of Science) and Adelphi University from which he holds a masters degree in social work. He is a NYS licensed social worker and is also a NYS certified school social worker. He currently works for the Wappingers Central School District as a school social worker and was previously employed by the Schenectady City School District. Gianni is particularly interested in the relationship between socioeconomic status and mental health. Gianni believes that change happens when people are given the guidance they need to draw on their own strengths and realize their potential to live fulfilling, happy lives. In his free time, Gianni enjoys being outdoors and being active. He also has coached wrestling for the past ten years. This will be his second year working with BEAM and is extremely excited about this opportunity.