BEAM 2017 is taking place at two campuses, Bard College and Union College. See the staff for each campus below!

Bard College Site 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 Residential 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.




Cory Colbert

Cory Colbert, University of Texas at Austin

Cory Colbert earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently a Gaius C. Bolin fellow in mathematics at Williams College. He is passionate about exposing youth to new, interesting, and exciting mathematics. Summer 2017 will be Cory's fourth year at BEAM.

Reva Kasman

Reva Kasman, Salem State University

Reva Kasman grew up and went to school in Toronto until she moved to Chicago for graduate school. She received her mathematics Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2002. She now lives in Boston and is a mathematics professor at Salem State University. Her Ph.D. thesis was in Geometric Group Theory, but her most recent project was on helping to bring ideas about mathematical arguments and proofs into elementary school. This is Reva's fourth year as an instructor at BEAM 7. Outside of math she loves to quilt, sew bags, do yoga, and sing with a world music chorus

Siddhi Krishna

Siddhi Krishna, Boston College

Siddhi Krishna was born in Sydney, Australia, but has lived in Boston, MA since she was 10. As an undergraduate at Brandeis University, she studied math, politics, computer science, and economics, all with the intent of becoming a behavioral economist. After graduating, Siddhi realized she actually wanted to pursue a career in mathematics! She is now a PhD candidate in Mathematics at Boston College, specializing in knot theory and the structure of 3- and 4- dimensional spaces (you can google "low dimensional topology" to learn more!). In her free time, Siddhi enjoys eating spicy food, laughing with friends, and discovering new music. This is Siddhi's second year at BEAM - and she can't wait for it to begin!

Sarah Trebat-Leder

Sarah Trebat-Leder, Emory University

Sarah Trebat-Leder graduated from Princeton University in 2013 and is now a mathematics PhD candidate at Emory University studying number theory. She has a fellowship from the National Science Foundation and runs math enrichment programs for students and teachers. In her free time, she enjoys playing board games, taking improvisional theater classes, and doing water aerobics and tai chi. This is her second summer at BEAM.

Dan May

Dan May, Black Hills State University

Dan May is an assistant professor of mathematics at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. His Ph.D research focused on Mutually Unbiased Bases, an area which incorporates topics from linear algebra, group theory and finite geometry. His recent research interests include the connections between poetry and discrete mathematics, and the combinatorics of card games such as Set and Spot It. Dan has been spending his last several summers working with Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), a summer residential mathematics program for underserved students from New York City public middle schools. He has also created and taught NCLB Title II-funded in-service workshops for South Dakota middle and high school teachers. Dan moonlights as a musicologist, and has presented several seminar talks on a variety of musical genres at his university.

Marcus Neal

Marcus Neal, The Hammond School

Marcus Neal studied mathematics as an undergraduate at Princeton University. He is currently a high school mathematics teacher in Columbia, SC, and an instructor for several Art of Problem Solving courses. He has a great enthusiasm for mathematics and also enjoys basketball, chess, music and card games. Marcus joined the BEAM faculty in 2011 and has been back at the program every summer since.

Matt Weber

Matt Weber, Private Prep

Matt Weber holds a dual undergraduate degree from Brown University, with concentrations in Mathematics and French Literature. He later went on to earn a Master's in Math Education from City College of New York, and a Master's in Music Composition from Hunter College CUNY. He has worked in several NYC-area public and private schools, and during the school year is currently a math and test-prep tutor, as well as Director of Hiring, for the company Private Prep. In his free time, he enjoys playing and writing music, gaming, reading books, and watching Netflix.


Cassandra Call, Union College

Cassandra Call is a rising senior at Union College where she majors in Math. After spending a semester abroad in Rennes, France this past fall, she has also recently declared a second major in French. On campus she is involved in the Association of Women in Mathematics, Union Pride, the Mountebanks (musical theatre club), and has danced on stage, choreographed, and painted sets in the Theatre & Dance department. After college she plans on becoming a teacher, probably in elementary or middle school. On the rare occasions when she has free time, she enjoys reading, drawing, and singing along to the soundtracks of Broadway musicals.


Kyelee Fitts, Columbia University

Kyelee Fitts is a student at Columbia University in New York, where she intends to major in math. She is an avid participant in COOP, an outdoors freshman pre-orientation program, where she leads incoming students on hiking trips. She is an avid reader, writer, and runner.

Benjy Greffin, Columbia University

Benjy Greffin is a recent graduate of Columbia University where he majored in Mechanical Engineering. His course of study focused primarily on Aerodynamics and Machine Design. Benjy spends much of his free time solving puzzles, playing sports, test writing, and watching movies. His favorite things to eat include apple turnovers, gummy bears, and gummy worms. He has also worked with Beam in 2014 and 2015. Benjy enjoys working with the students before and after the summer because Beam is more than just a summer program!

Fred Anthony Hernandez, Union College

Fred Anthony Hernandez is a rising Senior at Union College. He is a Bioengineering Major. He was raised in the Bronx, NY and is of Dominican descent; he is a first-generation college student as well as the second individual in his extended family to attend college in the US. He is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers as well as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. As the Vice-President of his Fraternity, he intends to develop leaders from the individuals which surround him. He also takes pride in being able to aid humanity in its efforts to achieve higher social, economic, and intellectual status. He believes he can create wiser individuals through the mentorship of the youth.

Allen Lai, Harvard College

Allen Lai is a rising sophomore studying at Harvard College, major currently undeclared. There, he is involved with the aikido (a martial art) club and Harvard College Faith and Action, a Christian community focused on bringing a culture of love and caring on campus. In his free time, he loves to read and play basketball.

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Michael Schirle, University of Illinois

Michael Schirle is entering his senior year at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where he is double majoring in math and philosophy. He is an active member of the school's judo club and will often volunteer with his local church community. Upon graduating, he hopes to attend graduate school to continue his math education. In his free time, you can find him playing video games, rock climbing, or listening to experimental music.

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Paula Suarez, Salem State University

Paula Suarez is currently a student at Salem State University where she is majoring in Math and Education and minoring in Psychology to be a high school math teacher. Her goal is to spark the potential inside every youth and help them find their own voice. Aside from her school responsibilities, she is a math and english tutor at Malden High and a leader at Congregation Lion of Juda where she works with the youth pastor to help lead a generation of young people that are radically committed to the kingdom of God. In her free time, you can usually find her hanging out with her friends, planning adventures, watching Netflix, eating food, and playing with her dog.


Chelsea Valdez-Gutierrez, Macalester College 

Chelsea will be a junior at Macalester College in the fall. She plans on double majoring in Spanish and Sociology and minoring in Data Science. She was on the board and is currently an active member of Macalester’s Adelante Student Org. Their goal is to provide a space and community for Latinx identifying students on campus, and raise awareness about certain concerns while creating dialogue around difficult issues and topics on Macalester’s campus as well as partnering with outside organizations in the Twin Cities. She loves going on a good hike, spending time at the beach, and reading a good book.

Other Staff

Lynn Cartwright-Punnett

Site Director: Lynn Cartwright-Punnett, The Art of Problem Solving Foundation

Lynn Cartwright-Punnett is an educator and administrator. Lynn taught three years of middle school math in Washington Heights before transitioning into non-profit education administration at museums around New York City, where she taught, ran professional development, oversaw after-school programs, and more. Most recently, Lynn helped open the Museum of Mathematics. Lynn has a BA with majors in history and Spanish from Wesleyan University and a MS in teaching from Pace University with a focus in teaching middle school math to English Language Learners.  During the school year, she helps BEAM students apply to high school, apply to college, write essays, and more!

Darleen Perez-Lavin

Director of Residential Life: Darleen Perez-Lavin, University of Kentucky

Darleen Perez-Lavin is a graduate student at University of Kentucky studying pure mathematics. She has a master's degree in applied math from Florida Gulf Coast University. Before beginning her math career, she worked in construction management for a little under 5 years. In her spare time she likes to dance salsa, kayaking, and hiking.



Now that you've met the BEAM staff, keep going to learn how to apply