BEAM 2016 is taking place at two campuses, Bard College and Vassar College. See the staff for each campus below!

Bard College Site Staff


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 is a 2011 graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Physics.  After working as a data analyst for an actuarial firm, he moved to Memphis in 2013 to get his Master's in Urban Education through Memphis Teacher Residency.  Nate currently works as a high school math teacher and track/cross country coach in a Memphis high school.

Megan Powell

Megan Powell, University of St. Francis

Megan has always had a passion for mathematics and loved doing logic puzzles as a kid.  She also enjoyed biology and found a way to pursue both interests with an applied math PhD with research in mathematical biology.  She is currently an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL.  She loves getting students involved in real world projects and has worked with students in studying NFL football overtime, how to pick a student government president, why you should speed up when you go around a curve, and a facial tumor found in Tasmanian devils.  In her free time, Megan loves to swim, play her violin, and spend time with her two dogs, Bounce and Beyoncé.  This will be her first year at BEAM and she is looking forward to learning and growing with the students.

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.

Shelley Stahl

Shelley Stahl, University of Connecticut

Shelley Stahl studied math as an undergrad at Bard College before earning a master's degree in mathematics education from Columbia University's Teachers College. She taught math to 8th and 9th graders in the Bronx and in Massachusetts for 3 years. She is currently working on a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Connecticut, where she does research in logic and combinatorics. When she's not learning new math, she loves hiking and running with her dog, a greyhound named Mowgli.

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.

Sarah Trebat-Leder

Sarah Trebat-Leder, Emory University

Sarah Trebat-Leder majored in math at Princeton, and moved to Atlanta in the fall of 2013 to pursue a PhD at Emory.  Her area of research is number theory, and she runs a weekly math enrichment program for middle and high school students called Emory Math Circle.  2015 was a year of amazing opportunities for her, including traveling to Germany, England, and India for conferences, walking the red carpet at a film premiere, and helping to edit a memoir.  She is new to BEAM, but has spent many summers attending and working at math camps.  In her free time, she likes to hike, play board games, perform and watch improvisational theater, and go contra dancing.


Andy Cho

Andy Cho, Duke University

Andy is a Korean born Canadian studying statistics and French at Duke University. Throughout his high school days in Vancouver, Canada, he has competed in all major Canadian and American math competitions and continued to take challenging math classes at Duke University. During his free time, he loves to listen and attend classical music concerts and has secret passion in conducting. Andy also loves travelling, and he participated in “Duke in Paris” program for 6 weeks prior to coming to BEAM - Bard College in July. He enjoys working and volunteering with kids, as education is another passionate topic for him.

Jeffrey Hendricks

Jeffrey Hendricks, Yale University

Jeffrey is a rising junior studying political science at Yale. He was appointed Teller of the Yale Political Union for Fall 2016. Before BEAM, Jeffrey worked at Wayne State University’s Math Corps Program for five summers. In his free time, he keeps up with a few TV shows, along with collegiate and professional baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, most notably the teams from his hometown of Detroit, Michigan and the Michigan State Spartans. Jeffrey is also a former violinist and Quiz Bowler who ran track and played Ultimate Frisbee in high school. Now, he only plays intramurals.

Jaycee Holmes

Jaycee Holmes, Spelman College

Jaycee just graduated Spelman College and is heading to graduate school at NYU in the fall. She has tutored students in Mathematics and has been a Calculus I Teaching Assistant at Spelman College. Jaycee spends all of her free time in the theatre, having performed both on stage and off in over 42 productions. This is her second summer working for BEAM.


Nariel Monteiro

Nariel Monteiro, Tufts University

Nariel is a first year graduate student at Tufts University in Boston, pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics. He completed his undergraduate degree as a double major in math and chemistry at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA.  Besides the fact that he enjoys math, he also enjoys playing soccer and watching movies and TV shows. He also loves to work with kids, working for the past 3 summers as a counselor at a summer program for middle school students at Bridgewater.

Ana Portnoy

Ana Portnoy, University of Puerto Rico

Ana Portnoy is a BEAM counselor from the tiny island of Puerto Rico! She just received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Puerto Rico and will be pursuing a Master's specializing in Minority and Third World Literature and Cultural Studies, with a particular focus on Latina/o, Caribbean, Diaspora, and Chicana/o Literature, and Intersectional Feminism. She's passionate about the arts, languages, and humanities. She's not much of a mathematician herself, but loves BEAM, its goals, and everything it promotes and aims to accomplish. This will be her sixth year working at BEAM.  As for her interests, she's a very active person and really enjoys sports (volleyball in particular), exercising, and physical activities. She's an and avid reader, writer, and photographer. She really enjoys dancing (especially salsa dancing!), traveling, going for walks, good conversations, and trying new things.


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, Alice Deal Middle School

Malcolm Eckel studied Linguistics at Rice University, but friends kept telling him he really should become a math teacher instead, and he's glad he finally listened to them. Since becoming a teacher, he's taught in Los Angeles and Washington, DC to students of all ability levels and backgrounds. He's taught Algebra I to 18-year-olds who had failed four times, and college-level number theory to 10-year-olds wise beyond their years. He currently teaches 8th grade math at the biggest middle school in DC where he's in the process of starting a math extension program for gifted students. He enjoys taking on new challenges and is incredibly excited about his third year at BEAM.  Besides math, he also loves experimental indie video games, plays guitar and piano, and tries to read a novel a week.

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.



Cory Colbert

Cory Colbert, University of Texas at Austin

Cory is a fifth-year graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing a Ph.D. in commutative algebra. He completed his undergraduate degree at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He has always enjoyed mathematical challenges and has found continued joy in sharing neat mathematics with others. His favorite pastimes include going to movie theaters, taking long walks, and going on spontaneous adventures.

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. in 2002, and then became a math professor at a university in Michigan.  In 2007 she moved to Boston and joined the faculty at Salem State University, where she primarily teaches undergraduate students but also works with elementary and middle school teachers. This is Reva's third year as an instructor at BEAM, and previously she spent several summers working with high school girls in math programs at Mount Holyoke College. Outside of work she loves to quilt, sew, do yoga, and she recently joined a world music chorus called Boston Harmony.

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 double-majored in Mathematics and Economics, and double-minored in Computer Science and Global Studies. Soon after graduation, she realized that she wanted to pursue a career in mathematics. Siddhi is now pursuing a PhD in Mathematics at Boston College, specializing in knot theory and low-dimensional topology. In her free time, Siddhi enjoys trying new foods and relaxing on her porch. Siddhi's is thrilled to be spending this summer at BEAM, and she cannot wait to meet this year's participants!

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 received Title II grants to create and teach in-service workshops for South Dakota middle 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 teacher of high school mathematics 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 is an educator with a broad array of experiences and strategies to draw on when it comes to helping students succeed. He holds a Master's in Math Education from City College of New York, and has been a math teacher at several New York City high schools, where he taught everything from Algebra 1 through B/C Calculus. Currently he tutors ACT, SAT, and a variety of math subjects for Private Prep, as well as heading up the company's Math Department and hiring team. Matt loves the humanities and arts every bit as much as math, holding a dual degree in mathematics and French Literature from Brown University, as well as a Master's in Music Composition from Hunter College.


Udbhav Agarwal

Udbhav Agarwal, Vassar College

Udbhav Agarwal was born and brought up in the small town of Allahabad, India. Having moved to a boarding school at the age of thirteen, Udbhav has had six years of first-hand experience in “summer-camp” environments, relationship building and mentoring/being mentored. Udbhav continues his education at Vassar College, where he is a student of Sociology with minors in Math and Computer Science; and simultaneously at Dartmouth College, where he is studying Computer Engineering. While at Vassar, Udbhav divides his time between his internship at the Office of International Services and his leadership position in the non-profit The Haiti Project. His other interests include writing for the school newspaper, reading fiction and non-fiction, and occasionally studying computer algorithms and statistics  that is if and when he is not watching movies.  He also runs and cleans when he is stressed.

Gabby Garcia

Gabby Garcia, Rutgers University

Gabby was born in Cuba and was raised in New Jersey. She is a rising sophomore at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She is pursing an undergraduate degree in mathematics and is also interested in economics. In her spare time she likes to play sports, cook, read, spend time with friends, and travel. This is her first summer with BEAM and she's looking forward to working with everyone! 

Marron McConnell

Marron McConnell, Vassar College

Marron is a rising sophomore from Maryland, studying math at Vassar College. She plays rugby, loves hiking, and is an avid reader and writer. Her favorite things are mango smoothies, coconut ice cream, and her dog, Monty. Marron is looking forward to her first summer with BEAM!


Esmeralda Sotelo

Esmeralda Sotelo, Lafayette College

Esmeralda is a rising junior at Lafayette College majoring Civil engineering and minoring in Spanish. During high school, she is a tutor for underclassmen and her peers in Math, which consists of Algebra I & II, Geometry, etc. Esmeralda is a first generation student, and has two younger siblings in high school who also love math. In her free time, Esmeralda likes to run, go shopping, and try new food.



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, born in Chile but raised in Florida, is currently working on her Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Kentucky. She earned an Industrial Management degree from Purdue University and then worked in the construction management industry for 5 years. Her true passion is mathematics, and she has Master's in Mathematics from Florida Gulf Coast University. Darleen is fluent in both Spanish and English, and in her spare time, Darleen loves to spend time outdoors, boating, and coaching soccer.

Gianni Palanca photo.JPG

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 first year working with BEAM and is extremely excited about this opportunity.

Nurse: Aron Gorden

Aron Gorden will be the nurse for the BEAM program this summer. This will be her first year working with the program. She's very excited about this opportunity, and everything this program has to offer.

During the school year Aron is a school nurse at Highland Middle School. She loves this age group, and is also a mother of 2 children, a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, as well as 3 stepchildren. She's very busy all the time with all the children and their various activities!


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