Human Advancement Research Community

Alan Kay
researcher (honorary)
Alan Kay is one of the earliest pioneers of object-oriented programming, personal computing, and graphical user interfaces. His contributions have been recognized with the Charles Stark Draper Prize, the Alan. M. Turing Award and the Kyoto Prize. This work was done in the rich context of ARPA and Xerox PARC with many talented colleagues.

Alex Warth
principal investigator
Alex Warth (PI) is a researcher whose interests include programming languages and environments, rapid prototyping, end-user programming, modularity, and education. With the Flex (“Fluidity of Expression”) group, he works on tools that help people think, understand, and create. Before joining HARC, Alex was a software engineer at Google, and before that, he was a researcher at VPRI where he worked on the STEPS project. Alex has a Ph.D. from UCLA, where he is now an adjunct professor, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami.

Andrea Hawksley
Andrea Hawksley is a software developer and mathematical artist. Her research focuses on the use of virtual environments to expand our understanding of the world. She is particularly interested in using new technologies to visualize difficult mathematical concepts in potentially more intuitive ways. She is one of the earliest developers of webVR software, creating the first 3D 360 VR video player for the web before VR web browsers were even easily available - the eleVR Player.

Bert Freudenberg
Bert Freudenberg is a freelance software engineer with a special interest in live, self-supporting systems and their use in education. While consulting for Alan Kay’s VPRI, he worked on porting the Etoys and Scratch programming environments to the One Laptop Per Child computer, reviving Smalltalk-78, and the STEPS project. He is a leading member of the Squeak Smalltalk open source community and author of SqueakJS. Before freelancing, Bert worked at impara building a 3D authoring system for children. His PhD was awarded for a thesis on real-time non-photorealistic 3D rendering.

Bret Victor
principal investigator
Bret Victor (PI) wants scientists and citizens to be able to see, understand, and think what needs to be seen, understood, and thought in order for modern civilization to work out okay. His group is building a prototype environment for “dynamic spatial media”, in which conversation, presentation, reading, and writing are dynamic embodied activities – people physically together, dynamically modeling and simulating, thinking with their bodies and hands, seeing everything. In his free time, he enjoys working.

Chaim Gingold
Chaim Gingold is a designer and theorist who creates and studies powerful representations for playing with, learning about, and reshaping the world. His design expertise and research interests encompass games, play, simulations, authoring tools, cities, and the history of technology. His Ph.D. research focused on SimCity, the history of computer simulation, software visualization, and principles of play design. He created a science book made of toys called Earth: A Primer (2015), and was the design lead for Spore’s Creature Creator (2008). His work has been featured by WIRED, CNN, Apple, and the New York Times.

Chris Clark
chief operating officer
Chris Clark is YC Research’s head of operations. Chris previously ran operations at Loopt, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and acquired by Green Dot in 2012. More recently, he was Mayor of Mountain View and still serves on the city council. Chris has a BA in Political Science from Stanford University.

Dan Ingalls
principal investigator
Dan Ingalls (PI) conceived the Lively Web live object system ( ) which remains the vehicle for his research at HARC. He spent much of his youth studying and experimenting in physics, but in his last year of college discovered computers and programming. He was fortunate to join Alan Kay at Xerox PARC, and spent time at Xerox and Apple working out various schemes for message syntax, language interpretation and graphical display as they invented much of OOP. He was the architect and principal implementer of a series of Smalltalk implementations culminating in the self-supporting Squeak Smalltalk. The higher focus on education in those systems made simplicity a priority, and that priority continues in the current work on Lively.

Elizabeth Proehl
office manager
Elizabeth joined YC Research to manage the office and general operations. Most recently, she worked as a public radio producer and reporter at KPFA in Berkeley, California. She has a BA in Near Eastern Studies and Psychology from Cornell.

Evelyn Eastmond
Evelyn Eastmond is a Venezuelan-born artist and researcher exploring the psychology of trauma through sculpture, performance and new media. She has been adjunct faculty in Digital+Media at RISD where she also received her MFA. She received MEng and BS degrees in Computer Science at MIT, where she helped develop open source frameworks for creative computation including Scratch, DesignBlocks and p5.js. She is currently at eleVR in the Human Advancement Research Community at YCR, researching embodied artistic experiences in virtual reality. Her work has been exhibited in Boston and Providence, and the coding frameworks she has contributed to are used globally and have appeared in the New York Times, BBC, Fast Company and Wired Magazine.

Jens Mönig
Jens Mönig makes interactive programming environments. He is fanatical about visual coding blocks and stubbornly suspects that beyond drag & drop lies an Eldorado of a novel computing paradigm yet to be discovered by the intrepid. Jens is working with John Maloney and Yoshiki Ohshima on a new general purpose blocks language. In his spare time he develops UC Berkeley’s “Snap! Build Your Own Blocks” programming system, used in the introductory “Beauty and Joy of Computing” curriculum around the world. Previously Jens has written enterprise software at MioSoft and contributed to MIT’s Scratch editor. Jens is a fully qualified lawyer in Germany and has been an attorney, corporate counsel and lecturer for many years before rediscovering his love for programming through Scratch and Squeak. For leisure Jens likes guitar picking and strumming his mandolin.

John Maloney
principal investigator
John Maloney (PI) creates live, interactive programming systems. His primary project is a general purpose blocks programming language that attempts to span the space between novices and more experienced (but non-professional) programmers.

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards believes that programming is far more demanding than it needs to be in most cases, and that we are trapped in a socio-technical feedback loop amplifying complexity. His Subtext research explored ways to jointly simplify programming languages and the programming experience. Currently he is working on Chorus, a spiritual descendant of HyperCard, that allows end users to build mobile social applications.

Joshua Horowitz
Joshua Horowitz is a software developer and researcher. He believes that graphics and computation can make it vastly easier to understand and work with complex ideas. Toward this end, he is helping build Apparatus (a hybrid graphics editor and programming environment for creating interactive diagrams) and assisting in the design of a new environment for dynamic spatial media.

Kat Galas
Kat Galas is a learning sciences researcher. She studies human learning and how computing and communication technology innovations influence and advance learning, thinking, and teaching. At HARC, she is currently working with Flex Project, Computer Tutor Project, and Curriculum Project.

M Eifler
M Eifler, also known as BlinkPopShift, is an American artist and researcher who lives and works in San Francisco, California. Their work is equal parts sculpture, performance, video and immersive technology. It focuses on navigating back and forth between the physical and the virtual, kneading knowledge, embodiment and experience between these two modes in an effort to blur that boundary for people as well as our objects and ideas. They have published research on immersive capture, spherical cinematography and editing, hybrid reality environments and designing for embodied cognition and is currently creating performance structures for audience interaction with head mounted AR.

Mark Guzdial
Mark Guzdial is a computing education researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Interactive Computing. He is interested in how people develop understanding of computing, and how to make it better. He works mostly with non-technical learners. He teaches programming and computer science to liberal arts, design, and business students with Media Computation, where students manipulate pictures with pixels, sound with samples, and video with frames.

Marko Röder
Marko is a researcher interested in programming languages and (future) programming experiences. He recently started working with Alex Warth on Ohm and the Ohm Editor (to easily experiment with new programming languages and ideas) and likes to think about how to enable people to “program” that have not studied computer science (What does it mean to program in that regard?). Before, he was working with Dan Ingalls for a few years on the Lively Web with a focus on end-user programming and its powerful yet uncommon style of collaborative software development. He dreams of better “narratives” for software and a common understanding of software by humans - and computers.

Matt Hemmings
Matthew Hemmings is a Computer Science graduate from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. He is interested in creating compelling, collaborative visualizations for educational and research purposes. Primarly, his interest is adapting the Lively Web for use by domain scientists and working with them to make tools useful for their specific disciplines in it. He has both taught and assisted on courses at the University level utilizing the Lively Web to teach novice students programming techniques.

Michael Nagle
Michael Nagle is very interested in how people develop and learn. In the Boston area he created a series of educational programs for elementary aged children inspired by the works of constructionism and environment-as-learning-culture inspired by the works of Papert, Holt, and Montessori. That work lives on in an alternative school in the area. He also co-founded a scientifically focused community center that ran as an alternative community college for four years in the area. At present he is interested both in how technology can bring deep learning to a wider audience, and what these principles means for adults in their own lives.

Patrick Dubroy
Patrick Dubroy is a programmer and art school dropout. As a member of the Flex group, his research focuses on powerful user interfaces for creation and understanding. Before joining VPRI and HARC, he worked at Google as a software engineer on Chrome and Android, and at BumpTop as a programmer and interaction designer. He has a master’s degree in Computer Science (Human-Computer Interaction) from the University of Toronto, where he was a member of the Dynamic Graphics Project.

Paula Te
Paula Te, interaction design, mechanical engineering, education. She researches tangible interfaces and tools for creativity in spatial dynamic media. Projects include developing a digital/physical platform for creating board games to understand and simulate complex systems, and exploring ways to digitally fabricate objects, sculptures, and structures by direct manipulation. Other projects include 50 Years  & TADCAD . Previously, Paula worked as an interaction designer at Xerox PARC, and in design education in Kathmandu at Karkhana and in Boston at MIT.

Robert Krahn
Robert is a software engineer and researcher focusing on software construction kits that facilitate liveness and interactivity. His areas of interest include everything that supports the former: Dynamic programming languages, self-sustaining system kernels, user interface kits, authoring mediums and tools. Based on the Lively Kernel system, Robert created Lively Wiki, a web-based collaborative programming environment that allows its users to create and share applications in a rich graphical environment. Previously, he was a software developer at Zendesk and researcher at the Software Architecture Group at HPI / University of Potsdam.

Robin Schreiber
Robin is a software developer and researcher who tries to turn the computer into a platform for externalizing and reifying ideas. He wants to remove unnecessary complexity for the programmer and allow the idea behind a program to be expressed in a more simple, clear and concise manner. He believes that combining vastly different perspectives on the same problem can yield the most striking results in this problem domain. He has been contributing to the Lively Kernel over the last few years while also working as a software engineer at PlaytestCloud for a few months. In his spare time he likes to cook, run, play the piano, play theatre and read books about philosophy.

Saketh Kasibatla
Saketh is an incoming master’s student at UCLA and a researcher in the Flex (Fluidity of Expression) group at HARC. He is interested in programming languages, human computer interaction, and visual design. In the Flex group, he is exploring making computers actively assist humans in the creation of software. To this end, he creates conversational interfaces, which allow a computer system to accomplish a complex task in collaboration with the user. Before joining HARC, he worked at Bloomberg LP, Yeti (a startup in Venice, CA), and Qualcomm.

Sean McDirmid
Sean is a researcher who focuses on live programming experiences that support “programming to think” rather than “thinking to program.” His current project is in creating a visual environment that allows users to “discover” new concepts, rather than just understand existing ones. Sean has a PhD from the U of Utah in CS advised by Wilson Hsieh. He previously worked at EPFL on the Scala IDE (forgive me), at Microsoft China as a UX design prototyper in a studio filled with just designers (some of that might have rubbed off on me), and at Microsoft Research Asia as a researcher working on programming experiences.

Shubham Joshi
Shubham Joshi is a master’s student at USC and obtained his bachelor’s from UCLA, both in Computer Science. He is interested in game development and programming language design. Having taught programming to middle school students he gained an interest in how we reason about our code before and during writing. Before joining HARC he worked at The Coding School, Tensor Vision Technologies, Sen-Sei Technologies, and Ipomo Communications.

Toby Schachman
Toby Schachman is researching ways to interact and create with computation while being present in the world. A related interest is the use of spatial reasoning for programming, as an alternative or complement to symbolic reasoning. His most recent project is Apparatus, a hybrid graphics editor and programming environment for creating interactive diagrams. Previously he created Shadershop, an interface for creating GPU shaders through direct manipulation of graphical representations. He enjoys hiking, cooking, and making interactive sculptures.

Trish Dickey
office manager
Trish Dickey is the Office Manager for the HARC Los Angeles office. Trish’s background is in corporate human resources. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2004, she was the Disability Specialist for Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, as well as resident manager for an apartment building downtown. Trish was Alan Kay’s executive and personal assistant for 11 years before joining HARC.

Vi Hart
principal investigator
Vi Hart (PI) is a mathemusician and philosopher known primarily for work in mathematical understanding, musical structure, and social justice. Hart has publications in the fields of computational geometry, mathematics and music, mathematical art, and math education, and speaks internationally on a variety of topics. Hart is best known for the film series “Doodling in Math Class”, the stand-alone philosophical work “Twelve Tones,” and as co-creator of “Parable of the Polygons.

Virginia McArthur
executive producer
Virginia is an executive producer partnering with the PIs at HARC. Previously, Virginia produced at Zynga, Electronic Arts and EAI. At Zynga, she co-created and the first use of social goods in games while creating new IP and helping to launch Zynga’s first platform. At EA, she produced many of the Sim’s expansion titles and bringing to life the first Spore and Sim’s mobile and handheld titles. Her passion prior to hardware and software gaming involved education and toys at EAI where she produced experiences from Barbie Magic Hairstyler, Clue for Hasbro, National Geographic overviews, Math games for Mosby, to generating medical media for Merck and Pfizer, creating new ways to describe medical procedures and processes. Virginia’s passions began with medical photography, animation, and illustration and has now come full circle with focus on new ways to teach, collaborate and represent media in our world.

Yoshiki Ohshima
principal investigator
Yoshiki Ohshima (PI) has research interests in interactive and educational computer systems, software architectures and programming languages. Yoshiki graduated from the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1994. He was awarded his PhD for the creation of “Kedama”, a massively parallel particle programming system, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology in 2006. Yoshiki worked on theme park related research project at Walt Disney Imagineering R&D from 2000 through 2002. In 2002, he joined Twin Sun, Inc. From 2007 he worked at the Viewpoints Research Institute. At VPRI, Yoshiki worked on projects include bringing the etoys environment to children via the “XO” and the One Laptop Per Child (olpc) initiative, multilingualization of software environments, and the STEPS project.

Extended Community & Former Members

Alan Borning  Alan Borning is Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle, and is continuing to do research there and in collaboration with Viewpoints Institute and the Software Architecture Group at Hasso Plattner Institute. His current work is in declarative languages, specifically a new constraint reactive programming language.

Alexia Lou

Amelia McNamara  Amelia McNamara is a visiting assistant professor of Statistical and Data Sciences at Smith College. Her goal is to make it easier for people to do and understand statistics, particularly in the context of computing and data analysis. She is a consultant with Viewpoints Research Institute, collaborating with Aran Lunzer.

Aran Lunzer  Aran has been a Senior Researcher at Viewpoints Research Institute since 2011. His research centres on what he calls “subjunctive interfaces”: information interfaces designed to illuminate the context surrounding a computed result - be it a retrieval, simulation, or visualisation - by hinting at alternative results from nearby, subtly different computations. Aran’s aim is to entice users to inform themselves, exploring and comparing further than they otherwise would.

David A. Smith

Jens Lincke  Jens Lincke is a member of the Software Architecture group at the Hasso Plattner Institute, where he is interested in live and explorative programming (Lively Kernel). He was awarded a PhD for a thesis on evolving tools in a collaborative self-supporting development environment.

Ken Perlin  Ken Perlin, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at New York University, directs the Media Research Lab, and is a participating faculty member at NYU MAGNET. His research interests include future reality, graphics and animation, user interfaces and education. He received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his noise and turbulence procedural texturing techniques, which are widely used in feature films and television, as well as the 2008 ACM/SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award, the TrapCode award for achievement in computer graphics research, the NYC Mayor’s award for excellence in Science and Technology and the Sokol award for outstanding Science faculty at NYU, and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation.

Kim Rose  Kim Rose is the co-founder and Executive Director of Viewpoints Research Institute. In addition to overseeing all administrative and financial aspects of the non-profit organization, Kim is a media developer, media critic and cognitive scientist. She has been affiliated with Alan Kay and his research team since 1986 when she joined the “Vivarium Project” at Apple Computer.

Meixian Li

Peter Amidon

Robert Hirschfeld  Robert Hirschfeld is interested in programming experiences and small system kernels. With the Software Architecture Group at the Hasso Plattner Institut  in Potsdam he is working on dynamic programming languages, development tools, and runtime environments to make interactive programming more approachable. His preferred environment for exploring ideas is Squeak/Smalltalk.

Ted Kaehler  Ted is a member of the technical staff at Viewpoints Research . He has a passion for improving math and science education and is especially interested in a project to reinvent programming environments from the ground up.

Tim Felgentreff  Tim Felgentreff is a member of the Software Architecture group at the Hasso Plattner Institute, where he works on programming language extensions and high-performance dynamic language virtual machines. His PhD thesis is concerned with extending general purpose programming languages with seamless first class constraint solving.

Tyler Smith