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Our Team

Our Founders

Richard Rusczyk

Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard is the author or a co-author of 7 AoPS textbooks and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.

Glen Dawson

In 2014, Glen founded a learning center in Morrisville, North Carolina, that two years later became the first AoPS Academy campus. Glen served as the National Director of AoPS Academy until his retirement in 2019. He has experience as a college math professor, statistician, and expert SAS programmer. He has been a professional math tutor for many years, and specializes in training academically-advanced and high-performing math students. Glen is a graduate of Duke University and holds a graduate degree in statistics from Boston University.

David Patrick

Dave joined AoPS in 2004. He is the author or a co-author of 4 AoPS textbooks. Dave earned the sole perfect score on the American High School Mathematics Examination (AHSME) in 1988 and was a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner that year. He attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) in 1987, and the Math Olympiad Summer Program in 1988, where he first met fellow student Richard Rusczyk. He also finished in the top 10 on the Putnam exam in 1991. Dave graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1992 with a BS in Mathematics/Computer Science and an MS in Mathematics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1997. He was an acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington from 1997 to 2001. Dave is originally from Western New York and is an alumnus of the SUNY Buffalo Gifted Math Program.

Management Staff

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Katie Doles - Campus Director

Katie Doles - Campus Director

Katie Doles is the Campus Director for AoPS Academy Morrisville. Katie holds a Master's degree in mathematics from Wake Forest University where her thesis topic was Three Player Partizan Game Theory. She has extensive teaching experience with students of many ages, from elementary school through advanced college courses. Having received her own middle-and high-school math education through Art of Problem Solving, Katie says “I feel that math at its heart is a very affectionate and enjoyable subject. When given the right presentation and learning tools, people can see how beautiful it really is. Art of Problem Solving does that better than anyone.”

Alexandra Hanner - Associate Director

Alexandra Hanner - Associate Director

Alexandra Hanner is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Morrisville. Alex’s love for education was born out of her time at Elon University, where she studied literature and creative writing but spent much of her time establishing creative writing camps for K–12 students in nearby communities. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University and then taught writing workshop at a New Jersey middle school for six years. She is thrilled to come full circle and return to North Carolina to work with the students of AoPS Academy! Alex loves nurturing students’ enthusiasm for writing and helping them to discover their unique voices. When Alex is not teaching, she can usually be found working on personal writing projects, playing outside with her dog, or experimenting in the kitchen.

Justin Paige

Justin Paige

Justin Paige is an Associate Director at AoPS Academy Morrisville. His journey in mathematics began when he taught himself Algebra I in the summer of 1996. As a Joseph E. Pogue Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, his love for solving deep, challenging problems led him to earn a degree in Philosophy. Justin then joined Teach for America and began a career in education teaching elementary students in Miami, Florida. Returning to North Carolina, he transitioned to teach high school mathematics and earned a PRAXIS Award of Excellence along the way. When Justin is not coaching mathletes at AoPS, you can find him working on his grilling techniques, watching football or lacrosse, or browsing a Calculus book.

Kirti Pathak - Community Outreach Coordinator

Kirti Pathak - Community Outreach Coordinator

Kirti is the Community Outreach Coordinatory for AoPS Academy Morrisville. She moved to the US in 2002 and holds an undergraduate degree in accounting from Delhi University. She joined AoPS Academy in 2016 and enjoys meeting families and telling them about the impact of an AoPS education. In her free time, she likes to read, learn about different cultures and travel with her family. She especially loves to see the world through her kid’s eyes.

Instructors

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Dr. Diya Abdeljabbar

Dr. Diya Abdeljabbar

Diya earned his PhD in chemical engineering from Princeton University in 2012. He has taught mathematics at the elementary school, high school, and university levels with topics ranging from introductory algebra to differential equations. Diya has a passion for teaching students who have a great enthusiasm for learning and improving. He is currently working in the biopharmaceutical industry as an Associate Director in Engineering.

John Allums

John Allums

John first discovered how much fun it is to teach math while working as a teaching assistant with the Talent Identification Program (TIP) at Duke University. He holds a degree in math from Tulane University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Duke, and has taught math to both high school and community college students. Outside of AoPS Academy, John is a Math Learning Specialist at Wake Technical Community College. When he isn’t teaching, John loves Ultimate Frisbee and speedcubing—his current best time is 10.2 seconds.

Dr. Shenek Alston

Dr. Shenek Alston

Shenek earned her PhD in statistics from North Carolina State University. She has extensive consulting experience, including time with the SAS Institute where she specialized in Econometrics and Time Series analysis using the SAS programming language. Shenek is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, and has been instrumental in modeling extreme weather events in China. She also has extensive teaching experience in algebra, trigonometry, and statistics​.

Dilip Barman

Dilip Barman

Dilip Barman loves math and teaching. He has taught students at all levels from elementary school through college, and holds degrees in mathematical sciences from The Johns Hopkins University, computer science and software development from Marist College, and computer science from Brown University. His post-graduate research applied computationally feasible hypermedia and artificial intelligence (AI) to practical instructional. He then worked in software and hardware development at IBM. Dilip is also a prize-winning photographer and has taught photography for many years. A passionate vegan cook, he hosts the largest vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner in the US every November. Dilip is a member of the Triangle Math Teachers' Circle and homeschools his elementary-school-aged daughter. He is excited to teach at AoPS Academy Morrisville!

Dr. Ranil Basnayake

Dr. Ranil Basnayake

Ranil earned his PhD in mathematics from Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. He continued his research career as a postdoctoral researcher at Clarkson for another three years before he moved to the Research Triangle-area. Currently, he works at Durham Tech as an adjunct instructor and as a professional mathematics tutor.

Hannah Beers

Hannah Beers

Hannah Beers is a North Carolina native. She graduated from East Carolina University with a degrees in mathematics and education. Hannah has been teaching for 8 years. She currently teaches Math 1 and Math 2 at Green Hope High School in Cary. Hannah also holds a Master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University.

Dr. Boyd Blackburn

Dr. Boyd Blackburn

Dr. B is the LEAP math teacher and MATHCOUNTS coach at Chapel Hill’s Smith Middle School.  LEAP is a district-wide program for highly gifted studentsn, and Dr. B’s math teams are consistently among the top two or three in North Carolina for MATHCOUNTS, the AMC8, and the AMC10. In addition, his students often win the North Carolina State Math Contest. He has twice coached the North Carolina State MATHCOUNTS team.  Over the last 16 years, Dr. B has taught Prealgebra through Precalculus, and he holds a PhD in cognitive psychology as well as an MS in secondary math education.  His passions include tennis, bridge, and (surprise!) math.

Dana Dahringer

Dana Dahringer

Dana is an experienced teacher who brings to the classroom her enthusiasm, creativity, and a proactive approach to her students’ educational needs. She has trained students in mathematics from elementary to high school. Dana earned her Bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University. She spends her spare time volunteering at a crisis prevention center, camping, and exploring nature.

Cynthia Dawson

Cynthia Dawson

Cyndi is one of the founders of the AoPS Academy Morrisville Campus. She has served as an adjunct member of the college faculty at Northeastern University, where she taught introductory and advanced clinical microbiology and pathophysiology courses. Cyndi also has many years of experience as a professional microbiologist. Cyndi holds a MS in medical laboratory science from Northeastern University.

Miriam Diller

Miriam Diller

Miriam holds a Master’s in English literature from Rutgers University and a Bachelor’s in English from North Carolina State University. In the past 15 years, she has taught or tutored students at almost every level of reading and writing, from elementary school to college. She also has extensive experience in editing and research. Miriam loves to incorporate students’ interests and backgrounds into the classroom when possible, engaging students while emphasizing the wide applicability of language arts skills.

Rasha Dumarieh

Rasha Dumarieh

Rasha loves math and is passionate about making the subject engaging for her students. She has taught and tutored math from the developmental level through calculus and has recently been working with math students at Durham Tech Community College. Rasha earned her Bachelor’s degree in software information systems with a minor in math from UNC Charlotte, where she also earned a Master’s in architecture. In her free time, Rasha enjoys reading, going out in nature, and mentoring K–5 students in her community.

Andrea Dwyer

Andrea Dwyer

Andrea has taught math and science at the elementary, middle school, and community college levels and she loves helping her students develop as thinkers and doers. She holds an MS in physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in elementary education from North Carolina State University. Recently, Andrea has transitioned from classroom teaching to developing math curriculum, and she’s excited to be working with the students at AoPS Academy Morrisville! Andrea has three elementary-aged kids of her own, her favorite color is blue, and she loves to garden, cook, and go to the beach.

Lisa Eise

Lisa Eise

Lisa is a veteran teacher with over twenty years of classroom teaching experience. She holds an education degree from Meredith College. With her vast teaching experience across a variety of grade levels, Lisa brings creativity, joy, energy, and a love for teaching into her classroom each and every day. She has a passion for language arts, particularly for reading and making books come to life in the classroom.

Dr. Frank Ethridge

Dr. Frank Ethridge

Frank earned his PhD in mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. Frank also held a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University. Currently, he teaches mathematics and statistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler School of Business.

Lakshmi Ganesan

Lakshmi Ganesan

Lakshmi received her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and Master’s in computer science from India’s Madurai Kamaraj University and is currently teaching in the Special Education Department at Apex Friendship High School. She has also volunteered her time in teaching math to kids at elementary school and has worked as a substitute teacher of middle-school math and science.

Caroline Graebe

Caroline Graebe

Caroline Graebe has many years of experience working in K-5 education in Milwaukee, Raleigh, and Washington, DC. Born and raised in North Carolina, she earned her BA in English literature from Appalachian State. During her time as a Teach for America corps member in Milwaukee, she earned her M.Ed from Alverno College. As a member of the Expeditionary Learning community, Caroline continues to learn and teach others about the benefits (and fun) of inquiry-based learning. When she is not teaching, Caroline enjoys reading, making art, and hiking.

Dr. Saad Haider

Dr. Saad Haider

Dr. Haider earned his PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Texas Tech University. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow in computational biology and bioinformatics at a biotechnology company. He is pleased to bring his years of experience in teaching advanced mathematics to AoPS Academy.

Dr. Pritish Kar

Dr. Pritish Kar

Pritish teaches math at AoPS Academy Morrisville and has loved the subject ever since his high school days, when he studied for India’s national talent exam. He earned his PhD in materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he developed mathematical models for physical phenomena and taught introductory materials science classes; Pritish also holds an MBA from Duke University. He likes finding creative approaches to solving problems and enjoys tackling math puzzles with his daughters, both of whom are AoPS Academy students. Outside the classroom, Pritish is an engineering manager in the semiconductor industry.

Sudha Kona

Sudha Kona

Sudha has earned her Master’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois Springfield. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and has extensive programming experience in web and enterprise technologies. She taught programming languages to undergraduate students in India. Sudha has a passion for mathematics and loves to help children in discovering the joy of math. She likes to spend her spare time solving Sudoku puzzles and listening to music.

Sharon Levine

Sharon Levine

Sharon holds a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Mississippi and a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and public policy analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, she works in UNC’s Office of Undergraduate Retention, overseeing a suite of courses designed to help students excel during transitional phases in their undergraduate career. Sharon loves the classroom and has experience teaching middle and high school English, coaching teachers, and developing educational programming. She is a proud graduate of the Mississippi Teacher Corps program.

Jiang (Jane) Lu

Jiang (Jane) Lu

Jiang (Jane) Lu is passionate about helping her math students build real-world problem-solving skills. She studied math and statistics at Carnegie Mellon University and then sharpened her expertise in statistical models and their application at the University of Pittsburgh. Jane believes that students learn best in an inquiry-based classroom and has tutored math and statistics and taught creative problem solving to high school and college students. Outside the classroom she enjoys yoga, meditation, and appreciating the beauty of the natural world.

Dana Lundquist

Dana Lundquist

Dana loves talking about numbers and helping her students developing a deeper conceptual understanding of math. She majored in mathematics at the University of Rochester, where she got excited about teaching her senior year in a class on math and learning. She earned a Masters in secondary mathematics and has taught middle and high school students in Washington, DC and Rochester, NY. Dana now lives in Chapel Hill, where she works as an outreach educator at Morehead Planetarium, delivering STEM learning across the state. When she isn’t playing with numbers, Dana likes hiking with her border collie, playing strategy board games, and singing with friends.

Tim MacNeil

Tim MacNeil

Tim completed his BS in mathematics education at North Carolina State University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in statistics. For five years, Tim worked at the Academic Skills Center at Vance-Granville Community College, where he specialized in training the school’s mathematics tutors, organizing study groups, and assisting students at all skill levels. In his free time, Tim loves spending time with his daughter, solving problems that are ‘just a few steps away,’ playing video games, and coordinating a yearly academic conference that focuses on the study of games.

Carolyn McCormick

Carolyn McCormick

Carolyn’s early interests in math and science have been rooted in a desire to help others. While in high school, she learned about engineering and the incredible opportunities to help people as an engineer. Carolyn completed undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering from Lafayette College. She also holds two Master’s degrees: one in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and one in biomedical engineering conferred jointly between UNC in Chapel Hill and NC State. Carolyn has had the pleasure of working with K-12 students in various math and physics topics and has mentored and taught undergraduate engineering students. As an engineering professional, Carolyn supports biomedical research studies and medical device product development. Outside of the classroom, Carolyn and her husband, Matt, are rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club or volunteering at their church.

Alissa McElreath

Alissa McElreath

Alissa has a Master’s degree in creative writing from Binghamton University, where she studied under the poet Ruth Stone. She also has a Master’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Rochester. She has published fiction and non-fiction, served as a senior editor for the online literary magazine Literary Mama, and taught students from high school through university. Alissa loves working with students from all backgrounds and of all ages and especially enjoys seeing their skills and confidence flourish.

Douglas Marks

Douglas Marks

Douglas earned his MS in mathematics from North Carolina State University and spent five years teaching at the North Carolina School of Math and Science. He currently works for an educational software company where he codes math problems. Douglas has experience with a range of high school level mathematics courses and electives, and enjoys helping highly motivated students understand mathematics.

Brian Phillips

Brian Phillips

Brian Phillips has taught math and science at local private schools and also works as a math tutor. He holds a BS from NC State in chemical engineering and history, and an MS in occupational health and safety from Eastern Kentucky University. Brian comes to teaching after a 35-year career managing Environmental, Health, and Safety programs at large corporations. He also managed the Safety and Quality programs at OE Enterprises, which provides support and job training for people living with disabilities. Outside work, Brian is active in his church and enjoys, reading, swimming, and historical re-enacting. He and his wife Mary Beth have two adult children.

DJ Rogers

DJ Rogers

DJ has loved teaching young people his whole life. During college at UNC Chapel Hill, he discovered a love of helping youth tell stories through writing and founded the organization Building Bonds, Breaking B.A.R.S. (Barriers Against Reaching Success) to teach incarcerated young men. He taught creative writing workshops all over the Triangle and state with Sacrificial Poets, later directing the organization. He also teaches spoken word poetry and oration to college students. He's happy to keep giving knowledge and a love of learning through AoPS Academy! When he's not teaching, he's probably flying drones or playing Yu-Gi-Oh or video games with his kiddo, Pen.

Blake Sigmon

Blake Sigmon

Blake is an experienced educator who has worked with students in all grade levels. Her expertise is in the speech-language field, which was the focus of her Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also earned a Master’s degree. In her spare time, Blake enjoys weightlifting and swimming. She has also been teaching swim lessons for children ages 3-13 for the past five years.

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

Before joining AoPS Academy, Matthew gained experience teaching and tutoring across a variety of settings. After working at a tutoring center, Matthew’s passion for education prompted him to become an English instructor at both North Carolina State University and Durham Tech Community College. Matthew's degree in philosophy from NC State has often led him to reflect often on the power of inspirational teachers. He firmly believes that the mark of a good teacher is the ability to inspire others, and he’s excited to inspire AoPS students to become brilliant thinkers and skilled communicators.

Richard Tillies

Richard Tillies

Richard Tillies, aka "Professor T," is an educator by trade with over 15 years of college classroom teaching experience in information technology and mathematics. He holds a MS degree in education and a BS degree in computer science, both from Radford University in Virginia. Richard's first paying job was in the fifth grade as a math tutor for a student in the third grade. Outside of teaching, "Professor T" is the Head Trainer at 9Round Triangle NC, a Kickboxing Fitness studio in Raleigh, NC. He can also perform a backflip and solve a Rubik's Cube (although not at the same time).

Giridharan (Giri) Venkataraman

Giridharan (Giri) Venkataraman

Giri loves teaching math and science and helping his students apply their knowledge to the real world. He has coached elementary and middle school math clubs for several years. Giri earned his Master’s in engineering science and mechanics from the University of Alabama and worked at North Carolina A&T State University’s Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials. He is now a principal engineer at Fidelity Investments. In his spare time, Giri enjoys cooking and solving cryptic crosswords.

Dr. Alice Verstrat

Dr. Alice Verstrat

Alice got her BA in English from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and then pursued her Master’s in education at Boston's Simmons College before launching a career teaching middle- and high-school English. She also holds a National Board Certification (NBCT) in Secondary Language Arts. Alice's 21-year teaching career has enabled her to share her love of literature and language with students in Boston, Brazil, California, and Turkey—as well as in Wake County, North Carolina. In order to take a different role as an advocate for students, families, and schools, she left teaching in 2014 to enroll in a Doctoral program in school psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Alice is a life-long learner and hopes to inspire her students with a love for challenges and opportunities to grow.

Justin Verstrat

Justin Verstrat

Justin is a National Board Certified (NBCT) educator and an experienced high school language arts teacher, with twelve years’ experience teaching for Wake County Public Schools. Previously, Justin taught language arts to middle-school students in California and Istanbul, Turkey. He earned his BA in English from the University of Southern Maine and his MFA in English and creative writing from San Francisco State University. Justin’s knowledge of students’ needs, enthusiasm for subject matter, and sense of playfulness create a lively class environment where students thrive.

Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright

Jonathan’s love for math began in third grade when his teacher had him join an advanced math group. He was challenged and surrounded by others who enjoyed math. He’s thankful his teacher pushed him and now wants to make sure his students have the same opportunity. Jonathan received his BA in mechanical engineering with minors in mathematics and aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado and currently works full time as an engineer at Northrop Grumman Inc. He has spent the last five years creating missile system physics models and teaching coworkers to do the same. Outside of work, he reads non-stop, he and his wife enjoy their two beautiful dogs (Zip and Daisy) and spend most of their time trying out different food.

Jeff Zidman

Jeff Zidman

Jeff has a passion for math, science and a good puzzle. He has a degree in industrial engineering and spends his days solving complex business supply chain and quality problems. Jeff enjoys bringing his creativity and energy to the classroom, whether he is teaching foreign language, history, statistics, or coaching students through a hands-on science project. He has taught elementary- and middle-school students and instructed adult learners.

"One of the best decisions I ever made was to send my son to AoPS Academy for improving his math skills. The results are simply amazing! In addition to dramatically improving his math skills, my son also enjoys the social environment that the academy offers. Personally, I am very impressed with the quality of the entire staff (teaching and non-teaching alike). I would not hesitate to recommend AoPS Academy to any parent who is serious about developing their child's academic potential in a safe and stimulating environment."
-Kiran H.
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