Ziba Cranmer, Director of BU Spark!
Ziba is the Founding Director of Spark! and member of the Innovate @ BU Steering Committee. She is an innovation leader with diverse experience spanning the public and private sectors. Ziba is passionate about interdisciplinary innovation fueled by technology. Prior to BU, Ziba led a national initiative supporting public sector innovators in cities across the United States to combat trafficking through technology. She spent over 11 years working in the private sector for companies like Nike Inc. where she was a Portfolio Director in the Sustainable Business and Innovation Lab, an internal venture unit responsible for driving new business opportunities and and social impact. Ziba also worked in marketing and communications as a senior advisor and account lead to technology startups and many leading global brands including Fedex, Disney, and Hilton Worldwide.
Dharmesh Tarapore, Technical Director
Dharmesh is a recent Terrier graduate and member of the inaugural class of Spark! fellows which led to the successful launch of ACAS, a startup whose groundbreaking collision avoidance system is taking the small aircraft industry by storm. Dharmesh brings passion for technology and tireless can-do attitude to support Spark!’s community of student innovators. He enjoys using machine learning to obtain actionable insights from vast datasets. Dharmesh will be advising and overseeing technical students and projects as Spark!’s Technical Lead.
Elise Brown, Outreach & Communications Manager
A passion for everything communication, Elise has been a storyteller for more than a decade. The award-winning journalist has lived across the country telling stories for local news affiliates and brands. As a woman of color in communications, Elise intentionally and strategically plans media that showcases the value of diversity and inclusivity. The Massachusetts native loves working with students and believes in the importance of having mentors. A proud graduate of Hampton University, a historically black college, Elise also earned her Master of Science in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Greta Bruce, Program Manager
Greta brings with her more than a decade of experience working as a consultant in Boston’s public and private sectors. While her projects have been diverse, Greta’s work has centered around social impact initiatives and innovative thinking. Most recently, she has collaborated with the City of Boston on its Nubian Square revitalization efforts and in facilitating connectivity with Boston’s immigrant communities.
A graduate of Boston University, Greta brings with her a passion for the BU community and those we serve.
James Grady, Spark! Creative Director, Assistant Professor of Art, Graphic Design
James Grady is a Boston-based designer and educator with nearly two decades of broad-based experience. James’ design approach is a powerful combination of theory and execution. Informed by an empirically based methodology that he developed as part of his MFA thesis at Rhode Island School of Design, it encourages a deeper level of creative exploration, which he balances with an unparalleled understanding of brand and visual communication. This intersection of education and practice informs—his studio—Design Axl’s creative approach. As an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Boston University, James has a unique testing ground to develop new ideas and share them with young, engaged students eager to push the boundaries of what design can do.
BU Spark! Ambassadors
Zia Bailey, Outreach Ambassador
Zia currently serves as an Outreach Ambassador for Spark! She is a double terrier and proud first-generation student, currently pursuing her Master of Science in Media Science in the College of Communication. Having received her Bachelor of Science in Film and Television, Zia has articulated her passions for media, technology, diversity and inclusion, and social impact through digital content development, research, and project producing for organizations like FRONTLINE PBS and Boston University Productions. She also has developed a growing interest for python programming for data analysis and technology ethics. In her spare time, she enjoys playing her ukulele, studying the bible, and connecting with friends and family.
Raquel Joseph, Outreach Ambassador
Cameron Lane, Community Ambassador
Cameron, a Community Ambassadors at Spark, is a first year graduate student in Arts Administration from Ohio. Cam is a musician with a bachelor’s degree in Music Technology and Piano Performance. Whenever he is not learning how to bring collaborative and progressive elements to the art world, he is creating art myself and jamming on the piano. Cam loves listening to music, especially Chinese, Japanese, and Korean hip hop, jazz, and indie music. He also loves meeting new people and making friends.
Trisha Lee, Community Ambassador
BU Spark! Student Team (Project Managers, Interns, and more!)
Kayla Dungee, Marketing and Communications Intern
Coming to Boston by way of Atlanta, Kayla is joining the Spark! team as a Communications & Marketing Intern. She’s a first year graduate student studying Journalism. Outside of the office, Kayla also works as a Graduate Resident Assistant, helping manage a cohort of RA’s. She geeks out on writing and reality TV.
Kari Everson, UXD Fellowship & X-Lab (UXD) Project Manager and Spark! UI/UX Designer + Graphic Designer
Kari is both the UXD Fellowship and X-Lab (UXD) Project Manager as well as a Spark! UI/UX designer and graphic designer. She is a 3rd year graduate student at the College of Fine Arts (CFA), getting an MFA in Graphic Design. Outside of Spark!, Kari plays on the BU Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team (Uprising) and is a teaching assistant for both the Web Design and Junior Graphic Design Studio lectures in the CFA’s Graphic Design program. In her spare time she enjoys playing frisbee with friends, traveling, and doing freelance work where she works on an assortment of design projects for clients. What Kari loves the most about working in UI/UX Design is that through it, she can help solve human issues.
Jane Feng, Software Engineering Intern
Jane is a junior double majoring in economics and computer science at Boston University. Jane enjoys working on technical projects in different teams and learning new skills. During the past summer Jane interned at a investment firm while dipping her feet in Spark helping out with a project. On her free time, Jane loves to bake like a grandma and go on hikes like a dad.
Shruti Gupta, FMHT Project Manager
Shruti is a senior studying political science and has worked at Spark! as a project manager since her junior year. She is passionate about immigration issues and loves working on a variety of projects at Spark!. Outside of her time at FMHT, Shruti enjoys teaching English at The Literacy Program, crocheting, and learning languages.
Shubhangi Jain, Data Science Project Manager Intern
Shubhangi is a graduate student at the College of Science and Art, specializing in Artificial Intelligence. She interned at Red Hat in summer 2020 and also worked as a research associate on a Computer Vision project. Before joining Boston University, she worked as a Software Developer in India for 4 years. When not working on solving data science machine learning problems, Shubhangi enjoys reading about planets, stars and their movement everyday.
Junia Janvier, Ignite Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator
Junia is a sophomore study Computer Science on Pre-Law Track at BU. Outside of Spark!, she is also heavily involved at Innovate@BU, FY101 as a Peer Mentor, and is currently the Programs Chair for BU’s National Society of Black Engineers. Originally from Providence, Junia is passionate about social justice and research, specifically in highlighting the stories and needs of women of color. When she’s not coding or in the community, you will find Junia taking long walks throughout Boston, writing poetry, or daydreaming while listening to music.
Zachary Halvorsen, Spark! Innovation Fellowship Teaching Assistant
Zach is the teaching assistant this fall for HUB XC 475 – Spark! Innovation Fellowship Program. He is entering his first semester of a Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and recently graduated in May of 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from BU. Zach has been with Spark! for the last four semesters, working first as an intern on WinWin, and then as a fellowship student himself on Espresso Vision. He enjoys cooking, roasting coffee, and surfing when home in San Diego, California.
Tania Hasanpoor, Machine Learning Project Manager and Teaching Assistant
Originally from Iran, Tania is a graduate student studying Artificial Intelligence at BU. She is passionate about fashion and physics and enjoys reading, watching classic movies and shopping. Tania loves to bring technology to industries that are still working traditionally and work on innovative research in different disciplines.
Melissa Lin, PreHacks Outreach Intern and Ignite Student Assistant
Melissa is a junior at BU studying computer science. She works as a PreHacks Outreach intern for Spark!, where she organizes events and develops workshops for PreHacks, a preparatory event that gives attendees the proper tools to succeed at a hackathon, as well as empowering them to potentially pursue a degree in computer science. As the Ignite Student Assistant, she works alongside the Ignite Student Director to manage the Ignite Student Council. In her free time, she serves on the organizing committee for BostonHacks and TechTogether Boston, and can be found crocheting or eating new foods.
Shateva Long, BU Spark! Innovation Fellow and Ignite Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Intern
Shateva is an undergraduate student, and a proud New Yorker, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Deaf Studies. She is a BU Spark! Innovation Fellow and is also serving as an Ignite Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Intern. When Shateva is not working on CS related projects, she likes to limit her screen time by going outside to talk walks, do yoga, and paint greenery/landscapes.
Savannah Majarwitz, Forced Migration and Human Trafficking Fellowship Project Manager
Savannah is a junior majoring in International Relations and minoring in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies. She began working for Spark! as a Student Research Intern her freshman year. Since then, Savannah has become a Project Manager for various projects regarding human trafficking and immigration. She is passionate about human rights work and hopes to pursue a career in the non-profit world in the future. Outside of work, Savannah is involved in BU Student Government where she creates initiatives advocating for mental health awareness. One of her favorite activities is to paint – but she only makes aliens.
Rishab Nayak, Data Science Project Manager
Rishab studies computer science and chemistry is passionate about the application of computer vision to medical diagnostics, harnessing the recent advances in technology. His passion led him to design image recognition algorithms and pattern detectors, using concepts of artificial intelligence and machine learning. His other interests include drug design, cancer biology, and nano-medicine. He aims to help build the future of diagnostics by miniaturizing diagnostic machinery, making them reliable and cost-effective.
Smeet Patel, Ignite Student Director
Smeet is a senior in CAS with a variety of academic interests. He is passionate about social entrepreneurship, finance, technology and startups. He previously interned with a large management consulting firm. He is also on the national board for a nonprofit, Hack4Impact, and founded the local chapter at BU. In his free time you can find him in the gym, reading, or discussing investment opportunities.
Sloan Schuchman, UXD Fellowship
Sloane is a 3rd year graduate student at the College of Fine Arts (CFA) pursuing her MFA in Graphic Design. With a passion for branding and small business, Sloane works with womxn-owned businesses to elevate and solidify their brand identity, packaging, and e-comm web design projects in her freelance practice. Sloane is also an entrepreneur and founder of Chill Body, a Boston-based CBD brand and online wellness community.
Gigi Wargin, Ignite Student Council Special Initiatives Intern
Gigi is a Special Initiatives Intern for the Ignite Council, where she contributes to a smooth administration of events and projects. As an undergraduate student, she is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Computer Science. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, giving back to the community through service and philanthropy, and sharpening her abilities in Spanish and French.
Naiwen Xu, Data Science Project Intern
Naiwen is now a senior at the College of Arts & Sciences, double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. She began working for Spark! as a Data Science intern her junior year, where she is responsible for collecting and mapping business data, and developing optimization techniques. She enjoys working on technical projects with different teams. In her spare time, she loves being a foodie, listening to music, and traveling.