Our instructors

Spark! professors are industry leaders from various sectors, backgrounds, and walks of life. It is our hope that their expertise sets students up for success through practical experiences and industry advice.

Anish Asthana

CS391 S1: Spark! Software Engineering Immersion

Anish is an experienced software engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. His proficiencies include Python, C++, and cloud technologies such as Kubernetes, Prometheus, and the ELK stack. Anish is currently a Software Engineering Associate Manager at Red Hat, where he started as a Software Engineering Intern in 2018. He holds a MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Specializing in Data Analytics from Boston University, along with a BS In Computer Engineering. 

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Geri Barrison

DS280: Spark! UX/UI Design Workshop 

Geri (she/her) is an adjunct lecturer for BU Spark!. Additionally, she has served as a Spark! mentor for six years, where she combines her passions for working with undergraduates and inspiring women in technology. Geri has diverse human resources technology industry experience. She has served as Product Manager for companies of all sizes, from startups to the Fortune 50. Currently, Geri is the Director of Product for Yello. A University alum, she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s from the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Communications, respectively.
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Anthony Chamberas

DS594: Spark! Data Visualization X-Lab Practicum 

Anthony is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience at the intersection of data science, analytics, and strategic decision-making. With a proven track record of spearheading data-driven initiatives across diverse industries, Anthony is recognized as a leading expert in optimizing organizational performance through the power of data. In addition to his extensive professional experience, Anthony is the visionary founder and principal consultant at Four-Thirty Seven Analytics, a boutique consultancy renowned for providing bespoke analytics strategy and implementation services to a diverse array of clients. Anthony is a respected thought leader in the analytics community, known for his leadership of the Boston Tableau Users Group.

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Ziba Cranmer

XC475: Spark! Technology Innovation Course 

Ziba (she/her) is the founding director of BU Spark! and a member of the Innovate@BU steering committee. She is an innovation leader with diverse experience spanning both the public and private sectors. Prior to joining the Boston University community, Ziba led a national initiative supporting public sector innovators in cities across the U.S. to combat trafficking through technology. She also spent over 11 years working in the private sector for companies like Nike. There, she was a portfolio director in the Sustainable Business and Innovation Lab, driving new business opportunities and social impact. She has also worked in marketing and communications for startups and many leading global brands including FedEx, Disney, and Hilton Worldwide. Ziba is passionate about interdisciplinary innovation fueled by technology.

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Morgan Curran

DS488/DS688: Spark! UX Design X-Lab Practicum 

Morgan is an accomplished digital experience design leader with a proven ability to apply design thinking to solve complex business problems. He is experienced in building and growing global user experience design teams around a unified business vision, while also installing agile processes that improve design quality. Morgan is currently the Director of User Experience at Primacy, with a wide array of previous clients including General Motors, Bank of America, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 

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Rafael Feliciano

XC410 B1: Data Science for Good 

Rafael Feliciano is a dedicated attorney with over five years of service at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. After graduating from Cornell Law School in 2018, he began his legal career in Norfolk County, where he passionately defended adults for four years before transitioning to Suffolk County to work in the Juvenile Courts. Before embarking on his legal career, Rafael spent more than a decade in community organizing in Boston. This extensive experience in community service combined with his upbringing in Boston’s Mission Hill Projects profoundly shapes his understanding of systemic issues, fueling his advocacy as a public defender. The son of Puerto Rican immigrants, his background not only enriches his professional capabilities but also strengthens his resolve to fight for justice. He aspires to contribute to the legal field through teaching at the university level and influencing legislative changes against incarceration. 

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Lance Galletti

CS506: Data Science Tools and Applications 

Lance is a part-time lecturer and BU alum who is passionate about AI safety, Privacy, and Typed Functional Programming. He is a Software Engineer at Red Hat, working on everything Operators! and is part of the Operator Lifecycle Manager team developing for Kubernetes and OpenShift. Previously, he served as a Project Manager for BU Spark! where he managed and guided student engineers working on projects for a variety of clients such as non-profits, faculty research, startups, local government, and global companies. Lance currently teaches CAS CS 506 Tools for Data Science, which covers practical skills in working with data and introduces a wide range of techniques that are commonly used in the analysis of data, such as clustering, classification, regression, and network analysis. 

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Thomas Gardos

DS549: Spark! Machine Learning X-Lab Practicum 

Thomas comes to Boston University after a 30-year career at Intel, where he worked in both research and engineering roles. Most recently, he led a computer vision and computational photography research and development team, developing deep learning applications and algorithm specifications for ultra-low-power computer vision chips. Previously, Thomas led Intel’s video compression technology algorithm team and represented Intel at the ISO Motion Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) and ITU-T video experts group. Thomas sponsored academic research grants at Intel and was Intel’s Researcher-in-Residence at the MIT Media Lab. Thomas has been an adjunct lecturer at Oregon and Portland State Universities and most recently in Boston University’s Spark! Program. In his free time, Thomas enjoys wing foiling, distance swimming, and Nordic skiing. 

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James Grady, M.F.A.

XC475: Spark! Technology Innovation Course 

James is BU Spark!’s creative director, and Boston-based designer and educator with nearly two decades of broad-based experience. Combining theory and execution, James’ empirically-based methodology, developed as part of his master’s thesis at the Rhode Island School of Design, encourages deeper levels of creative exploration and unparalleled understanding of brand and visual communication. This intersection of education and practice informs his studio’s, Design Axel, creative approach. James is an assistant professor of graphic design at the Boston University School of Visual Arts.

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Chu Huang

XC475: DS291: Spark! Exploring DEI in Tech

Chu is a program innovator with an entrepreneurial spirit. She has spearheaded programs across non-profit organizations, higher education, and local government administration efforts. One of her programs has received honorable recognition from President Obama’s White House Initiative of Asian American Pacific Islanders as Champions of Change. Chu is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion and works towards creating programs that have a positive impact for uplifting young people in the tech sector, especially in artificial intelligence and machine learning to launch their career journey in tech.

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James Kunstle

CS391 S1: Spark! Software Engineering Immersion

James is a Spark! professor and a software engineer in Red Hat’s Open Source Program Office (OSPO). He completed his graduate and undergraduate work at BU, while fulfilling collaborative research with Red Hat in the adversarial machine learning space. He is currently working on Project Aspen, an open-source community research project. Students might recognize James as a former student lecturer, teaching CS200: Introduction to the CS Student Workflow.

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Asad Malik

XC475: Spark! Technology Innovation Course 

Asad is BU Spark!’s innovation engineer, a Boston University alum, and free spirit. Primarily working with the BU Software Applications and Innovation Lab (SAIL), he has been involved with Spark! since 2022. After graduating with his master’s, he was a Spark! mentor and co-led the Technology Innovation Fellowship while working at Philips. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from New York University and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Boston University.

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Nagendra Mishr

DS519: Spark! Software Engineering X-Lab Practicum

Nagendra is a graduate of the computer science department at Boston University and currently works at Microsoft. He held many roles in the software industry for the last 30+ years.  Nagendra started his career working at several startups as a software engineer and over the years, he built communication protocols, search engines, and a professional services practice. Nagendra has also spent a significant amount of time running an A/B testing program for Comcast. More recently at Microsoft, he works as a cloud solution architect where he helps customers understand how to build and modernize their solutions in Azure.  

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Urvashi Mohnani

DS219: Spark! Software Engineering Career Prep Practicum 

Urvashi is a Principal Software Engineer on the OpenShift Containers Team at Red Hat. She interned in the Red Hat Containers team before joining as a full-time member of the team. Urvashi has spent the last few years developing Open Source container tools and cloud technologies including Podman, Buildah, CRI-O, Skopeo, Kubernetes, and OpenShift. She is passionate about sharing her work and has given talks at various conferences including KubeCon, DevConf, and SCaLE. She is also a co-organizer of DevConf.US, a free and open source conference that happens in Boston University every year. Urvashi graduated from Boston University in 2017 where she majored in Computer and Electrical Engineering

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Agustina Morero

DS488/DS688: Spark! UX Design X-Lab Practicum 

Agustina is a Senior User Experience Designer at Hilton, where she applies user-centric problem-solving skills and attention to detail to create engaging and functional digital solutions for the hospitality industry. She has over 7 years of experience in UX design, working across various domains such as HigherED, education, and FinTech. Agustina has carried these skills over to teaching, where she leads an introductory course on UX/UI design in hopes of building up the next generation of innovators and leaders. Outside of work, she loves growing my plant collection, traveling, playing volleyball, and mentoring aspiring designers. 

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Paul Lazarescu

DS719: Data Science Product Management 1 

Paul teaches BU Spark!’s inaugural product management class, DS719: Product Management for Data Science. Since 2022, Paul has been a product mentor with Spark! for XC475. For the past 9 years, Paul has worked at Google on strategy and product and is currently a Group Product Manager on Google Search, where he leads teams across California, New York, and Brazil. Before joining Google, he worked at McKinsey & Company. He holds a B.Sc. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering, with a concentration in Robotics.

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Mark Schifferli

XC410 A1: Spark! Justice Media co-Lab 

Mark (he/him) likes to make life easier through computing. His programming career started at Target Analysis Group, where he processed and analyzed nonprofit revenue data. After seeing his first data visualization application, he was hooked on teasing meaningful stories from large and complicated data sets. This led him to join EnerNOC, an energy management company, where he developed applications for critical real-time decision-making during electrical grid emergencies. Mark is now a Software Engineer at Fathom Information Design, and he is passionate about helping clients and students alike understand and communicate data. He has also enjoyed stints as a guitarist and recording engineer.

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Langdon White

XC410 B1: Data Science for Good 

Langdon (he/him) is BU Spark!’s technical director and a clinical assistant professor at the Boston University Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences. He is a 20+ year software industry veteran, working as a chief technology officer, chief architect, vice president, and software advocate and engineer for a variety of companies from startups to Fortune 50 companies.

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Brooke Williams

XC410 A1: Spark! Justice Media co-Lab 

Brooke Williams is an investigative reporter who specializes in data journalism. Her work has contributed to a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, a George Polk Award and a Gerald Loeb Award, among many others. Before joining Boston University, she was a residential journalism fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Her internationally recognized data-driven investigations have appeared in print and online as well as on radio and TV in publications such as ABC World News, The San Diego Union-Tribune, inewsource and NPR. Williams currently is a contributor to The Intercept and working on a multi-year investigation into federal prosecutors that utilizes machine learning. 

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Jiaxing”Matthew” Zhang

DS519: Spark! Software Engineering X-Lab Practicum

Matthew is a Software Engineer and Tech Lead at Google Cambridge, where his most recent focus has been on developing the core infrastructure of Google Search. In addition to his role at Google, he is involved with Spark! as an instructor for practicum courses. With over a decade of professional software development experience, he specializes in large-scale, complex software systems and planet-scale distributed systems. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from Northeastern University.

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