Our Team


Faculty & Staff
HAL ABELSON

Professor Abelson is well known for his work in undergraduate computing education and is a co-author of the classic text Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (MIT Press, 1985, 1996). He is a leader in the global movement for Open Educational Resources and a founding board member of the Free Software Foundation and Creative Commons.
MARISOL DIAZ

Marisol Diaz has been the Project Manager for MIT App Inventor since 2013 and has been at MIT for over 20 years. Marisol has a background in management, sales, communications, customer service, event planning and marketing. She worked for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for her first 10 years at MIT.
JEFF FREILICH

Jeff trained as a mechanical engineer and has worked in the high-tech industry for over 25 years in roles ranging from R&D and engineering product management to partnerships and business development. He’s been at MIT for over ten years managing portfolios of corporate relationships at MIT, but now focuses primarily on developing educational technology for the workforce, especially through online courses. He loves jazz, dogs, New England style India pale ales, though not necessarily in that order.
DAVID KIM

David is a software developer on the App Inventor team. He joined the team in 2021 with ambitions in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education. His research interests include computer-assisted learning and educational technology. David hopes to contribute to the Conversational AI projects as well as improve the system as a whole. Prior to joining the App Inventor team, he finished his master's degree at the University of Colorado Boulder. During his degree, he worked as a research assistant focusing on applying state-of-the-art Natural Language Process (NLP) models with real educational data. David enjoys music, he plays the violin, harmonica, guitar, ukulele and plans to learn more.
SUSAN LANE

Susan Rati Lane has been a software engineer since 1996, and she has followed an eclectic career through many industries and locations in the western world. Her core expertise is in data modeling, but shes done some of almost everything. Career highlights include work in software support for brain imaging and clinical drug trials. She joined the MIT App Inventor team in 2018. She is passionate about writing software that improves lives.
LI LI

Li has been a software engineer since 2001. Before she joined MIT App Inventor team, she had been with Oracle working on a variety of projects including IT Analytics in Oracle Management Cloud and Oracle Application Testing Suite.
ROBERT PARKS

Robert is a curriculum developer, writer, and designer for the App Inventor team. His 2005 publication, Makers, was the first book about the maker movement. He has served as an editor at Wired magazine, as a contributing writer for Wired, Popular Science, and Make magazines, and has designed STEM resources for middle and high school students at the WGBH Educational Foundation. A maker himself, Robert is currently building a tennis-ball launcher from old treadmill parts.
EVAN PATTON

Evan is the Lead Software Engineer at MIT App Inventor. He aims to help App Inventor users realize the full potential of their app ideas through the development of new components and features to aid in collaboration, rich data collection and visualization, and efficiency. His research interests include real-time collaboration, Internet of Things, and applications of artificial intelligence to facilitate mobile app development. Evan also oversees the development of the MIT Punya project to extend App Inventor with semantic capabilities for healthcare and humanitarian causes. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
CYNTHIA ROSENTHAL

Cindy is the Administrative Assistant for the App Inventor Group. Before coming to CSAIL she worked in the libraries at MIT. She has also worked for a tax and audit firm, an architectural firm, and Suffolk University Law School. In her spare time she takes pictures of houses and thinks about baking bread.
JEFF SCHILLER

Jeff is a Software Developer, Security Architect and Network Manager. He has spent more than 25 years building systems that have to work 24/7 with minimal human intervention. As Area Director for Security with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), he spent 9 years shepherding the development of critical Internet security technology including IP layer encryption, E-mail encryption and Transport Layer Security (https). He brings his expertise in building stable scalable systems to MIT App Inventor.
SELIM TEZEL

Selim is the Education Team Lead at the App Inventor project. He joined the team in 2018 as a curriculum developer. He is a former K-12 mathematics teacher who has taught overseas and in the US for 22 years, exploring intersections of technology and playful constructionist pedagogies in the classroom. Recently he worked on the Beauty and joy of Computing project as a curriculum designer at EDC (Education Development Center) which in collaboration with UC Berkeley and NYC Public Schools aims to make computer science accessible and enjoyable for a diverse population of students. When not working Selim enjoys playwriting and creating visual arts.
ANGIE ZHOU

Angie is an Education Specialist at the App Inventor team. She has extensive experience in curriculum design, teaching and business development. Angie hopes to design fun and inspiring learning experiences and programs. Prior to joining the App Inventor team, Angie was running her company and teaching kids coding since 2014. Angie is very curious to learn about how everything works and the latest development in business and technology. She loves learning things by watching videos. Angie graduated with a degree in engineering from the University of Cambridge.
Advisors
JOSE DOMINGUEZ

Jos is a software engineer with Red Hat working on mobile platforms and services. He is also a researcher in education focusing on learning practices in open source communities. After being part of the core team at MIT for almost two years, Jos continues to participate in the project by mentoring students in programs such as Facebook Open Academy and Google Summer of Code.
MARK FRIEDMAN

Mark is the V.P. of Engineering at Thunkable, a spinoff of the App Inventor project. Previously, Mark was at Google and led the original App Inventor project there. He has long-standing interests in making programming easier, in the democratization of technology and in the uses of technology in education.
KAREN LANG

Karen has spent much of her career as an educator, focused on Computer Science education. She taught in the US and around the world – at high schools in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and in England. She also acted as technology coordinator at American international schools in Venezuela and Hungary. She taught Computer Science for eleven years at the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science in Worcester, MA, USA where her focus always was to expose students to the possibilities of becoming technological innovators. Karen also worked as the Education and Business Development Manager for MIT App Inventor for five years, where she advocated for the use of App Inventor as a tool to enable people, young and old, to become active creators of technology. She currently develops curriculum for Technovation Girls, to help girls around the globe solve problems in their communities using technology.
LIZ LOONEY

Liz is a software engineer at Google and worked on the original App Inventor team there. She participated in the Robotics Task Force at Google, leading the development of the LEGO MINDSTORMS components in App Inventor. She is a co-author of App Inventor (O'Reilly 2011) with David Wolber, Hal Abelson, and Ellen Spertus. Liz has over 25 years of software engineering experience, working at Borland, Oracle, and Google, after earning a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from The University of New Hampshire.
RALPH MORELLI

Ralph Morelli is Professor of Computer Science at Trinity College in Hartford, CT and was a Visiting Scientist at MITs Center for Mobile Learning during the 2012-2013 academic year. He has been teaching Computing with Mobile Phones, an App Inventor-based CS course since Spring 2011. During the 2011-2012 academic year the course was part of the CS Principles Projects Phase II Pilot experiment. Ralph is currently funded by the National Science Foundation CE21 Program to continue to develop and pilot his CS Principles course with Hartford Public School teachers.
SHARON PERL

Sharon has been a software engineer at Google for more than 10 years, and has worked on App Inventor since the project's inception. Before App Inventor she worked on various systems infrastructure projects at Google, and did systems research at DEC's Systems Research Center (remember DEC?!). She did her graduate work at MIT, and undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, all in Computer Science.
ELLEN SPERTUS

Professor Ellen Spertus was a member of the original App Inventor team at Google, where she is a senior research scientist, and is a professor of computer science at Mills College. For more than 20 years, she has worked toward increasing the number of girls and women in computer science, in addition to doing research in computer architecture, information retrieval, recommender systems, and online communities. She is a co-author of App Inventor (O'Reilly 2011) with David Wolber, Hal Abelson, and Liz Looney.
FRANKLYN TURBAK

Franklyn (Lyn) Turbak is a professor of computer science at Wellesley College. He is a co-author of the book Design Concepts in Programming Languages (MIT Press, 2008) and leads the TinkerBlocks project, whose goal is to create more expressive blocks programming languages. Lyn is excited by how App Inventor is democratizing programming.
DAVID WOLBER

David is a professor of computer science at the University of San Francisco. He has taught App Inventor to non-majors since the Google pilot program in 2009. He is co-author of "App Inventor: Create your own Android Apps" (O'Reilly 2010) and author of many of the advanced tutorials on the App Inventor site. He runs the site appinventor.org (link is external) and blogs at appinventorblog.com (link is external).
Students
MEG ALLEN

Meg is a current junior at Wellesley studying Cognitive Science. She joined the App Inventor and Conversational AI team this semester, spring 2022, and is working with the education team to develop Alexa and IoT curricula. Having done previous work in cognitive development research, she's passionate about integrating technology and learning, harnessing the power of the computational thinking capabilities within all of us that are often overlooked by those outside of tech fields. She's also passionate about sharing her love for art, cutting bangs, and bubble tea with others.
EVENLYN CAI

Evie is a freshman studying 6-9 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences). She just recently joined the App Inventor Education team in January. Her current projects include Alexa testing, IoT testing, and being a TA for the MasterTrainer’s course.
ASHLEY GRANQUIST

Ashley is a Computer Science and Engineering student at MIT (Class of 2024). She joined the App Inventor team in December 2021 and is currently working on implementing new features in Aptly, the Conversational AI team's new project enabling users to create apps by providing a natural language description of their intended app. Ashley is passionate about making app development more accessible and helping students develop confidence in their ability to create meaningful apps.
ELIZABETH HARKAVY

Elizabeth is a Master's Student studying Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. Her undergrad was in Physics and Computer Science and is working on the crossover between Education and Conversational AI. She has previous experience in STEM education as well as applied Machine Learning through internships at Facebook, JPL and volunteering with the Cambridge Public Schools as well as being a founding engineer at an ML startup. She is working on developing low code tools to access deep learning models as well as curricula for workshops which utilize the interface and existing MIT App Inventor Alexa integration. She is passionate about equal access to STEM education and demonstrating the usefulness in student's everyday lives.
DIANA HERNANDEZ

Diana is a Wellesley College senior majoring in Media Arts and Sciences. She is a Product Designer passionate about understanding user’s goals and the impediments they encounter. Diana cares about making seamless experiences and developing products that fit the needs and capabilities of people. During her degree and career, Diana has been taught multiple aspects of UX Design principles and techniques coupled with excellent planning, organization, and analytical skills. As a UX designer in the team, Diana is working on redesigning and revamping the User Experience of the App Inventor website.She has been conducting research and interviews with current daily users as well as creating mockups, high-fidelity and low-fidelity prototypes.
MAURA KELLEHER

Maura is a freshman at MIT studying Computer Science. Since joining the App Inventor team in the Fall of 2021, she has been working on App Inventor's new Aptly project, allowing users to generate apps from natural language descriptions. She has designed training prompts for GPT-3 and Codex in the Aptly language. She is currently working on a demo of the Aptly interface, displaying an end-to-end user interaction with the platform. She has also worked with the App Inventor Alexa platform, making examples to help uncover bugs. She is currently working with Jessica Van Brummelen on analyzing and visualizing data to uncover individuals' attitudes towards conversational agents. She is passionate about making app development and conversational AI accessible to all.
ROBIN LIU

Robin is a current freshman at MIT studying Computer Science. He joined the App Inventor team at the start of 2022, helping develop tutorials and programs with Conversational AI. Currently, he is assisting in the development of Aptly, a programming language that allows one to use natural language to build App Inventor apps. He is excited to see App Inventor make the power of programming available to all!
NGHI NGUYEN

Nghi is a junior at MIT studying computer science and minoring in French and Japanese. She joined App Inventor in Fall 2021 working with various natural language models to be used for one of App Inventor’s new projects, Aptly. She is currently working with Jessica Van Brummelen’s research on ideal traits in conversational agents from different communities. She is interested in multilingual AI and how it can be used to help communities better communicate with one another.
NICOLE PANG

Nicole is a Master of Engineering student at MIT concentrating in Artificial Intelligence. She graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s in computer science, then worked for many years as a product manager at Google, Tumblr, and AI startups. Her current research is in computational action tools for K-12 students to make a real impact with technology. Nicole is excited about AI and helping young learners of tech and AI be motivated to make a beneficial and lasting impact in their communities and in the world.
VIKTORIYA TABUNSHCHYK

Vik is a Master of Engineering student at MIT studying Computer Science. She joined the App Inventor team fall of 2019 and is working on the iOS version of the AICompanion app. Vik loves sharing her excitement for all things computer science and has helped lead multiple App Inventor workshops for middle schoolers! She also teamed up with Tommy and Murielle to put together a short curriculum for GTL Brazil (IAP 2020), where they led a two 2-week workshops for college and high school students.
MINGYAN (CLAIRE) TIAN

Mingyan is a current sophomore at Wellesley studying Computer Science and Mathematics. She was introduced to App Inventor in her freshman year when she was working with Professor Franklyn Turbak’s Tinkerblocks team at Wellesley, where she tested & launched the online Venbrace Syntax User Study. In Summer 2020, she joined the MIT App Inventor team. She created projects that use the Handpose component and integrated AI concepts. Currently, she is working on developing a sentiment analysis extension that uses Naive Bayes classifiers and integrating it with conversational AI agents.
JESSICA VAN BRUMMELEN

Jessica is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science PhD student at MIT aiming to empower young learners with technology to solve real world problems. For her master’s thesis, she developed an interface in MIT App Inventor to enable nearly anyone—including 9-12th grade workshop attendees—to develop conversational agents. During her undergrad, she taught visual programming skills to middle school students, developed micro-drone workshops for undergraduates, tutored students in computer science, and researched and developed autonomous vehicle technology. For her PhD, she is developing voice-first, conversational artificial intelligence tools to allow anyone to create his or her own interconnected, intelligent systems through natural language programming. She believes that given the right tools, knowledge and skills, anyone can create significant positive change in his or her community.
Alumni
2021
Jean Billa
Dev Chheda
Nisarg Dharia
Murielle Dunand
Tommy Heng
Daniel Kim
Mahmoud Khalifa
Jimin Lee
Annie Liu
Noah Raby
Tiffany Tran
Tiffany Trinh
Guillermo Vasquez
Lilian Wang
Joy Yu
Michelle Zhao
Jessica Zhu

2020
Nikhil Bhatia
Natalie Lao
Kevin Weng
Catherine Yeo

2019
Obada Alkhatib
Kelsey Chan
Nichole Clarke
Kendall Garner
Danny Tang
Mary Zhong
Kevin Zhu

2018 Luis Gutierrez
Kathryn Hendrickson
Meredith Julian
Skyler Kaufman
Helen Li
Lucy Li
Tammam Mustafa
Katherine Prutz
Lisa Ruan
Linda Tang
Katherine Wang
Wen Xi
Joy Yu
Erica Yuen

2017 Graeme Campbell
Xinyue Deng
Emily Giurleo
Zoe Gong
Divya Gopinath
Arjun Gupta
Jane Im
Bennett Nestok
Jennifer Switzer

2016 Kristin Asmus
Aubrey Colter
Tiffany Le
Aaron Suarez
Benji Xie

2015 Tricia Divita
Keith Galli
Weihua Li
Vedha Sayyaparaju
Isra Shabir

2014 Joanie Weaver

2013 Arun Saigal
Erin Davis
Emily Erdman

2012 Miren Bamforth
Karishma Chadha
Violeta Ilieva
Maki Kato
Logan Mercer
Jason Wu

2011 Kate Feeney
Katie Lavery
Vance Turnewitsch