Our Team

Faculty & Staff

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 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 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 is a software developer at MIT App Inventor. He is interested in the question “What do we need to create so that kids can learn technology with ease?”. David is working on the topic of Conversational AI and building no-code platforms. Other than developing, David enjoys interacting and guiding students to fulfill their goal at App Inventor.

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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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.

Zareen Choudhury is the Communications Manager at the App Inventor Foundation. Zareen’s interests lie at the intersection of education technology, social good, and storytelling. She received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, after which she worked as a software engineer at Samsara. She then went on to teach computer science at Inspirit AI, serve as Managing Editor of Children of 1971, and complete a nonprofit fellowship through YCore. Her role as Communications Manager at the App Inventor Foundation taps into her varied interests and experiences.

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 is a Board Officer of the App Inventor Foundation. Mark is a co-founder of the App Inventor project and led its initial development at Google as tech lead and manager. He has supported the growth of App Inventor from a small research project to a global platform used by millions of learners and professional app developers alike, and he continues to be dedicated to its ongoing and expanding mission. Mark has been a technology leader at companies large (e.g., Google, Microsoft, Oracle) and small (e.g., Thunkable, Piper). He also serves as an adjunct professor of computer science at the University of San Francisco. His long-standing interests are to open up computer programming to everyone, and to contribute to the uses of technology in education.

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.

Dr. Natalie Lao is the Executive Director of the App Inventor Foundation. As Executive Director of the App Inventor Foundation, Natalie’s mission is to empower anyone, anywhere, of any age to create meaningful technologies that can transform their lives and the lives of people around them. She fell in love with App Inventor when she discovered it teaching high school computer science, and saw its power to rapidly transform students from passive consumers of technology into active creators of it. She joined the MIT App Inventor lab as an undergraduate research assistant during her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she received her B.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. in EECS and AI. Her research on AI and CS education has been featured by MIT News and UNESCO.

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 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 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.

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 (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 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).

Cathleen is the Senior Program Manager at MIT Innovation Node. Cathleen hopes to support Team to design inspiring learning experiences. She is a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is also certified as a Level II Psychological counsellor. As a dedicated practitioner of mindfulness for over 13 years in different places, Netherlands, Myanmar, Thailand, Mainland China and Hong Kong, she has completed the train the trainer program with the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and became a Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy Trainer. Prior to joining MIT Innovation Node, Cathleen was the Head of Growth and Project Director of a multinational Leadership consultancy firm.

Evie is a sophomore studying Computation and Cognition. She joined the App Inventor Education team in January 2022 and is currently working on natural language processing and studying human-computer interactions with Aptly and trying to find ways to make App Inventor’s technologies more accessible. She has also worked on Alexa testing and Data Science projects, in addition to being a TA for the Master Trainer’s course. She is excited about the future of mobile app development and App Inventor’s efforts to spread technology to all.

Jacky is a freshman at MIT studying computer science and math. He joined App Inventor because he enjoys both teaching and coding. With past experiences in pedagogy, he works with the Ed Team to develop data science curriculums and teach different people to use App Inventor. He is currently working on the Incarcerated Veterans project, to expand computer science, and plans to progress to assist with the Expert Trainer's course.

Hanya is a M.Sc. Informatics student at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). She joined the App Inventor team fall of 2022 and is working on adding data science components to App Inventor as part of her Master’s thesis. Hanya loves sharing her passion for tech with everyone! She wants to further develop the Data Science curriculum of App Inventor, so anyone could learn about data science. She aims to make the data science community a more diverse community by lowering the entry barriers to this field. Hanya tackled education from many perspectives: from the perspective of a decision maker as a student representative in TUM’s board of study and teaching, from the perspective of an educator as the Instructor of TUM’s software engineering course, from the perspective of a software developer of multiple educational tools and lastly from the perspective of a life-long learner herself.

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.

Gisella is a senior at MIT studying course 21E, Humanities and Engineering. Her studies focus on Computer Science and Spanish, and she has previously worked for multiple Ed Tech startups as a program manager and CS instructor. Since joining App Inventor in IAP 2023, she has contributed to new tutorials for data analysis, and helped facilitate sessions for the Incarcerated Veterans Project. She is also working with Viktoriya Tabunshchyk to host workshops for API integration with App Inventor. In addition, she is currently assisting Hanya Elhashemy in developing new components for the Data Science team, such as anomaly detection and regression models.

Maura is a sophomore 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 is a current sophomore 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!

Ava is a freshman at MIT studying Mathematics with Computer Science. She joined the App Inventor team in January 2023 and has since worked to help bring App Inventor to incarcerated veterans at the Maine State Prison as well as develop the uses of App Inventor in Data Science. She is passionate about expanding computer science and making it an attainable skill for all. 

Matt is a freshman at MIT studying computer science. A new member of the App Inventor team, he is currently focusing on curriculum design and testing, but he is also excited to explore applications in AI, data science, Alexa, and/or IoT. He knows the power of accessible app development and is looking forward to helping students realize their potential in STEM.

Prerna is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) PhD student at MIT CSAIL. Her research focuses on designing large-scale educational tools and learning experiences catered to students of diverse cognitive and physical abilities as well as underrepresented social contexts. She has conducted numerous workshops with high school students to introduce programming and mobile app development to them using AI-powered tools like MIT App Inventor. During her undergrad at Georgia Tech, she conducted ethnographic studies investigating the creative workarounds that educators in marginalized communities devised during covid-19 to navigate digital resource constraints. She also built educational games that empowered deaf kids (born to hearing parents) to learn sign language during their critical language learning age of 3-5 years. She has also worked with non-profits globally to introduce AI curricula to underserved students by organizing participatory design workshops with their teachers and parents. She is currently investigating how Generative AI can be integrated into reflective scaffolding tools that strengthen students' self-regulated learning by providing some structure for them and fostering creativity.

Arianna is a freshman at MIT planning to major in 6-14 (Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science) and 15-3 (Finance). She joined the team in January of 2023 as part of the Incarcerated Veterans Project, first learning the App Inventor curricula herself, and now helping to teach it to veterans in Maine State Prison. Additionally, she is working on implementing data science features into App Inventor. Arianna is excited to expose more people to mobile app development!

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.

Bela is a first year at Wellesley College studying a double major in Computer Science and Education. At 13 years old she started programming with App Inventor. The experience of designing and developing her first app motivated her to create technology to improve the lives of her community—low income Peruvian youth with amazing talent but a lack of opportunities. This spring 2023, she joined the App Inventor Data Science team, and is working in the development, design and translation of the App Inventor Data Science tutorials/curriculum for the Spanish speaking community. Bela is passionate about creating safe spaces of mutual learning for latinx youth in STEM.

Mingyan (Claire) is a senior at Wellesley studying Computer Science and Mathematics. Since joining the App Inventor team in Summer 2020, she has worked on the Handpose component, sentiment analysis extensions and helped organize a number of Alexa workshops. She has also worked with Jessica Van Brummelen on how to foster appropriate partner model and levels of trust for people from various intersectional groups, and presented their work at EAAI-23. Last October, she led the annual Brave Conversation + Future Worlds Challenge workshop in UAE. Currently, she is working on her thesis extending the current App Inventor Alexa interface to include a state-machine representation of conversational flow and simulate the usage of follow-up intents, in order to increase the system’s expressiveness in specifying context and complex conversations.

Jennet is a first-year student studying 6-3 (Computer Science and Engineering). She just recently joined the App Inventor Education team in January. She currently works on improving the User Interface of App Inventor and is a TA for the Incarcerated Veterans Project. She is passionate about creating tools that help her community.
Meg Allen
Elizabeth Harkavy
Diana Hernandez
Nghi Nguyen
Nicole Pang
Jessica Van Brummelen
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2018 Luis Gutierrez
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2017 Graeme Campbell
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2016 Kristin Asmus
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2015 Tricia Divita
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2014 Joanie Weaver

2013 Arun Saigal
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2012 Miren Bamforth
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2011 Kate Feeney
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