hackNY is excited to present: the Spring 2018 hackathon judges

Our spring 2018 student hackathon is a week away and we’re excited to announce the judges who will be evaluating this fall’s hacks! Check out our Devpost for more information on the hackathon!

Lauren Ashpole

Software Engineer at Food52


About hackNY:

“One of the great things about hackathons — especially when you’re starting out — is realizing how much you know and how much you can accomplish when you don’t have time to second guess yourself.”


Lauren is a software engineer at Food52, the premier destination for kitchen and home enthusiasts, offering a curated shop, industry-leading content, and an engaged community. Before that, she worked as a front-end developer at Thrillist Media Group (now Group Nine Media). In her spare time, she enjoys designing fonts and (of course) cooking.


Ke Cheng

Founder and CEO at Histowiz


About hackNY:

“I’m very excited to be a judge at the HackNY hackathon!  Looking forward to meeting some talented students passionate about bring the latest technology to biomedial researchers.”


Ke has over 10 years of experience in mouse histopathology and cancer research. She finished her PhD in Cancer Biology from Pier Paolo Pandolfi’s lab at Harvard and led a team of investigators to publish papers in journals such as Nature and Blood. Prior to founding HistoWiz, she worked at a cancer diagnostics company (NASDAQ: CGIX) and did a postdoctoral fellowship with Douglas Hanahan at the Swiss Institute of Experimental Cancer Research. Ke is actively involved in the NYC bioscience community and plays water polo in her free time.


Kamille Johnson

Software Engineer at Elucd



Kamille Johnson is a software engineer and poet. They are interested in finding ways to use tech for positive social impact. They currently work at Elucd, a small data-driven start-up that works to improve the relationship between police departments and the communities they serve. Before joining Elucd, Kamille worked at VSCO as a front-end engineer. They recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in Africana Studies and Technology Studies.


Lisha Li

Principle at Amplify Partners


About hackNY:

“Hackathons are fantastic events to practice iterating fast from idea to product.  I can’t wait to see what the students come up with.”


Lisha is a principal at Amplify Partners. She invests in technical founders solving ambitious problems. From compute substrate to the creative process, medicine to manufacturing, she is excited to be investing at a time when machine intelligence and data-driven methods have such incredible potential for impact. Investments she has been involved with include Embodied Intelligence and Primer. Lisha completed her PhD at UCBerkeley focusing on deep learning and probability. While at Berkeley she also did statistical consulting, advising on methods and analysis for experimentation and interpretation, and interned as a data scientist at Pinterest and Stitch Fix. She was the lecturer of discrete mathematics, as well as the graduate instructor for probability and computer science theory. She is @lishali88 on Twitter and @lapis.lazuli.8 on Medium.


Katie Notopoulos

Senior Reporter at BuzzFeed News


About hackNY:

“As a tech journalist, I’ve both covered, participated, and judged hackathons, and what I absolutely love is how crucial this kind of constraint and collaboration is to creativity. I’m so excited to see what amazing ideas will come out of hackNY.”


Katie Notopoulos is a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News covering digital culture and technology. She covers the way big tech companies are affecting our daily lives, as well as the niche communities that make life online fun and weird. She is the cohost of the podcast BuzzFeed’s Internet Explorer and an organizer of the Brooklyn based speaker series IRL Club.


Claudia Perlich

Senior Data Scientist at Two Sigma


Fun facts about Claudia:
Claudia holds some intramural NYU records in power lifting, owns a grandson of the triple crown winner secretariat, used to compete in vaulting, still trying to learn Busoni’s piano version of Bach’s Chaconne.


Claudia is a Senior Data Scientist at Two Sigma. Prior, she served as Chief Scientist at Dstillery (the former Media6Degrees) designing, developing, analyzing and optimizing the machine learning that drives digital advertising to prospective customers of brands. She started her career in Data Science at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, concentrating on research in data analytics and machine learning for complex real-world domains and applications. She continues to actively publish and has over 50 scientific publications to her as well as a few patents in the area of machine learning. She received a Ph.D. in Information Systems from Stern School of Business, New York University in 2005 and hold a Master of Computer Science from Colorado University.


Sisi Wei

Deputy Editor for News Applications at ProPublica


About hackNY:

“I had a chance to speak to hackNY fellows last year, and I was impressed with how they wanted to use their skills to make a real difference. I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with at this semester’s hackathon.”


Sisi Wei is the Deputy Editor for News Applications at ProPublica, where she manages a team of journalist-developers who build interactive stories that serve the public interest. Her work has ranged from investigating which U.S. colleges saddle students with debt to monitoring how often China blocks international news outlets. Sisi has won numerous Malofiej, SND Digital and ONA awards, the Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism, and the 2016 Data Journalism Award for Best Individual Portfolio. She has served as an adjunct professor at New York University, The New School and CUNY, and she is also the co-founder of Code with me, a high-impact, nonprofit workshop that teaches journalists how to code. Sisi previously worked at the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.


To learn more about our wonderful past judges, read about them in our blog posts!

hackNY is excited to present: the Fall 2017 hackathon judges

Announcing the Spring 2017 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges

hackNY presents: the Fall 2016 Student Hackathon Judges

Meet the Spring 2016 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges

Meet the Fall 2015 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges: Part 1

Meet the Fall 2015 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges, Part 2

2017 recap: hackNY summer of good

This past summer was hackNY’s first in which dedicated social good initiatives were officially part of the summer program. For years, hackNY has been passionate about impacting New York city, and our first organized social good programwas a good starting point for us to continue serving our community in the years to come. The class of 2017 hackNY Fellows, made up of 28 talented computer science fellows and 6 mentors who were ‘alumNY’ in previous years, organized a number of social good projects. Looking back at this summer, I asked a few of the Fellows and mentors about their experiences with the social good initiative.


Shelly Bensal is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University and was a hackNY fellow last year at Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Alphabet that aims to make the world safer. As part of her  social good project, she worked with CSNYC, a national organization that works on bringing computer science curriculum into schools at a K-12 level with a focus on enabling teachers to teach those curriculums. CSNYC has a summit every October with a number of partner organizations, but they wanted some way of tracking commitment that these other organizations had made to CSNYC. Sick of dumping data into Excel spreadsheets, CSNYC worked with a Shelly and other hackNY fellows in building a Django web app to better facilitate how CSNYC organizes their partner’s commitments. Although they started in August, towards the end of the fellowship, after the summer ended, they all went home and started Skyping at night to work on the project remotely with each other. Shelly recalls that “it was a cool way to keep in touch and get to know each other better in slightly different contexts.” Today, the project has been finished and handed off to CSNYC. “This is something they reiterated and needed, so I’m confident this will be useful to them moving forward, whether they use it as a base or as a prototype. No matter where it ends up, though, we all got a lot of value.”
SaraAnn Stanway is a junior at Rutgers University studying computer science and was a hackNY fellow last summer working at Wellthy, a healthcare startup. Her passion for volunteering and social good long pre-dates her summer at hackNY. In the past, she has coordinated hackathons, which kicked off a chain reaction of working to retain women minorities in college. With her computer science club at Rutgers, she has done entire outreach programs with undergrads and middle/high school students. Termed ‘virtual classroom visits’, these events give younger students the opportunity to ask questions of computer science veterans about what it’s like to be a coder. This past summer, when she was on the hackNY outreach and lobbying team, she met up with other fellows to call their local legislators to lobby for computer science education. She says that this experience was “really educational because wow, this 45 second phone call is one of the most successful things I can do no matter where I am. This is something I want to bring back to my own school.” Indeed, this year, SaraAnn is working with members of her CS department and planning this coming spring to have undergrads go and work with local schools, do tours of New York City startups, and “overall bring more hands-on education that more resembles hacker culture.”
Bethany Davis is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, studying computer science. During hackNY, she interned at GIPHY on the search team, using machine learning to make it easier for everyone to find the perfect GIF. As the Head TA for CIS 120, an introductory computer science course at Penn, she has become very passionate about computer science education and education policy. She has volunteered at AFSE in New York (a public/magnet school focused on software engineering in the curriculum) and TechItOut Philly and GEARS Day (Philadelphia-area events for young underrepresented minorities in CS and STEM, hosting and running workshops on web development and sharing my passion for computer science). She worked with SaraAnn in lobbying for computer science education. Every week, they would gather some fellows, call their respective senators and urge them to prioritize and fund CS education in public schools. At the end of the fellowship, she also prepared a presentation to explain different ways to stay involved throughout the year, including a calendar of important dates when local or state-level voting could make a difference.
Dan Gorelick is a software engineer at Two Bulls, a digital product company in New York City, and was a mentor for the hackNY 2017 fellows. Dan, in addition to the other mentors, were all closely involved with the social good initiative. He worked with the New York district attorney office’s trafficking response unit to change the landscape in attacking and preventing human trafficking. He was the project manager of a project built using Twilio. After finishing this project, within a few days, he and his team had investigators in the field already using it. A few weeks later, during the last few weeks of fellowship, five of them went to the district attorney’s office to present to the team, after which point they were invited to continue working with them on other efforts. All in all, there were about 15 of the 28 hackNY fellows working on this project. For Dan, this was his first time getting involved in volunteering and social good efforts. Dan says, “It really makes you understand that volunteer work is not easy, and it definitely is work, but in the end, it’s really great to be able to harness your skills and focus on a problem not just to make profit for a company, or solving technical problems for a product. You’re solving actually meaningful problems.” It’s currently being used by Toronto and Ontario police departments, and combating human trafficking at NYPD.

Although this was hackNY’s first year with a formal social good initiative, I also asked a few of the fellows and mentors about how it compared to other non-profit or volunteering experiences they’ve had in the past. The resounding answer I got was two-fold: What defined hackNY’s social good initiative was the teamwork and passion.

As talented technologists, the hackNY summer fellows (and alumNY-mentors) are hackathon veterans who build side projects in their spare time. They all have software and hardware engineering expertise, whether that be in design, mobile development, web programming, systems infrastructure, or hardware. Applied to social good, these skills have the potential to effect massive change across a community or city, and indeed, we witnessed the fellows’ impact throughout the 10 weeks of the fellowship. The diversity of skills within the fellowship allowed the fellows and mentors to learn from one another and work together, leveraging each other’s skills, to make the most impact possible. Shelly described this community, saying that what made hackNY different from other coding projects or nonprofit opportunities was “the support of the hackNY community. I was living with 30 other people who were interested in social good and wanted to work on a project. I could even ask help from those who weren’t working on my project. There were always people who had experience.” For her, having multiple others working together, forming a support network, was a large learning experience. “It’s not like working on an open source project and being alone. I think hackNY giving me that feeling of teamwork is something that is going to stick with me as I move forward.”

However, these fellows are chosen not only for their technical abilities but also their passion for the New York community and the tech community at large. As it pertains to the social good initiative, the fellows and mentors were proactive and passionate about leading and taking charge of their projects. As Bethany describes, “The hackNY experience was different because we were spearheading the effort, whereas usually I would be reporting to someone else’s vision or agenda. This allowed our group to focus our efforts on our individual passions or directions. On the flip side, there was no one holding us accountable if we weren’t able to deliver on our plans on time. I liked that we had a lot of freedom to pursue whatever social good and whatever impact we wanted, and it was great that the other fellows were equally passionate about pursuing these issues.” Indeed, a common theme that runs throughout hackNY, in both the social good initiative and other projects in general, is that we have a lot of people who actually yearn to help out and start doing things. Shelly says, “We definitely unified as a group who were working on our project. Not only are we helping the community, but we’re becoming a better class of fellows.”

Moving forward, we at hackNY are eager to continue improving our social good initiatives. Although our first year was a success in completing projects and working with organizations throughout New York, we hope to provide our fellows with more structure and opportunities to get involved in meaningful causes, especially at the beginning of the summer as opposed to unorganized and inconsistent times strewn throughout the summer. To this end, we are very excited to begin searching and partnering with causes and organizations throughout the city and formalizing a plan that our fellows can take and run with, not only through the duration of the fellowship, but also beyond. If your organization is a mission-driven org that could benefit from partnering with talented technologists next summer, or if you know a good cause or organization that might be a great hackNY project for summer 2018, please let us know at [email protected] !!



Fall 2017 Hackathon Recap

This past weekend saw our Fall 2017 hackathon, hackNY’s 16th hackathon, return to Columbia University. For 24 hours from Saturday into Sunday, over 240 hackers from nearly 50 different colleges built apps to help you fight procrastination, hacked hardware to help save energy, made memes more accessible, and questioned the correct pronunciation of “gif” (it’s definitely with a hard G). Over 40 enthusiastic teams presented their 90 second demos to the judges and audiences and showed just how creative, determined and innovative they could be.

We started the weekend off with technology presentations from NYC companies Clarifai, Giphy, ProPublica, NYTimes, Foursquare, Buzzfeed, Twilio during opening ceremonies. Once hackers got started, we invited them to workshops such as Jessica Garson’s “APIs 101”, Anthony Johnson’s “Deep Learning Based Search Engine”, and Natarajan Krishnaswami’s “Tour of US Census Data”.

Jessica's Workshop
APIs 101 Workshop with Jessica Garson

During a super successful Ladies Storm Hackathons Meetup, our very own Hanne Paine (h’14) helped our women hackers savor their accomplishments with brownies and an “I can” poster they all contributed to!

LSH Meetup
Another great Ladies Storm Hackathon Meetup

Our hackers ate delicious food from Otto’s Tacos, Inday, Insomnia Cookies, Schnitz, Kings Kolache, and Vanessa’s Dumplings. GIPHY brought their super fun Giphy Frame to take GIFs of the hackers in motion.

Hackers in VR

Thank you to our awesome judges: Becky Case, Courteney Ervin, Deborah Estrin, Jacqueline Garavente, Shani Offen, and Stephanie Yang for giving us their time and insight. And a big thank you to our awesome sponsors and partners a16z, BuzzFeed, Datto, Spotify, Giphy, The New York Times, MongoDB, Codecademy, Kickstarter, Microsoft Research, Twilio, Clarifai, Flybridge, Insomnia Cookies, Columbia Engineering and the awesome ADI student group there, and MLH for supporting the NYC tech community and the next generation of hackers.

First Place
First Place team BodyID with judge Becky Case and MLH’s Mike Swift

First PlaceBodyID

Second PlaceDeluminator

Third PlaceRemembrance

Best Social Good HackOcean Cleanup

Most TechnicalTraeC

Best Hack DesignMapping the Times

Best Accessibility HackWhere’s My Bus

Best Hack Using an NYC APIEmergency

Best First HackGrab It by the Giphy

Most Likely to Go Viral (sponsored by Giphy)Grab It by the Giphy

Most Likely to Go Viral (sponsored by Giphy)Feel Your Gif

Best Use of Encryption (sponsored by Datto)Anxiety Bot

Best Use of TwilioTalk Me-me 2 me

Best Domain Name from Domain.comGifMe

Best IOT Hack Using a Qualcomm DeviceLionBike

Best Use of AWSRemora

Honorable MentionTalk Me-me 2 me

[Photos by Libby Grace – View more photos on the hackNY Facebook group]

hackNY is excited to present: the Fall 2017 hackathon judges

Our fall 2017 student hackathon is a week away and we’re excited to announce the judges who will be evaluating this fall’s hacks! Check out our Devpost for more information on the hackathon!

Becky Case
VP of Engineering @ Birchbox

About hackNY:
“HackNY will always have a special place in my heart for the work they do – not only in creating an amazing program for interns, but also in their support for female engineers. Plus my favorite interns from the past five years have come from HackNY!”

Becky is the VP of Engineering, overseeing global technology, at Birchbox, a leading beauty and grooming retailer best known for its monthly subscription of personalized samples. She is a musician-turned-computer-scientist who specializes in architecting large-scale systems in the e-commerce space. Prior to joining Birchbox in January 2012, she worked at a variety of early-stage startups, including OpenSky, as well as the multi-million­-dollar­-per-­day (and has a shoe collection that proves it!).

courteney_ervin Courteney Ervin
Software Developer @ the NYPL

About hackNY:
“I love seeing what people create when they care passionately about the problems they’re solving.”

Courteney Ervin works in the space where open source meets social good. She’s a developer at the New York Public Library, where she supports accessible literacy in the city and beyond.

Deborah Estrin
Professor of Computer Science @ Cornell Tech

Deborah Estrin is a Professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech in New York City. She is founder of the Health Tech Hub in the Jacobs Institute and directs the Small Data Lab at Cornell Tech. She holds The Robert V. Tishman Founder’s Chair and has recently taken on a leadership role as Associate Dean. Her current research focus is on mobile health and small data, leveraging the pervasiveness of mobile devices and digital interactions for health and life management (TEDMED). Estrin co-founded the non-profit startup, Open mHealth and sits on several scientific advisory boards for early stage mobile health startups.

Previously, Estrin was on the UCLA faculty where she was the Founding Director of the NSF Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS), pioneering the development of mobile and wireless systems to collect and analyze real time data about the physical world. Her honors include: ACM Athena Lecture (2006), Anita Borg Institute’s Women of Vision Award for Innovation (2007), The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007), The National Academy of Engineering (2009), The IEEE Internet Award (2017).

jacqueline_garavente Jacqueline Garavente
Investment Team @ Union Square Ventures

About hackNY:
“Hackathons serve as a reminder that many of the great projects in this sector are conceived without millions of dollars and hundreds of people. I’m looking forward to seeing what your brilliant ideas and coding skills will bring!”
Jacqueline Garavente joined Union Square Ventures in August 2016. She began her career in Artificial Intelligence at IBM Watson before moving to the NYC based startup, Dataminr. Her past areas of research include machine learning, application of open source data and the intersection of technology and economic development . She has been happily based in NYC with brief stints in Africa and LatAm. She graduated from New York University in 2013.

Shani Offen
Machine Learning Chapter Lead @ Spotify

About hackNY:
“What struck me about my first hackathon was that it created a very intense community in a very short amount of time. It was fun and inspiring and I don’t use those two words together in many contexts. It changed me in some way. It made me feel hopeful and excited about tech, and that feeling has helped me face the many things that are seriously messed up about the tech world, especially as a woman. I also loved the experience of getting so much done so quickly. It gave me a very gut-level understanding of what constitutes an mvp (minimum viable product), and how to build and iterate quickly, which has served me well ever since.”

Shani got her PhD in neuroscience from NYU in 2008, with a focus on computational vision. She has recently joined Spotify, where she leads a machine learning team in the quest to design a new era of awesome interactive audio ads. Before that, she served as director of data science at the online publisher, where her team looked at data generated by O(10^9) sessions by O(10^8) visitors to O(10^6) articles on O(10^3) topics from O(10^2) countries over O(10^1) years. Her favorite algorithm is division, she is amused by superstitious pigeons, and she recommends fiction as a good way to expand your priors.

stephanie_yang Stephanie Yang
Staff Data Scientist @ Foursquare

Stephanie is a mathematician and software developer with a passion for big data. She works on core location intelligence at Foursquare which connects mobile user experiences to the places people go. She joined Foursquare in 2014 after four years of quantitative finance where she wrote automated algorithms that traded futures contracts.
Before moving to New York, Stephanie earned her Ph.D in mathematics at Harvard and was a NSF Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Michigan. She worked for several years at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and she taught several classes in both English and Swedish.

Stephanie spends her free time as a technical scuba diver and telemark skier.

Thank you again to all our wonderful judges. We’re excited to see you all next weekend!

If you’re curious about who else has judged our hackathons in the past, take a look at these posts from Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Spring 2016, and Fall 2015 (part 1 and part 2)

hackNY 2017 Fellowship Speaker Series

The Speaker Series is a core tenet of the hackNY fellowship, and it wouldn’t be possible without the individuals listed below. We’d like to take a minute to thank all of the leaders in the NYC tech community who spoke to the 2017 hackNY Fellows this past summer.

Countering Human Trafficking

hackNY alumNY panel

hackNY alumNY panel

hackNY alumNY panel


Rob Spectre
Brooklyn Hacker

Hosted at: NYU Courant


Alex Berke
Software Engineer @ Google

Hosted at: WeWork


Catherine Moresco
Software Engineer @ Google

Hosted at: WeWork


Keeyon Ebrahimi
Machine Learning Engineer @ Clarifai

Hosted at: WeWork

hackNY alumNY panel

hackNY alumNY panel

hackNY alumNY panel

The story of hackNY


Lisa Luo
Android & iOS Engineer @ Kickstarter

Hosted at: WeWork


Steve Gattuso
Freelance Software Engineer

Hosted at: WeWork


Walter Menendez
Data Scientist @ Buzzfeed

Hosted at: WeWork


Chris Wiggins
Head Data Scientist @ The New York Times

Hosted at: The New York Times

The story of hackNY

Weapons of Math Destruction

Early Stage Startup Investment

Lessons Learned from Founding Hopscotch


Evan Korth
CS Professor @ NYU

Hosted at: The New York Times


Cathy O’Neill
Author of and Weapons of Math Destruction

Hosted at: Columbia Data Science Institute


Ann Miura Ko
Co-Founding Partner @ Floodgate

Hosted at: Giphy

samantha john

Samantha John
Founder of Hopscotch

Hosted at: Kickstarter

The Manager’s Path

Social Good for Coders

Social Good for Coders

How Coding is Changing Investigative Journalism


Camille Fournier
Managing Director @ Two Sigma, Ex-CTO @ Rent the Runway

Hosted at: Clarifai


Rapi Castillo
Progressive Coders Network

Hosted at: NYU Courant


Leslie Martinez
Hack the Ban

Hosted at: NYU Courant


Sisi Wei
Deputy Editor of News Applications @ ProPublica

Hosted at: Digital Ocean

Jonah’s Path and the story of Buzzfeed

Mostly Human

Union Square Ventures

Union Square Ventures


Jonah Peretti
Founder and CEO @ Buzzfeed

Hosted at: Buzzfeed


Laurie Segall
Senior Technology Correspondant @ CNN

Hosted at: CNN Time Warner Center


Albert Wenger
Partner @ Union Square Ventures

Hosted at: Union Square Ventures


Brad Burnham
Partner @ Union Square Ventures

Hosted at: Union Square Ventures

Tech lobbying

Leveraging Small Data: n=”me”

Building Networks

Data Science at Foursquare


Julie Samuels
Executive Director @ Tech:NYC

Hosted at: Silicon Valley Bank


Deborah Estrin
Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean @ Cornell Tech, and co-Founder @ Open mHealth

Hosted at: MakeSpace


Gary Chou
Founder of Orbital Labs

Hosted at: Datadog


Stephanie Yang
Data Scientist @ Foursquare

Hosted at: Foursquare

Thank you again to all of the Speakers who donate their time to our Fellows!