Founder & Chief ScientistZoran Popović is a Professor of Computer Science and the Director of the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, as well as founder of Enlearn. Trained as a computer scientist, his research focuses on creating engaging environments for learning and scientific discovery. He is one of the leaders in the field of large-scale citizen science. His laboratory created Foldit, a biochemistry game that produced four Nature publications, and showed for the first time that novices can be developed into world-class experts in a science domain through game-based scientific discovery. His laboratory has produced award-winning math learning games played by over five million learners worldwide. He is currently focusing on engaging methods that can rapidly develop mastery and expertise in arbitrary domains with particular focus on scientific breakthroughs and revolutionizing K-12 math education. Zoran is known for conducting large-scale educational campaigns including Algebra Challenges conducted in Washington, Minnesota, and Norway with almost 100,000 students. To maximize the impact of his research, he founded Enlearn to develop the first platform that adapts all aspects of the learning ecosystem by specializing to each curriculum, student, classroom and teacher in realtime, towards maximizing learning outcomes. His contributions to the field of interactive computer experiences have been recognized by a number of awards including the NSF CAREER Award, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and ACM SIGGRAPH Significant New Researcher Award.
Chief Executive OfficerPrior to joining Enlearn, John was co-founder and CEO of TeachFirst, a subscription-based multi-media teacher professional development company that became part of Editure Professional Development in 2009. Prior to TeachFirst, John held executive positions in Marketing and Product Management at several early stage companies in the wireless and streaming media spaces. John earned a B.A. at Brown University and an MBA at the University of Washington.
Favorite Childhood Book: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, because Sam is the best friend ever. A close second would be Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I learned some great early lessons in leadership from Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Head of ProductPittsburgh born and raised, Scott started his career planning to change the world (take over the universe) through a life in public service (politics). He attended the George Washington University where he earned several degrees relating to this goal. He also worked in the DC political machinery, including a stint at the White House. Upon realizing that even his flexible moral compass was entirely too challenged by a life in politics, Scott redirected his desire to change the world into a passion to revolutionize STEM education. He has been a leader at several strong industry contributors, including Carnegie Learning and Think Through Math.
Favorite Childhood Book: “Scott, please just be quiet for 10 minutes! Go in your room and read a book.” As an “energetic” child, books were something of a punishment to Scott, so there is not much nostalgia attached. However, forced to state a favorite for this bio, middle-school Scott did take a strong liking to John Steinbeck, and even visited the Salinas Valley in California to see the landscapes that were so vividly described in his books.
Director of ResearchYun-En is excited to work at Enlearn to apply or create new techniques for generating and planning adaptive educational material for students. In his free time, Yun-En spends much of his time on an assortment of hobbies, including playing violin in bands, cooking, weightlifting, and aerial silks…and it has to be said, baking the most delicious and beautiful birthday cakes for each of us here at Enlearn. HUGE perk for the rest of us. For a list of Yun-En’s research publications, click here.
Favorite Childhood Book: My favorite childhood books were the Xanth novels, a pun-based fantasy series by Piers Anthony. Besides providing a background for my extensive daydreaming, the books touch on a lot of philosophical, societal, political, and moral questions that made me think about how our world ought to work.
Director of HR & Finance
Jennifer has worked in nonprofit management for national and regional organizations doing strategic planning and board development, fundraising, finance, media and public relations, human resources, and social media/community engagement. In her previous lives, she has been an executive director, lawyer, teacher and technical writer, PTA president, and campaign manager. She earned her J.D. from Willamette University College of Law and Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. On weekends she can be found hanging out with her family, working in her garden, reading books, or cheering on her favorite UW team.
Favorite Childhood Books: Curious George and The Hobbit stand out because George and Bilbo were always very curious and good at solving problems. I admired George because he got himself in and out of the best scrapes with his curiosity and resourcefulness, making everyone happy in the end. In each of his misadventures, he would come away with new friends, a bunny, a box of chocolates, a medal, or such and would have a blast doing it. Bilbo too was always getting into serious trouble (although he went searching for it), but often with the help of his friends and a bit of ingenuity and luck would find his way to a new solution. I admired how both characters remained positive and resourceful despite what seemed like insurmountable obstacles.
Software EngineerCullen came to Enlearn as a front-end developer after graduating from the University of Washington with Bachelor degrees in Computer Software Engineering and Statistics. While studying at UW, he worked with Professor and Enlearn Founder, Zoran Popovic at the Center for Game Science as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. There he helped develop Creature Capture, a flash game designed to teach kids about fractions. He also worked closely with the Fold-It and Refraction teams during his employment at the Center for Game Science.
Favorite Childhood Book: My favorite book as a kid was The Boxcar Children. It is the most memorable for me because it was the first “chapter book” I read, and I remember feeling extremely proud when I finished the book early in elementary school.
Product OwnerOriginally from Detroit, Michigan, Melissa made her way west to pursue her MS in Writing as well as a graduate certificate in sustainability at Portland State University, where she did extensive research on how the book publishing industry could become more sustainable. Her research resulted in a book titled, “Rethinking Paper & Ink” which is still used by publishers like Macmillan as an internal resource. Melissa ran her own freelance publishing, editing, and writing company for years after grad school, specializing in the sustainability industry. Most recently, Melissa was Director of Program Operations at an e-learning company where she was in charge of figuring out the best ways to create amazing learning experiences for Fortune 500 companies. She loves working in fast-paced environments where people are trying to solve difficult and important questions. In her free time, Melissa is usually running somewhere on a trail, playing guitar, doing yoga, gardening, reading about sustainability and biomimicry, or going on adventures with her husband and dog. Not necessarily in that order.
Favorite Childhood Book: The one that sticks out to me the most is “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” I loved that it took place on an island, and I loved the independent and fierce spirit of the female protagonist and, of course, I loved her wolf companion. Later in life I learned that this was actually based on a true story about a Native American woman who was stranded on an Island for 18 years. It’s an amazing story.
Favorite Childhood Book: Where The Wild Things Are is the most memorable book from my childhood. I really enjoyed the story itself, but more importantly the book and the stuffed animals were a cornerstone of my kindergarten where I made some of my life-long friends.
Software EngineerAlex is a Seattle native who graduated from the University of Washington, Bothell with a degree in Computer and Software Systems. His first job out of college was working for RealNetworks on a DVD player that would copy the owner’s movies to an internal hard drive. The product was declared a “Bad Idea” by a court in California and was never released to the public. Next he matched gems for four years at PopCap games and met lots of great people, some of whom now work at Enlearn. Alex spends much of his time questioning whether he should have hired someone else to work on his house instead of doing it himself. Lately his wife has been able to convince him that his time is valuable and that it’s really nice to have a project takes weeks instead of months. He also enjoys growing vegetables in his garden and fermenting liquids in his basement. Alex greatly enjoys eating cookies, especially chocolate chip. Some of the better ones to be found in the city are at Delancey pizza, Macrina bakery, and Slab sandwiches. To compensate for his love of cookies he plays water polo with the Seattle Otters, indoor soccer with old PopCap colleagues, and practices yoga with his wife.
Favorite Childhood Book: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. Although he doesn’t really remember the “Six More”, the story of Henry Sugar is one he often thinks about when looking at candles or playing Magic the Gathering.
Software EngineerBrian graduated from Linfield College in Oregon with a BS in computer science and a double minor in mathematics and music. He quickly landed a job with The Resource Group, where he spent five years as a consultant, creating customer integrations for business and accounting systems. Brian recently came to Enlearn, because he was drawn to the Enlearn mission statement. “I jumped on the job, because the goal of the work–the knowledge that we are all working to improve the education process for children–is huge and positive. In addition to the mission, the interesting problems we get to work on, our weekly kata, and the pair programming we do means that I am learning something new every week, if not every day.” Brian is a huge sports fan, follows the Seattle Sounders enthusiastically, and can be found at both home and away games in the Emerald City Supporters section cheering and singing in support of the team. Though Brian’s viola and violin from his college days in a chamber group are stored somewhere at his parents’ house, Brian still likes to play guitar casually, collect punk rock records, and go out to hear live music.
Favorite Childhood Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, which he probably read a dozen times. Brian loved it for the irreverent humor and because reading his favorite series over and over again always brought him a sense of comfort.
Research Software EngineerTony has more than 20 years experience in R & D (his kids’ initials are even R & D) in everything from supercomputing chip design at Tera/Cray computer to software research and development at Pacific Northwest National Lab. Tony has received Bachelor’s Degrees from Whitman College and the California Institute of Technology as well as two master’s degrees from the University of Washington in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Tony’s interest in education started with his parents who both stressed the importance of a good education to his entire (large) family. It continued when he started tutoring in a kindergarten classroom as a young adult and was cemented when he started teaching at the community college level and coaching his kids in basketball and baseball over the last few years. With an interest in the brain-mind connection since high school, a passion for data visualization, and several degrees in technology, education technology seems like the perfect fit.
Favorite Childhood Book: I went through several phases of favorite books including The Hobbit, The Phantom Tollbooth and Where The Red Fern Grows. If I had to pick one it would probably be The Phantom Tollbooth, which I was just able to read with my oldest son who also really enjoyed it.
Software EngineerAfter earning degrees in Computer Engineering and Education, Taiyo is excited to work on technology for learners to explore, stumble, and problem-solve. He previously developed software at Amazon and has a cursory sampling of experiences teaching 4-12th grade STEM topics. While coaching young computer scientists to build dancing robots and shoe tracking apps at Girls Who Code, he developed an appreciation for learning by creating. When he’s not hunched over the keys at his desk, Taiyo might be hunched over the keys of his piano. Last year he completed a long-time goal of playing the first movement of Grieg’s piano concerto, and this year he might attempt the third movement.
Favorite Childhood Book: “Where’s Waldo?” was one of Taiyo’s early favorites, in large part because he loved putting together a set of jigsaw puzzles based on the series.