We are an academic community of research scientists, students, and faculty committed to shepherding the development of blockchain technology and its applications for the public good.
Neha Narula is the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative, a part of the MIT Media Lab focusing on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. While completing a PhD in computer science at MIT, she built fast, scalable distributed systems and databases. She is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Futures Council on Blockchain and has given a TED talk on the Future of Money.
In a previous life, Neha helped relaunch the news aggregator Digg and was a senior software engineer at Google. There, she designed Blobstore, a system for storing and serving petabytes of immutable data, and worked on Native Client, a way to run native code securely through a browser.
Joichi "Joi" Ito has been recognized for his work as an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and internet freedom. As Media Lab Director, he is currently exploring how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in substantial and positive ways. Follow @Joi on Twitter.
Simon Johnson is an economist and faculty advisor to the DCI from the MIT Sloan School. Prior to MIT, Simon served as the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund.
Gary is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and senior advisor to the director of the MIT Media Lab, where he advises both the Digital Currency Initiative and the Ethics and Governance of AI project. Gary served as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (2009-2014), leading the Obama administration's post-crisis reform efforts of the $400 trillion market in over-the-counter derivatives, or swaps. In recognition, he was a recipient of the 2014 Tamar Frankel Fiduciary Prize. He currently is chairman of the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission. Gary earned his undergraduate degree in economics in 1978 and his MBA from the Wharton School in 1979.
Professor Rivest is an Institute Professor at MIT. He joined MIT in 1974 as a faculty member in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is a member of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), a member of the lab's Theory of Computation Group and a founder of its Cryptography and Information Security Group. He is a co-author (with Cormen, Leiserson, and Stein) of the text, Introduction to Algorithms. He is also a founder of RSA Data Security, now named RSA Security (the security division of EMC), Versign, and Peppercoin. Professor Rivest has research interests in cryptography, computer and network security, electronic voting, and algorithms.
Christian is a professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is one of the principal investigators of the MIT Digital Currencies Research Study, which gave access to all MIT undergraduate students to Bitcoin in the Fall of 2014.
Michael J. Casey is a Senior Advisor at DCI. A former Wall Street Journal writer and accomplished author, Michael has written several critically acclaimed books including The Age of Cryptocurrency and The Unfair Trade. Follow @mikejcasey on Twitter.
A creator of the Lightning Network, one of the most promising Bitcoin scaling solutions, Tadge Dryja leads DCI research focused on the scaling and interoperability of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. Follow @tdryja on Twitter.
Alin heads strategic partnerships for the Digital Currency Initiative, and also leads product management for the DCI's efforts on Layer 2 solutions for scaling public blockchains. Before MIT, he was a vice president at First Data Corporation, leading a family of products for banking the unbanked. In this role, he was responsible for a $200M P&L and an organization of ~200 employees. He also spent three years in the startup world, raising seed funds, scaling up business models and managing a post-acquisition integration. Alin holds an MBA from University of Arkansas and an MS from MIT.
Madars recently completed his MIT PhD thesis on zero-knowledge cryptography. His publications on zkSNARKs laid the foundation for the Zerocash protocol. Madars has presented his work at conferences around the world. He is a scientist for both the A.I. Initiative and the Digital Currency Initiative at the Media Lab.
Robleh Ali is a Research Scientist, his main focus is on how fiat currencies can be issued digitally outside the existing banking system and the role of central banks in such a system. The overall aim of the work is fundamentally reforming the financial system by changing the way money is issued.
Rhys Lindmark is focused on positively shaping our exponential, fragile, and abundant context. Within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, he’s focused on facilitating cross-project collaboration and stewarding a more compassionate culture. He also donates a percentage of his income to charity and is writing a book about how blockchain technology will change society. Follow @RhysLindmark on Twitter.
Julia Schachnik is the administrative assistant for the DCI. She oversees scheduling, event coordination, and communications.
Henry Aspegren joined the DCI as an undergrad and is now pursuing a Master's of Engineering in Computer Science. Henry is completing his thesis work on b_verify as a research assistant in the DCI under Neha Narula. Henry is interested in using cryptography and engineering to make credit markets fairer and more inclusive. Next year Henry will travel to Beijing to complete a Schwarzman Scholarship to learn how b_verify can inform public policy.
James started mining Bitcoin in 2013 and was captured by the prospect of a trustless, permissionless financial system. Since starting at the DCI two years ago, James has been working primarily on Cryptokernel; a distributed ledger development toolkit as well as Lightning Network related projects. James works on the Digital Fiat Currency project, aiming to use Cryptokernel to demonstrate a workable fiat currency design based on distributed ledger technology. James is also the lead developer of Vertcoin, which he has been lead developer of since late 2014.
Gert-Jaap is a DCI software developer from the Netherlands. His primary focus is on second layer solutions like the Lightning Network and Discreet Log Contracts.
Sophie works on the application of zkLedger and zero-knowledge proofs to the world of Finance. Her primary focus is on the securitization market and the ability for investors to get anonymized performance analytics about their investments in near-real time. Sophie holds a Master of Science in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and a Master of Business Administration from MIT Sloan School of Management.
Eilon Shalev is a second-year MBA student at MIT Sloan. He is the Head of the Working Groups Program at the DCI. He is taking the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Track and co-leads the MIT Sloan Blockchain Club. Prior to MIT Sloan, Eilon served his country for 12.5 years. He wrote a novel at the age of 23 and was the first-ever Israeli to crowdfund a project in Israel, financing the publishing of his book.
Since joining the Digital Currency Initiative in 2017, Marla has worked on the Digital Fiat Currency and Open Music Initiative projects. She is passionate about making the blockchain and cryptocurrency space accessible to everyone through developing educational resources and tools. In addition to her work in the DCI, Marla is also the Co-Founder and President of MIT Women in EECS, a rower on MIT's varsity crew team and a leader in Amphibious Achievement.
Arturo studies computer science and economics at MIT. He is excited to understand the financial, economic, and engineering elements of cryptocurrencies. He joined the DCI community in 2016, participating in the Intro to Cryptocurrencies Bootcamp. He was a member of the Valuing Cryptoassets working group in Spring 2017 to explore the intrinsic value of blockchain-derived assets and their market dynamics. He is currently working on the Digital Fiat Currency project, implementing new functionality in Cryptokernel (a distributed ledger development toolkit).
Bernard started exploring the great potential for bitcoin and blockchain technology in 2017 and was immediately fascinated with how they combine the two fields of computer science and economics. He currently works on the Digital Fiat Currency project to develop CryptoKernel into a useful resource for future parties to issue their own digital currencies.
Jesus Mathus is now pursuing a Master's of Engineering in Computer Science. Jesus is completing his thesis work on Lightning Network under Tadge Dryja's supervision.
Amanda is studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She joined DCI in Spring 2018, as part of the Cryptokernel development team. She has a passion for cryptocurrency and cybersecurity, and works on the security and stability of the Cryptokernel application. Amanda hopes to pursue a Master’s in Computer Systems at MIT after her Bachelors, ultimately leading up to a career in Cybersecurity. In addition to academics and her work in DCI, Amanda is a Tour Guide for MIT Admissions, currently serves as the Alumnae Engagement Director for her sorority, and enjoys skiing, seeing broadway musicals, and traveling for fun in her spare time.