Neha Narula | Digital Currency Initiative Director
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.
Joi Ito | MIT Media Lab Director
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 | Faculty Advisor
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 Gensler | Senior Advisor
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.
Ron Rivest | Faculty Advisor
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 Catalini | Faculty Advisor
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 | Senior Advisor
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.
Cory Fields | Bitcoin Core Developer
Cory Fields is a Bitcoin Core lead developer. Previously, Cory served on the board of The XBMC Foundation and worked as a developer on XBMC. Follow @theuni on Github.
Wladimir van der Laan | Bitcoin Core Developer
Wladimir van der Laan is the Lead Maintainer of the Bitcoin repository on GitHub. Follow @laanwj on Github.
Tadge Dryja | Research Scientist
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 S. Dragos | Head of Strategic Partnerships
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 Virza | Research Scientist
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 | Research Scientist
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.
Julia Schachnik | Administrative Assistant
Julia Schachnik is the administrative assistant for the DCI. She oversees scheduling, event coordination, and communications.
Henry Aspegren | Graduate Researcher
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 Lovejoy | Undergraduate Researcher
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 Glasbergen | Software Developer
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 Meralli | Project Manager, Researcher
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 | Head of Working Groups Program
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.
Marla Odell | Undergraduate Researcher
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 Chavez-Gehrig | Undergraduate Researcher
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 Snowden | Undergraduate Researcher
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.
Mark Weber | Researcher, Project Manager
Mark Weber leads the b_verify project for verifiable claims, focused on securing warehouse receipts records on public blockchains to improving agricultural finance. Mark also manages DCI's student working groups. Follow @markrweber on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Github.
A Media Lab alumnus and former head of social innovation for the DCI, Chelsea focuses on the intersection of technology and civil society. Living between Kenya and Cambridge, she now works for the MIT Media Lab's Artificial Intelligence Initiative.
Patrick is a lawyer and expert on bitcoin and blockchain-based technologies. He will conduct research into the law and policy implications of bitcoin, distributed ledgers and smart contracts. Previously Patrick was a co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation where he served at times as General Counsel and Executive Director. Patrick has engaged regulators and policymakers in the US and Europe on bitcoin and the emerging digital economy. He was named among America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel for 2014 by the National Law Journal. Patrick also serves as President Board member for the BitGive Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on charitable giving and social impact using bitcoin.
Jesus Mathus | Graduate Researcher
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.
Nicola Greco is a Ph.D. student in the Decentralized Information Group at MIT. He writes and advances research on ways to re-decentralize the web, focusing on technical, political, and social aspects of decentralized systems both at MIT and the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society.
Willy recently completed his MIT masters thesis entitled "Auditable Private Ledgers" the design and implementation of a privacy solution for distributed ledgers that lets third parties audit private ledger data. Follow @elwrv on Twitter.
Alin Tomescu is a PhD candidate in MIT CSAIL, advised by Professor Srinivas Devadas. His current research interests are in secure communication, public-key directories, cryptographic puzzles, cryptocurrencies, anonymity and privacy-preserving web applications.
Silvio Micali is the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT and winner of the prestigious 2012 Turing Award for his pioneering work in cryptography. His scientific interests include complexity-based pseudorandom generation and cryptography, interactive and computationally sound proofs, zero knowledge, secure protocols, and mechanism design.
Andrew Lippman is a senior research scientist at MIT and associate director of the Media Lab. He has been with the Lab since its inception. Lippman’s work here has ranged from digital video and HDTV to graphical interfaces and networking. He heads the Lab's Viral Communications research group, which examines scalable, real-time systems whose capacity increases with the number of members. This new approach to communications, human transactions, and broadcasting migrates "mainframe communications" technology to distributed, personally defined, cooperative communicators.
Ariel is a PhD student and research assistant in the Responsive Environments group at the Media Lab, where she designs and prototypes aerospace structures with embedded sensor networks. As Founder and Lead of the Media Lab's Space Exploration Initiative, she coordinates space research opportunities across the spectrum of science, engineering, art and design and support collaborations on this work throughout MIT. Previously, in the Viral Communications group at the Media Lab, she produced research and prototypes for blockchain-based medical records.
J. Philipp Schmidt is Director of Learning Innovation at the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the ML Learning initiative, teaches courses, and conducts research on learning communities. He is also a cofounder and board member of Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), a non-profit organization that provides access to online higher education through public libraries. Philipp served on the founding board of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, co-authored the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, and is an advisor to a number of non-profit and for-profit education projects. He has received Shuttleworth and Ashoka fellowships, and came to MIT as a Media Lab Director's fellow.
Prema Shrikrishna is a blockchain enthusiast, a sustainable business champion and has spent over 13 years building sustainable business operations for Walt Disney, ABB & Vodafone across Asia Pacific. She is passionate about understanding industry dynamics enabled by technology and their impact on the global ecosystem—economic, social, and environmental.Currently, she is a serving as Blockchain & Supply chains advisor at the MIT Media Lab. She has advised Governments, Ports & Fortune 500 companies on streamlining process efficiencies through the Distributed Ledger Technology. She is also collaborating with the Belt and Road Blockchain consortium, Hong Kong to explore the future of digital trade for Belt and Road initiative led by China encompassing over 60 countries.
Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and an Associate Professor of the Practice at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the role of technology in international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists. He is the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection (W. W. Norton, 2013).
With Rebecca MacKinnon, Zuckerman co-founded the international blogging community Global Voices. It showcases news and opinions from citizen media in more than 150 nations and 30 languages, publishing editions in 20 languages. Through Global Voices and through the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he served as a researcher and fellow for eight years, Zuckerman is active in efforts to promote freedom of expression and fight censorship in online spaces.
In 2000, Zuckerman founded Geekcorps, a technology volunteer organization that sends IT specialists to work on projects in developing nations, with a focus on West Africa. Previously, he helped found Tripod.com, one of the web's first "personal publishing" sites. Zuckerman blogs at ethanzuckerman.com/blog. He received his bachelor's degree from Williams College, and as a Fulbright scholar, studied at the University of Ghana at Legon.
Amanda Horne | Undergraduate Researcher
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.