I was born in Northampton, MA in 1982 while my parents were attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst. We moved back home to Staten Island, NY when I was 2 and I grew up there, attending P.S. 4 elementary school, I.S. 75 intermediate school, and St. Joseph by the Sea High school before returning to western MA in 2000 to attend Amherst College.
In the summer of 2004 I received a B.A. in Computer Science and Psychology from Amherst College under the advisorship of Professor Catherine McGeoch (CS) and Professor Sarah Turgeon (Psych). My senior thesis in Computer Science was completed under the supervision of Professor Andrew Barto at UMass Amherst. For my thesis, I developed a computational model of the partial reinforcement extinction effect observed in many animal learning studies involving schedules of partial reinforcement.
During that time I was also involved in research with Professor John Moore and Dr. Robert Polewan of the UMass Department of Neuroscience and Behavior. We developed a human eyeblink conditioning paradigm (the Cartesian Reflex Project) for studying the effects of different stimuli (e.g., faces vs. geometric shapes) on cognitive processing time in traditional classical conditioning tasks with voluntary unconditioned responses. My primary contribution to this endeavor was the development of the hardware/software interface and protocol design software used in the paradigm.
I joined the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall of 2004 and began research as a member of the Autonomous Learning Laboratory under the advisorship of Professor Andrew Barto. I worked both as a Teaching and Research Assistant for the department throughout that time. I received an M.S. in Computer Science in 2008 and continued work in the Ph.D. program. My doctoral research focused on using reinforcement learning algorithms to model intrinsically motivated behavior in humans and animals; i.e., behavior that is rewarding for its own sake, rather than because it solves a specific problem. The algorithms developed in that work were primarily used to illustrate methods for intrinsically motivated learning of skill hierarchies in artificial agents inhabiting structured environments.
In May of 2010 I joined HitPoint Inc., a video game development studio in Hatfield, MA, as a part-time software engineer. In August of 2011, I joined full-time as a Senior Engineer and worked as sole engineer on a few iPhone titles and as lead engineer on the episodic Windows 8 title Adera, which HitPoint created for Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8. In 2013 I became Director of Engineering at HitPoint and led a team of a dozen engineers on various independent and third-party titles for companies including Microsoft, Disney, and EA.
In April of 2015 I decided to leave HitPoint to focus on finishing up my PhD, but was immediately presented with a job opportunity at a new machine learning startup in San Francisco called Osaro. Osaro was working on very interesting problems in machine learning and reinforcement learning, which meshed perfectly with my academic background, so it wasn’t an offer I could pass up. I moved to San Francisco in June of 2015, finished up my PhD remotely and defended in December.
Since then I’ve been enjoying living in San Francisco and working on cutting edge research and development in machine learning and industrial robotics at Osaro. We have some very interesting and ground-breaking products in development that we think will help change the landscape of automation in many factories and fulfillment centers throughout the world.