Our World, Our Data: Speaker Bios

by Lorrie LeJeune

April 15, 2017

Madeleine Ball, PhD is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and Director of Research at Open Humans Foundation. Madeleine is dedicated to applying “open” principles to change how we share and study human health data. Because human health data is often identifiable, privacy concerns abound – how can we share data in a way that supports and honors individual privacy? Madeleine’s work primarily occurs through Open Humans, a nonprofit project she co-founded that combines technology, advocacy, and community to take an individual-centered approach for tackling this question.

Sean Bonner is co-founder and global director of Safecast, a visiting researcher with the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media, sits on the board of CicLAvia and holds advisory/mentor roles with both the Highway 101 Incubator and Singularity University. He previously co-founded Coffee Common and Crash Space and was a founding collaborator to the multimedia art/music collective CMHHTD. He has been a regular contributor to BoingBoing as well as written editorials for MAKE, Al Jazeera and others. He maintains a regular link filled newsletter and has been a Shuttleworth Fellow since 2014.

Azby Brown is a leading authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environmentalism, and the author of many influential books and articles, including The Very Small Home (2005), Just Enough: Lessons in living green from traditional Japan (2010), and The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (2014). In 2003 Azby founded the KIT Future Design Institute, focusing on cognitive and cultural issues surrounding the human hand and its use in the creative process, and conducting collaborative research with neuroscientists and perceptual psychologists. His creative work has been widely exhibited at galleries and museums internationally. Since the start of Fukushima Nuclear Powerplant disaster in March 2011, Azby has been closely involved with assisting affected communities and analyzing and reporting the issues they face. He is Safecast’s lead researcher, and is primary author of the Safecast Report.

Pieter Franken has held executive positions in Financial Services with industry leaders such as Citigroup, Shinsei Bank, Aplus and, currently, Monex Group. Not happy with the quantity and quality of the data available after the Fukushima Nuclear crisis in March 2011, Pieter co-founded SAFECAST, a global initiative to collect citizen sourced environmental data covering radiation and air pollution. At Safecast his focus is on building and running the operations in Japan, designing devices, volunteer community building, outreach, advocacy, research and fund raising. Recent focus is on expanding into air measurement and building out the Safecast Asia network. Pieter is a graduate of Delft University (Holland) and currently is a researcher affiliated with MIT Media Lab and Keio University where he contributes to research in Citizen Science, Sensor Networks (IoT), Digital Currency and Block-chain technologies. 

Daniel Lombraña González is the Founder and CEO of a company that develops easy-to-use technologies to collect, analyse and enrich data with the crowd. His ttechnology (PYBOSSA) is being used by international institutions such as the United Nations, CERN, the Guardian, British Museum, British Library, and Cancer Research UK, enabling citizens to provide assistance in the aftermath of humanitarian disasters (like Typhoon Pablo in the Philippines), helping to stop Malaria from spreading in Africa, studying cancer, analyzed oil contracts between governments and major companies, recovered a huge set of archaeological findings of the Bronze Age or revealed political misdemeanors in Australia.

A computer engineer by training, Daniel has a PhD on Parallel Genetic Programming. He has been a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow, a senior researcher for the Citizen Cyberscience Lab (a joint partnership between CERN, United Nations and University of Geneva) and has collaborated with the Open Knowledge Foundation over the past years.

Natalie Evans Harris was most recently a Senior Policy Advisor to the US Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration. Natalie has dedicated over 15 years to leverage technology and data to build and empower teams within the federal government to tackle our nation’s greatest challenges. Whether establishing groups focused on maximizing the value of data as a tool for advancing national priorities (Data Cabinet) or bringing together DoD and Intelligence customers to agree on common solutions or spurring innovation through policymaking as a cyber and government reform fellow, Natalie has consistently demonstrated the power of technology and data to break down silos and modernize government’s approach to public service.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa, MD (​) is a graduate of the University of Tokyo, professor of medicine at UCLA (1979-84), University of Tokyo (89-96), Dean Tokai University Medical School (96-02), President of the Science Council of Japan (03-06) and Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan (06-08). Among others he served as Commissioner of WHO (2005-09), ​National Academy of Medicine of National Academy, USA,​ Master of American College of Physicians and Founding Governor of ACP Japan Chapter. He was appointed a member of the World Dementia Council by UK Government and a member of International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC) of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, JBL Center for Radiation Sciences (2015). In 2012 he was awarded the AAAS "2012 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award" and "100 Top Global Thinkers 2012" of 'Foreign Policy’ for his leadership as Chair of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission by the National Diet of Japan (NAIIC). Currently he serves as Chairman of Health and Global Policy Institute in Tokyo, Chair of ​Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, Professor Emeritus of ​the ​University of Tokyo and National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist of the Earth Institute of Columbia University, Distinguished Research Affiliate​ of ​the MIT Media Lab and Senior Advisor to Safecast.

Matthew McKinzie is Senior Scientist, Land and Wildlife Program, and Director, Nuclear Program at the National Resources Defense Counsel. Since joining NRDC in 1997 Matthew has focused  on nuclear power, specifically the consequences of accidents and the ramifications of nonproliferation and arms-control agreements. In 2005, he joined the Land & Wildlife program, for which he has studied the impact of oil and gas extraction on the Rocky Mountain region and of renewable energy siting in western states. He holds a PhD in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Pennsylvania, has conducted research at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and was a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University.

Beth Simone Noveck is The Jerry Hultin Global Network Professor at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and the Florence Rogatz Visiting Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Beth Simone Noveck is Co-Founder and Director of The GovLab and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. Beth focuses her research, teaching and activism on the impact of technology on public institutions and solving public problems.

Beth served in the White House as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative (2009-2011). UK Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her senior advisor for Open Government, and she served on the Obama-Biden transition team. Among projects she’s designed or collaborated on are the Network of Innovators, Unchat, The Do Tank, Peer To Patent,, and the Gov Lab Academy.

A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Beth is the author of Smart Citizens, Smarter State: The Technologies of Expertise and the Future of Governing (Harvard University Press, 2015), Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger and Citizens More Powerful (Brookings, 2009), and co-editor of The State of Play: Law, Games and Virtual Worlds (NYU Press, 2005). She tweets @bethnoveck and writes on Medium @bethnoveck.

Jay Patel is an ORISE fellow at US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), and Co-founder & Chair at He began his career in green chemistry about ten years ago on developing environmental friendly chemical manufacturing techniques using biocatalysts, with water as reaction media instead of harmful organic solvents. Later, he started working at US EPA as a consultant on a Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) funded project to create risk assessment tools for estimating the vulnerability of aquifers and surface waters due to new and proposed energetic materials (aka explosives) and their potential transformation products. He works closely with European partners such as European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), and intergovernmental bodies like OECD and plays an active role in standards development at American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM international) by being a voting member on the D19 committee on water. Mr. Patel runs in his private capacity and it has become a vibrant community for open source and crowdsourced chemical analysis methods, instrumentation, software. We use these tools for a citizen science based monitoring program to study contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water.

Denice Ross is a Public Interest Technology Fellow at New America who specializes in data transparency and civic engagement, with a focus on action at the local level.

Before joining New America, Ross was a senior advisor in the Obama White House, where she leveraged data and innovation to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of community-based federal programs. As a presidential innovation fellow in 2014, she co-founded the White House Police Data Initiative, one of the most tangible responses to the 21st Century Policing Task Force report, and she worked with the Department of Energy on crowdsourcing private-sector data to improve community resilience in disaster-impacted areas. Earlier, she served as director of enterprise innovation for the City of New Orleans, where she built a digital services team and established open data as the cornerstone for performance management and public engagement. She also co-directed the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a non-profit data intermediary and member of the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership.

Abhijit RS is the Data Architect for the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. He is leading the Air Sensor Workgroup, a collaboration of experts from a diverse number of fields, to develop data standards and a data platform to provide increased access to air quality data in the public domain. He is also exploring large scale data management solutions to facilitate data analysis and presentation as an advocacy tool across EDF programs.

John Wilbanks is the Chief Commons Officer at Sage Bionetworks and a Senior Fellow at Faster Cures. Previously, Wilbanks worked as a legislative aide to Congressman Fortney “Pete” Stark, served as the first assistant director at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, founded and led to acquisition the bioinformatics company Incellico, Inc., and was executive director of the Science Commons project at Creative Commons, working on projects ranging from access to the scholarly literature to open licensing of sustainability patents with the World Economic Forum. In February 2013, in response to a We the People petition that was spearheaded by Wilbanks and signed by 65,000 people, the U.S. government announced a plan to open up taxpayer-funded research data and make it available for free. Wilbanks holds a B.A. in philosophy from Tulane University and also studied modern letters at the Sorbonne.

Sarah Williams is Assistant Professor of Technology and Urban Planning and the Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab works with data, maps, and mobile technologies to communicate urban policy issues to broader audiences through interactive design. Her design work has been widely exhibited including work in the Guggenheim, Cooper Hewitt Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. Before coming to MIT, Williams was Co-Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). Williams has won numerous awards including being named top 25 planners in the technology and 2012 Game Changer by Metropolis Magazine. Her work is currently on view in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and she is developing a book called “More Than Data” that looks at how we can make data work for a public good.

Andrew Young is the Knowledge Director at The GovLab, where he leads research efforts focusing on the impact of technology on public institutions. Among the grant-funded projects he has directed are a global assessment of the impact of open government data; comparative benchmarking of government innovation efforts against those of other countries; and crafting the experimental design for testing the adoption of technology innovations in federal agencies. Andrew works closely with GovLab civic technology team and has led the design of the Network of Innovators skill sharing network for civil servants and the Open Governance Research Exchange (OGRX), a collaborative project of the GovLab, World Bank, and mySociety to develop a platform for accessing and sharing original research on governance innovation.

He is also the Network Coordinator of the GovLab-chaired MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance. In this role, he plans and organizes collaborative research projects and events with the Network’s members, post-docs, and advisory group who span a dozen disciplines and institutions. He tweets at @_AndrewYoung.

Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and Associate Professor of the Practice at MIT’s Media Lab.  He is the author of “Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection”, published by W.W. Norton in June 2013. With Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan co-founded international blogging community Global Voices. Global Voices showcases news and opinions from citizen media in over 150 nations and thirty languages. Ethan’s research focuses on issues of internet freedom, civic engagement through digital tools and international connections through media. He blogs at and lives in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.

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