Thinking about Thinking about Seymour Speaker Bios

by Laura Seretta

Jan. 18, 2017

Hal Abelson
Harold (Hal) Abelson is Class of 1922 Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a Fellow of the IEEE. He has been active since the 1970s in using computation as a conceptual framework in teaching. Abelson directed the first implementation of the children's computer language Logo for the Apple computer, and his book Turtle Geometry, written with Andrea diSessa in 1981, presented a computational approach to geometry that was cited as "the first step in a revolutionary change in the entire teaching/learning process." He is a leader in the worldwide movement toward openness and democratization of culture and intellectual resources, and has led the development of MIT App Inventor, a major focus of the MIT Center for Mobile Learning. 

Paulo Blikstein
Paulo Blikstein is an assistant professor of education and computer science at Stanford University. His research focuses on how new technologies can deeply transform the learning of science, engineering, and mathematics. Blikstein has created some of the first FabLabs and Makerspaces in schools, and has pioneered the field of multimodal learning analytics, using multimodal data and machine learning to research complex, constructionist learning environments. He also directs the FabLearn project, which brings research-based maker education to thousands of students in 15 countries, and the Stanford’s Lemann Center, a 10-year initiative to transform public education in Brazil. A recipient of the National Science Foundation Early Career and the AERA Jan Hawkins Early Career awards, he holds a PhD from Northwestern University and a MS from the Media Lab's Program in Media Arts and Sciences.

David Cavallo 
David Cavallo is currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at a new, innovative public university in Brazil, Universidade Federal do Sul da Bahia. Previously, he served as the chief learning architect, vice president for education, and director for Latin America of One Laptop per Child (OLPC). Prior to that, he was a research scientist and co-director with Seymour Papert of the Future of Learning research group at the MIT Media Lab, where he also did his doctorate advised by Papert and his master’s co-advised by Papert and Mitchel Resnick. Cavallo has been a software engineer at several companies, including Infocom. He is also extremely proud of making an Italian frittata that Seymour adored with a nice glass of wine after a long day and night of work.

Dale Dougherty 
Dale Dougherty is the founder and CEO of Maker Media, Inc. headquartered in San Francisco. Maker Media publishes Make: magazine, which launched in 2005, and produces Maker Faire, first held in the Bay Area in 2006. Make: has been the catalyst for a worldwide Maker Movement that is transforming innovation in industry, hands-on learning in education, and the personal lives of makers of all ages. He is the co-author of Free to Make: How the Maker Movement is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs, and Our Minds.

Ira Flatow 
Ira Flatow is a radio and television journalist and author who hosts Public Radio International's Science Friday. His many TV credits include writing and hosting the Emmy Award-winning Newton's Apple, a PBS science program for children and their families.

Clotilde Fonseca 
Clotilde Fonseca has broad experience in the implementation of high-impact social and educational projects. She has worked in academic, governmental, private, and non-for-profit institutions Minister of Science and Technology in Costa Rica, Rector of the Latina University of Costa Rica, and Executive Director of both the Omar Dengo Foundation and the Council for the Promotion of National Competitiveness. She also taught at the University of Costa Rica for over three decades. Fonseca has been a consultant for diverse international organizations, including the World Bank, UNDP, USAID, and the Central American Economic Integration Bank. She has also served on the boards of the Institute of Connectivity for the Americas, the Globethics Foundation, and the Global Knowledge Partnership. Fonseca has conducted research and published a wide range of academic and opinion articles on education, technology, and development.

Idit Harel 
Idit Harel is an Israeli-American tech entrepreneur and inventor of new-media technology for cultivating creative learning, innovative thinking, entrepreneurship, and globalization through constructionist theory. She's an award-winning learning scientist and founder of several ed-tech startups, including Globaloria of which she is CEO. At the Media Lab, Harel was a doctoral student studying with Seymour Papert from 1985-1988 and a research scientist and lecturer from 1988-1994. She also served on the Lab’s Visiting Committee from 2006-2015. Her research at the MIT Media Lab led to publishing Constructionism with Papert, as well as her 199 book, Children Designers

Danny Hillis  
Danny Hillis is co-founder of Applied Minds and several of its spinoff companies, including Applied Invention, Applied Proteomics, TouchShare, and Metaweb (acquired by Google). He is also a visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab, and Judge Widney Professor of Engineering and Medicine at the University of Southern California. Previously, he was vice president of research and development at Walt Disney Imagineering, a Disney Fellow, and co-founder of Thinking Machines Corp. Danny was a student of Papert, both as an undergraduate at the LOGO Lab and as a graduate student.

Celia Hoyles  
Celia Hoyles taught mathematics in London schools from the late 1960s, 1970s and beyond, inspired by Seymour Papert’s work. In 1986, Hoyles became the first professor of mathematics education at the Institute of Education, University of London. She was a founding member of the Logo and Mathematics Education group, organizing several conferences, and she edited (with Richard Noss) Learning Mathematics and Logo, 1992. In Britain, she changed the public face of math by co-presenting a popular TV quiz show, Fun and Games, between 1987 and 1990.

Joi Ito 
MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito is currently exploring how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in substantial and positive ways. He has long been recognized for his work as an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and Internet freedom. At the age of 28, Ito founded one of the first web development companies in Japan. He serves on the boards of several organizations, including the New York Times, and the Knight and MacArthur foundations.

Jacqueline Karaaslanian 
Jacqueline Karaaslanian worked at the Media Lab for more than ​25 years as director of special projects for Seymour Papert, Edith Ackermann, David Cavallo, Tod Machover, Justine Cassell, and Glorianna Davenport. She is now executive director of Luys Education, Armenia. The organization was established in 2009 by Armenia’s president and prime minister with a goal to sponsor Armenian students at the world’s top universities, encouraging them to be catalysts for growth and prosperity for the nation. Today, Luys Education has a growing network of 500 exceptional scholars and alumni in all domains of expertise across all sectors in government and business. Karaaslanian has been focusing on building a collaborative process, coaching scholars to transfer their newly acquired knowledge into concrete and tangible projects that make a difference.

Alan Kay 
Alan Kay is best known for pioneering personal and laptop computers. He invented the now-ubiquitous overlapping-window interface (GUI) and modern object-oriented programming as part of the larger Advanced Research Projects Agency and Xerox PARC research communities. He likes to say that “no one owes more to his research community than I do.” His deep interests in developing children’s learning and thinking—inspired by Seymour Papert in the 1960s—were the catalysts for these ideas, and they continue to form the foundation of his research.

Senator Angus King  
Angus King is currently an Independent US Senator from Maine. He was the state’s governor from 1995-2003. In that role, he launched the Maine Learning Technology Initiative in 2002 to provide laptops for all public middle school students in Maine. It was an idea sparked by a conversation he had with Seymour Papert, which opened the then-governor’s eyes “to the importance of empowering students with technology.”

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen 
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is the third-generation owner of the LEGO company. As CEO and president of the LEGO Group from 1979 to 2004, he helped guide the company into the digital age, with new products such as the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kits. Kristiansen initiated a collaboration with the MIT Media Lab in 1985, after seeing a television program featuring Seymour Papert’s work on children and learning–a collaboration that has now lasted more than 30 years.

Tod Machover 
Tod Machover is Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media and head of the MIT Media Lab's Opera of the Future group. He is a composer widely recognized for designing new technologies for music performance and creation such as Hyperinstruments—“smart” performance systems that extend expression for both virtuosi, including Yo-Yo Ma and Prince, to the general public. The popular video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band grew out of Machover’s group at the Media Lab. His Hyperscore software has enabled children around the world to have their music performed by major orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and rock bands. Machover is also deeply involved in developing musical technologies and concepts for medical and wellbeing contexts.

Suzanne Massie
Suzanne Massie is the author of five books, and is an internationally renowned expert on Russian culture. In the early 1980s, as a fellow at the Harvard Russian Research Center (now the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies), she became a close advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Because she persuaded Reagan of the wisdom of working with Mikhail Gorbachev, she has been called “the woman who ended the Cold War” by historians and journalists. Her personal memoir of this period, Trust But Verify: Reagan, Russia, and Me, was published in 2015. She was also Seymour Papert’s companion, intellectual partner, and wife for 28 years; they loved accompanying each other around the world to promote new ideas, meet new people, and sample new cuisines.

Bob Massie  
Bob Massie has been a leader in the area of business and sustainability for more than three decades. His definitive history of the US anti-apartheid movement, Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years, was published in 1998 and won the Lionel Gelber Prize. As Seymour Papert’s stepson, Massie played an invaluable role by sharing detailed knowledge from Papert’s experiences as one of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid activists in the 1950s. 

Nicholas Negroponte 
Nicholas Negroponte,  co-founder of the MIT Media Lab with Jerome B. Wiesner, is now chairman emeritus and professor at Lab. He is also founder of the non-profit One Laptop per Child. A graduate of MIT, Negroponte was a pioneer in the field of computer-aided design and author of the 1995 best seller, Being Digital.

Richard  Noss 
By 1982, Richard Noss had earned a master’s degree in mathematics, a few years’ experience in teaching undergraduates and children, and a growing awareness that there was something broken in the mathematics he was trying to teach rather than in the students themselves. In that year, he became a founding member of the Logo and Mathematics Education group inspired by Seymour Papert, and was director of the first research project on Logo and math in England. He became a professor of mathematics education at the Institute of Education in 1996. Noss was the founder and director of the London Knowledge Lab—exploring the future of learning with digital technologies—for its first decade. The Knowledge Lab was opened by Papert in 2004 with the phrase, “The k-word is back."

Artemis Papert
Artemis Papert, Seymour Papert's daughter, is an artist who creates in both traditional and digital media. After her first career as a research biologist, she retrained as a Shiatsu therapist, and is now studying to become a Jungian psychoanalyst. She has led TurtleArt workshops for a wide variety of groups in many countries.

Mitchel Resnick 
Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, develops new technologies and activities to engage people (particularly children) in creative learning experiences. His Lifelong Kindergarten research group developed the Scratch programming software and online community, and collaborates with the LEGO Company on the development of new educational ideas and products. He co-founded the Computer Clubhouse project, an international network of after-school learning centers where youth from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies.

Brian Silverman 
Brian Silverman is the president of the Playful Invention Company. Since the late 1970s, he has worked on inventing learning environments for children. Silverman worked closely with Seymour Papert on the design and development of dozens of versions of Logo (including LogoWriter and MicroWorlds), and he was also involved in the development of Scratch, LEGO robotics, TurtleArt, and the PicoCricket. He is a self-described tinkerer and computer scientist who enjoys recreational math, and was once part of a team that built a tic-tac-toe-playing computer out of TinkerToys.

Gary Stager 
Gary Stager is a veteran teacher, educator, speaker, journalist, author, and consultant. He has spent more than three decades bringing Seymour Papert’s powerful ideas to life in classrooms around the world. In 1990, he led professional development in the world’s first “laptop schools” in Australia, and later worked with Papert to create the Constructionist Learning Laboratory at the Maine Youth Center. 

Fatimata Sylla 
Fatimata Seye Sylla is a key player in Senegal’s Internet community. She earned her MS from the Media Lab, and since 2014 has served as the regional educational representative for FH1360/West and Central Africa. In this role, she’s the technical lead in business development activities for the sub-region, and also provides technical assistance and oversight to education projects and the FH1360 legacy organization. She has engaged in planning, implementing, and managing education projects for more than 30 years, including activities in primary schools in Boston, Rwanda, Senegal, and Nigeria.

Sherry Turkle  
Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society. She is also the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is an expert on culture and therapy, mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics. Her most recent book is Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.

Rena Upitis 
Rena Upitis is a professor of education at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. She also has degrees in psychology and law, and advanced diplomas in piano and vocal performance, as well as a diploma in architectural technology. Many of her research projects and curricula have explored teacher, artist, and student transformation through the arts. She has a small design practice specializing in ecologically sensitive designs and materials, and also serves as principal investigator for a project called Transforming Music Education with Digital Tools. She has written or co-authored seven books, most recently Raising a School. Upitis is founding president of Wintergreen Studios, an off-grid educational retreat center in Canada.  

Uri Wilensky
Uri Wilensky is a mathematician, educator, learning technologist, and computer scientist. He founded and directed the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling, now at Northwestern University. He is involved in designing, deploying, and researching learning technologies—especially for mathematics and science education. Much of his recent work has focused on the design of computer-based modeling and simulation languages, including networked collaborative simulations. He’s very interested in the changing content of curriculum in the context of ubiquitous computation. A particular interest is in complexity and systems thinking. In 1996, Wilensky received a Career Award from the National Science Foundation, and in 1999, a Spencer/NAE fellowship. He is a founder and an executive editor of the International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning.

Karen Wilkinson 
Karen Wilkinson directs the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. She recently co-authored The Art of Tinkering, which highlights makers at the intersection of art, science, and technology. Wilkinson’s worldview is shaped by collaborations with artists and scientists who intentionally blur disciplinary boundaries. A maker and constructionist at her core, she is an advocate for making as a way of knowing. She believes in studio pedagogy and the ability to think with our hands.