Member Biographies

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SWARM formed in 2007 to design and build its namesake robot creation.

SWARMies, please add your biography here sorted alphabetically. A short biography is better than none at all.


Member Biographies

Alphabetically by last name

Mark Alexander

Mark Alexander works on the sound hardware for Swarm, selecting/designing components and aggregating them to create the sound module. He also worked on power systems of other electronics in the orbs and created a few of the sound libraries that are used in performance. A member of Swarm since early in its conception, he's rolled orbs in the black rock desert, at music festivals and galleries. Mark is a graduate in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and works primarily in the fields of power system design and noise management in large dense FPGAs.

Niladri Bora

Niladri Bora joined Swarm in May 2007. He wrote code for the aggregator and the SPU and also did part of the custom machining for SWARM. Before SWARM he apprenticed at the Omnicircus(http://www.omnicircus.com/). He was born and raised in Assam in north-eastern India but has been living in the Bay Area since 1999. He finds it ironic that he moved across the globe from one of the most earthquake-prone areas in India(http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/events/1950_08_15.php) to the most earthquake-prone area in the Unites States. He is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Gauhati University but has worked in the software industry for most of his professional life. He is interested in electronics, programming and all aspects of robot fabrication.

Simone Davalos

Simone Davalos plays with robots for a living, among them the Orb Swarm. She learned how to drive them wellish when driving them was a janky proposition and is now happy that they are so gorgeously evolved. She is responsible for and participates in such events as The International RoboGames, RoboExotica, The Long Now Foundation, The Flaming Lotus Girls, The Extra Action Marching Band, The Power Tool Drag Races, Suicidebots.com, Laughing Squid, and that time Swarm went to Coachella, never went hungry, but tragically ran out of beer.

Christie Dudley

Christie Dudley is a bit of a hacker and a bit of an artist. Having earned a BSEE from the University of Kansas in 1991, she embarked on a meandering career in data communications which has taken many turns. With few expressive opportunities, it wasn't until she relocated to California in 2005 that she was able to find her artistic voice. She's been very active in a number of groups such as Noisebridge, The Flaming Lotus Girls and Swarm, with a recent project sending a suite of test and photographic equipment to near space. Christie's general interests include space, art involving all kinds of light from LEDs to pyrotechnics, hacking, culture and the law. She is contemplating a radical career change to some other aspect of technology.

Jonathan Foote

Jonathan Foote's technical background includes an engineering Ph.D. and more than 30 US patents and 60 technical publications. His work explores perception and interaction using a range of sophisticated electronics, from vintage vacuum tubes to the latest semiconductors. He is also a founding member of the SWARM collective, and has shown his work at numerous Bay Area venues as well as internationally and for commission. More information on his work can be found at http://www.rotorbrain.com/jtfdesign

Marnia Johnston

Marnia Johnston is a sculptor living in Concord, CA. She is an interdisciplinary instigator collaborating with engineers, synthetic biologists, programmers and tinkerers, In her most recent collaboration she conducted a workshop with graduate students, artists, biologists, programmers and roboticists. She recently co-curated the show Multispecies Salon II with Dr. Eben Kirksey at the California College of the Arts, in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Johnston’s sculptures and drawings have been exhibited widely in California, most recently in the Consilience of Art & Science exhibition at the Pence Gallery in Davis, California, and at San Jose’s ZeroOne Biennial event, SubZero. She has also had work shown in New York, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina and abroad. Her work can be found in the permanent collection of the Icheon World Ceramic Center and has been recognized by the World Ceramic Biennial, South Korea with a diploma of honor and a medal of honor. She has also been recognized by the Marin Society of Artists with an award of merit.

Born in California, Johnston holds a BFA from San Jose State University and MFA from the California College of the Arts (CCA). She continues to sculpt out of her studio in San Francisco, CA.

Denise Hill

Denise has a truck that can hold at least 3 orbs at once, known in Orbot parlance as The Othership. She's like that one kid in your freshman year dorm: popular by virtue of having a vehicle. Denise has transported and wrangled orbs on such adventures as Scottsdale AZ's Night Lights, a Google event, and at the California Academy of Sciences. One time, she also helped bead blast an orb shell. Denise demands etymological credit for the word "Orbot." Denise isn't sure she belongs in this biography section. But she speaks Glitch, and can communicate in high-level machine languages through a complex pattern of blinking LEDs, embedded in her skull.

Rick Lellinger

Rick designs and builds 'art electronics' and also works with optical fiber and LEDs. In the 'real world' he works as at Berkeley Lab, a.k.a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Rick joined SWARM when the Orbs were just a concept and SWARM was a flight of amazing ideas. His introduction to SWARM was meeting Lee, Jon, and Michael at a party in late 2006. Rick's interests include electronic design, mechanical design, embedded programming, physics and chemistry. He holds several non-engineering related degrees and may may return to school someday to pursue a technical degree.

Gregory MacNicol

Gregory is an ex-physicist from New Mexico. Yet, after moving to California he has focused on high technology, specifically electronics. He’s held positions such as director of engineering and worked for Lockheed (missile and space division), Watkins Johnson (electronic counter warfare), Signetics (IC fabrication), Cisco (applied mathematical optimization), and several other high technology companies. After developing high end computer graphics systems and software, Gregory changed direction to computer graphics and used these tools to create computer animated films. He's worked for Disney, Sony, EA, and several other game and production companies. He also wrote books primarily covering computer animation. His focus is specifically 3D animation and still makes short films. He is currently the founder of the non-profit organization, www.TechAsArt.org, which mentors future engineers via retired engineers to build high technology-based art projects. He is also the Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Art Museum. Gregory’s primary focus is using technology to create interactive art. He builds art cars and very strange things seen at Burning Man. Conveniently, he lives near the world famous Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz.

Corey McGuire

Corey is a Linux/Windows/Network administrator with ambitions in embedded systems and industrial design. Corey met Michael Prados in April of 2007 while teaching plasma cutting at TechShop. Amazed by the concept and inspired by the design, Corey invited Michael to show off the steal shell of the proto-orb at Yuri's Night, 2007, at NASA Ames. Afterwards, Corey helped fabricate metal parts. Four months later, when SWARM was ready to roll on to the Playa, Corey provided six wireless joysticks and a dedicated "Playa Proof Puter." The PPP served as the central brain through which SWARM was controlled for the later half of 2007. Since then, Corey has served as a shameless promoter of SWARM, much to the chagrin of his fellow SWARMIES.

Steven Nelson

Steven is a Robot builder who loves nothing more than a good project, a bit of a challenge and some sort of panic stricken moments of fear, followed by the relief that no one was injured or killed and there won't be a lawsuit with his name on it. Steven has built machines for Battlebots, Robot fighting League, Power Tool Drag Racing, Flaming Lotus Girls, Pacific Tractor Pullers Association and a bunch of other wacky toys for his own self indulgence. Steven's Team is Team K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) The team Motto is (In Rust We Trust) because of his love of Steel and it's hard crust filled with creamy nougat inside (if tempered properly). Periodically Steven writes articles for SERVO or ROBOT magazines. He got involved with the Swarm in the begining of the planning stage and has enjoyed the adventures and folks and machines involved ever since. Steven is often labeled a Redneck but is able to admit to having a little hippie inside of him as well. Darned Hippies...

Melissa Perkins

Melissa Perkins considers herself an Honorary Member of SWARM. She met the SWARMIES and fell in love with the amazing project that is SWARM. She's not too handy in all the technical magic that makes SWARM happen, but she goes out to support SWARM whenever she can and tells everyone she knows about this awesome project.

Michael Prados

Michael is responsible for the initial concept which became SWARM, and has been involved with the project since its inception. He usually works with kinetic art, also frequently integrating aspects of technology, sculpture, fire, and robotics. He has worked with the Flaming Lotus Girls since 2004, and often provides engineering support to artists, including Reuben Margolin and Tom Kennedy. He is a licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer, with concentrations in mechatronics and machine design.

Dawn Ryan

Dawn has been involved with SWARM since 2007, building the first generation illuminators and doing lots of TIG welding on the orb shells. Dawn is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist by training, practicing the art of psychotherapy in private practice. For her own therapy, she encourages the creativity that persistently blooms at the back of her consciousness. She also enjoys working with collaborative groups, such as SWARM and Flaming Lotus Girls, to create mindblowing art. Her own artwork is influenced by her many random interests which include neuroscience, computers, music, systems, dance, football, science fiction and costume period drama. Dawn works in many mediums, including fabric, yarn, paint, metal, fiber optics and light, combined to create unique pieces.

Lisa Schile

Lisa has been involved with SWARM since it was funded in 2007 by Burning Man. She welded many of the shells and is the lead of SWARM merchandise and shwag. She's a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, studying climate change effects on wetland plants, and is manager of fuel distribution and tracking for Burning Man. Lisa is also on her way to being a CA licensed pyrotechnician and shoots multiple fireworks shows each year in the Bay Area.

Lee Sonko

Lee Sonko is one of the founding members of SWARM, working on much of the glue that holds it together, things like welding, finances, organizing, fabrication and battery systems. He has been a member of the Flaming Lotus Girls art group since 2006 and was a contributor on Colossus by Zachary Coffin. Lee is a faculty member of The Crucible, computer professional, tutor, avid bread maker and entrepreneur.

Jesse Zbikowski

Jesse D. Zbikowski was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts (USA) in 1977, year of the dragon. He taught himself computer programming by typing random numbers into a Commodore 64 until he figured out how to animate an ASCII decapitation scene. In the nineties he moved on to coding x86 assembly language demos under the name of Zed, learning his technique from such masters as Shifty (the gweep). Jesse develops embedded Linux systems software for the Orb SWARM ARM platform.

2008 Member List

This member list is based on the Burning Man 2008 Proposal. Please do not change this list. Instead, write yourself a biography in the space above.

Aerin Heinemeyer
Charlotte Sanford
Chris Gerbik
Corey McGuire
Dawn Ryan
'Dillo Okay
Erik Swedberg
Jonathan Foote
Jesse Zbikowski
Lee Sonko
Lisa Schile
Marc Hertlein
Mark Alexander
Marnia Johnston
Melissa Mayer
Michael Prados
Niladri Bora
Ray Sykes
Robert Harris
Rick Taylor
Rick Lellinger
Simran Gleason
Stefano Corazza
Tad Rollow

With special thanks to:

Aimee E
Anne Geluardi
Baba Frey
Barry Cogbill
Ben Thompson
Caroline Miller
Charlie Gadeken
Dan Sandberg
David Fine
Drago Anguelov
James Stauffer
Jessica Hobbs
Jill Manthei
John Humphrey
Josh Hunter
Lee Chubb
Lemuel
Liam McNamara
Mark Farrier
Matthew Cline
Michelle Palmer
Naemi Frey
Nate
Olivia G. Sawi
Olivier Bonin
Olya Myhaylovska
Paul Rowan Walker
Pete Burnight
Peter Luka
Phil Spitler
Pouneh Mortazavi
Rebecca Anders
Rich Humphrey
Sameer Al-Sakran
Stella Rubenstein
Steven Nelson
Tasha Berg
Tom Kennedy
Vanessa Montiel

VIDA 10.0 Credits

Credits from the VIDA 10.0 video.

SWARM Contact:
Lee C. Sonko
3435 24th St #9
San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
415-306-2151

SWARM is: (in alphabetic order)
Aerin Heinemeyer - Fabrication, Assembly, Support, Hive Illumination
Baba Frey - Electronics
Barry Cogbill - Solar Power Go-To Guy
Charlie Gadeken - Hive, Mothership
Charlotte Sanford - Painter, Fabric Mistress, Fabrication
Chris Gerbik
Coreyfro - Mechanical Parts Fabrication, Playa Proof Mother Node
Dawn Ryan - Shell Fabrication, Illuminator Assembly
Erik Swedberg - Power System, Electronics, Operations
James Stauffer - Mothership
John Humphrey - Solar Dude
Jonathan Foote - Organizer, System Architecture
Lee Sonko - Shell, Power, Bookkeeping, Organizing
Lisa Schile - Orb Shell Fabrication, Merchandise, GPS
Marc Hertlein - Laser Tower!
Mark Alexander - Sound System Design and Fabrication, Power
Marnia Johnston - Shell, Laser Perimeter, Mothership, Electronics
Matt Cline - SPU Wrangler
Michael Prados - Organizer, Chief Architect
Naemi Frey - Electronics
Nate Cabreana - Hive, Silly Worm
Niladri Bora - Machining and Embedded Programming
Pete Burnight - Prototyping
Phil Spitler - Visualizations
Ray Sykes - Mothership
Rick Lellinger - Illuminator Design & Layout, Electronics, GPS
Rick Taylor - Fabrication Assistance
Robert "trebor" Harris - Software, Operations
Simran Gleason - Generative Music and Color Algorithms, Timeline
Stefano Corazza - Mechanical Engineer, Sound System
Steve " 'dillo" Okay - System Programmer and SPU Wrangler
Tad Rollow - Systems Architecture, Navigation, RF Link, Hardware

Additional Thanks go to:
The Box Shop - A great place to create - qbox.org
Burning Man - Initial project grant - burningman.com

Video Credits:
Producer - Lee Sonko
Titles - Phil Spitler
Assistance - Rick Taylor, 'dillo
Additional Footage - Ryan Damm
Music - Simran Gleason, BLVD
Images - Tristan Savatier, SWARM members and friends
Equipment - Ryan Damm, Tad Rollow, Yasmin Mawaz-Khan

2007 Member List

This member list is based on the Burning Man 2007 Proposal. Please do not change this list. Instead, write yourself a biography in the space above.

Proposal Team

Drago Anguelov
James Stauffer
Jonathan Foote
Lee Sonko
Michael Prados
Pete Burnight
Phil Spitler
Ray Sykes
Rebecca Anders
Stefano Corazza

Founding Crew

Aimee E
Anne Geluardi
Ben Thompson
Caroline Miller
Charlie Gadeken
Charlotte Sanford
Dan Sandberg
David Fine
Drago Anguelov
James Stauffer
Jessica Hobbs
Jill Manthei
Jonathan Foote
Josh Hunter
Lee Chubb
Lee Sonko
Liam McNamara
Mark Farrier
Matthew Cline
Michael Prados
Michelle Palmer
Olivia G. Sawi
Olivier Bonin
Olya Myhaylovska
Paul Rowan Walker
Pete Burnight
Peter Luka
Phil Spitler
Pouneh Mortazavi
Ray Sykes
Rebecca Anders
Rich Humphrey
Rick L
Sameer Al-Sakran
Stefano Corazza
Stella Rubenstein
Steven Nelson
Tad Rollow
Tasha Berg
Tom Kennedy
Vanessa Montiel