Staff » Directory

Home » Staff
Photo of Virginia de Sa
Virginia de Sa
Professor, HDSI Associate Director Cognitive Science

Associate Director de Sa is a leader in the fields of cognitive science, neuroscience, computer science, engineering, and data science. Her research utilizes multiple approaches to increase our understanding of  how humans and machines learn to perceive the world around them.

She earned her Ph.D. and master’s in Computer Science from the University of Rochester, and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Engineering from Canada’s Queen’s University.

Christian Fowler
Academic Advisor
Categories: HDSI Team, Staff
Photo of Whitney Gardner
Whitney Gardner
Financial and Faculty Assistant
Whitney (she/her/hers) joined the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute in February 2020 and is in her current role as the Financial and Faculty Assistant. Whitney received her B.A. in Liberal Studies from San Diego State University. She loves helping others, and enjoys working with faculty and staff members within the growing field of Data Science! Some things she enjoys outside of work are focusing on personal health and wellness, and spending time with family and friends.
Photo of Rajesh Gupta
Rajesh Gupta
Distinguished Professor, HDSI Founding Director

Professor Gupta’s research interests span topics in embedded and cyber-physical systems with a focus on energy efficiency from algorithms, devices to systems that scale from IC chips, and data centers to built environments such as commercial buildings.

Gupta received a Bachelor of Technology in electrical engineering from IIT Kanpur, India; a Master of Science in EECS from University of California, Berkeley; and a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University, US. Gupta is a Fellow of the IEEE, the ACM and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Photo of Brittany Hewitt
Brittany Hewitt
Academic Personnel Analyst

Brittany Hewitt is currently our Academic Personnel Analyst for Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI). Prior, Brittany worked as an Academic Personnel Analyst at the Academic Resource Center (ARC), at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Her passion for connectivity and communication gives her the ability to understand organizational needs as well as individual needs and partner with each to meet and exceed their expectations. She prides herself on the ability to establish relationships and communicate effectively and efficiently with all business partners.

Categories: Business Office, Staff
Photo of Kyle Hofer-Mora
Kyle Hofer-Mora
Assistant Director for External Relations and Strategic Initiatives

Kyle Hofer-Mora serves as Assistant Director for External Relations and Strategic Initiatives at Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI).  In this capacity, Kyle works with a talented team focused on industry partnerships, as well as with faculty members, to strategically grow new graduate and professional programs.  He is responsible for the development and implementation of strategies to promote and expand HDSI’s program offerings and overall reach.

Kyle joins HDSI after four years as the Director of Business Analytics Graduate Programs at California Polytechnic State University, where he was instrumental in the launch and growth of a master’s program in business analytics, as well as professional certificates offered through a partnership between the College of Business and Extended Education.   With responsibilities that included working with industry partners for student projects, organizing data analytics symposia, leading the Business Analytics Advisory Board, and serving as a member of the campus-wide Data Science Task Force,  Kyle has formulated ways to ensure program offerings stay at the forefront of trends in this emerging and dynamic field and continue to meet the needs of the marketplace.

The bridge between academia and industry is a space in which Kyle is quite comfortable, having 10 years of experience in the financial services industry prior to joining the university setting.  He holds an MBA in Global Business from Pepperdine University and a B.A. in Finance from CSU Fullerton.


Photo of Clarence Ip
Clarence Ip
Student Videographer

Clarence is the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute’s Video and Production Assistant. Before joining HDSI, he served the role as videographer and media producer for media crews and photography teams in New York and Hong Kong. He is currently studying at UC San Diego with the goal of earning a BA degree in International Studies.

Categories: Communications, Staff
Photo of Meredith Longo
Meredith Longo
Program Coordinator & Undergraduate Student Advisor Student Affairs

My name is Meredith Longo, one of the program coordinators and undergraduate student advisors at HDSI. I formerly worked as a student services advisor at UCSC in the Baskin School of Engineering, and was a high school math teacher. I also earned my B.A. in Math/Secondary Education and M.Ed. at UCSD. My favorite things in life are my husband, everything Disney, and anime! My goal is to connect with students on a personal and professional level to best prepare them to excel in the growing field of Data Science.

Photo of Mika Marzette
Mika Marzette
Project Manager and Media Lead

I’ve spent over 20 years in the U.S. and abroad in the field of Education, Finance, and Capacity Development. I’ve dedicated my time to these fields as I have a sincere concern for the higher-level development of humanity. Recognizing that current systems are designed to reinforce culture and not the development of people to preserve life and peace on earth, I started this
non-profit to focus on the work of re-educating, by providing essential tools and resources that strive to increase awareness and challenge the constant impeding structures we face, and reminders of how community, and not individualism, will provide safety, unity, and peace. I’ve taught in Business schools at universities and Institutes in several countries. I’ve organized several community initiatives abroad and at home, and will continue providing support where necessary that brings about real structural and policy change for the improvement of those affected disproportionately by these structures.

Categories: Communications, Staff
Photo of Erik Mjoen
Erik Mjoen
Industry Relations Manager

As Industry Relations Manager, Erik focuses on building partnerships and collaboration between industry and the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, with an emphasis on Research & Innovation, Recruitment, Continued Learning, and Leadership.

Photo of Jennifer Morgan
Jennifer Morgan
Chief Administrative Officer
Photo of Saura Naderi
Saura Naderi
K-14 Outreach Director

Saura Naderi ‘07 earned her engineering degree from UC San Diego Jacobs School just as the recession hit. Not satisfied by the opportunities available to her, she created her own. She volunteered, later becoming an employee, to create a program at UC San Diego where undergraduates and K-12 students could play and explore science and technology with art-themed engineering-based projects. After receiving the exemplary employee award at UC San Diego and the Athena Pinnacle award and invited to do a TEDx talk, she was recruited by Qualcomm to create a similar program named – Thinkabit Lab. Upon leaving Qualcomm, Thinkabit Lab engaged 14,000+ middle school students and has been replicated in many different environments from libraries and schools to universities and companies. Saura was also a contestant on SyFy’s Robot Combat League, was an “Adventure Person” on Nerdist, and is the color commentator for the world’s first giant robot fight held in Japan. One of the creative projects she is most proud of is envisioning, and leading a team of engineers and artists to create, a robotic dress that hugs people. Saura is leading efforts to broaden participation in Data Science by designing creative ways to engage a diverse population.

Photo of Sonlong Nguyen
Sonlong Nguyen
Program Coordinator & Undergraduate Advisor Student Affairs

Sonlong is a Program Coordinator and Undergraduate Student Advisor at HDSI. Previously, Sonlong has served as a coordinator and academic advisor at Thurgood Marshall College and Eleanor Roosevelt College at UCSD. He is also an alum of UCSD where he received a BA in Urban Studies & Planning before going on to SDSU to receive his MA in Postsecondary Educational Leadership.

Sonlong Nguyen
Assistant Student Affairs Manager & Academic Advisor
Categories: HDSI Team, Staff
Photo of Andrea Perez
Andrea Perez
Fund Manager

My name is Andrea Perez (she/her/hers) and I am currently the fund manager at HDSI. I formerly worked at SIO Director’s Office in the business office as a Financial Services Analyst for 3 years and as an Administrative Assistant for almost 2 years. I graduated from UCSD in 2017 with a BA in Economics. My passion for finance and accounting makes my job so rewarding and fun! I love to analyze data, help and connect with others.

Photo of Dimitris Politis
Dimitris Politis
Distinguished Professor, HDSI Associate Director

Associate Director Politis is an internationally known scholar in mathematics and economics, working on time series, bootstrap methods, and nonparametric estimation, and a researcher with authorship of more than 100 journal papers and monographs.

Politis earned his Ph.D. in statistics from Stanford University, and dual masters’ degrees from Stanford in statistics and mathematics. He also holds a master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in computer and systems engineering, and his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from University of Patras in Greece.

Photo of Finn Reid
Finn Reid
Student Graphic Designer

Finn Reid is a graphic designer for the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute. In addition to working at HDSI, he plays for UCSD’s club lacrosse team. Finn is majoring in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Design and interaction and minoring in Computer Science.

Categories: Communications, Staff
Photo of Elina Shankar
Elina Shankar
Student Graphic Designer

Elina Shankar is the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute’s Graphic Designer. Before joining HDSI, she served as a graphic designer for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She is currently studying at UC San Diego with the goal of earning a BS degree in Cognitive Science with a Specialization in Design and Interaction.

Categories: Communications, Staff
Photo of Sidney Tran
Sidney Tran
Research Administrator

Sid joined HDSI in September of 2021 as part of the finance team that supports academic research at HDSI. Previously Sid had served similar positions at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Keck School of Medicine of USC. His primary role is supporting academic research by providing the financial and administrative duties for his assigned faculty staff. He is a recent resident of the San Diego and relocated to San Diego and UCSD in particular because of the opportunity to support the faculty staff with its multi-disciplinary research mission. His academic background includes a BS in economics from the University of Houston and an MBA in international finance from California State University Channel Islands.

Photo of Sophia Tran
Sophia Tran
Industry Relations Specialist
Photo of Logan Weidenhoffer
Logan Weidenhoffer
Executive Assistant to the Director

Logan Wiedenhoffer serves as Executive Assistant to the Director within the Halicioglu Data Science Institute and point of contact for the HDSI Business Office. Having joined UC San Diego in 2017, Logan has worked in a wide variety of departments across campus prior to becoming part of HDSI. As a member of the UC San Diego class of 2014, Logan holds a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology.