MEET THE GROUNDLIGHT TEAM:
Leo is really into machine learning, and is passionate about using it to make the world a better place. He’s been a pioneer in applying ML to solve real-world problems for over a decade. In 2012 he started using neural networks, and was one of the first deep learning engineers at Amazon, leading its application to numerous technical and business efforts including visual search, recommender systems, and multiple generations of AWS ML services from Amazon Machine Learning to SageMaker. He founded Groundlight with Avi to build the next generation of machine learning and computer vision to enable the next generation of robotics.
Jing manages operations at Groundlight and keeps things running oh-so-smoothly. She is arguably the most well-traveled member of the Groundlight team, and is the only member of the team who has set foot on Antarctica (it was cold). With connections around the world forged throughout her education and career, and a skill set ranging from Strategic UX Design to Business Development, she brings a wealth of knowledge and international business practices to the team, improving both day to day operations and charting a course for Groundlight's future. In her spare time, Jing can be found trying out new dishes to cook or playing racquet sports. She is a PNW native and likes to explore the area with her dog, Dashi.
Cesar Romero grew up in Venezuela and got his computer science degree before he moved to California to escape the heat. He studied AI at UCLA and then moved to Seattle because LA was still too hot for him. He’s had a long career a software engineer in machine learning at Google, Amazon, and Unity where he most recently used the Unity game engine to generate synthetic data to train computer vision models that work in the real world. In his spare time he likes to play chess and video games.
Michael hails from Colorado by way of Amazon, where he built deep learning into search engines, robotics, and health applications. He’s fascinated with the process of learning - understanding how people and computers learn new ideas. Around the office you’ll find him building whatever needs to be done today, whether its reworking the back-end database, or launching our first public API, or telling us he just turned on a fancy new machine learning pipeline last night based on a paper published last week. When he’s not here you’ll find him somewhere outdoors - playing golf, basketball, or working through his Seattle summer bucket list. He completed one Krispy Kreme challenge and will never do that ever again.
Corey Wood grew up in the Seattle area where he knows the summers are pretty good so he came back from Brown University to join us as an intern. He plays ultimate frisbee but still manages to wear fashionable sneakers and already knew where our offices were because of the speakeasy billiards parlor in the basement.
Jeffrey grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so he is no stranger to Seattle where he is currently a student at the University of Washington. His primary areas of study are statistics and computer science, and his main interests are machine learning and data analysis. He has been a maker, hacker and tinkerer his whole life, so if you can convince him step away from his work for long enough to tell you what he's up to, you're bound to learn a thing or two.
Avi is in it for the robots. He has a long track record of bringing barely formed ideas from concept to production and doing whatever it takes along the way, leading numerous engineering, manufacturing, and business efforts at Microsoft, Picobrew, and elsewhere. And he’s a serial founder and entrepreneur who’s always looking for new solutions to old problems. He founded Groundlight with his long-time friend Leo to corral a new world of robotic capabilities at the crossroads with a new model of perception and learning. When he’s not at the office you’ll mostly likely find him teaching at UW, tinkering on myriad esoteric projects, or driving a camper van off into the sunrise with his family.
Morgan thought it was too sunny at CalTech so he came to the Northwest to lead numerous product, engineering, and business efforts for Moto Design, develop futuristic interaction technologies for Microsoft, incubate Prime Air at Amazon, and manage a portfolio of AI programs at Google. Now he’s leading our product efforts to build apparently magical computer vision to anything with a camera and an internet connection. When he’s not in the office, your best chance to find him is looking up above the cliffs in Pacifica, CA where he’s an avid paraglider pilot and probably having too much fun up there to look back down at you.
Dr. Ted Sandler
Ted Sandler received his PhD in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering, working on nonlinear dimensionality reduction to train machine learning systems with less human supervision. He later joined Amazon and developed Prime Video's first machine learning recommender systems. While there, he was an early proponent of machine learning, and at Groundlight now, he is excited to make computer vision available to everyone. Ted usually wins the prize for most enthusiastic explanation of fancy math at our weekly journal club. He enjoys hiking around Seattle, and fun fact: growing up in New York, Ted was one of the first kids to attend a taping of Sesame Street!
Sunil had just wrapped up his undergrad at Harvey Mudd when he joined Groundlight. His background in Mathematics and Computer Science led him to equal parts research and development work in NLP & CV. His ability to smoothly navigate the balance of engineering perfection and functional implementation earns him the most emojis on slack, but his gif game is a close second. When not behind a screen clearing wide swaths of the Jira board, he’s out exploring Seattle and looking for new mountains to climb or ski down.
Izzy Jackson hails from Chicago where her favorite food used to be pizza but then went to Los Angeles and made the conversion to Poke. She’s studying Engineering Harvey Mudd and here as an intern developing new applications for our computer vision and machine learning systems. When she’s not here you’ll find her cruising the city with her quiver of alternative transportation or up in the hills making the most of the Seattle summer.
Arya Goutam is from San Francisco and is a summer intern turning on new industrial applications for our API. He’s studying engineering at Harvey Mudd College where his favorite sport is Nerf battles but he’s an engineer so he built a robots with better aim and reflexes than any of us are likely to develop for ourselves. When he’s not here you might find him skateboarding to a friends house with a board game under his arm.
Dr. Paulina Varshavskaya
ROBOTICS, IMAGING & RL
Paulina has lived and studied in St. Petersburg, Budapest, Vienna, London, Cambridge MA, and Edinburgh before settling in Seattle. She finished her PhD at MIT in distributed robotics, taught at Tufts, and ran the software team at an AI life sciences company identifying rare cells in microscopy images. When not directing the science effort at Groundlight, Paulina is most likely found in the mountains, sometimes alone on an alpine ridge, sometimes with her family in a camper van.
Janna grew up in Memphis and came to Seattle to get to work building things we would all use instead of finishing her PhD. She built the X-Ray feature for books at Amazon and then launched the Alexa Skills Kit before moving to work on the Voice Assistant at Facebook and in data security at Salesforce, and eventually joining us at Groundlight where she’s already worked on too many things to list. Meanwhile, Janna also led a parallel career in ultimate frisbee where you’ll now find her as the National Rules Director. When she’s not either writing software or officiating an ultimate tournament, you’ll most likely find her enjoying time with her family and pets.
Dr. Ali Mohammad
NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING
Ali Mohammad is an engineer with a doctorate in statistical learning theory and computational linguistics from MIT. He has a broad background in mathematics, science, and engineering which he enjoys applying broadly. Despite scoring top 1% on the Putnam exam, he continually undercounts how many languages he might speak. He is passionate about technology, coffee, food, and laser cutting. In his spare time, he is a jungle gym for his two kids. He's so extroverted he already wants to be your friend.
Jared is an east coast transplant to the PNW, with roots in rural Vermont. He spent a few years in the tiny state of Rhode Island to get a design degree and then headed West, where he helped build a consultancy working on Scientific, Consumer, Industrial, and Medical product development. He's excited to help bring some very fresh advances in computer vision to a broad set of users. He refuses to be pinned down on what his favorite color is, and has a woodworking hobby that leaves absolutely no room for cars in his garage.
David Pitt is from New York City and came to us as an intern via Los Angeles where he is in school at Harvey Mudd College studying enough math and computer science that when we asked him to lead journal paper reading group on his first week he said “sure”. He recently found a free boat on Craigslist and somehow rebranded it as an art project so it could have free parking in a buildings courtyard. Unfortunately he left it in California so when he’s not at the office you’ll find him rock climbing instead.