The Speakers

dr. Ron Eglash

Dr. Ron Eglash is an ethno-mathematician and a professor in the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Broadly, Eglash studies how math and culture intersect, as well as general race and ethnicity issues in science and technology. He aims to challenge the narrative that ethnic minority architecture is "disorganized" or "primitive"; through his research, he has shown that many aspects of African design — in architecture, art, and even hair braiding — are based on perfect fractal patterns. His diverse research interests also include African and Native American Cybernetics and culturally-specific design tools that help children learn math.

Dr. Syed Mustafa Ali

Dr. Syed Mustafa Ali teaches at The Open University in Milton Keynes (UK) as a member of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing, and Technology. Ali conducts transdisciplinary research investigating the interactions between race, religion, politics, ethics, and computing/ICT. Specifically, he examines and critically analyzes how colonial power harmfully affects our ways of seeing and thinking. Ali contributes to the robust academic-activist enterprise of decoloniality with his original idea of Islamic decoloniality. He has many well-researched papers, monographs, and articles covering his diverse interests, including decolonial computing.

Thulani Vereen

Thulani Vereen is a full-stack software engineer, professional choreographer, and Spelman Alumna. She has merged her passions for Computer Science and Dance through award-winning research implementation projects. She applies algorithmic thought processes from her computer science studies to her choreographic process and dance pedagogy, and she applies her dance creations to her computer science research projects. Thulani Vereen's work aims to provide new ways for engaging with diverse and untraditional performing spaces and learning environments. Thulani hopes to be at the forefront of the technological revolution of the arts by inventing performing arts technologies for dance performance and dance education.

Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson is the founder and CEO of Conduit, a provider of hybrid cloud computing models that bring together large amounts of data to solve complex problems. He graduated from MIT with three majors: mechatronics, international humanities, and quantum engineering. While being a student at MIT, Robinson created his company with a dedication to using computers to create products that would solve the world's largest problems. At 22, Ryan was named in Forbes 30 under 30 for Conduit's work in solving real-world problems. He then raised +$1M for Conduit and lectured at MIT about quantum computing and cryptocurrency. Ryan has been featured in MIT News, American Inno, Boston Business Journal, Information Age, CNN, Moguldom, Forbes, and the World News.

Chinasa Okolo

Chinasa Okolo is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University. Her research interests include computer vision, global health, explainable AI, and information & communication technologies for development. She develops machine learning models to improve the rapid diagnosis and treatment of infectious and tropical diseases. These models are integrated into mobile health applications that aid community health workers in low-resource regions, fundamentally altering how patients with these issues are managed and treated. She also uses computer vision methods to recognize fine-grained human respiratory motions and works on research projects to analyze the applications, implications, and perceptions of AI-enabled healthcare deployed throughout the Global South and North.

Marco Jacobs

Marco Jacobs is a founder, CEO, startup investor, and mentor in the Washington, DC tech space. He is currently CEO of his company CodeIntelx, a tech company that builds ground breaking software for various Fortune 500 companies and government agencies and that also focuses on raising software engineers to be their best selves to succeed in this space. Marco was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He's a B.S. Computer Science graduate of the HBCU Jackson State University. He's also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Marco is very adamant about positively encouraging others and building community. In one example, through his company CodeIntelx, he established CodeIntelx Labs, which is where he personally mentors and teaches soft skills and technical skills to aspiring software engineers from all walks of life. In another example, he participated in Uplift's Youth AppLab program to teach programming and mobile app development to the youth in the Washington DC area. In yet another example, he taught and encouraged youth on the AF (Alexandria-Fairfax) lego robotics team. Blackathon's mission is to encourage tech throughout the African Diaspora, and Marco has directly contributed to this mission in the communities he's involved in and the communities he's created.