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MCFAM Instructors


Chris Bemis

Chris is a Sr. Portfolio Manager - Quantitative Equity for Whitebox Advisors, working primarily on equity market modeling outside of the United States. He is also an active researcher for the Whitebox quantitative group, where he works on varied problems in the context of equity, derivative, and fixed income strategies.

Dr. Bemis earned his PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Minnesota. His thesis work involved both modeling and optimization for portfolios of risky assets.

John Dodson

John Dodson

John is Vice President, Quantitative Risk Management at the Options Clearing Corporation in Chicago, which is the principal central counterparty for equity derivatives. Previously, John was with the treasury and investment risk management departments of Ameriprise Financial in Minneapolis. Prior to returning to the midwest, John worked for several major international banks in New York, London, and Zurich. He entered the industry out of college with an appointment at the Bank for International Settlements.

John is an Adjunct professor with MCFAMs Master of Financial Mathematics (MFM) program. In addition to his affiliation with MCFAMs MFM program, John has taught about financial derivatives for the Carlson School of Management and for various industry programs.

John has a BS degree in physics and mathematics from Stanford and an MS degree in computational finance from Carnegie Mellon. John's affiliation with the U of M goes back to the 80's. He was an UMTYMP student and also participated in a mentorship program with the head of the physics department during his high school years.

Aileen Conlon Lyle

MAAA, FCAS, Actuarial Lecturer and Adviser

Ms. Lyle is responsible for teaching actuarial classes for MCFAM, as well as advising actuarial students on academic issues and providing career counseling. She is also involved in developing partnerships with the actuarial business sector. Ms. Lyle has over thirty years of actuarial expertise in the property/casualty and health insurance industries. She has worked for Milliman, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the Travelers Companies, and CNA. She has extensive experience in pricing, product development, reserving and financial forecasting for both property/casualty and health insurance products. She is a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries and a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society. She has a Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. She is a board member for several non-profit organizations in the Twin Cities, and is a commissioner for the city of Woodbury, MN.


Blaise Morton

Dr. Blaise Morton has a Bachelor's Degree in mathematics from Princeton and a Ph. D. degree in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley. He worked in the aerospace industry and in academics from 1980 until 1999, but since the start of 2000 he has worked full time in finance as a quant and trader.

Dr. Morton is currently working as a quant/trader at the hedge fund Whitebox Advisors, LLC. Previous to Whitebox he worked at EBF, Dresdner Bank, DRW and Eagle Capital Management. During his financial career he has led a variety of quantitative research and development projects - computerized trading systems, derivative pricing, spread trading, valuation of convertible bonds, valuation of credit derivatives, stochastic volatility models and volatility forecasting, variance swaps and dispersion trades, real options and barrier options. These research activities have led to dozens of models, pricing tools and strategies that traders have used over extended periods of time to achieve targeted return on capital subject to specified risk constraints.

Christopher Prouty

Exotics Trader at Cargill and serves as the instructor for FM 5091/5092: Computation, Algorithms and Coding in Finance

Chris began his financial career as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Applied Economics, Chris has worked in commodities and insurance, in roles focusing on trading and risk management through derivative strategies. Chris currently works for Cargill, where he is an exotic derivatives trader. During college and shortly thereafter Chris operated a small software consulting firm, CP Consulting. He has completed freelance software development projects for Twin Cities firms, including the University of Minnesota Foundation and ACR ATI, a firm which offers employee testing services to the health care industry.

Breanne Richins

MCFAM Senior Actuarial Program Specialist

Breanne Richins is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. She has worked at Securian Financial Group as an Associate Actuary for the past seven years. Ms. Richins has broad actuarial experience including individual life pricing and product development, economic valuation of liabilities and actuarial modeling of new and existing products. She received her Bachelor degree in Statistics with an emphasis in Actuarial Science from Brigham Young University. She teaches Theory of Interest in the University of Minnesota’s Actuarial Mathematics program.

Thomas Schwartzbauer

MCFAM Teaching Specialist

Tom Schwartzbauer is a Visiting Professor Teaching Specialist at the University of Minnesota. He teaches Theory of Interest in the Actuarial Science Program, and also works with the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP). He received his B.S. in Mathematics from Notre Dame, and his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota. He retired from The Ohio State University after teaching Mathematics for 25 years. His major interests outside of Mathematics are classical music, as well as German and Austrian culture, literature and language.

Arkady Shemyakin

Arkady Shemyakin has a M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Novosibirsk State University and Sobolev Institute of Mathematics, Russian Academy of Sciences. He worked in Russia prior to 1993, when he moved to the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. His field is mathematical and statistical methods in applications to finance, insurance, and engineering. He teaches classes in evening programs at the U of M since 2006. Arkady also does research and consulting, most recently in the fields of Bayesian statistical analysis, copula models, and Markov chain Monte Carlo.

Kaisa Taipale

Kaisa Taipale is a mathematician with interests from the (pure) mathematics of string theory to applications in climate modeling and finance. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a PhD in algebraic geometry in 2010, Dr. Taipale taught at St. Olaf College for two years. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, CA, and visiting assistant professor at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, during the 2012-2013 academic year. This year Dr. Taipale is teaching with MCFAM and the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP) and exploring the changing nature of mathematics research and education in the online age. She is running a blog on the mathematics of the planet earth at

Carlos Tolmasky

MCFAM Assistant Professor / Industrial Programs at the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications (IMA) - University of Minnesota

Dr. Carlos Tolmasky is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics and Associate Director of Industrial Programs at the IMA.  Carlos splits his time between MCFAM and the IMA.   He was part of the founding team of industry practitioners and academics who developed the Master of Financial Mathematics (MFM) program within MCFAM. Since the inception of the MFM he has continued to teach the yearlong MFM course sequence called "Mathematical Theory Applied in Finance". His research focus is Mathematical Finance.  Prior to his full time appointment at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Tolmasky was a derivatives trader at Cargill Petroleum. He joined Cargill in 1996 as a member of their Research Group focusing on the development and implementation of derivatives models for fixed income and commodities markets. He later joined the petroleum group as a "desk quant" and, more recently, as a derivatives/relative value trader. He holds an undergraduate degree (Licenciado) from the University of Buenos Aires and a PhD in mathematics from the University of Washington.

Doreen Vescelius

MCFAM Actuarial Program Specialist and Academic Adviser

Doreen's background includes 12 years of work experience and a degree in Mathematics with an Actuarial Science Specialization from the University of Minnesota. She brings strong analytical, organizational and leadership skills to her role within MCFAM. She ran her own small business for many years and has worked with the elderly and disabled. Her teaching and mentoring includes diverse experiences within K-12 education and the Boy Scouts of America. She has tutored at college, high school, and elementary levels. Most recently Doreen taught math to immigrant populations at the English Learning Center in Minneapolis. Her analytical experience includes assignments for Founder Memorial Library/Northern Illinois University Libraries, including: library records management prior to online conversion and reestablishing a gifts and exchanges program. She has worked more recently to provide compliant record-keeping and spreadsheet analysis for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Doreen has a strong understanding of US and State Health Care Systems and it continues to be an on-going area of interest for her. She has passed both the FM and the P exams, is currently studying for the MLC exam.


Jason Vinar

Jason Vinar is Director of Two Harbors Investment Corporation, focused on investing, financing and managing residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and related investments. Two Harbors is a Pine River Capital Management company.

Throughout the course of his career he has also been involved in mathematical modeling and programming, platform architecture and data management. Prior to Two Harbors Jason was a Financial Engineer at Ameriprise Financial in the Quantitative Strategies Group. There he worked in a team involved in the design, development and implementation of financial applications and hedging platforms for the variable annuity living benefit riders within Ameriprise Financial. Previously Mr. Vinar was also Partner at Castle Peak Capital Advisors where he was responsible for model development and implementation for residential mortgage related products. He was also an Analytics Manager for the PIA unit at GMAC-ResCap. In this capacity he was responsible for managing the trading analytics and risk management functions of the PIA. Prior to that, he was Project Lead/Lead Developer for Financial Engineering projects in the Risk and Value Analytics group of GMAC-ResCap. Jason holds a Master's degree in Financial Mathematics from the University of Minnesota and Bachelor's degrees, in Mathematics and Economics, from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

Tzu-Wei Yang

MCFAM Post Doc

Dr. Tzu-Wei Yang was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University's Department of Mathematics prior to joining MCFAM. He got his PhD from the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University where his advisor was Dr. George C. Papanicolaou, the Robert Grimmett Professor of Mathematics at Stanford. Dr. Yang's research interests cover stochastic differential equations, financial mathematics and uncertainty quantification. Dr. Yang also has a B.S in Applied Mathematics from National Chiao Tung University, and an MS in Electrical Engineering from National Taiwan University in Taiwan. More details on his current research can be found at


Elena Yudovina

Ph.D., MCFAM MFM Instructor

Dr. Yudovina will complete her National Science Foundation (NSF) Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Michigan in the summer of 2014. She earned her PhD in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge in the UK in 2012 under Prof. Frank Kelly and a BA summa cum laude in Mathematics in 2008 from Harvard University. Elena's research interests include queueing theory, change-point problems, and compressed sensing. She has been awarded various prestigious fellowships such as the NSF Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in 2012 as well as an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2008. She was a consultant at the Center for Statistics Consultation and Research (CSCAR) at the University of Michigan in 2014, a summer visitor at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs in 2010 and 2011, and part of a cancer modeling project at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2008. Dr. Yudovina has assisted statistical software workshops at CSCAR in Michigan, supervised undergraduates in mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and has been a course assistant at Harvard and a counsellor at the Ross Summer Mathematics Program. For more detail on Elena's research and activities go to:



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