Basis is a nonprofit applied research organization with two mutually reinforcing goals.

Our Mission

Basis is a nonprofit applied research organization with two mutually reinforcing goals.

The first is to understand and build intelligence. This means to establish the mathematical principles of what it means to reason, to learn, to make decisions, to understand, and to explain; and to construct software that implements these principles.

The second is to advance society’s ability to solve intractable problems. This means expanding the scale, complexity, and breadth of problems that we can solve today, and even more importantly, accelerating our ability to solve problems in the future.

To achieve these goals, we’re building both a new technological foundation that draws inspiration from how humans reason, and a new kind of collaborative organization that puts human values first.

Who We Are

Our Team

Between our core members, advisors, and collaborators, Basis is made up of:

Zenna Tavares ↗︎

Zenna Tavares is a co-founder and director of Basis, innovation scholar in Columbia University’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and associate research scientist in the Data Science Institute. Tavares’s research aims to understand how humans reason, that is, how they come to derive knowledge from observing and interacting with the world. He constructs computational and statistical tools that help advance his work on causal reasoning, probabilistic programming, and other areas.

Eli Bingham ↗︎

Eli Bingham is a co-founder and director of Basis, a machine learning fellow in the Data Sciences Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a co-creator and core developer of the Pyro probabilistic programming language, and formerly a senior research scientist at Uber AI Labs. He focuses on research at the intersection of probabilistic machine learning, programming languages, and biology and on bringing that research to practice by delivering high-quality open-source software to many thousands of users.

Emily Mackevicius ↗︎

Emily Mackevicius is a co-founder and director of Basis, a member of the Simons Society of Fellows, and a postdoc in the Aronov lab and the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute. Mackevicius’s research uncovers how complex cognitive behaviors are generated by networks of neurons through local interactions and learning mechanisms. Her theoretical work is strongly grounded in experimental practice, currently neural recordings in food-caching birds with extreme memory abilities.

Sam Witty ↗︎

Sam Witty is a research scientist at Basis and an affiliate researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He was previously a visiting researcher in MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, and has a PhD in computer science from UMass Amherst. His research goal is to develop AI and ML methods that help scientists discover more and that help policymakers make better decisions.

Martin Jankowiak ↗︎

Martin Jankowiak is a research scientist (part-time) at Basis, a machine learning fellow in the Data Sciences Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a co-creator and core developer of Pyro and NumPyro. He was previously a senior research scientist at Uber AI Labs and has a PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford. He works on a wide range of topics across probabilistic machine learning, high-dimensional statistics and applications in computational biology.

Rafal Urbaniak ↗︎

Rafal Urbaniak is a research scientist at Basis and leads a project on probabilistic legal evidence evaluation at the University of Gdansk, funded by the Polish National Science Centre. He enjoys Bayesian thinking about issues such as criminal evidence evaluation, online aggression and its mitigation, bias in natural language processing, or imprecision in expert testimony. Rafal obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Calgary, working on logic and non-standard foundations of mathematics.

Ria Das ↗︎

Ria Das is a research scientist at Basis, interested in automating scientific discovery via program synthesis and probabilistic programming. She is currently on a gap year from her PhD at Stanford University, and previously was an undergraduate and masters student at MIT, where she worked on modeling causal discovery in a commonsense reasoning domain (the Autumn project) with Zenna Tavares, Armando Solar-Lezama, and Josh Tenenbaum.

Fritz Obermeyer ↗︎

Fritz is a research scientist (part-time) at Basis. He works on Pyro and specializes in Bayesian machine learning. He earned a PhD in Programming Language Theory and has worked on machine learning platforms at Salesforce, Google, and Uber. Currently, he is researching applications of large language models to decision making.

Alyse Portera

Alyse Portera is business operations manager at Basis. She has over 20 years of business, human resources and operational management experience in the life sciences, government and non-profit sectors. Alyse was the Regional Director of Research Operations at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and prior to that she was the Deputy Commissioner for Administration at the Westchester County Health Department in New York where she oversaw all finance functions, human resources, facilities management, information technology, emergency preparedness and corporate administrative functions.

Karen Schroeder ↗︎

Karen Schroeder is research operations manager at Basis. She was previously a postdoctoral research scientist in brain-computer interfaces and computational/systems neuroscience at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, and holds a Ph.D. in neural engineering from the University of Michigan.

Archana Warrier ↗︎

Archana Warrier is a visiting student at Basis and a Master’s student at TU Kaiserslautern, co-mentored by Zenna Tavares and Sebastian Vollmer. Her interests lie in the fields of causality and Bayesian inference.

Andy Zane ↗︎

Andy is a research scientist intern at Basis and a PhD candidate in UMass Amherst’s College of Information and Computer Sciences. His broad research interests include Bayesian modeling, causality, and decision theory, while recent efforts have explored ways optimal experimental design can mitigate false accusations in police lineups. Previously, he led development of business intelligence and industrial automation tools in the natural resource industries, and still consults in this sector.

Ellie Cheng ↗︎

Ellie Cheng is a research intern at Basis and a PhD student at MIT EECS, and received her BS in Computer Science and Engineering from UCLA. Her research interests lie in the intersection of programming languages and AI, including probabilistic programming languages and the union of (probabilistic) programs with LLMs.

Jialu Bao ↗︎

Jialu Bao is an intern at Basis and a computer science Ph.D. student at Cornell. At Basis, she is exploring Bayesian inference of distributions that exhibits a weak form of conditional independence. In her Ph.D., she builds program logic for verifying randomized algorithms, in particular adapting separation logic for probabilistic (in)dependence.

Raffi Sanna ↗︎

Raffi Sanna is a research intern at Basis and a PhD candidate at Harvard University, co-advised by Nada Amin and William Byrd. He is interested the design and implementation of high-level programming languages. At Basis he is researching non-standard interpretations of probabilistic programs.

Poorva Garg ↗︎

Poorva Garg is a research intern at Basis. She is a PhD candidate at University of California, Los Angeles co-advised by Todd Millstein and Guy Van den Broeck. Her research interests lie at the intersection of AI and programming languages. Her research is currently focused on making probabilistic programming languages a general and accessible tool for scientific community.

Palka Puri ↗︎

Palka Puri is a research intern at Basis, and a PhD candidate in Physics and Quantitative Biology at UC San Diego. Broadly speaking, she is interested in uncovering the neural basis of natural animal behavior using analytical and statistical models. As Basis, she is using Bayesian inference to quantify various mechanistic hypotheses of schooling behavior in fish.

Want to work with us? Learn more about opportunities to join our research collaborations, and career opportunities, here.


Armando Solar-Lezama ↗︎

Solar-Lezama is a professor at MIT EECS and an associate director and the COO of MIT CSAIL, where he leads the Computer-Aided Programming Group.

Joshua Tenenbaum ↗︎

Tenenbaum is professor of Computational Cognitive Science in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Scientific Director with the MIT Quest for Intelligence, an investigator at the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines and MIT CSAIL, and a MacArthur Fellow.

Kevin Ellis ↗︎

Ellis is an assistant professor of computer science at Cornell, where his group works on artificial intelligence, deep learning and program synthesis.

Anthony Philippakis ↗︎

Philippakis is chief data officer of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, co-director of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center for AI and Biology, a venture partner at GV, and a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Rui Costa ↗︎

Costa is a professor of neuroscience and outgoing CEO of the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia, the incoming CEO of the Allen Institute, and an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and the National Academy of Medicine.

Contact Us

If you are interested in supporting our mission to create a new space for AI research with financial or other resources, or collaborating with us on either core technology or any of our current challenge problems, please reach us at

If you’d like to stay up to date on Basis news, software releases, or challenge problems please join our mailing list.