Meet the Team

Colin Davis

colinColin originally got interested in tech through game programming. He ended up working as a call center technician for Zeos/Micron in the mid 90s, during which he spoke to around eight thousand people, most of whom you could locate on an anger spectrum ranging from mildly put out to incoherent with rage. He left to begin a startup in the lead-up to the tech crash.

Colin started at MPC in 2001 as a “Junior Application Programmer” and now works a senior software developer. He’s been responsible for data extraction for the MPC’s end users (the “Extract Engine”) for IPUMS and Terra Populus and NHGIS in its latest version. Also responsible for data conversion on all microdata products.

Currently he uses C++ 11, Java and Ruby professionally. For hobby projects Colin has also tinkered with Go, D, Scheme, Perl, and is interested in learning Rust and Clojure.

(Colin has also been Spotlighted!)


Jimm Domingo

domingoJimm has been hacking since… well, since Hector was a pup. At least, back when hacking didn’t mean cracking. Long before this fad of connecting a series of tubes into an interweb…

After working at a commercial database shop in California, Jimm moved into the ivory tower. For the past couple decades, he’s been developing research software at universities around the US (New Hampshire, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Indiana). And now in Minnesota after joining the MPC in 2015.

Here at MPC, Jimm toils away in the Data Production group, helping improve the tools and infrastructure that researchers use in their data workflows (when he’s not writing about himself in the third person).


Dan Elbert

Dan has been writing software since 2005 when he started as a Microsoft developer for a small consulting company. After 7 years of C#, Windows Forms, and IIS, he decided to make a switch and became a Ruby on Rails developer for the MPC.

In his free time, he enjoys homebrewing, cooking, canoeing, and tinkering with home automation.


Jesse Erdmann

jje_picJesse has worked on a diverse set of projects over his career. He has worked on firewalls embedded on NICs (and got to install some of them in the engine room of a not quite ready for deployment Navy Destroyer), connecting Electronic Health Records Systems at a start-up and developing data processing pipelines in pioneering cancer research here at the University of Minnesota. At the MPC, Jesse is working in the Data Production Group leveraging new technology to improve the speed at which new data is processed and released to the world. He has sworn a blood oath to find a way to wedge his long held passion for semantic technology into the MPC.

Outside of the MPC, Jesse has been deeply involved with the local soccer community, dark-clouds.com, as well as pretending to be a music nerd on a music discovery podcast and associated site at audiobonsai.com. His wife allows him to reside in their home in the Northeast Suburbs of the Twin Cities along with their pet Labradoodle and decidedly less furry human child.

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Fran Fabrizio

Fabrizio_HeadshotFran originally planned to become a garbage truck driver (coolest thing ever to this 4-year-old boy), but the gift of a PCjr when he was 8 sparked a hobby interest in programming, typing in BASIC programs from the back of Family Computing magazine. Years later, he would find himself in the right place (a science and tech high school) at the right time (the birth of the Web), which changed his life course completely and led him to a career in computer science and IT.

After several years in private industry he moved to higher education where he has been ever since, splitting time between software development, system administration and management. In 2011 he moved to his wife’s native Minnesota and joined the MPC, and has served as IT Director since 2012.

Outside of work, Fran is likely to be found making a horrible mess of the kitchen, cruising around on his bike, or hanging out watching cars and trucks with his son.

(Fran has also been Spotlighted!)

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Jason Goray

Goray, JasonI began programming in 1988, web development in 1995, and joined the Minnesota Population Center in 2007. I work on almost every MPC project with a web interface.

My primary interest in web development is the interface design and how people use web sites. I enjoy the constantly evolving environment of the web and trying to best apply good programming and design techniques to new platforms and technologies.

(Jason has also been Spotlighted!)


Brian Gottreu

brian-g-webBrian has worked primarily in academia. After seven years at Louisiana Tech University, he decided to trade heat stroke for frostbite and joined the MPC in July 2014 as a system administrator.

Given his enthusiasm for computers, music, and cats, one would expect Brian to enjoy the Venetian Snares album “Songs About My Cats” more than he does.


Kevin Horne

kevin-horne-croppedKevin joined the Minnesota Population Center in 2005. His work centers on delivering domestic aggregate and spatial data via www.nhgis.org. Having done some work on the web site itself, Kevin’s primary focus is on organizing, building, and deploying data and metadata. His experience includes working extensively with Smalltalk, Ruby, and Python. Kevin also has a background with GIS, having earned his MGIS in 2008. His interest in both IT and geography play a key role in his day-to-day activities with NHGIS aggregate data.

In his free time, Kevin teaches group fitness classes at the YWCA of Minneapolis.


Alex Jokela

Jokela, AlexI am a thirty-something software engineer who programs (or has programmed – past tense) in languages with names like Java, Ruby, PHP, Python and a host of others. I enjoy programming/coding; it provides mental stimulation and also pays the bills. I am also a computer science graduate student at the U.

(Alex has also been Spotlighted!)

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Ben Klaas

ben-klaasBen began his career as an ecologist, studying pocket gophers on native grasslands. Data proved to be a second passion though, and he’s been working in computing since the late 1990s on a wide variety of gadgets and gizmos: routers, satellite data, DSL hardware, streaming audio consumer electronics, phone and voicemail software, and now human population data.

Ben works closely with demographic researchers at MPC on a variety of its products: IPUMS-USA, IPUMS-International, NAPP, IDHS, CPS, IHIS, NHGIS and anywhere else he’s needed. He’s a Linux enthusiast and loves working in open source languages like Perl, Python, and Ruby.

Outside of his work at MPC, Ben is an avid cyclist, golfer, and birdwatcher. He is also the father to two lovely daughters. As of this writing, Ben has never been to outer space.

(Ben has also been Spotlighted!)

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Will Lane

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I originally got into computers when my dad started a custom build to order computer company when I was eight years old. Shortly after, I began building and fixing computers for my family and some friends.

In school I played the saxophone and studied jazz music and I eventually went to college to study jazz-performance. After a year or so I decided to keep music fun and switched my major to computer science, where I began to learn programming. I graduated a few years ago and I’ve worked for a few private-sector education companies, but I came to the MPC in pursuit of interesting problems and data that can be used in research to help solve some of our greatest problems.

I am currently working on dropping a shiny new UI on our Terrapop product.


Willy Lee

Willy Lee started his web work while studying studio art at Carleton College. The web was something you could learn the entire body of knowledge in an afternoon at that time. He took his love of narrative and storytelling to this new medium and somehow stumbled upon a career. After a decade at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts doing all things web, he turned his focus to application performance. As the IT Ops Manager at the MPC, he and his team profile and monitor system performance and work with our programmers to find ways to deliver speed and reliability to our users.

In his free time, Willy is a cycling advocate, election judge, outdoorsman, home chef, and enthusiastic diner. He lives in south Minneapolis with his spouse and three cats. He’s always happy to talk about bikes, cats, food, cats, internet, cats, and internet optimization.

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Marcus Peterson

Peterson, MarcusAfter many years of schooling in Civil Engineering, Marcus surprised his family, friends, and himself by taking a software development position at a Boston-area startup. A couple of jobs and a trip back to Minnesota later, he landed at the fledgling MPC in 2002, where he happily remains to this day.

These days, Marcus leads the development team for the ever-growing suite of IPUMS products (7 10 web applications and counting). Though management is now a big part of his job, he is thrilled to be able to write code on a daily basis.

When not planning work for the team or writing code, Marcus can frequently be observed running along the banks of the Mississippi. He also enjoys music, movies, and may or may not have a Star Wars addiction.

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Jayandra Pokharel

jayandraJayandra is a Ruby On Rails developer and loves programming with Ruby. He joined the MPC in the summer of 2014 on the IPUMS product family team.

Besides coding for IPUMS projects, he can be found hanging out with his friends, watching movies and documentaries, and going for a walk.

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Jon Renner

jon-renner_imag0077 Jon has been interested in computers from a very early age, but it wasn’t until 2011 that he began to teach himself how to program. Before that, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Asian Languages and Literature, and went to Taiwan to study Asian history. After developing a semi-successful mobile game, Jon has come to the MPC where he is working on historical data as part of the Data Production team.

(Jon has also been Spotlighted!)


Vladimir Vladykin

vlad_blog_webA native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Vlad was trained in both Computer Science and Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. During his time with the MPC, Vlad has held a wide variety of positions from Web Programmer to Project Coordinator. Currently, among other things, Vlad develops software for the IPUMS-International project, and is responsible for original data reformatting. He likes spending his spare time with his wife and three kids, occasionally escaping to local antique shows to replenish his collection of old clocks, scales and automata.


Jacob Wellington

jacob-wellingtonA.K.A. “Jake”, “Jakey”, “The Jakester”, and “Big Deal”

Threat Level: Red

Known Behaviors: The target is trained in both computer science and theatre arts, and should be considered highly dangerous. He delights in being on the front lines, using his versatile skill set to weasel his way into the heart of ultra-modern projects.

Weapons of Choice: Ruby on Rails, EmberJS, Vim

Known Hangouts: Como Park Zoo, Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, The Green Spoon


Jim Young

Jim Young Luminary

Jim Young began programming with a class in high school in 1966. He continued, earning a BS degree in Sociology and Computer Science from the U of MN in 1973 and had a full time career as a software developer that ended with his retirement in 2014. Looking for something fun to do in retirement, he joined MPC in 2015.

When he isn’t programming, he enjoys various outdoor activities (biking, x-c skiing, canoeing, hiking etc.), bread baking and traveling. He also is a volunteer Luminarian for the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet.