University of Vermont

Department of Computer Science

Alumni Profiles

Michael Karpeles
B.S. in Computer Science 2010

Michael Karpeles Michael E. Karpeles (Mek) graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Vermont in 2010. Throughout all four years at UVM, Mek held officer positions within the Computer Science Student Association (CSSA). Mek helped transform the CSSA from a once-monthly meetup of ~5 members to a 24/7 hackerspace with dedicated laboratory space in Votey Hall, home to over twenty members. The lab space quickly became filled with donated computers which were repaired and repurposed as 10 workstations and a 40 node beowulf cluster. Mek jokes that the CSSA is the only class he had to repeat for 8 semesters. In 2009, during his junior year, Mek co-founded CS095/CS195 Tech Talks, a special topics course, with fellow CSSA officer and friend Gary Johnson, under the leadership of Professor Xindong Wu. The class gave students the opportunity to informally share and present their personal research, as well as learn from guest lectures by industry experts about special topics in computing (like Data Mining, the Curry-Howard Correspondence, Recursive Trampolining and TCO). The Tech Talks course continued to operate through Spring of 2012. While at UVM, Mek interned at a wireless sensor company called MicroStrain in Williston, VT.

After graduating, Mek entered a PhD program at the University of Delaware; his research interests lie in the realm of textual Natural Language Processing and search, which he tackles using tools from the fields of Information Retrieval, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning. He is currently on leave from his Ph.D program to try his hand at being an entrepreneur. He moved to San Francisco to co-found an e-commerce company, Baybo, with Stephen Balaban. In 2011, Babo Labs was acquired by a YCombinator (W11) digital book publishing startup, Hyperink. Mek continued to lead technology development as Hyperink's Principal Architect until October, 2012. Mek served a brief role as Chief Technology Officer of a people search-engine company, Ark (YC S12), before moving on to found Hackerlist in January, 2013. Mek is a technical advisor for several startups, including Primer Labs, Elucidly, and Luminousintensity.

Mek continues to be a deep believer in community, hacker subculture, and liberating knowledge. In his free time, Mek runs a non-profit called OpenJournal, is the primary maintainer of the Waltz python web framework, and contributes to several open source projects ( Upon moving to San Francisco, he became an active member of the Noisebridge Hackerspace and co-founded CodeSF, a technical meetup which provides an outlet for talented hackers to collaborate and share knowledge.

A Personal Letter of Thanks: It feels like so much of my life began at UVM. I gained lifelong role-models and mentors, such as Gary Johnson, Leif K. Brooks, Professor Xindong Wu, Professor Bongard, and Professor Ling. I met a lifelong friend and co-founder of several companies and projects, Stephen Balaban, and made more friendships and connections than I can count. So often, we fail to acknowledge how big an impact people who are not professors have on our education. I'd like to thank Victor Rossi, Tim Raymond, and the rest of the technical staff of both Kalkin and Votey for giving us their personal lab space and resources to build the CSSA and for, on several occasions, not expelling me for antics regarding stock tickers, network vulnerabilities, explorative ssh tunneling, or any other other collateral damage which resulted from my intellectual curiosity. The world should know, it's because of people like you, the understanding and supportive faculty and staff at the University of Vermont, that I and so many others are able to thrive and have such a positive and effective educational experience at UVM.

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Last modified January 31 2013 11:47 AM