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Ryan Christiansen, Executive Director


Ryan is the executive director of the University of Utah Stena Center for Financial Technology. In this role, Ryan directs and coordinates the labs, incubator, academic focus of the Center. Ryan previously served as senior vice president of data access partnerships at Mastercard. In this role, Ryan led the acquisition and management of consumer permissioned financial data. As an impassioned advocate for fintech, Ryan also represented Mastercard in industry efforts, which included an instrumental role in the foundation of the financial data exchange (FDX). Prior experience also includes serving as senior vice president of private banking at Zions Bank where he managed one of banks the largest credit portfolios.

Emily Flinders, Director of Operations


As director of operations for the Stena Center for Financial Technology, Emily oversees the programming and day-to-day operations for the industry labs, academic programs, and incubator. She also manages  marketing strategy and operations for the Stena Center. Previously, Emily for worked several years at fintech and technology companies in a variety marketing management roles. She’s a big fan of reading, travel, Utah football and Dr. Pepper.


Rose Carlow, Executive Assistant


Rose Carlow is the Executive Assistant at the Stena Center for Financial Technology. In this position she works closely with the Executive Director and Director of Operations providing administrative assistance. Her primary responsibility is keeping the center organized and moving forward. Rose assists with the coordination of various activities, meetings, projects, etc. Prior to joining the center she served as an operations supervisor for over 15 years.


Elena Asparohova, Stena Faculty Chair


Elena Asparohova is the Stena Faculty Chair, Director of the ULEEF lab, and Academic Director of the David Eccles School of Business Fintech program.

Elena received her Doctorate in Social Sciences from the California Institute of Technology and her Masters in Statistics from Sofia University, Bulgaria. Her research interests are in the area of theoretical and experimental financial economics. They include but are not confined to: the theory of asset pricing, experimental finance, general equilibrium theory, and econometrics.

Elena’s recent work has been centered on the effects of competition in financial markets under delegation and under asymmetric information, information percolation in dark markets, the role of perfect forecast in multi period markets, and market equilibration. She is currently involved in experimental research on the interaction of humans and robots in financial markets. She is interested in using experimentation to test the theoretical predictions of standard models as well as to discover robust phenomena on which to build new theory where those models’ predictions are known to be indeterminate.

Elena is currently the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance and the President of the Society for Experimental Finance.


Sneha Kumar Kasera, Stena Academic Chair


Sneha Kumar Kasera is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering and a Professor in the Kahlert School of Computing at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. From 1999-2003, he was a member of technical staff in the Mobile Networking Research Department of Bell Laboratories. Earlier, he received a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a master’s degree in Electrical Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore.

Dr. Kasera’s research interests include computer networks and systems encompassing mobile and pervasive systems and wireless networks, network security and privacy and reliability, Internet of things, crowdsourcing, and dynamic spectrum access. He is a recipient of the 2019 R&D 100 award for his work on real-time radio frequency signal detection and classification, and the 2002 Bell Labs President’s Gold Award for his contribution to wireless data research.

He has served as the program chair of IEEE WoWMoM in 2020, ACM WiSec in 2017, ACM MobiCom in 2015, and the IEEE ICNP and IEEE SECON conferences in 2011. He has also served on the editorial boards of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, ACM MC2R, ACM/Springer WINET, and Elsevier COMNET journals. Prof. Kasera started, and has been leading, the Advanced Networked Systems Research Lab at the University of Utah since 2003. He is the founding director of the Master of Software Development degree program for non-computer science majors at the University of Utah.

Gene Levinzon, Director of the David Eccles School of Business undergraduate Fintech program


Gene Levinzon is the Director of the David Eccles School of Business undergraduate Fintech program where he develops and teaches Fintech courses. His areas of interests are tokenized economy and digital assets. Gene is also a faculty advisor for the Blockchain Club at the University of Utah.

Gene spent over 25 years working at Goldman Sachs in various roles. His recent roles at GS included Deputy Director General overseeing the firm’s operations in Moscow (2006 – 2009) and Managing Director overseeing technology teams in Sao Paulo and Salt Lake City (2009 – 2016).

Gene holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California, a Master of Business Administration in Finance and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University. He also holds a Master of Science in Computer Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Varun Shankar, Stena Center Associate Chair


Varun Shankar is a Stena Center Associate Chair and an Assistant Professor in the Kahlert School of Computing, as well as Associate Director in the Master of Software Development (MSD) program at the University of Utah. His research interests include scientific machine learning, scientific computing, and high-performance computing. He obtained his PhD in Computing from the University of Utah in 2014, and was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mathematics from 2014-2017. He also served as a member of the lecturing faculty in the Kahlert School of Computing from 2018-2023.


Ryan Stutsman, Stena Center Associate Chair


Ryan Stutsman is a Stena Center Associate Chair and an Associate Professor in the Kahlert School of Computing at the University of Utah, where he founded and currently leads the Scalable Computer Systems Laboratory.

Dr. Stutsman received a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2013. Before that, he received a Bachelors from Purdue University in 2007. From 2013 to 2015, Dr. Stutsman worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Microsoft where the project he helped spearhead received the 2017 Microsoft Research Redmond Lab Outstanding Research Project Award. Since then, Dr. Stutsman has served as Visiting Researcher and Scholar in Residence at Microsoft and VMware Research.

Dr. Stutsman’s research primarily focuses on networked data center storage systems. The work he helped lead earned the USENIX OSDI Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award and the Intel HotStorage Best Paper Award in 2022. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award (2018) and the VMware Early Career Faculty Award (2019).  Dr. Stutsman’s teaching has also earned him the 2017 and 2023 Kahlert School of Computing Outstanding Teaching Award and the 2023 Price College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award.