Meet Devon Petersmeyer Johnson
Podcast Episode 14: Bonus Episode! Felicia and Rachel chat about the current state of affairs

Meet Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Amelia Winger-BearskinAmelia Winger-Bearskin will be speaking on “Intimate Gestures: Future of VR Interfaces” at our November networking event hosted by DigitalOcean in New York. Her talk will cover how performance art brought her to the world of VR, and examines the private gesture as the future of the way we will work and interact in VR.

Amelia Winger-Bearskin is the director of the DBRS Innovation Lab, a Financial Tech Research lab with a specialization in creative uses of artificial intelligence and Machine Learning. New York-native, Amelia Winger-Bearskin is an accomplished artist and creative technologist with a deep understanding of digital media, visual storytelling, and performance. After five years as an assistant professor of time-based media art and film at Vanderbilt University, Amelia returned to her roots in the NYC creative-tech scene to pursue a master’s program at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Her artist’s CV lists performances and works in venues as diverse as Montreal, Beijing, Manila, Seoul, Sao Paulo, Washington DC and New York City (where she created the interactive data portion of The Exchange Archive at MoMA in 2013.) She is also part of Facebook’s premiere incubator for Virtual Reality(VR): Oculus Launch pad and co-founded of the and Co-Founder of the (Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas hackathon, which now has events around the world).


How (and when) did you get into your current field or company?
I have worked at DBRS for over a year; I am the founding director of the DBRS Innovation Lab.  I became interested in the field of Artificial Intelligence while I was an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University.  I taught Performance Art and Immersive media, [and] I began working with a research group in AI at the university.  It changed my life! I was so excited and invigorated by what AI could do not only in the fields of immersive media, but also how we understand what it is to be human. I was hooked– I left teaching and became engaged in the field in as many aspects as I could.  The first project I did in AI, I worked with Multi-Agency and modeling it with young children.  We worked with students in 5th grade and empowered them to use their bodies to train a model and code with gesture, coding in NETlogo, an Arduino and using an XBox Kinect.

What is your favorite part of being a woman in STEM?
Recently I was at an all male STEM event and everyone thanked me for being the only woman.  I  said: “I woke up like this”.

What other women inspire you?
I am so inspired by the women  who are on this journey with me.  I have two amazing sisters who taught me what it is like to be inspired; both of them are also in STEM fields.

While I was a student at NYU-ITP our program was over half women. I learned a lot and they became my lifelong collaborators, co-founders, friends and champions.  Amazing! They take my breath away, with their creativity, kindness, sly humor and determination.  I love learning from women who are better coders, better speakers, better knitters than me!  Most of all I love how determined we are to support each other and not let anything get us down.


What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I started out my immersive art career as an opera singer: I was a coloratura soprano- which means I usually played the trickster in comedic operas.  I still love to go to the MET as often as I can.  I think everyone in VR should see how they can fit a donkey and a horse and 100 people on that stage and not use microphones.  People also ask me about my last name a lot, it is in fact Jewish and Native American just like my two adorable parents.  I am Iroquois (Seneca-Cayuga) which is from right here in NY!

What do you geek out about?
Opera, VR, AI, AR, ML, Art and developing a framework for the future of data libraries as a public trust.  I volunteer as a consultant on a new art and technology district in the city of New Rochelle and I hope that we can bring VR and Motion Capture to a diverse audience– so stay tuned– and please reach out to me if you are passionate about keeping VR accessible for our entire diverse NY community.


Interested in hearing more from Amelia?

Tickets are available to our November event with DigitalOcean in NYC!

Felicia Jadczak
Felicia Jadczak
Felicia is a Co-Founder of She Geeks Out.