ESP Biography



SWEET TEA DORMINY, MIT alum in software engineering.




Major: Chemistry

College/Employer: Permabit Technology Corp

Year of Graduation: 2013

Picture of Sweet Tea Dorminy

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Sweet Tea loved computers from the moment he laid eyes on them. Moreover, he was forbidden to use them for <i>years</i> -- until 11 or so. This hasn't stopped me from being passionate about computer science though. My first love was math, which turned into a love of cryptography when I realized how tightly these were intertwined. This led to studying datastructures and algorithms, and then to biological simulation. Computers are fun!

I'm not just a computer scientist, though: I would deem myself a word nerd far more than a math or computer nerd. I'd like to imagine I can carry on an intelligent although divagating conversation about politics, religion, philosophy, trees, history of America or early modern Sweden, etymologies, farming, &c. -- and I love to learn about almost anything.

In the realm of politics, I get my news from the Green Left Weekly, First Things, Reason, and Schneier's blog. Yet while I may be a libertarian, I believe morality is important also: I would describe myself as a Christian environmentalist libertarian farmer, though I haven't farmed sufficiently much recently.

I graduated MIT in 2013 and am now a software engineer. I know not: I want my life to help the world in whatever way I am able, and at this point I believe starting some business related to my computer science, chemistry, and biology loves looks most promising in this realm.

Present accomplishments include, in high school, 2-time 14th-ranked USA student in the USACO, 4-time ISEF participation, being named a Davidson Fellow for my encryption research, being named a Coca-Cola Scholar for my volunteer service on artofproblemsolving.com, and 4-time participation in national vocabulary competitions, including 4th and 2nd finishes in middle school.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


The Origins and Writing of the Constitution in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
We often think today of the Constitution as the piece de resistance of the Colonial period, a perfect government that sprang from the Founding Fathers fully formed and without precedent. In fact, few things could be further from the truth. The Constutition wasn't even supposed to exist --- the committee that forged it was supposed to propose amendments to the existing government, not overthrow it. The Founders themselves hardly thought their document was perfect --- it had a host of compromises, over religion, slavery, power, and other critical aspects of the government. In fact, several Founders spent months locked away in a room with the others making the Constitution --- and then refused to sign it! How did the founders arrive at the Constitution? Did they come up with something new, or was it foreshadowed by the British system? Why did they make the choices they made? Come learn and discuss these and many other Constitutional topics!


THE VIKINGS in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
The discoverers of America. The defenders of the Roman Empire. The raiders of England. The pirates of the early medieval period. The terror of Northern Europe. Who could this be but the Vikings? Learn about the multifarious activities of the Vikings and their civilization --- war, peace, trade, and discovery!


Tea Tasting! in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Come drink some delicious teas from around the world!


THE VIKINGS in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
The discoverers of America. The defenders of the Roman Empire. The raiders of England. The pirates of the early medieval period. The terror of Northern Europe. Who could this be but the Vikings? Learn about the multifarious activities of the Vikings and their civilization --- war, peace, trade, and discovery!


'English In America': British-Colonial Relationships Before the American Revolution. in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
When we think of the American Revolution today, we think of a band of rebels fighting the British. This isn't how the revolutionaries would have described themselves just a few years before the Revolution, however -- the colonials thought of themselves as loyal British citizens, enjoying the same rights and priviledges as any other British citizens. The British, though, came to disagree during the French and Indian war, and argument over the specific rights of colonials formed the tension that led to the Revolution. From the Stamp Acts to the Tea Acts (leading to the Boston tea party!) to the failed attempts at reconciliation between England and the colonies, come learn about the pre-Revolution history of the revolution!


Colonials to Americans: The Forging of a Nation from Rebellion in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Before the Revolution started, the colonists thought of themselves as British citizens, just the same as any others. All they wanted was to drink their tea and eat their sugar like any good Englishman, and not be ripped off by high taxes. But somehow, in the course of a short eight years, the United States in Congress Assembled developed a [semi-]unified governance system, the Articles of Confederation; fielded an army that defeated the best army in the world; and amalgamated its citizens into a nation with a distinct identity from Britain. How did this happen? How did a protest group seeking their British rights turn into a national identity? These questions and more will be answered by examining the Declaration of Independence and other publications and newspapers from the Revolutionary period.


The Origins and Writing of the Constitution in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
We often think today of the Constitution as the piece de resistance of the Colonial period, a perfect government that sprang from the Founding Fathers fully formed and without precedent. In fact, few things could be further from the truth. The Constutition wasn't even supposed to exist --- the committee that forged it was supposed to propose amendments to the existing government, not overthrow it. The Founders themselves hardly thought their document was perfect --- it had a host of compromises, over religion, slavery, power, and other critical aspects of the government. In fact, several Founders spent months locked away in a room with the others making the Constitution --- and then refused to sign it! How did the founders arrive at the Constitution? Did they come up with something new, or was it foreshadowed by the British system? Why did they make the choices they made? Come learn and discuss these and many other Constitutional topics!


Implementing the Constitution: Ratification and the Formation of a Government in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
The Federal Constitution was written in four months by fifty-five men cloistered in the Pennsylvania state house. The final text was signed by thirty-nine: "eleven states, and Colonel Hamilton" in the words of George Washington. How did it it go from the proposal of a small committee to being ratified by the thirteen nearly-independent states as a replacement for the Articles of the Confederation? Once it was ratified, how did the generation that wrote it convert it from a few pages of parchment into a functioning government? Learn about the battle over ratification and how it led to the Bill of Rights (and a near-war with Rhode Island!). We'll also discuss how the development of a Treasury created a functional executive branch---something that had not existed under the Articles of the Confederation---how the Federal judiciary, which is barely sketched in the Constitution, developed, and how the fights over these issues created a national party system.


Wheat and the Western Expansion: Funerals, Fungi, and Fungibility in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
We often think of the Midwest as having always been a part of the United States, but in fact, it's been settled less than two hundred years! A strange set of pressures forced Americans into the west despite Indians, war, and drought, and created the vast American nation we know today from a barren prairie that some had described as a desert. None of this settlement would have succeeded without a crop, and wheat was the right crop at the right time --- it could easily be transported and stored, and due to an amazing coincidence, wheat prices were high, disease was low, and technology had just made large-scale wheat growing possible when the West opened for settlement. Learn about the perils of the west, technological advances in farming, and the other factors that settled the West and gave rise to today's tractors and industrial farming


Powder and Steel: The Military Tactics of the American Revolution in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Following the "shot heard round the world", men and women of all stripes took up arms and marched to Boston to face the King's troops in the name of liberty. Yet enthusiasm alone does not win wars, and in 1775, Britain was the foremost military power in the world. The Americans had fought native tribes and French outposts...under British leadership. Yet somehow, this group of armed rabble grew to defeat and outmanoever royal troops on the battlefield and seas, winning the respect of Europe (and the crucial alliance of France) and ultimately American freedom. How did the war move from Boston to Yorktown? Why did British Regulars wear bright red coats? How much of an effect did colonial millitia have relative to continental regulars? Learn the answers to these and other tactical questions in this military history of the American Revolution!


Explosive Chemistry! in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Everyone knows that one of the best parts of chemistry is blowing things up. Come learn about the chemical structure and synthesis of explosive materials! Sadly, we can’t blow anything up ourselves, but we can watch videos of it. Along the way, we’ll learn about organic synthesis, how explosives are made; thermodynamics and characteristics of explosives, why things explode; and plenty of other awesome and explosive chemistry.


Crazy Sex: The Genetics of Sex Determination in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Come learn a little bit about genetics --- and the more crazy living things of the world, complete with strange ! Chromosomes are structures that store and organize DNA, and some of these chromosomes control sex. Now, most of the time, we understand this pretty well: female humans have two complete sex chromosomes, while male humans have one complete chromosome and one of a slightly-broken chromosome. We designate these XX and XY, respectively. But not everything has sexes that are determined like this... platypus sex is determined by $$\textbf{10}$$ different chromosomes instead of 2, for instance. In this class, we'll learn how chromosomes work and explore how this plays out in exotic sex chromosomes :-)


Tea Tasting in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Come taste some classy tea. Not just one classy tea --- from green to white to black to pu'erh, we'll have all sorts of beautiful teas to taste!


Modern Cryptography in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Ever wanted to know how banks, the government, etc. can keep a drive’s contents from being read, even if someone steals the hard drive? Or how to generate numbers that appear random without actually creating random numbers? Enter cryptography, the study of keeping secrets. We’ll be running over basic principles of modern (symmetric) cryptography, discussing: What does it mean for an encryption algorithm to be secure? (common attack methods, random output) What do we do with an encryption algorithm? (hash functions, pseudo-random number generators, block cipher modes) What do modern symmetric encryption algorithms look like? (DES, AES) Note that this course specifically does not cover RSA or any other asymmetric cryptography.


Uranium from Start to Finish in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Uranium is an incredibly interesting element, probably most famous for its use in nuclear bombs. What is uranium, though? Where does it come from? How do you turn uranium-filled rocks in the ground into an atomic bomb? All these questions and more will be answered in this friendly class!


Sort Yourself! in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Sorting is one of the most important problems in computer science. You've all dropped your notes and had them explode and need to be sorted by page number, and it took a long time. In this walk-in, you'll learn several different ways of sorting, by sorting yourself and the other class attendees! You'll be faster afterward, we promise =)


Introduction to Genetics in ESPrinkler Summer 2012 (Jul. 08 - Aug. 19, 2012)
Long, long ago, Gregor Mendel bred some pea plants together. Some had round seeds, and some had wrinkly seeds. Some had yellow seed insides and some had green seed insides. Some had white seeds and some had spotty brown seeds. Some had beautiful white flowers... and some had deep purple flowers. And so forth. You might have heard about this, and what he discovered, but whether you have or not, you'll learn some new things about he did. In this class, we'll read and discuss an English translation of Mendel's results, and what they meant for genetics.


Explosive Chemistry! in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Everyone knows that one of the best parts of chemistry is blowing things up. Come learn about the chemical structure and synthesis of explosive materials! Sadly, we can’t blow anything up ourselves, but we can watch videos of it. Along the way, we’ll learn about organic synthesis, how explosives are made; thermodynamics and characteristics of explosives, why things explode; and plenty of other awesome and explosive chemistry.


Crazy Sex: The Genetics of Sex Determination in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
Come learn a little bit about genetics --- and the more crazy living things of the world, complete with strange ! Chromosomes are structures that store and organize DNA, and some of these chromosomes control sex. Now, most of the time, we understand this pretty well: female humans have two complete sex chromosomes, while male humans have one complete chromosome and one of a slightly-broken chromosome. We designate these XX and XY, respectively. But not everything has sexes that are determined like this... platypus sex is determined by $$\textbf{10}$$ different chromosomes instead of 2, for instance. In this class, we'll learn how chromosomes work and explore how this plays out in exotic sex chromosomes :-)


Explosive Chemistry! in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Everyone knows that one of the best parts of chemistry is blowing things up. Come learn about the chemical structure and synthesis of explosive materials! Sadly, we can’t blow anything up ourselves, but we can watch videos of it. Along the way, we’ll learn about organic synthesis, how explosives are made; thermodynamics and characteristics of explosives, why things explode; and plenty of other awesome and explosive chemistry.


Anthrax is Awesome: Why Administering Toxin Is (Sometimes) A Good Idea in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Anthrax is awesome and useful! Ok, so it might kill you, and one* anthrax toxin is enough to kill a cell, and each Bacillus anthracis bacteria produces a lot of toxin; but current research says that anthrax toxin** is potentially useful precisely because it kills cells – especially cancer cells. We’ll explore current research and how anthrax works, and it’ll be really enjoyable. *One anthrax toxin? Anthrax toxin is actually composed of three individually non-toxic components that complex together in order to enter and kill cells. **And by useful, it turns out anthrax toxins or their derivatives may actually be useful cancer treatments one day – it may actually, one day, be a good idea to get injected with a derivative of anthrax toxin in order to destroy a tumor. We’ll learn all about anthrax’s mode of entry into cells, how we can modify anthrax toxin to do more useful things than willy-nilly killing everything, and what interesting cancer-killing tests have been done. It’ll be great!


Modern Cryptography in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Ever wanted to know how banks, the government, etc. can keep a drive’s contents from being read, even if someone steals the hard drive? Or how to generate numbers that appear random without actually creating random numbers? Enter cryptography, the study of keeping secrets. We’ll be running over basic principles of modern (symmetric) cryptography, discussing: What does it mean for an encryption algorithm to be secure? (common attack methods, random output) What do we do with an encryption algorithm? (hash functions, pseudo-random number generators, block cipher modes) What do modern symmetric encryption algorithms look like? (DES, AES) Note that this course specifically does not cover RSA or any other asymmetric cryptography.


A Very Gentle Introduction to Cancer in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Cancer: what is it? Why does it kill? Why do we care? This class will teach you a little bit about cancer, starting from the basics --- people are made of cells in various structures, which require oxygen to live --- and explaining what cancer actually is, and why cancers are a bad thing.


Tea Tasting in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Come taste some classy tea. Not just one classy tea --- from green to white to black to pu'erh, we'll have all sorts of beautiful teas to taste!


Explosive Chemistry! in SPICY Delve 2011 (Oct. 23, 2011)
Everyone knows that one of the best parts of chemistry is blowing things up. Come learn about the chemical structure and synthesis of explosive materials! Sadly, we can’t blow anything up ourselves, but we can watch videos of it. Along the way, we’ll learn about organic synthesis, how explosives are made; thermodynamics and characteristics of explosives, why things explode; and plenty of other awesome and explosive chemistry.


Tea and Politics in HSSP Summer 2011 (Jul. 10, 2011)
You're spending 6 hours at HSSP. Come make 1.5 of those be a little more peaceful. Enjoy a different type of good tea every week, and learn and discuss a little bit about its origins, history, and the politics of its region of production. This is your chance to try 7 different types of really good tea from across the world without having to buy it yourself! As a bonus, the last class is going to involve us making our own chai tea --- we'll have a lot of fun. You should be aware that this class is discussion-based, and you will be expected to do 30 minutes of research every week to talk for 2-3 minutes during class about some tea-and-politics topic assigned the week before. You should also be willing to make new friends.


Introduction to Genetics in HSSP Summer 2011 (Jul. 10, 2011)
In this class, we will cover the basics of genetics, from Mendel's famous pea experiments to fruit fly genetics. We will talk about DNA, cross-linking, and genetic sequencing; we will also explore modern developments in this quickly evolving field by summarizing recent publications.


Modern Cryptography in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
Ever wanted to know how banks, the government, etc. can keep a drive’s contents from being read, even if someone steals the hard drive? Or how to generate numbers that appear random without actually creating random numbers? Enter cryptography, the study of keeping secrets. We’ll be running over basic principles of modern (symmetric) cryptography, discussing: What does it mean for an encryption algorithm to be secure? (common attack methods, random output) What do we do with an encryption algorithm? (hash functions, pseudo-random number generators, block cipher modes) What do modern symmetric encryption algorithms look like? (DES, AES) Note that this course specifically does not cover RSA or any other asymmetric cryptography.


AP Chemistry in Delve 2011-2012 (Sep. 18, 2011)
This course is designed to be the equivalent of the general chemistry course usually taken during the first college year. For some students, this course enables them to undertake, as freshmen, second-year work in the chemistry sequence at their institution or to register for courses in other fields where general chemistry is a prerequisite. AP Chemistry should meet the objectives of a good general chemistry course. Students should attain a depth of understanding of fundamentals and a reasonable competence in dealing with chemical problems. The course should contribute to the development of the students' abilities to think clearly and to express their ideas, orally and in writing, with clarity and logic. The college course in general chemistry differs qualitatively from the usual first secondary school course in chemistry with respect to the kind of textbook used, the topics covered, the emphasis on chemical calculations and the mathematical formulation of principles. Quantitative differences appear in the number of topics treated, the time spent on the course by students, and the nature and the variety of experiments done in the laboratory. (from collegeboard.com)


AP Chemistry: Section 2 in Delve 2011-2012 (Sep. 18, 2011)
AP Chemistry


Modern Cryptography in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Ever wanted to know how banks, the government, etc. can keep a drive's contents from being read, even if someone steals the hard drive? Or how to generate numbers that appear random without actually creating random numbers? Enter cryptography, the study of keeping secrets. We'll be running over basic principles of modern (symmetric) cryptography, discussing: What does it mean for an encryption algorithm to be secure? (common attack methods, random output) What do we do with an encryption algorithm? (hash functions, pseudo-random number generators, block cipher modes) What do modern symmetric encryption algorithms look like? (DES, AES) Note that this course specifically does not cover RSA or any other asymmetric cryptography.


Swedish History, 1610-1650 in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Sweden sometimes seems like a backwoods of Europe, but in fact it was an influential player in early modern Europe. Did you know that Sweden had a colony in the New World? Or that Sweden was regarded as the European defender of Protestantism from 1630 to 1720? We'll examine Swedish history through the perspective of Axel Oxenstierna, Lord High Chancellor of Sweden and thus second in power to the king from 1610-1650. We'll touch on Sweden in the New World, Sweden's progress from a medieval to a modern nation, their governmental reforms, and Oxenstierna's personal contributions to modernizing Sweden.


Anthrax is Awesome: Why Administering Toxin Is (Sometimes) A Good Idea in SPLASH (2012)
Anthrax is awesome and useful! Ok, so it might kill you, and one* anthrax toxin is enough to kill a ...


A Very Gentle Introduction to Cancer in SPLASH (2012)
Cancer: what is it? Why does it kill? Why do we care? This class will teach you a little bit ...


Symmetry in Chemistry in SPLASH (2012)
In this class we'll learn how paint has pretty colors and so forth, using group theory and so forth.