Senior Research Engineer, BlockScience
🐦 Twitter: @danilolessa
👾 Discord: danlessa#2831
📨 Telegram: @danlessa
Where are you from? Tell us about your background.
I'm from Ariquemes - a city on the Brazilian Amazon! It's located well on the border of the demographic frontiers and the city has about 30 years of existence. I lived there until I finished my high school, and the desire to know more about our science and our world led me to Universidade de São Paulo - the biggest and most selective university in the Southern Hemisphere - for pursuing a Bachelor of Sciences in Physics education.
I was a pretty active student there, taking part in multiple student associations & roles through the university. Teaching Assistant, Political Representative, Hackerspace Founder and lots of other things. I definitely was never bored! I took all opportunities to learn also about other areas: World Economic History, Mathematical Ecology, Smart Cities and lots of other stuff. The entire undergraduate course was a huge excuse to learn as much as possible about what makes our world and nature in macro and micro.
For most part during my undergraduate studies and beyond, I was doing research on Atmosphere Physics (specifically, data-driven calibration of Cloud Fraction measurements for MODIS and GOES-13) on the Laboratório de Física Atmosférica da USP, which is led by the brightest climate researchers that I know - Paulo Artaxo, Alexandre Correia, Djacinto Santos, et al.
I've also took a stab at doing PhD studies on Machine Learning applications in Bioinformatics by using Cancer-Cachexia patients as a case study while being supervised by Alexandre Suaide, the most impactful particle physicist on LatAm (he was taking a break from his LHC research and using that as an opportunity to learn more about ML).
Really lots of stuff has been omitted (no mention of activist efforts & achievements were mentioned, and no crypto stuff mentioned), but here you are a partial cut ;)
What is your current title or occupation?
Senior Research Engineer at BlockScience, although I would like to rename it to "Token Physicist" at some point
Are you working on a project or part of an organization? Tell us more about it and your role in it.
Yes, on BlockScience. We do complex systems engineering for projects that are building socio-economic systems. This involves design, formalization, validation and implementation - it's the engineer's loop. We use a mix of math and computer models for formalizing, and simulations along with an analysis pipeline to validate.
I mostly support the formalization & validation phase. I'm a Computational Scientist by excellence. Defining, executing and studying computational experiments is what I do. This involves selecting the right set of hypothesis (which involves contextual knowledge and a good grasp of statistics & inference), the right computational model (which involves selecting trade-offs between performance, comprehensiveness and relevance) and the right set of goals and metrics (which involves tying together the experiment goal and the simulation inputs/outputs).
We know you’re a superhero! What are your special powers/skills?
Being a Computational Scientist on fast-changing projects that deals with humans is hard. Empathy is a core competency to have, as the translation between desires and formal models / hypothesis requires it. However, it should be coupled to a wide interdisciplinary knowledge, as the diversity of projects requires taking inspiration from multiple fields at once: econometrics, bayesian inference, data mining and others.
In that sense, I would say that my special power is really the diversity of exposures, both technically-minded and socially-minded, that I do possess. It allows me to understand the people and the science. To understand the fractal interaction topology between different stakeholders and mechanisms and how they should be included on our designs.
What has been your biggest professional or Web3 achievement yet?
Being able to provide sound recommendations in terms of economic parameters to Filecoin through large-scale simulations was one of my first challenges on BlockScience, and something that I'm very proud to have done.
To have done the Open Science Research Groups on Gitcoin around Collusion, and the Fraud Detection Group that originated after it was another thing that I'm very proud of.
Who/what inspires you in Web3 or public good space?
The spirit of building & enabling decentralized collaboration. Being able to build organizations and collectives that are more transparent, adaptable and fair to its participants. Building and improving modules & primitives on top of each other rather than trying to replace and eating the competition alright.
What are the individual elements that inspire me? Hard to say, but I always like to think that there are some precursors to the decentralized utopia. Maybe 1 Hive and its Gardens? Maybe Gitcoin and its vision for the web of jobs? ReFi and Giveth? Filecoin and the first decentralized-coop which is tackling Web2 giants head to head right now?
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
Octopus, the TE mathematician! I got to know him while leading the Open Science Research Group on Gitcoin, and the combo of his personality and capacities is something that has impressed me. I wish that I could spend more time directly with him at some point.
Do you have any hobbies or other interests? We’re curious!
Cycling is my main hobby (and cult). I do ride a lot - road, gravel paths, destroyed paths - it doesn't matter. I do enjoy randonneuring (and bikepacking) long distances, and I always take a lot of inspiration from the environment which I'm connecting with. I do bring my bike on all travels - airplane or not, and I always joke that it is just like bringing toothpaste - an essential item.
Besides that, it's hard to pinpoint an "permanent" hobby, as I tend to have intense interest bursts. It is a bad idea for your time if you ask me about topological maps! Or if you ask about how to maximize aerobic performance and fitness through data-driven methods. I'm always having those 1-6mo bursts of intense interest into a specific concept, tool or perspective. (I got into systems modeling because of a burst generated by reading an article on societal costs and benefits around public policy on bikes).
What’s your motivation to be part of Trusted Seed?
As the ecosystem grows, we'll need increasingly more to have a network of trusted peers with common values and goals. We need to make sure that people, initiatives and collectives know and trust that there are clusters which are willing to support and guide them on whatever resources are available - intellectual, moral, social, economic and labor material. As the Trusted Seed, we value the commons as an entity itself - especially commons that are value-matched in terms of providing more collaborative and sustainable structures.
Is there anything else you want to share with our community? (Fun facts, tips, quotes, promotions, etc.)
Fun fact: in 2021 I made an attempt in doing a ultra-distance cycling record related to being the fastest known time for crossing Brazil north to south. That project got some sponsors, and one of the logos that made into the jersey was the Commons Stack one!