• Jody Emmings

      Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
      Pronouns: she/her
      Library 266

      Jody Emmings designs strategies related to all entrepreneurial initiatives and implements programming. Jody also leads the vision of the Idea Lab to be a community hub of creativity, experimentation and innovation, collaborating with students, faculty and departments across campus. Prior to coming to Macalester, Jody worked at the Pohlad Family Foundation. A certified welder and visual artist, Jody owns a small business called Hot House Metal where she creates custom architectural metalwork. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, tending her backyard chickens and biking the streets of her St. Paul neighborhood.

    • Sasmita Tripathy, PhD

    • Program Manager, Entrepreneurship and Innovation
      Pronouns: she/her/hers
      Library 299
    • Sasmita Tripathy works on designing, implementing, coordinating and managing program to help students in their entrepreneurial journey. Sasmita is passionate about commercializing ideas/innovations to solve the next big problems in the world. Prior to joining Macalester, she helped startups and researchers on Customer Discovery, Market Research and SBIR/STTR grant writing. She is an instructor at Great Lakes I-Corps Hub  and MIN-Corps, where she teaches contents such as Product-Market Fit, Customer Discovery, Market Assessment and Commercialization Pathways by following Lean Launchpad methodology. Additionally, she taught undergraduate students at the Department of Biology of University of St Thomas. She holds a PhD from Oregon State University, where her doctoral dissertation was focused on molecular control of type 2 diabetes and fatty liver diseases. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, hiking and gardening.

    • Briana Riley

      Department Coordinator Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Idea Lab
      Pronouns: she/her
      Library 229
      [email protected] 

      Briana facilitates all Idea Lab activities. She is the go to person for scheduling space and working with the student staff to create a welcoming environment that encourages innovation, creativity, collaboration and joy. Briana graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a degree in Global Studies and an emphasis on governance, peace, and justice. Prior to joining Macalester, Briana worked at the YWCA St. Paul in programs designed to empower individuals and families experiencing deep racial and gender disparities. In her free time Briana is energized by traveling with her husband and two children, working in her organic vegetable garden, and spending time with friends and family.  

    •  Ali Alizadeh

      Ali Alizadeh ’85

      Entrepreneur in Residence & Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

      Ali Alizadeh is a Principal and a co-founder of Hemisphere. Prior to co-founding Hemisphere, Mr. Alizadeh was a managing director at RBC Capital Markets.  Mr. Alizadeh directs the firm’s development and investment efforts as well as managing the firm’s institutional and business relationships.  Over the last 30 years, Mr. Alizadeh was instrumental in arranging nearly $1 billion of senior and subordinated debt for the gaming and hospitality industry.  From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Alizadeh was Senior Vice President in the Corporate Finance Department of Jefferies and Company, Inc.  Prior to joining Jefferies, Mr. Alizadeh spent two years as a Managing Director at RBC Dain Rauscher and five years at Miller and Schroeder Financial, Inc.  Mr. Alizadeh has also held corporate finance positions at Citicorp, N.A., in Chicago and New York.  Mr. Alizadeh holds a B.A. in economics from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business in Rochester, New York.

E&I/Idea Lab Student Staff


  •  Anna Keefe
    Hi! My name is Anna, and I am from just across the river in Minneapolis. I am a sophomore here at Macalester, and I plan on majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I’m so excited to be back on campus this fall to spend in-person time in classes and the Idea Lab.
  • Grace LinGrace Lin
    Hello, I’m Grace and I’m from New York City! I’m pursuing a major in Computer Science and a minor in Psychology. I love to create things whether that is digital designs or physical objects such as origamis or felt flowers. I am always looking for ways to expand my creative horizon which is why I love the Idea Lab because it’s always surrounded by curious and creative people. I often find myself being inspired by the work and ideas that my peers and staff create.
  • Amanda WongAmanda Wong
    Hi, I’m Amanda! I’m an Art and Media and Cultural Studies major. I love the Idea Lab very much. It’s the quintessential place for me to begin hatching my ideas. At the end of the day my ideas don’t always work out, but it beats sitting around on them.
  • Tyler SanchezTyler Sanchez
    Hi my name is Tyler (he/him) and a sophomore studying psychology and media + culture studies! I help run the social media for the idea lab and can’t wait to see all the wonderful things everyone makes! In my free time I love doing digital and film photography.
  • Maksim Smith
    Hey! I’m Maksim and I am a sophomore from Lawrence, Kansas. I am undeclared as of yet, but I’m leaning towards International Studies, History, and German. I look forward to finally being in-person in the Idea Lab and helping the creative and curious who wander in!
  • MeiraMeira Smit
    Yo! My name is Meira Smit, I’m from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where love to frolick in nature! I always have an artistic project I’m doing so I’m very excited to be in the Idea Lab working with creative people!
  • OriOri Friesen
    Hi, I’m Ori and I’m from Portland, OR! I’m currently a freshman here at Macalester and although I’m undecided right now, I’ll probably be double majoring in physics and computer science. I’m super excited to help people with their creative and innovative projects at the Idea Lab this year!
  • Sivali Bhandary
  • MelissaMelissa Ballin-Cardona
    Hey! My name is Melissa but I also go by Mel, either works. I come from Atlanta, Ga. I’m a freshman planning on taking the pre-med route and majoring in Biology. I love both the arts and sciences! Creating is something anyone can do but nobody can do it the same as someone else, I think that is what is so unique about it. I am super excited to meet new people and help facilitate their creative flow in any way I can!
  • Heaji KangHeaji Kang
    Hey, my name is Heaji and I am a junior from Buford, Georgia. I love the Idea Lab because it provides students the opportunity to further explore their creative outlets. I can’t wait to help incoming students with their projects!
  • CeilCeil Maus-Conn
    Hi! I’m Ceil, a sophomore from St. Cloud, MN. I absolutely love arts and crafts and specialize in making a big mess (and cleaning it up, of course :)). I’m so excited to be a part of this creative space!
  • Felicia WinfreyFelicia Winfrey
    Hey! I’m Felicia and from Denver, Colorado. Right now I’m undeclared but I’m super interested in geography and environmental studies. I love hanging out outside, playing different sports, and doing lots of crafts, especially cross-stitch and making lanyards
  • Arushi NairArushi Nair
    Hi! My name is Arushi Nair, I am a sophomore from Chicago and I’m a German and International Studies double-major. I love to learn, create and experiment in the Idea Lab and am excited help others do the same!
  • Alex ParrAlex Parr
    My name is Alex Parr (she/her). I am from St. Paul and I grew up in Sri Lanka. I love crafting and creating, especially anything to do with sewing, embroidery, and glue guns!