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Meet the Team: Welcome Sam Lopes!

December 23, 2020
Susanna Pho, CFM

We're excited to introduce another new team member to Forerunner. This month, Sam Lopes has joined us as a Senior Software Engineer! He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and a very well-organized book shelf. Read on to learn a bit about him.

Hi, Sam! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a Dutch Brazilian who came to the US for school and stayed for work, much to my parent's chagrin. After graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, I spent about 6 years at Groupon building a variety of different platforms in Java, Ruby, Go, and Javascript. After that, I hopped over to Braintree, where I worked for 2 years on their massively-scaled transaction database and the associated merchant-facing portal. I then migrated over to Tegus, a small startup in Chicago focused on helping investors do primary research, as a technical lead and engineering manager. I was there for about 2 years, after which I transitioned to Forerunner.

Where are you located now?

I'm located in Chicago's River North, a couple of blocks from The Loop. I've tried more than once to leave Chicago for warmer climates (similar to those of my childhood) but a variety of things keep on bringing me back here.

What brought you to Forerunner?

With the onset of the COVID pandemic and other forms of social unrest in both the US and abroad, I started wondering if there wasn't somewhere I could use my skills to more directly have a positive impact in individuals' lives. Forerunner's mission and stated goals, alongside the technical challenges that plague the climate change space, felt like a good fit for me.

What are you looking forward to learning at Forerunner?

I'm curious to learn more about how governmental agencies and local communities handle large-scale existential threats like flooding, fires, and hurricanes. Furthermore, because of the nature of Forerunner's work, I'm looking forward to learning about the technical challenges involved in handling a large amount of potentially incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise messy datasets, alongside all the complications that come with appropriately handling and manipulating geospatial data. Finally, Forerunner has a lot of interesting problems that might require some variation of machine learning models to solve, and I'm excited to start delving into that space as well.

What do you do when you have some time to spare?

My spare time is equally divided into reading books, building (but not glueing together) Lego sets, and working on coding golf challenges (such as Advent of Code).

I know you're a prolific reader, what is the best book you've read this year?

This is a rough one, as there are at least two that I'd say were absolute show-stoppers - The Rings Of Saturn and One Hundred Years of Solitude. If you'd like to try a book written in Portuguese, I'd recommend Welcome To Copacabana & Outras Histórias.

I also know you like trivia! What is your current favorite fun fact?

The board game Monopoly was invented in 1904 by Lizzy Magie with the intent of educating people about Georgism. It was originally titled The Landlord's Game.

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