Our Team

The World Scholar’s Cup draws on the spirited contributions of staff, volunteers, and affiliates and partners all over the world; there is no way to introduce all of them here. Below are just a few of our core team members:

Daniel Berdichevsky is the founder and alpaca-in-chief of the World Scholar's Cup. In high school, Daniel achieved the highest score in the history of the United States Academic Decathlon. He has been a professional nerd ever since. For Daniel, Decathlon was life-changing: it introduced him to cross-curricular thinking and to the joy of teamwork, it inspired him to overcome his fear of public speaking, and it launched him into college with new confidence. It was after studying science, technology, and society and public policy at Stanford and Harvard Universities that Daniel came to three realizations: first, that there was no opportunity like Academic Decathlon for students all around the world; second, that such a global program could be for students in the 21st century what Decathlon had been for him in the 20th; and third, that he had just discovered his life’s work. In his spare time, Daniel has also led strategic innovation for CASIO, worked in venture capital, and volunteered for progressive political campaigns, including Obama for America. He spends much of his time on the road hosting tournaments, speaking at schools, and losing his passport. Daniel loves nothing more (except maybe alpacas) than interacting with and learning from students around the world.
Burch Wang is a composer, actor, and entertainer—and, since the beginning of 2012, World Scholar’s Cup director of social stuff. He also recently emceed the largest-ever dance in the program’s history: 1500 students at the Global Round in Dubai. This peak moment followed a more dubious achievement: his epic tearing of his Achilles’ tendon dancing Gangnam Style in the final five minutes of the first-ever Delhi Round in 2012. At Stanford University, he was Daniel’s student in bioethics and then Daniel’s tutor in singing, commencing a friendship and creative collaboration that has endured for over fifteen years. Someday, they plan to write a musical together. It will feature alpacas.
Jeremy Chumley (a.k.a. "J-Chum") is the Managing Director (and resident optimist) at the World Scholar's Cup. When Jeremy is not championing the program at schools, conferences, or Shake Shack, he can be found wandering into dodgy Dubai establishments and retrieving dead drops from abandoned rental cars. No one else on the team can match his facility with prose, his fascination with packaging, or his nose for serendipity. Jeremy is also known for a peculiar obsession with Lorde's "Royals" and for deploying his smooth Texan accent on the telephone—making even the coldest call a little warmer.
Sara Syed is our Tournament Director. She doesn’t quite understand how she went in just two years from not knowing what an alpaca looked like to being questioned at the Toronto airport about the bright purple “llama-esque creature” in her backpack. A chance meeting with Daniel Berdichevsky (who was posing as an experienced debate judge) at a debate tournament in Dubai in 2011 led to her becoming a scholar in 2012 and a staff member by 2013. She envisions that, by the end of her tenure at the World Scholar's Cup, she will have metamorphosed entirely into an alpaca, although hopefully not a purple one. When she’s not praying for responses to her invitation letters or running tournaments in cities as diverse as Tokyo (yay, seaweed triangles!) and Johannesburg (yay, malva pudding!), she enjoys drinking tea, teaching debate, flanking rows on airplanes, and missing her favorite kebab spots in Dubai.
Josephine Richstad is the Director of Curriculum at the World Scholar's Cup. She holds a Ph.D. in English from UCLA and a BA, also in English, from Columbia University. She first joined DemiDec as a writer in 2008, beginning her alpaca-centric collaboration with Daniel over breakfast at a Malibu diner shortly before going underground at a Charles Dickens festival. She is pictured here at her desk in sort-of-upstate New York, where she divides her time between tending her family (including a daughter who infamously savaged Daniel's favorite stuffed alpaca), teaching herself economics, masterminding the production of DemiDec materials, and not taking international flights.
Nathan Levin is a former tournament director and continuing contributor at the World Scholar's Cup, with a special emphasis on building participation in rounds and camps in emerging regions. Nathan grew up in the bustling metropolis of Toledo, Ohio, where he ached to see rest of the world, including Iowa and Michigan. He earned his B.A in Computer Science from Grinnell College, where he discovered both Ultimate Frisbee and his predecessor, Zac Ellington. His friendship with Zac has led him from Disney rides in Orlando to scooter rides in Kaohsiung, and now to wrangling alpacas at the World Scholar's Cup. During his free time Nathan likes to play guitar, hike, play frisbee, deny any resemblance to Seth Green, and trade relics known as paperback books.
Patrick McDonald is the former Chief Operating Alpaca of the World Scholar's Cup and a continuing contributor. Like once-upon-a-time roommate Daniel Berdichevsky, a graduate of Stanford University, where he studied philosophy and Hotel California. Until recently, he was the Director of the Huntley Public Library in the exurbs of Chicago, Illinois; he now brings to the World Scholar's Cup his deep love of learning and literacy, his relentless knack for organization, and his Chromebook. The team's only pescaterian, he is also the most likely member of the staff to be found meditating and/or drinking things that are green.

Tania Asnes contributes to curriculum and test development for the World Scholar’s Cup out of her secret footnote-infested lair in New York City. A graduate of Barnard College and a wily veteran of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, Tania has been a vital part of the World Scholar’s Cup team, and, just as importantly, its voice, since 2007. In that time she has learned about everything from guillotines to space travel, and has evolved into an expert at offhand alpaca references, which can prove awkward in everyday life, especially at the supermarket and at dinner parties. When detached from her desk, she can be found performing off Broadway, practicing monologues, and purchasing copious quantities of bliny.