Kai Staats Who I Am
An avid lover of all things out-of-doors, writer, speaker, filmmaker, innovator, and world traveler. I find connections and build bridges. I bring people into common spaces and shared times, then motivate potentials into reality.

I enjoy storytelling, both sharing and receiving. It is, for me, the most genuine way to connect with another human. This is something we have shared for some fifty thousand years, long before telecommunications, when the camp was the meeting place and conversations unfolded across the embers. As modern inhabitants of a faster paced world, we yet share that heritage, even if we have forgotten it in ourselves.

This is why we attend the theater, why we go to the movies. This is why we gather at restaurants, bars, and meeting halls. This is why coffee shops and Internet cafés have grown in popularity, to counter our feeling alone in a world that works to disconnect us despite the promise of the Internet. Through the process of compilation, self-reflection, and presentation I am given opportunity to share my experience of this world with you. This website shares my campfire stories as they unfold.

Kai StaatsMoving Along the Non-Linear Function
From 1999 through 2008 my professional and personal identities were wrapped into one. As co-founder and CEO of a leading, open source Yellow Dog Linux (YDL) operating system and high performance computing solutions provider. my leadership helped to shape the use of Linux and supercomputers around the world. In that capacity I was a salesman, problem solver, and manager of a small, agile team that accomplished the impossible. Yet each time I drove away from a client site part of me was left behind. I promised myself that I would return to the sciences not as a salesman but as a researcher who contributes to the shared understanding of the universe and our place in it.

In 2012 I sold most everything I own and put the rest of my life in storage. With a Canon 60D, two lenses, and laptop and backpack I traveled the world shooting films about wildlife conservation, military occupation, archaeology, astronomy and science discovery. Some of my films were funded by the National Science Foundation, some won awards, and some accomplished simpler, more personal goals.

In 2014 I moved to South Africa to earn a Masters degree in Applied Mathematics. I learned to focus again, finding deep pleasure in research, programming, surfing and friends. The night my biologically inspired machine learning code evolved a solution for the first time will remain with me forever as a vivid, extraordinary moment in time. Through my research in evolutionary computation applied to the mitigation of noise in radio astronomy I gained a deeper understanding of how to use machine learning and data mining to better understand the world around us, and ourselves. Doors opened to work in gravitational-wave astronomy and then closed ecosystem modeling.

At Arizona State University my team developed SIMOC (2017-19), a closed ecosystem computer model and educational interface now hosted by National Geographic. At the University of Arizona Biosphere 2 my team is building SAM, the world’s highest fidelity Mars habitat complete with greenhouse, crew living quarters, airlocks, and a massive indoor/outdoor Mars yard.

In this continuing journey, I embrace the non-linear functions for in these lie the most rewarding interactions.