Early life and education
Serene is ethnically Chinese and spent her childhood in a variety of regions within North America. As a pianist, she is largely self-taught; she also taught herself to write code at age 9. She attended Carnegie Mellon University, graduating with a degree in computer science in 2012.
Career in software
She worked as the first engineer for technology incubator Google Ideas, now Jigsaw LLC. While a senior fellow at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, she was a recipient of the Open Technology Fund’s Information Controls Fellowship, where she created Snowflake, a pluggable transport enabling censorship circumvention for The Tor Project as its first use-case.
She is the founder of Snowstorm, the rearchitected V2 and commercialization of the Snowflake transport technology. In July 2023, Snowstorm finished its seed round of $3 million. Snowflake came to prominence when the Tor network began using it to prevent hostile actors from blocking access to Tor.
Serene is an advisory board member of the World Ethical Data Foundation.
Career as a musician
Serene has given performances at both concert halls and such non-traditional settings as San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and inside a decommissioned Boeing 747 at Burning Man. She received a composition credit on Kanye West’s opera Mary (2019). She has released two EPs: Unraveling (2019), a collection of piano works by Maurice Ravel, and Rachmaninoff Concert No. 3 (2020). She experiences synesthesia and has written code to project abstract, moving visualizations behind her performances. She also has collaborated with Blue Man Group founder Chris Wink on music-technology projects and social-distanced events at Las Vegas's AREA15.
- "Serene". Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Musicians. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
- Küchemann, Fridtjof. "Zugang für Iraner: Per Snowflake ins TOR-Netzwerk". FAZ.NET (in German). ISSN 0174-4909. Retrieved 2023-02-15.
- Sylvan, Edward. "Serene On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry". Medium. Authority Magazine. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
- Bratton, Benjamin H. (2015). The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. p. 592. ISBN 978-0-262-02957-5.
- McDevitt, Dan (18 March 2017). "Information Controls Fellows Reflect On Their ICFP Experience". Open Technology Fund. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
- "Wie eine Ex-Google-Ingenieurin dabei hilft, Internet-Zensur zu umgehen". futurezone.at (in German). 12 February 2023. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
- Shu, Catherine (19 July 2023). "Snowstorm raises seed to keep the internet free". TechCrunch. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
- Castro, Chiara (1 March 2023). "Snowstorm: the bridge to reconnect a splintering web". TechRadar. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
- Binder, Matt (10 February 2023). "Snowflake helped Tor users thwart Russian censorship. Now the VPN is branching out as Snowstorm". Mashable. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
- Newman, Jared (8 February 2023). "Snowstorm is a censorship-blocking VPN that might actually work". Fast Company. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
- Moreno, Johan. "As The Internet Freedom Project Expands, Snowflake Becomes Snowstorm". Forbes. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
- "Serene". Boesendorfer.
- Nachrichten, Salzburger (22 May 2023). "Vom Computer ans Klavier: Pianistin Serene im Konzerthaus". Salzburger Nachrichten (in German). Retrieved 10 September 2023.
- "Pianist Brings Innovation, Master Class in Instrumental Expression to Groton". Groton. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
- "Pianist Serene Performs Virtually at Groton School". Groton Herald. 2 November 2021. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
- Millstein, Lincoln (17 January 2023). "Self-taught pianist Serene to perform at Grace Farms". CT Insider.