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Heartfelt farewell to Martin Lessmeister, Head of Technology

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Celebrating arXiv's 30th anniversary | arXiv.org blog

After ten years of service to arXiv, Martin Lessmeister, Head of Technology, is moving on to a new opportunity. Brian Caruso, Senior arXiv Developer, will become the Interim Head of Technology.

“Having the opportunity to directly support arXiv and open access, with such a small, dedicated, and mission-driven team, has been an immensely gratifying experience for me,” Lessmeister said. “I will always be grateful for the strong goodwill and ‘rallying cries’ from the arXiv user community in reminding me that the work we’re doing behind the scenes matters, and is bigger than any single person. I know that arXiv has a bright future ahead of itself and I look forward to seeing how it grows.”

With his background in web development and distributed systems and a Masters of Engineering and Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Cornell University, Lessmeister has had an incredibly important and far-reaching impact on arXiv’s services. As arXiv submissions increased by 150 percent over the past decade, he brought clarity to complex code, policies, and workflows, and he successfully navigated through periods of technological and organizational change. He also helped set the high standard of collaboration at arXiv and upheld it with great integrity.

Among his many accomplishments, Lessmeister bridged arXiv’s legacy code and next generation systems, developed APIs and other systems that underpin arXiv’s moderation processes, and introduced MathJax, which renders mathematical equations in HTML. He shepherded community-developed tools into arXivLabs, spearheaded a multifaceted effort to improve arXiv’s metadata model, and worked with DataCite to register DOIs for the entire corpus. Most recently, Lessmeister led a team of just three developers charged with maintaining arXiv’s increasingly challenging legacy systems while simultaneously rewriting and migrating all systems to new architecture in the cloud.

“Martin’s dedication, commitment, deep technical expertise, and historical knowledge of the arXiv codebase will be greatly missed,” said Carol Hoover, Scholarly Communications and Licensing Librarian at Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library, and Chair of arXiv’s Member Advisory Board. “He has been a pleasure to collaborate with and an essential part of arXiv’s ongoing success story.”

Lessmeister’s departure coincides with the resignation of Helen Wang, arXiv’s first product manager who was hired in 2021. With a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and an MBA currently in progress, Wang’s experience in software spanned product management and business development in both nonprofit and corporate settings. In the product manager role, Wang aimed to align organizational objectives and product milestones through data and metrics, as well as support strategy and decision-making with analytics.

“I’ve been so inspired by the collective passion for arXiv’s mission among staff, students, and faculty,” Wang said. “I feel grateful to have been a part of many exciting accomplishments and changes, and look forward to seeing further progress on cloud migration efforts, community-driven features, and membership growth that will sustain arXiv through the next million submissions and beyond.”

“Helen’s commitment to the success of arXiv has been evident since her first day on the job,” said Hoover. “Her depth of experience and ability to learn quickly have been foundational to support arXiv’s mission as it transitions into the future.”

At a farewell picnic for Lessmeister and Wang, colleagues expressed heartfelt messages of support and thanks that can be summed up as “cheers and tears.”

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