Eliminate deception,
cultivate trust

How we began

Our process began with basic research and continues to depend upon research. Our scientists are driven to discover why and how things happen. Everything we do is validated by controlled scientific studies that are anchored in ‘Ground Truth’. This process produces effective products and applications.

We use rigorous science and the best technology to further the accuracy, speed, ease of use of our solutions.

What we do

We create solutions for discovering deception are straight forward to deploy, user-friendly and have scientifically proven reliability. We have begun commercialization with our AVATAR related technology.

Eliminate deception,
cultivate trust

How we began

Our process began with basic research and continues to depend upon research. Our scientists are driven to discover why and how things happen. Everything we do is validated by controlled scientific studies that are anchored in ‘Ground Truth’. This process produces effective products and applications.

We use rigorous science and the best technology to further the accuracy, speed, and ease of use of each our solutions.

What we do

Our solutions for discovering deception are straight forward to deploy, user-friendly and have scientifically proven reliability. We are beginning with our AVATAR related technology.


Sailesh Saxena

Mr. Saxena is the co-founder, former President and Chief Financial Officer of CardioDyme, Inc., a medical device company founded in 2013 as ReliantHeart, Inc., that pioneered a miniature heart assist pump with the unique ability to remotely monitor patients in real-time. 

Prior to that, Mr. Saxena was the Chief Financial Officer in 2010 of the groundbreaking company MicroMed Cardiovascular, Inc., which commercialized the first iteration of the heart assist pump designed by the heart surgeon Michael DeBakey and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Before his focus on launching innovative medical products, Mr. Saxena’s work included financial consulting and transaction analysis. In the late 2000s, during a global financial crisis, he worked with numerous private equity fund companies providing strategic consulting analysis in asset acquisition and structured financing.  

Throughout the 1990s and mid-2000s, Mr. Saxena was instrumental in winning numerous multi-million-dollar contracts for software solutions in warehouse management, transportation management and supply chain management. He also created a first-of-its-kind software solution for the aviation industry that was used by airlines globally.

He holds an MBA from Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business (2009) and has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical engineering degree from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (“BITS”), India (1987).

Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board

Over his career, he has received more than $100 million in grants for his research, which has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, NY Times, Wired Magazine and more. His specialization is in the fields of system analysis and design, man-machine systems, collaboration technology deception detection, credibility assessment and security.

Widely published, he is the author of over 500 publications and 25,000 citations to his research and has an H index of 83, placing him in the top 3 faculty in the world for Information Systems Research. The H index is an estimate of the importance, significance, and broad impact of a scientist’s cumulative research contributions.

Dr. Nunamaker has extensive business experience and has co-founded multiple companies based on his research in collaboration technology and deception. They include Combinatorics Inc., which was acquired by Mathematica; PLEX Corp., which was acquired by AT&T; ULTA Systems and Ventana Corp. (ThinkTank and GroupSystems), whose GroupSystems software, based on his research and is often referred to as the gold standard for structured collaboration systems, and DSI, where his latest work on the AVATAR/Kiosk for security screening is attracting attention worldwide.

He received his Ph.D. in operations research and systems engineering from Case Institute of Technology, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and bachelor’s in Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University. He also is a licensed professional engineer.

A US Army veteran, he was employed following graduation at the Atomic Energy Commission facility at Shippingport, Pennsylvania as a test and design engineer. Subsequently he was a researcher on the ISDOS project in engineering at the University of Michigan and an associate professor of computer science and industrial administration at Purdue University. Dr. Nunamaker founded the MIS department at the University of Arizona in 1974 and served as department head for 18 years.

Most recently Dr. Nunamaker received the Distinguished Alumni Award in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Among his many prior awards, he was named a fellow of the Association of Information Systems (AIS) and received the LEO Award for Lifetime Achievement from AIS.

Aaron Elkins

Dr. Elkins researches human-robotics interactions that incorporate artificial intelligence to predict human emotion and deception based on physiological and nonverbal behavior. He is widely published in the fields of deception detection, sensor fusion and rapid screening processes and security.

At SDSU, Dr. Elkins has been a Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad Mentor, leading teams developing commercial social robots for elderly care. He also taught organizational strategy and entrepreneurship to MBA and graduate students at the Fowler College of Business and has managed a more than $500,000 budget as AI Lab Director for equipment, personnel and grants. Additionally, he has raised over $500, 000 in donations through outreach, philanthropic events and engagement.

He investigates automated deception detection in the laboratory, borders and airports. Complementary to the development of advanced AI systems is their impact on the people using them to make decisions. He also investigates how human decision makers perceive and incorporate the next generation technologies into their lives.

Prior to joining SDSU, he was a postdoctoral researcher at both the University of Arizona and Imperial College London and an IT manager and researcher with AVID, an educational non-profit focused on closing the achievement gap in the US and internationally.

He received his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona and bachelor of science degree in Information Systems from San Diego State University, where he graduated top of his class.


Much of the power of the deception detection algorithms is derived from her pioneering work in non-verbal communication regarding signals and cues. She is one of the most widely published experts in the field and a sought-out authority on the subject by news organizations.

Dr. Burgoon was vice president Burgoon Co. Inc., a marketing research firm that conducted research for the newspaper and television industries in 100 markets around the country. She was one of just six original members on a confidential taskforce at Gannett Co. Inc. charged with developing a revolutionary new national newspaper. Dr. Burgoon was responsible for all the foundation research that led to the subsequent creation of USA Today. She also was a lead in communication research at Louis Harris and Associates, a major New York marketing and political research firm and consulted for a number of newspaper and media markets, and her work included legal consulting and depositions in legal cases.

Previously she has served on the faculties of Michigan State University, University of Oklahoma, and University of Florida and was appointed as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. Dr. Burgoon has authored or edited 14 books and monographs and over 300 articles, chapters and reviews related to deception, nonverbal and relational communication, interpersonal relationships, communication technologies, and research methods. Her research, which currently centers on deception, trust, interpersonal interaction, and automated detection systems, has garnered over $16 million in extramural funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, National Center for Credibility Assessment, and Gannett Foundation, among others. Her latest research award from the Department of Defense will develop Socio-Cultural Attitudinal Networks.

She received her Ed.D. in Communication and Educational Psychology from West Virginia University, where she was All-University Fellow; a master’s of science in Speech Communication from Illinois State University and a bachelor of science Summa cum laude in Speech and English from Iowa State University.

Among her awards and honors, she has been elected as a Distinguished Scholar by the National Communication Association, Fellow of the International Communication Association, and member of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. Her research has earned her the NCA Mark L. Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication, the Steven B. Chaffee Career Achievement Award, and Charles Woolbert Award for Research with Lasting Impact. She has been identified as the most prolific female scholar in the field of communication in the 20th century.


His research interests include human-machine collaboration, intelligent agents, cyber-facilitate influence, collaboration techniques, decision support systems and persuasive technology.

Dr. Derrick led the effort of the University of Nebraska Omaha and a consortium of U.S. academic institutions and other partners to secure a 10-year grant for a new Center of Excellence for Terrorism Prevention and Counterterrorism Research, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Prior to joining UNO, Dr. Derrick worked as a Program Manager at MacAulay-Brown, Inc.  (MacB), where he directed multiple contracts that supported commercial and federal customers for development and deployment of new technologies. Under his leadership, his department revenues grew from $1.49 million in 2004 to $7.13 million in 2007. He also headed all of MacAulay Brown’s Internal Research and Development projects and managed the research budgets for numerous proprietary efforts. Dr. Derrick developed technical strategic plans for MacAulay-Brown and was the author of multiple proposals and grants.

Before joining the company, he served as an officer in the Air Force where his last assignment was to lead a $1.7 million, Air Force-wide software development effort and acted as the business and technical manager for the enterprise-wide system. Prior to this, he was the Program Integrator at Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space where he coordinated an 80-person, multi-functional team in 9 cities that managed a $3.9 billion contract for the production of military satellites and missiles. 

He has won grants from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation, and multiple private companies. As a contractor and academic, Dr. Derrick has been awarded contracts and grants totaling $43.5 million over the last 16 years (principle investigator awards total $19.0 Million).

He has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings.

Dr. Derrick received his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona. He holds a Master’s degree in computer science from Texas A&M University and a Master’s in Business Administration from San Jose State University. He is a Distinguished Graduate (top 6%) of the United States Air Force Academy.


Mr. Mackstaller’s background and extensive professional career have provided him with a diverse blend of challenges and experiences preparing him for the pioneering work of DSI and its deception technology. A natural entrepreneur, co-founding DSI in July 2019 is just the latest in his long history of successful start-ups across diverse industries.

He began his postsecondary education at the University of Michigan in the College of Engineering and then moved into the university’s College of Literature Science and Arts, graduating with a degree in Economics. After he was accepted to the University of Michigan Medical School; he instead chose Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctor Cum Laude.

Mr. Mackstaller’s professional background began as an assistant professor in the Eastern Michigan College of Business, then moving to a Detroit-based regional law firm to practice business and tax law and later becoming acquisitions director for a national real estate firm based in Birmingham, Mich. With this range of skills and experience, he left the law to become a full-time entrepreneur devoting his efforts to multifamily housing in the Ann Arbor area.

He began exploring economic growth opportunities across the US and chose to relocate to Tucson Arizona in 1973. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Mackstaller co-founded Schomac Corporation, which by the late 1980s had amassed a portfolio of about 3,500 apartments as well as developing The Tucson Auto Mall, Cambric Corporate Center, several industrial projects and 65 Self Storage Centers across the United States. In 1989, he co-founded a Tucson-based private equity firm, which has acquired and operated over 1.1 million square feet of commercial real estate. He went on to create the PetsHotel, which was sold to PetsMart, and to pioneer the commercialization of the world’s only FDA-approved artificial heart and a ventricular heart-assist.

Mr. Mackstaller’s pioneering vision has led him to many different fields and, in addition to enjoying the financial benefits from his efforts, he has been recognized professionally for his accomplishments.

Bradley L. Walls, Ph.D.
Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Walls’s impressive background spans 30 years of developing advanced engineering solutions to the most challenging problems.  His experience includes roles with cutting-edge technology providers, such as Areté Associates, Fortune 500 technology integrator Sciences Applications International Corporation (SAIC), premiere telecommunications developer Polycom, and defense industry leader Raytheon Missile Systems.  He was previously affiliated with the University of Arizona’s Center for Management of Information (CMI), led by Dr. Jay Nunamaker.  During his time as a research assistant, Dr. Walls served as a key contributor to ongoing lab projects that focused on using AI applied to decision support systems, data analytics, and deception detection.  Additionally, Dr. Walls has conducted his own research using AI to transform behavior data into actionable insights.

Dr. Walls received his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems, specializing in AI and neuroscience, from the University of Arizona as well as his master’s degree in Management Information Systems.  He also has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona and the University of Southern California.

Dr. Walls has conducted numerous talks and published papers on a variety of topics, including computer vision, machine learning, and deception detection.  Among his awards and honors, Dr. Walls was accepted to the HICSS 2020 Doctoral Fellow program for advancement in innovative deception research.  He has earned the Nunamaker-Chen Doctoral Student Scholarship for his hard work, determination, and commitment to the MIS tradition and design science research and Areté Professional Achievement Awards for his contributions to internal programs.  Dr. Walls was recognized by the Hughes/Raytheon Fellowship Program for his work ethic, commitment to technical excellence, and desire to take on new challenges.


Since the borders project began in 2009, UofA deception detection research has been the coordinating hub of a consortium Borders of research universities collaborating to better understand deception. With federal funding focused through the Borders, the research was able to go faster and deeper into the fundamentals of deception.

In pursuit of further research, new instruments were created with multiple sensors to capture the signals that were being emitted by deceivers. Eventually, the configuration of sensors evolved into what is known as the AVATAR – Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time. As the sensors multiplied, the AVATAR was fitted with special algorithms to process and analyze the mountains of data being produced.

Like other Artificial Intelligence systems, the AVATAR can be trained and learn through feedback and has been subjected to rigorous ground truth based scientific studies at airports in Europe, Canada and the USA as well as the Nogales, Arizona (US-MEXICO border) port of entry. Those studies concluded that the AVATAR deception accuracy is in a range of 80% to 85% depending on context.

DSI is commercializing the deception detection technology to create solutions consistent with prior research and market demand.