Who is Lollapuzzoola?

You may only see a few faces in front of the show, but it takes a village to bring Lollapuzzoola to life. We’ve got a superstar village – if you have the time, check out their links, follow them on social media, and find out where you can enjoy more of their work!

Brian Cimmet

tournament director

Brian Cimmet (he/him | @cimmet | @fillmeinpodcast) co-created Lollapuzzoola in 2008 and is beyond grateful to all of the contestants, constructors, contributors, colleagues, and co-hosts/co-editors Brooke and Sid for helping to bring another year of this tournament to life. Elsewhere in puzzles, Brian co-hosts the weekly podcast “Fill Me In” with Ryan Hecht on which he rants about everything from sandwiches to baseball (and sometimes puzzles). In real life, Brian lives in central New York with his wife Toni and son Oscar, and teaches Musical Theater at Syracuse University. He much prefers to celebrate other people’s birthdays than his own, a trait he likely inherited from his father.

Brooke Husic

co-editor, co-host

Brooke Husic (she/her | @xandraladee | @xws.bsky.social) started solving crosswords in late 2019 and writing crosswords in early 2020. This is her first year not contributing a main puzzle to Lollapuzzoola since then, and her third year co-hosting and co-editing with Brian and Sid. You can find some of her favorite work at the New Yorker and on her blog, where she posts an ultra-hard themeless on the 27th of every month because her birthday falls on a 27th (the one that makes her a Pisces).

Sid Sivakumar

co-editor, co-host, crossword meta suite designer

Sid Sivakumar (he/him | @sid_sivakumar) is an MD/PhD student based in St. Louis, MO. You can find his puzzles in The New York Times, in his recent crossword book in the “Sip & Solve” series, and on his (slowly mummifying) blog, Sid’s Grids. This is his third time co-hosting and co-editing for Lollapuzzoola with Brooke and Brian. His sixth birthday party was at a mini-golf course, where he mistakenly thought the goal was to get the highest score. (Tears of misunderstanding were assuaged by cake.)

Sara Cantor


Sara Cantor (they/them/theirs | @cantorlope_puz) is a linguist, constructor, and Sagittarius who lives in Denver, CO. They have worked with a bunch of different outlets and allegedly post on their personal blog. This is their first time constructing for Lollapuzzoola. Their favorite birthday memory was during college when they arrived home to find their roommates had set up a birthday escape room in their house. It was chock full of little riddles and inside jokes and gags and was a genuine delight.

Ricky Cruz


Ricky Cruz (he/him/his | @rickycruzart)​​ is a constructor in Southern California whose puzzle experience isn’t limited to crosswords; he also enjoys sudoku, other logic puzzles, and puzzle hunts! He also has a puzzle blog, Cruzzles, that he might actually post on again someday. This is Ricky’s first time constructing for Lollapuzzoola. He usually doesn’t do much for his birthday, but he does share a birthday with Kevin Bacon, which he insists gives him a Bacon number of 1.

Kevin G. Der


Kevin G. Der (he/him) is thrilled to be invited as a Lollapuzzoola constructor for the third time. His puzzles have also previously appeared in The New York Times, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, Boswords, and other venues. He directed Crossword Tournament From Your Couch, the first online crossword tournament, in March 2020. The best thing about birthdays, in his humble opinion, is ice cream cake.

Rebecca Goldstein


Rebecca Goldstein (she/her | @Rebecculous) is a scientist discovering immunotherapies for cancer. A New Yorker at heart, she lives in the Bay Area with her wife. Rebecca’s crosswords have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and other mainstream and indie publications. Rebecca finished 12th in the Lollapuzzoola 2022 Online Division; this is her first time constructing for the tournament. Her favorite birthday memories involve food — waffles in west Oakland before work, tacos and craft sour beer at a local brewery, and many, many lilikoi mojitos in Kauai.

Matt Gritzmacher


Matt Gritzmacher (he/him) founded Daily Crossword Links in March 2020 to connect more solvers with more crosswords and is passionate about test solving and fact checking. A previous Lolla Rookie of the Year and multiple-time Downs-Only competitor, he won the Express Division at Lollapuzzoola 15 in 2022, utilizing both Across and Down clues. Unlike Lollapuzzoola, his birthday is only sometimes on a Saturday in August.

Doug Peterson


Doug Peterson (he/him) has been making puzzles for about 20 years, and this will be his (… checks Wikipedia …) 13th puzzle for Lollapuzzoola. He’s thrilled to see how much Lolla has grown and evolved, and he’s truly honored to be making a puzzle this year. And hey, how else is he going to get his name on a Wikipedia page without adding it himself? For his 10th birthday, his parents bought him a 388-page hardcover book called “Batman: From the ‘30s to the ‘70s.” He read and reread that book until it literally fell apart. He ended up using big rubber bands to hold it together so he wouldn’t lose any pages. Best present ever.

Erica Hsiung Wojcik


Erica Hsiung Wojcik (she/her | @ewojcik) is a psychology professor at Skidmore College, where she studies how infants learn language. Her crosswords have appeared in the Inkubator, USA Today, The New York Times, LA Times, and Universal Crosswords, among others. This is her second time constructing for Lollapuzzoola, after creating a mini for the Lollapuzzoola 14 meta suite. Her most memorable “birth” day is when she was in labor for 21 hours with her now five-year-old child. 

Emily Sharp and Kunal Nabar

tiebreaker constructors

Emily Sharp (she/her) and Kunal Nabar (he/him) live together in the Bay Area, where they enjoy cooking, hiking, eating, and drinking coffee. Kunal’s favorite birthday memory is visiting friends studying abroad in Europe during college. On Emily’s most memorable birthday, she got stung by a stingray at the beach (but it was still a good birthday). 

This year, we’re excited to include some additional puzzles to the tournament festivities. The constructors below have contributed to the bonus content this year.

Neville Fogarty

variety puzzle suite designer

Neville Fogarty (he/him/his | @flyingelevator) lives in Newport News, VA, where he works as a mathematician at Christopher Newport University. He sold his first crossword in 2008, and today regularly contributes cryptic crosswords to The New Yorker. Neville constructed a tournament puzzle for Lolla 3 and a meta suite for Lolla 4; with his mother, “C” Fogarty, he placed second in the Pairs Division at Lolla 10 and Lolla 11. For his birthday each year, he makes a devil’s food cake from a box mix.

Laura Braunstein

crossword meta co-constructor

Laura Braunstein (she/her | @laurabrarian.bsky.social) is a librarian at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. She and Tracy Bennett cofounded the Inkubator, which publishes crosswords by women and non-binary constructors. She was a top rookie at Lolla 10 and has competed ever since. Every four years, her birthday falls during the Winter Olympics.

Zhouqin Burnikel

crossword meta co-constructor

Zhouqin Burnikel (she/her | @ZhouqinBurnikel) grew up in Xi’an, China. She worked in Guangzhou for six years before moving to the U.S. in 2001. She became a U.S. citizen in June 2010. She’s a blogger at L.A. Times Crossword Corner.

Emily Carroll

crossword meta co-constructor

Emily Carroll (she/her) is a New York-based crossword constructor who will sadly be missing out on the tournament this year while on call at her day job. The best birthday present she ever received is her cat/alarm clock, Archer. 

Rachel Fabi

crossword meta co-constructor

Rachel Fabi (she/her | @faBioethics) is a crossword constructor and a professor of bioethics from Syracuse, NY. She constructed a tournament puzzle for Lolla in 2020, and is delighted to return for this tasty meta suite. Rachel is the creator and co-editor of “These Puzzles Fund Abortion,” a crossword fundraiser that raises money for abortion funds across the country. Rachel’s favorite flavor of birthday cake is all of them.

Olivia Mitra Framke

crossword meta co-constructor

Olivia Mitra Framke (she/her | @Livienna) is a crossword constructor and editor living in Jersey City with her sweet baby boy dachshund/croissant mix Charlie. She’s a lover of Star Wars (prequels era, mostly) and games of all types. She’s also a writer, tennis enthusiast, and aspiring mermaid. 

Kate Hawkins

crossword meta co-constructor

Kate Hawkins (she/her | @kateshawkins) has enjoyed previous Lolla puzzles from home. She is pumped to be able to attend in person for the first time. It’s a tradition in her family to celebrate birthdays by eating “YY pie,” which is frozen yogurt in a graham cracker crust with fruit on top. It is actually very good, actually. 

Jenna LaFleur

crossword meta co-constructor

Jenna LaFleur (she/they | @postpunklesbian) hails from Washington, DC, and has had puzzles published by AVCX+, the Inkubator, Boswords, and more. She has been coming to Lollapuzzoola since 2017 — and finished in third place in 2020, which she still can’t quite believe. On her eighth birthday, she got stung by a bee. 

Ryan McCarty

crossword meta co-constructor

Ryan McCarty (he/him) has written dozens of crossword puzzles for various publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and AVCX. He runs an indie blog, McGrids (currently on hiatus), with mostly challenging themeless puzzles. His last birthday party featured assorted Greek cookies and baklava. 

Will Nediger

crossword meta co-constructor

Will Nediger (he/him | @bewildering_ly) is a puzzle constructor from London, ON who uses the alias “Bewilderingly.” After winning the online version of Lollapuzzoola in 2021, he constructed for Lolla in 2022. His traditional birthday treat is Black Forest cake. 

Tony Orbach

crossword meta co-constructor

Tony Orbach (he/him) is a saxophonist and construction manager (when not making crosswords). He has attended Lolla every year since its second — he’s competed, constructed, judged, and is now enjoying the view from the Pairs Division with his partner, fabulous number-one offspring, Sko Orbach. Look for Tony’s Puzzlewright books “Easy as Duck Soup Crosswords” and “That Was Easy Crosswords,” as well as his pop culture puzzles on the Crosswords With Friends app. 

joon pahk

crossword meta co-constructor

joon pahk (he/him) makes variety crosswords for outside the box puzzles and sunday crosswords for the boston globe. he has constructed for lollapuzzoola four times, and won the express division once, the downs-only division twice, and worst handwriting twice. he spent his last birthday at boda borg.

Paolo Pasco

crossword meta co-constructor

Paolo Pasco (he/him | @gpaolopasco | @gppasco.bsky.social) is the Assistant Crossword Editor for The Atlantic and a data scientist elsewhere. After competing in Lollapuzzoola 9, writing puzzles for 10, 11, 12, and 15, and co-writing the meta suite for 14, he’s excited to attend as a civilian. A memorable birthday gift? Tickets to Lolla 9. What a world.

Brendan Emmett Quigley

crossword meta co-constructor

Brendan Emmett Quigley (@fleetwoodwack) has been writing puzzles since 1996. That’s longer than some of you have been alive. Not all of you, but some of you.

Caitlin Reid

crossword meta co-constructor

Caitlin Reid (she/her) has been making crosswords since 2017 when she realized that was a thing. Her puzzles have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, USA Today, and other venues. A favorite birthday memory of hers was when her husband surprised her with a new piano!

Matthew Stock

crossword meta co-constructor

Matthew Stock (he/him | @1MatthewStock) lives in Gainesville, FL, where he’s about to begin a master’s program in school counseling. He’s been making puzzles since 2019 — you can find links to all of his work at happylittlepuzzles.com. He spent his 13th birthday at his “Matthewopoly”-themed Bar Mitzvah party.

Robyn Weintraub

crossword meta co-constructor

Robyn Weintraub (she/her | @Robynw414) has been making puzzles since 2009, when she purchased crossword constructing software as a gift to herself for her 40th birthday — without a doubt the most life-changing present she ever received. These days you can find her puzzles in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and People Magazine. And she’s totally bummed to be missing Lolla again this year.