Tadge Dryja, one of two authors behind the white paper that spawned bitcoin’s much-anticipated Lightning payment network, has officially joined MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative.

Dryja will now work full-time at the famed technical university’s cryptocurrency and blockchain research effort – a division of its larger MIT Media Lab – where he will serve as a research scientist. (The MIT DCI also funds core bitcoin developers as part of a separate program under its management.)

In interview with CoinDesk, MIT DCI director of research Neha Narula credited the hiring to the caliber of Dryja’s work, as well as his desire to focus further on research efforts.

Narula told CoinDesk:

“When smart people become available, you ask them to work with you.”

Dryja is now working out of MIT’s main office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he said he’s active in educating undergraduates on digital currencies and fostering their interest in the technology.

The move also marks a change in direction for Dryja who had formerly served at one-time bitcoin exchange startup Mirror and as a founder of Lightning Labs, a for-profit startup seeking to develop the open-source Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Dryja indicated that business differences lead him to consider other avenues for his work, as did his belief that it’s still too early to monetize many blockchain technology efforts.

“There are places for for-profit things, but a lot of this is at the point where this is research. It’s so early,” he said.

Dryja said he is continuing to work on the Lightning Network, which has advanced since its 2015 proposal and is now being actively developed by a handful of global bitcoin startups and developer groups.

An early version of the technology, which would use the bitcoin network as a base for more robust transaction processing, debuted earlier this month.

Dryja image via Vimeo 

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