Alumni Stories

  • May 23, 2017

    Early life as a refugee inspires alumnus to use big data to foster economic empowerment

    One morning in February, 1994, Timothy Kotin’s mother walked into his elementary school classroom in the city of Tamale, Ghana and quietly ushered him and his siblings out of the building. They drove to the family’s home, where they hurriedly squeezed some items of clothing into a few suitcases before speeding away in search of a safe haven.

  • May 12, 2017

    At Goodyear, this alumna is driving disruptive technology development

    Christine Nakatani has found success because she has never been afraid to fail.

    Early in her career, Nakatani, A.B. ’89, Ph.D. ’97, crafted product strategy for an iconoclastic Silicon Valley startup creating a speech-to-speech artificial intelligence translation system for hospitals. The concept was for an easy-to-use platform for English-speaking doctors to present crucial medical information to Spanish-speaking patients.

  • April 25, 2017

    Engineering communications policy at the FCC

    Phone scammers claiming to be IRS agents demanding payment of back taxes have cheated more than 5,000 victims out of about $26 million since 2013.

    Antonio Sweet, S.B. ’13, and his colleagues at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are fighting back against these fraudsters.

  • April 14, 2017

    Planting seeds of success at an agricultural biotech company

    When Luke Porisch began working for Valent BioSciences in 2012, he was the lone employee in the office, a white farmhouse in a sleepy Iowa town of 3,500 people.

  • April 12, 2017

    Graduate alumni reunion and symposium highlights collaborative trajectories

    Graduate alumni returned to campus on April 7 for a reunion and symposium celebrating the history, scholarship, and future of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

  • March 27, 2017

    Seeking genuine collaboration with artificial intelligence

    Popular culture sometimes paints a bleak picture of interactions between artificial intelligence and humans (think “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Blade Runner”). Alumna Ece Kamar, Ph.D. ’10, doesn’t see it that way.

    Kamar, who earned her graduate degree in computer science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), studies how humans and machines can work together.

  • March 22, 2017

    Throughout its 170 year history—and under several different names—the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has continued to make pathbreaking advances, many of which build on the research of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) alumni in engineering and applied sciences.

  • March 16, 2017

    Alumna’s creativity takes flight at commercial drone startup

    Blue-sky thinking helps alumna Carolina Ragolta, A.B. ’13, navigate the largely uncharted territory of the commercial drone industry.

    Ragolta, who concentrated in biomedical engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), is charting a new course of her own, as the first product manager at commercial drone startup Kespry.

  • February 23, 2017

    This entrepreneur is using computer science to help the military detect IEDs

    Lahiru Jayatilaka’s native Sri Lanka was ripped apart by a 26-year civil war. By the time a peace agreement was signed in 2009, the armed conflict had claimed more than 100,000 lives. But then a new deadly enemy emerged: undetonated landmines. 

  • February 17, 2017

    Alumna uses big data and machine learning to help homeowners cut energy costs

    Crank up the A/C and the temperature in the house starts falling. Simple, right?

    Not quite, says alumna Marissa Hummon, Ph.D. ’09, senior energy scientist at Tendril. Turning on a home’s air conditioner requires an automatically-controlled generator operated by the local utility company to put out a little bit more power to meet those energy demands.

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