Meet Current Graduate Students

This year’s incoming graduate students have a wide variety of backgrounds and bring a richly diverse set of skills, experiences, and interests to the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

Read on to meet a few of the newest members of the SEAS family.


NAME: Buse Aktas

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: Ph.D. in engineering sciences

RESEARCH MENTOR: Robert Howe, Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering

AREA OF STUDY: Mechanical engineering, specifically robotics

HOMETOWN: Edirne, Turkey

UNDERGRADUATE Training: Mechanical engineering at Princeton University

“I’m drawn to robotics because it is easily applicable to many different fields. That fits well at Harvard SEAS, where it seems like different research groups are very used to working together and collaborating. I’m excited to be at SEAS because the school is small, so it will be easier to interact with different research groups and even other Harvard schools.”


NAME: Sarah Battat

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: Ph.D. in applied physics

AREA OF STUDY: Soft matter physics

HOMETOWN: Montreal

UNDERGRADUATE TRAINING: Physics at Princeton University

“I’m excited to be at SEAS because there is a great amount of interdisciplinary research being conducted here. SEAS has such a wide array of students with different backgrounds who come together with a common passion. Faculty members are very involved with their students and their work is at the frontiers of their fields. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of all those resources and meeting new people.”


NAME: Jennifer Coulter

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: Ph.D. in applied physics

RESEARCH MENTOR: Christopher Rycroft, Assistant Professor in Applied Mathematics

AREA OF STUDY: Computational materials and physics

HOMETOWN: Manasquan, New Jersey

UNDERGRADUATE TRAINING: Physics at Rutgers University

“I really like to code. I’ve done a number of different types of physics research, and I’ve found that coding has been consistent across all of them. I think it is one of the greatest problem solving skills that exists. Here at SEAS, I’m really interested in working on things that can reach actual applications.”


NAME: Aria Hamann

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: Ph.D. in applied physics

RESEARCH MENTOR: James Rice, Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics

AREA OF STUDY: Hydrology and fluid dynamics

HOMETOWN: Grants Pass, Ore.

UNDERGRADUATE TRAINING: Physics and fine art at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“One possible application of hydrology and fluid dynamics is studying the flow of rivers underneath glaciers, and other types of ice and water interactions, which can be significantly impacted by climate. I am hoping to do work that enables more accurate predictions of the effects of climate change. I want to be part of work that is more applicable to societal problems.”  


NAME: Karan Motwani

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: S.M. in electrical engineering

AREA OF STUDY: Signal processing, computer vision, and artificial intelligence

HOMETOWN: Bangalore, India

UNDERGRADUATE TRAINING: Electronics and communication engineering at Ramiah Institute of Technology in Bangalore, India

“The world of tech is moving towards complete automation. Computer vision is the next step, and that makes it an exciting place to be. I find the concept of teaching a machine how to see what we see to be pretty interesting. I’ve always been fascinated by the biology of the human mind, so being able to teach that to a computer is pretty exciting.”


NAME: Anvay Ukidve

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: Ph.D. in engineering sciences

RESEARCH MENTOR: Samir Mitragotri, Hiller Professor of Bioengineering and Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering

AREA OF STUDY: Bioengineering, specifically drug delivery

HOMETOWN: Mumbai, India

UNDERGRADUATE TRAINING: Pharmaceutical sciences and technology at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, India

“Our work in drug delivery involves enabling medication to reach their targets without having adverse side effects on the patient. That work is meaningful to me because I am passionate about helping people fight diseases so they can live better lives.”


NAME: Luhan Ye

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: Ph.D. in engineering sciences

RESEARCH MENTOR: Xin Li, Assistant Professor of Materials Science

AREA OF STUDY: Materials science, specifically lithium ion batteries

HOMETOWN: Chengdu, China

UNDERGRADUATE FOCUS: Materials science at Chengdu University in Chengdu, China

“Researching lithium ion batteries is exciting because they are widely used in many different applications, and could make a significant impact in enabling our society to focus on new energy materials. I think that it is important for our society to continue to make advances and drive toward better energy solutions.”


NAME: Arman Amirzhan

INTENDED HARVARD DEGREE: Ph.D. in applied physics

RESEARCH MENTOR: Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering

AREA OF STUDY: Optical forces and cascade lasers

HOMETOWN: Almaty, Kazakhstan

UNDERGRADUATE TRAINING: Materials science and engineering at Imperial College, London

“I really love the interdisciplinary nature of SEAS, and how Harvard allows you to choose practically any course you want to study and explore you interests. It is great to have the ability to switch between different research topics. There are basically no boundaries here.”