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Active Learning Labs Staff
Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning
Dr. Anas Chalah is the Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Lecturer on Engineering Sciences at Harvard University. He leads a team of engineers and collaborates with faculty to create an environment that encourages hands-on engineering education. As member of the research and teaching senior executive team, he applies new pedagogical methods in developing experimental and design-based activities as well as supporting SEAS's growing presence in biological and environmental engineering. Chalah serves in Harvard’s Teaching and Learning Consortium that provides policy recommendations for University leadership on substantive issues of teaching and learning as well as academic strategic planning.
He serves as the SEAS/Harvard Environmental Safety Compliance Officer (ESCO), SEAS Safety Committee Chairman, and Director of SEAS Lab Safety Program.
Anas received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Cancer Biology department focused on understanding the switching mechanism between the cellular survival pathway and the programmed death pathway.
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Active Learning Labs Manager
Rachel is the Active Learning Labs Manager and provides managerial and technical support to active learning activities. She has a huge amount of enthusiasm for helping students acquire hands-on skills and for developing the physical spaces required to support the needs of budding engineers here at Harvard.
Previously, she worked as a Research Engineer in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT in the groups of Prof. Allanore and Prof. Sadoway. Her efforts there were focused on extending the Molten Oxide Electrolysis process to extract rare-earth metals directly from their oxides. In addition, she spent three years working in industry as a Process Engineer for H.C. Starck in a tantalum metal refining and powder manufacturing factory. She has worked on other diverse materials science research projects including: ceramics development for dental biomaterials applications, ancient Mesoamerican copper smelting, and polymeric photonic bandgap materials. As a member of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS), she serves as a member of the Materials and Society committee and Content Development and Dissemination committee.
Her academic training includes a MS in Manufacturing Engineering at Boston University (Thesis: Scale-up and Modeling of the Solid Oxide Membrane Process for the Direct Reduction of Magnesium from Magnesium Oxide, with Prof. Pal) and a BS in Archaeology and Materials from MIT (Thesis: Analysis of copper slags from the archaeological site of El Manchon, Guerrero, Mexico, with Profs. Hosler and Lechtman).
Biological and Environmental Lab Engineer
Sara is the Biological and Environmental Lab Engineer for SEAS. Managing both the Bio BL2 and Environmental Labs, she trains students on the protocols and techniques required for their experiments in fields such as Water Engineering, Cell Culture and Microfluidic Device Fabrication. Sara assists in implementing hands on activities and workshops to both Bioengineering and Environmental Engineering courses at SEAS. Sara has a strong background in biomedical research and imaging, and assists students working on independent research projects. With her background and training working in BL2, BL3 and clean room laboratories, Sara has a strong focus in laboratory safety and awareness. She is also the coordinator for the Active Learning Labs Summer Internship Program, available to undergraduate and high students to work on summer research projects.
Previously, Sara was Lab Manager and Head Technologist for a behavioral neuroscience laboratory at Northeastern University where she focused on training graduate and undergraduate students in surgical and imaging techniques while conducting research on correlating neuro-structural information with behavioral measures. She also served as Head Technologist for Children's Hospital Boston Pathology Department, providing technical assistance to all Pathology departments, focusing on specimen collection and investigation for patient prognosis as well as disease research. She has also worked as a Veterinary Technician under multiple PIs conducting animal research at Boston University School of Medicine, assisting in surgical and medical care for a wide range of species.
She is currently working on her thesis to complete her MA in Biotechnology Management from Harvard University and holds BS in Biology from Suffolk University.
Senior Mechanical and Systems Lab Engineer
Elaine is the Senior Mechanical and Systems Lab Engineer for the SEAS Active Learning Labs. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and MS in Manufacturing Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Elaine started her career at iRobot Corporation after completing her undergraduate studies. While there, she worked for the Home Robots Division designing and building household robots like the Scooba® and advanced development robots that turn into products like AVA®. She also gained valuable experience with rapid prototyping and overseas manufacturing. Elaine left iRobot to pursue her master’s degree.
After receiving her MS, Elaine was hired at Medtronic as an Advance Manufacturing Engineer for the Coronary and Renal division of the Cardiac and Vascular Group. While there, she developed and validated manufacturing processes for new products for coronary catheters and transcatheter heart valve delivery systems. She also worked with the Neuromodulation group to help develop new products and processes for redesigning some of their current products to be MRI safe.
While not working, Elaine likes to play ice hockey and solve puzzles.
Steve is the Mechanical Engineer for the Active Learning Labs at SEAS. His primary responsibilities include supporting professors in the development and implementation of design, manufacturing, and mechanical systems labs, as well as assisting students in those areas of study.
Steve graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. While in school, he was actively involved with WPI’s peer mentor program. Prior to joining the team in 2016, he spent time working in product development with EMC Corporation, Bevi, and SharkNinja. He is passionate about efficiently iterating prototypes to develop final products.
In addition to his engineering interests, Steve is a food connoisseur and a steadily improving cook.
Design Specialist in Mechanical Engineering
Maddie Hickman is the Design Specialist in Mechanical Engineering. She helps students design, build, and test their projects - particularly those related to open-ended design courses or extracurricular teams.
Before joining the staff at the Active Learning Labs, Maddie did engineering work in a variety of fields: international development, medical device design, agriculture, bicycle technologies, and astrophysics. In addition to working for various labs in Boston, she has traveled to work on a wide range of projects, from motorized wheelchairs made of bicycle parts in Kenya, to carbon fiber-enclosed calibration equipment for Harvard CMB telescopes at the South Pole. She also has a variety of teaching experience, co-founding an organization for hands-on STEM education in low-resource areas, teaching high school physics, biking and teaching STEM to students across the USA, and teaching hands-on design classes at the middle school through university level. She is especially interested in helping students develop a love of tinkering and hands-on learning.
Maddie holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Her hobbies include bicycles, building things, backpacking, swing dancing, and making music.
Computational and Simulation Engineer
Andreas Haggerty is the Computational and Simulation Engineer for the Active Learning Labs at SEAS. He graduated from Harvard College in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Sciences with a focus on Mechanical Engineering. Andreas is a 2015-2016 Fellow of the Administrative Fellows Program.
In his role at the active learning labs, he is predominantly responsible for supporting the development of computational and simulation components for labs, as well as assisting students with such components in their homework, projects, and theses. The main programs he assists with are Matlab, COMSOL, and SolidWorks. Additionally, he is responsible for maintaining the Active Learning Labs hardware and software by acting as liaison between the Labs and IT support services at SEAS.
While a student at Harvard, he spent his freshman summer working for the Genetics Branch of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health researching genomic aberrations in colorectal cancer patients by mapping and comparing portions of genomic data. The summer thereafter he worked at the Howard University Nanoscale Science and Engineering Facility through an REU with the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure network, developing protocols for the fabrication of nanoscale transistors using electron beam lithography. He worked in the Harvard Microrobotics Lab and the Biodesign Lab on research involving the Robobees project and his senior thesis as well.
Evan is the Electrical Engineer for the Active Learning Labs at SEAS. He is interested in student-centered education, practical and autotelic design, and electrical development projects, particularly in biomedical applications.
Before coming to Harvard, Evan worked at the Duke University School of Medicine as a Research and Development Engineer in the Division of Brain Stimulation and Neurophysiology. There, he developed and manufactured novel transcranial magnetic stimulation devices and deployed state-of- the-art characterization schemes, including robotized measurements approximating cortical field distributions, in collaboration with faculty, post-doctoral associates, and corporate partners. Additionally, he has designed and realized control systems for magnetic actuators used in microfluidic mixing applications and developed software that captures and analyzes metrics of manual and digital oscillation in individuals with Parkinson’s disease to isolate salient muscular dynamics.
Evan graduated with Highest Honors and Highest Distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering; his thesis explores the creation of a computational model for a biochemical network relevant to genetic and environmental engineering.
At Harvard, Evan is responsible for supporting the development and implementation of lab curriculum in electrical engineering courses. In addition, he guides student learning as a passive facilitator, assists with a spectrum of design projects, and coordinates events for student-led organizations.
Associate Director of Instructional Laboratories
Xuan is the Associate Director of Instructional Laboratories. She has extensive university-level instructional and laboratory experience, as well as industrial manufacturing and product development experience in EECS. She holds a MSCS and BSEE, with some background in mechanical, business administration, and bio-medical areas.
Xuan co-manages the Active Learning Labs EECS area. She works with faculty and course staff to develop lab experiments and course demonstrations, and provides technical advice and consultation to teaching fellows and students engaged in course-related project work, in a wide range of subjects. Xuan is also responsible for developing lab procedures, acquiring equipment and software, as well as ensuring lab safety.
Xuan works closely with the Executive Director of Active Learning and other team members on strategic lab planning, policy making, asset tracking, budgeting when applicable, as well as computer network, systems, services, interfaces, hardware, software and licensing administration. Xuan also serves as a member of the Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA) Technical Advisory Committee.