Koroush Shirvan joined the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering faculty as an assistant professor in the fall of 2017. He received his PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT in 2012, where he was also a principal research scientist at the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems. Shirvan specializes in the development and analysis of innovative nuclear reactor technology. He has led projects involving more than 30 organizations, including national laboratories, universities, and private companies. He is the executive director of the accident tolerant fuel integrated research project, focused on developing the next generation of fuels aimed at improving the severe accident response of nuclear power plants. He is also the co-director of a nuclear reactor technology course for electric utility executives held during summers at MIT. His research will focus on acceleration of nuclear technology innovation by combining multiphysics simulations and informed experimentation in the highly regulated nuclear energy sector.
Arvind Satyanarayan will join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in July 2018. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at San Diego and a master’s degree from Stanford — both in computer science — and a PhD in computer science from Stanford, working with the University of Washington Interactive Data Lab. Satyanarayan is currently a postdoc at Google Brain, working on improving the interpretability of deep-learning models through visualization. He focuses on developing new declarative languages for interactive visualization and leveraging them in new systems for visualization design and data analysis. His work has also been deployed on Wikipedia to enable interactive visualizations within articles. Satyanarayan’s research has been recognized with a Google PhD fellowship and best-paper awards at the IEEE InfoVis and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Computer-Human Interaction conference.
Desiree Plata will join the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as an assistant professor in July 2018. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 2003, and her PhD in chemical oceanography and environmental chemistry from the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s joint program in oceanography in 2009. Plata is currently the John J. Lee Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale and associate director for research at the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale. Previously, she was in the civil and environmental engineering department at Duke, where she was active in several international research networks, such as the EPA-funded LCNano (studying the environmental implications of nanomaterials across the life cycle) and the NSF-funded Partnership for International Research and Education, studying water and commerce as related to the energy sector. Plata’s work is in the area of environmental chemistry, with applications in minimizing the environmental impact of emerging industries — with a particular focus on nanotechnologies across the energy sector. She has made fundamental contributions to the field of heterogeneous catalysis with respect to the bond-building mechanisms in carbon nanotube synthesis, which can be leveraged to lessen environmental impacts. Her work continues to illuminate novel chemistries that occur during environmental transformation processes of organic molecules. Plata is an NSF CAREER awardee, a National Academy of Engineers Frontiers of Engineering fellow, and a two-time National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science fellow, and was recently recognized for excellence by Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute.
Farnaz Niroui will join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) as an assistant professor in January 2019. She received her PhD and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in nanotechnology engineering from the University of Waterloo. She is currently a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley. Her research integrates electrical engineering with materials science and chemistry to develop hybrid nanofabrication techniques to enable precise yet scalable processing of nanoscale architectures capable of uniquely controlling light-matter interactions, electronic transport, and exciton dynamics to engineer new paradigms of active nanoscale devices. During her graduate studies, Niroui was a recipient of the Engineering Research Council of Canada scholarship, and she was selected for the Rising Stars program in EECS at MIT in 2015 and in 2016 at Carnegie Mellon University.
David Des Marais joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as an assistant professor in October. He received his BA in integrative biology from the University of California at Berkeley, in 2000, studying plant diversity and evolution, and a PhD in biology from Duke University. His dissertation addressed how multifunctional proteins evolve within and between species. Des Marais did postdoctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was awarded a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to investigate plant responses to multiple environmental stresses experienced concurrently. Most recently, he was a principal investigator in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, as well as a senior fellow at the Arnold Arboretum. Des Marais’ research interests are in plant ecophysiology, evolutionary biology, and functional genomics. He is particularly interested in plant interactions with the abiotic environment — water, temperature, nutrients, and light — and how plants respond when these factors impose stress. He studies natural diversity within and between plant species both in the field and in controlled environments, and he hopes to develop a mechanistic understanding or plant performance to conserve natural plant populations and to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability.
Tami Lieberman will join MIT as an assistant professor with dual appointments in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science in January 2018. Lieberman earned a BA in molecular biology and genetics at Northwestern University, where she was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. She earned a PhD in systems biology from Harvard, where she developed new genomic approaches for understanding how bacteria evolve during infections of individual people. Lieberman is currently a postdoc in Eric J. Alm’s lab at MIT, where she has further developed and applied genomic approaches to understand the microbes that colonize the human body. She will lead a computational and experimental research group focused on uncovering the principles governing colonization, niche range, and personalization in the human microbiome. Lieberman has also made contributions to our understanding of antibiotic resistance, including the co-invention of a new platform for visualizing evolution in real time.
Phillip Isola will join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in July 2018. He received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Yale University and a PhD in brain and cognitive sciences from MIT. Currently a fellow at OpenAI, Isola studies visual intelligence from the perspective of both minds and machines. He received a National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate fellowship as well as an NSF postdoctoral fellowship.
Song Han will join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in July 2018. He received his master’s degree and PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford. His research focuses on energy-efficient deep learning at the intersection of machine learning and computer architecture. Han proposed the deep compression algorithm, which can compress neural networks by 17 to 49 times while fully preserving prediction accuracy. He also designed the first hardware accelerator that can perform inference directly on a compressed sparse model, which results in significant speed increases and energy saving. His work has been featured by O’Reilly, TechEmergence, and The Next Platform, among others. Han has won best-paper awards at the International Conference on Learning Representations and the International Symposium on Field-Programmable Gate Arrays.
Rafael Gomez-Bombarelli will join the faculty in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as an assistant professor in January 2018. He received a BS, MS, and PhD in chemistry from the University of Salamanca in Spain, followed by postdoctoral work at Heriot-Watt University and Harvard University. He is currently a senior researcher at Kyulux NA, applying Harvard-licensed technology to create commercial organic light-emitting diode products. Gomez-Bombarelli’s research has evolved from experimental mechanistic studies of organic molecules with an emphasis on environmental toxicity, to computer-driven design of molecular materials. By combining first-principles simulation with machine learning on theoretical and experimental datasets he aims to accelerate the discovery of novel practical materials. At MIT he plans to address the role of molecular transformation in materials discovery in areas such as catalyst design, the environmentally-minded development of novel and replacement chemicals, and designing for stability in advanced materials. Honors presented to Gomez-Bombarelli include the Spanish accreditation for Profesor Ayudante Doctor, and the University of Salamanca’s doctoral thesis award. His work has been featured in MIT Technology Review and The Wall Street Journal. He was also co-founder of Calculario, a materials discovery company that leverages quantum chemistry and machine learning to target advanced materials in a range of high-value markets.
Sili Deng will join the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an assistant professor in January 2019. She received her PhD from Princeton University in 2016 and is currently doing postdoctoral work at Stanford University. Deng works in the area of combustion, with a focus on understanding flame dynamics and emissions during combustion processes. She performed both modeling and experiments to understand, characterize, and detect non-premixed cool-flame behavior for the first time, and she experimentally elucidated the sooting limits of diesel and biofuel surrogates in a simple liquid stagnation flow. She also investigated soot evolution in turbulent flames via modeling to provide insights into understanding both chemical and hydrodynamic effects on soot emissions. Deng has received several awards including the Bernard Lewis Fellowship from the Combustion Institute, the Gordon Wu Prize for Excellence from Princeton, which also awarded her an excellence in teaching award.