PDA Officers 2019-2020


Razvan Marinescu


Razvan joined Polina Golland’s lab at MIT CSAIL in early 2019 and is passionate about artificial intelligence and medicine. He is currently working on machine learning algorithms for two medical applications: identification of brain lesions in patients with stroke as well as prediction of the future evolution of Alzheimer’s disease. These techniques will help towards improving treatments for both diseases. He believes one day machines will be extremely intelligent and will be able to save many lives.

Before MIT, Razvan graduated with a PhD degree from University College London. He previously had leadership positions as Residence Advisor during his PhD as well as Year Rep during his undergraduate studies at Imperial College London. He is very sociable and is happy to connect you with other postdocs at MIT. He likes running and playing guitar, and enjoys hiking and travelling. See his website for more information: https://people.csail.mit.edu/razvan/ 

Cristina Florea

Vice President

Cristina is a postdoctoral Global Marie Curie fellow in Biological Engineering Department and part of the management board of the Marie Curie Association-North America Chapter. She completed a double PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering and Medical Physics as a result of three years’ joint degree collaboration between Politehnica University of Timisoara, Romania and University of Eastern Finland. Prior to this, she worked in the ultrasound imaging business sector managing the sales team and collaborating with hospital managers, clinicians and medical physicists. Her research focuses on the investigation of the early mechanisms of cartilage damage after injury that eventually leads to post-traumatic osteoarthritis. It involves a highly interdisciplinary approach combining sophisticated techniques from mechanics, engineering, physics and molecular biology. Her hobbies outside of lab include Zumba, photography, sailing, kickboxing and paying it forward. As vice-president, she is excited to work together with the president and the PDA officers to strengthen the MIT postdoc community and to make sure their needs and concerns are being addressed.

Harish Banda

Recording Secretary

Harish joined Dinca lab at MIT Chemistry in early 2019 and is working on developing high-energy supercapacitors for electric cars. The idea is to develop an upcoming class of electrically conducting materials, metal-organic frameworks, as high surface area electrodes for supercapacitors. This project is part of the broader MIT-Lamborghini partnership that started in 2017. Before joining MIT, Harish received his PhD in chemistry form University of Grenoble, France in 2018 and Masters in chemistry from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Trivandrum, India in 2015. He likes travelling, hiking and particularly enjoys a deep philosophical discussion about anything under the sun (or beyond). He looks forward to meeting and socializing with other Postdocs at MIT through PDA.

Dien Nguyen


I am a Postdoc Associate from the Laboratory for Nuclear Science (LNS) at MIT. I received my PhD in experimental nuclear physics at University of Virginia. My research focus on the Short Range correlations to understand how nucleons interact with each other at very short distance which can help to complete the nuclear structure picture. 

Out of work, I love photography, hiking and cooking. I would like to connect to other postdoc at MIT.


Wan Shou

Advocacy Committee Chair

Wan joined Computational Fabrication Group at MIT CSAIL in early 2019. He has a broad research interests centered around advanced materials and manufacturing. Specifically, he works on additive manufacturing (3D printing) of electronics and soft robots, and wearable electronics. He is also learning about computational fabrication, machine learning, human-computer interaction, and robotics. He likes to make new friends and is always curious about various research topics. In his free time, he likes fishing, walking, running, etc.; he also likes poems. He would be happy to connect with all fellow postdocs at MIT and would like to hear from MIT postdocs of any advocacy issues. 

Before joining MIT, Wan obtained his PhD degree from MST, where he conducted research about laser micro/nano-manufacturing and crystallization of Si. See his website for more information:  https://showone90.wixsite.com/show

Qasim Bukhari

Professional Development Committee Chair

Qasim Bukhari is a postdoctoral associate in the Gabrieli Lab at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He uses different neuroimaging techniques to better predict the treatment response outcome for psychiatric disorders from many alternate treatment options by using machine learning algorithms. He aims to develop a system that can predict the optimal treatment option from alternate therapies for psychiatric disorder patients. He also uses these tools to investigate the relationship between cognitive skills and brain measures. He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from ETH Zurich in Switzerland. He was awarded Erasmus Mundus scholarship for his Masters studies during which he spent time in Finland, Norway and Spain. Outside his lab, he likes to watch movies, spend time with his family and travel around the world. As a PDA officer, Qasim Bukhari is in charge of the Professional Development Committee. Please contact him for suggestions or proposals on organizing professional development events for the MIT postdoctoral community.

Natalia Barbour

Corresponding Secretary

Natalia is a postdoctoral associate in the department of urban studies and planning. She joined MIT in June 2019. She holds a Ph.D. degree in civil engineering focused in transportation from the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on exploring factors that influence human behavior related to adoption of new and shared mobility systems and technologies. She is leading the development of New Mobility course for MITedX platform. She is passionate about increasing diversity in STEM and is also serving on MIT Women Advisory Board. Natalia is responsible for communication with the PDA as well as the internal communication with 1,600 postdocs at MIT. Please feel free to contact Natalia if you have any questions about PDA. 

Jasmina Burek

IT & Information Committee Chair

Jasmina Burek is a postdoctoral fellow in the Materials Systems Laboratory. Her main expertise is in the life cycle assessment (LCA) method and application. She has taken a leadership role for the Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) at MIT project https://shine.mit.edu/. Within the SHINE@MIT project, she focuses on assessing the positive impact (handprints) of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and the industry stakeholders. Also, she is working on the LCA of electric scooters. Finally, she is developing a streamlined LCA framework and models to support early decision making in commercial buildings development, which will help improve the environmental sustainability of buildings and infrastructure.

Ruojie Vanessa Zhang

Alumni Committee Chair

Vanessa joined Bob Langer’s lab at MIT in early 2019 and is working on developing micronutrients encapsulation and delivery system that could be applied to commercial food products. As a researcher, she has published over 60 scientific articles with over 1000 citations in the filed of micronutrients delivery system. As her excellent performance in academic, she has been recolonized by various academic societies, such as ACS, AOCS, IFT, NEIFT, Gordon Research, etc. 

Before joining MIT, Vanessa obtained her PhD degree from UMass Amherst. During her PhD, she served for many organizations as group leaders, including being Chair of UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Council, Vice President of Phi Tau Sigma UMass Chapter, Primary Chair of AOCS Student CIG, and Engagement Chair of IFT Food Chemistry Division. She was also honored with the Achievement Award from Phi Tau Sigma in 2019 for her excellent contribution. 

Being the Alumni chair of MIT PDA, she will dedicate efforts to be the liaison between current postdoc and MIT alumni, and provide platform for communication and collaboration across the board.

Moustafa Ragab Khalil Ali

Community Building Chair

I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Bioengineering department, Niles lab. I’ve obtained my Ph.D. in Chemistry from Gatech on May 2017, then worked as a postdoc for the same institute till moving to MIT on June 2019. By the way, I ‘m originally Egyptian.

Ashwin Lokapally

Community Building Co-Chair

I joined in Oct-2019 as a Postdoc at the Whitehead Institute-MIT. I'm working on craniofacial developmental disorders. More specifically, I study the genetic, physical and chemical pertubations that lead to microcephaly and facial asymmetry. Prior to joining MIT, I did my PhD in developmental neurobiology from Martin-Luther University, Germany. During my PhD, as member of the Nautral Science Association was involved in organising the graduate career and vendor fairs, team building activities. I'm very social person and always happy to connect with other postdocs and interesting people. Outside the lab, I try to fulfil my very wide range of interests and hobbies. As a Community building Co-Chair at the PDA, I seek to bring together the postdoc community through various professional development, social and team building events. Please free to contact us for any suggestions on social and team building activities.

Sami Hasnine

Community Building Co-Chair

Sami is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. Sami defended his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Toronto. Before this, Sami pursued his MASc from the University of Toronto and BSc from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Sami’s research is at the intersection of transportation engineering, economics, data science, and psychology. Sami builds different mathematical models to develop smart and sustainable cities with the aim of reducing emissions and energy consumption. Sami’s research also includes the impact of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) on individuals’ day-to-day lifestyle. He was the president of the University of Toronto chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) for two years. Currently, Sami is involved with many diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at MIT.

Longfei Zhou

Fundraising Committee Chair

Longfei Zhou is a postdoctoral fellow in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. At MIT, he is working on applying machine learning and computer vision technologies to analyze traffic flows and identify abnormal events with less computation. He is also analyzing interactions between different subsystems in smart cities and designing systems to enhance global optimization and improve people’s life. He received his Ph.D at Beihang University, where he used real-time simulation and intelligent algorithms to schedule manufacturing services for demanders in a cloud environment. He likes playing basketball, sailing, hiking and movies. He was the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Award granted by the Beijing Municipal Education Commission in 2018.

Tansu Daylan

Human Affairs Committee Chair

Tansu Daylan is a postdoctoral Kavli fellow at the MIT Kavli Institute since 2018. Previously, he was a PhD student at the Harvard University Physics Department, and a physics and electronics engineering undergraduate at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. His research is in astrophysics and statistics, where he mainly works on various statistical methods (e.g., signal processing, neural networks, transdimensional Bayesian inference) as applied to problems in astrophysics such as cataloging of sources, detection and characterization of dark matter and exoplanets. As the MIT PDA Human Affairs Chair, he works towards a more diverse, fair and inclusive research environment for postdocs at MIT. Please do not hesitate to contact him for any questions or concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion related issues.

Kyle Diederichsen

Human Affairs Committee Co-Chair

Kyle started as a postdoctoral associate in the Hatton Lab in Chemical Engineering in September 2019. He is working on electrochemically mediated separations, with a particular focus on CO2 capture. During his PhD at Berkeley, Kyle worked on polymer-based electrolytes for lithium ion batteries and before that has spent time working with block copolymer self assembly and graphene growth. At Berkeley Kyle was co-president of the department student group and later a delegate and internal chief of staff to the campus graduate student government. He is passionate about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia and is particularly working to improve efforts at the postdoc level at MIT because postdocs are the next generation of leaders, and MIT postdocs are hired around the world.

Maha N Haji

Orientation Committee Chair

Maha is a postdoctoral associate in the Engineering Systems Laboratory at MIT and a joint researcher in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell. Her research focuses on utilizing multidisciplinary design optimization to develop a floating platform to provide recharging and data offloading capacity for autonomous underwater vehicles. Maha completed her PhD in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering in a joint program between MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. After graduation, Maha worked in industry as an engineering consultant with a company called ATA Engineering. There she got the chance to work with clients in aerospace and defense all the way to entertainment and themed rides. So in any one day, she could be working on robots, rockets, and roller coasters! After her time in the Engineering Systems Lab, Maha will be joining the faculty at Cornell as an Assistant Professor starting in July 2021, where her research will focus on designing offshore systems to sustainably extract resources from the ocean such as power, water, and food, as well as mineral resources key to the progress of clean energy. 

As Orientation Chair, Maha is looking forward to giving a warm welcome to all new postdocs and helping them to make the most of their time at MIT.

Chuangchuang Sun

Sports Committee Chair

I am Chuangchuang Sun, a postdoc in Aero Astro and the new chair of the PDA Sports Committee.  The PDA currently organizes two weekly sports opportunities, soccer and volleyball (details below). We hope you can join us! If you would like to play another sport with your fellow postdocs, please contact me at pda-sports@mit.edu and consider joining this committee. You can also join the PDA’s Sports Facebook Group, and post to the group with your ideas for informal activities (e.g. find running buddies, or try MIT Sailing).  Also, if you would like to play tennis, go to sports watching party (college football/basketball, soccer, etc), hike, etc, please let us know. We would like to have more sports activities together. The PDA is committed to giving postdocs opportunities to be active in athletics during your time here, and we welcome your help in making this happen!

Jamal Toutouh El Alamin

Sports Committee Co-Chair

Jamal is a postdoctoral Global Marie Curie fellow at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and part of the management board of the Marie Curie Association-North America Chapter. He joined PDA Sports Committee since he is concerning about the importance of having resources that allows the MIT postdocs to share active activities to help break away from the day-to-day work, while sharing the experience with other people.
Before coming MIT, he obtained his PhD in Computer Engineering at the University of Malaga (Spain) getting the Best Spanish PhD Thesis in Smart Cities award. His current research explores the combination of Nature inspired gradient-free and gradient based optimization methods to address Adversarial Deep Learning. The main idea is to devise new algorithms to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the state-of-the-art methodology by mainly applying co-evolutionary approaches. This new methodologies DL approaches are applied to address cybersecurity and smart-cities problems. See my website: jamal.es