PDA Officers 2022-2023



Benedict Borer


Benedict (Ben) Borer is a Swiss National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT. He seeks to understand how microbial hotspots, the “megacities of the microverse” govern global climate using both experimental and modeling approaches. Before coming to MIT, Ben obtained a BSc in environmental sciences from ETH, an MSc in hydrology and water resources management from Imperial College London, and a Ph.D. at the interface of soil physics and microbial ecology back at ETH. In his free time, Ben enjoys outside activities such as hiking, camping, or running – and is always searching his next coffee!
As President of the MIT PDA, Ben aims to provide resources and support to all committee chairs and strives to improve the experience of postdocs at MIT through advocacy, community building, and opportunities for professional development!


Jonathan Cottet

Vice President

Jonathan Cottet is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Laboratory for Energy and Microsystems Innovation (Professor Cullen Buie) in the Mechanical Engineering Department. His research focuses on using electric fields for characterization and deposition of microbes. During his PhD between Ecole Centrale de Lyon and EPFL, Jonathan focused on the development of microsystems for the controlled formation of cell aggregates by dielectrophoresis. Outside the lab, he enjoys running, cycling, cooking, traveling, and networking! He previously served as the Community Building Committee Chair (2022-2022), where he used both online (creation of the MIT Postdocs Slack workspace) and in-person (amongst others: co-leading the running club, movie nights, museum visits, city trips) MIT resources to reignite the MIT postdoctoral community after an arduous year of lockdowns and purely remote activities. As the vice-president of the MIT PDA, Jonathan aims to work with all the officers to strengthen the connection of postdocs to the different offices of MIT. He is committed to advance and accelerate the community building activities and unwaveringly support all activities of the MIT PDA in the best interest of the MIT postdoctoral community.

Kamila Mustafina


Kamila is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Bioengineering, Synthetic Biology Center since November 2021. She is interested in controlling gene expression in mammalian cells and high-throughput screening of functional RNAs. Her current project is focused on optimizing genetic circuits for cancer immunotherapy. Kamila is from Kazakhstan, Almaty, and lived there until she completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Nazarbayev University. Then she moved to Okinawa, Japan, to do her PhD in Nucleic Acid Engineering. It was also in Japan where she got converted into a karaoke-addict. Kamila likes the sense of community, and although being a treasurer is a lot about emails and Excel spreadsheets, it’s also about interaction with a lot of people! In her free time, Kamila likes to listen to the Strokes and ride a bike, play basketball, table tennis or ice-skate.


pda-corresponding [at] mit.edu

Johannes Kalliauer

Corresponding Secretary 

Johannes Kalliauer is an MIT Postdoctoral Associate in structural engineering since June 2022. He did undergraduate and Graduate training at TU Wien (Vienna, Austria). His Master’s thesis was about concrete hinges used in bridges and tunnels, followed by his Ph.D. about mechanical properties of DNA using Molecular Dynamics. First Post-doc at TU Wien about a mathematical hypothesis regarding eigenvalue-analysis of the stiffness matrix. Now working on the flooding of urban areas and concrete fracture using Monte-Carlo-Methods. I’m part of the MIT-Ballroom-Dancing Team and I like doing activities together and meeting new friends. For more details check the MIT News. As the MIT-PDA corresponding secretary, Johannes would like to implement a wiki.mit.edu, that everyone at MIT can edit. It will be used for presenting clubs, societies, and activities, as well as sharing useful information, such as how the visa-process generally works. Johannes will also be sending out periodic newsletters to postdocs and answer all queries received via contactpda@mit.edu


Doug Fabini

Recording Secretary

Doug is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemistry at MIT. His research seeks to discover new functional inorganic materials drawn from unusual combinations of chemical elements whose reactivity is enabled by unconventional syntheses including high pressure, mechanochemical, and flux routes. Long term, he hopes to develop tools and approaches to accelerate the design and discovery of new materials for energy conversion, information processing, and sensing. Before joining MIT, Doug was a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany. Prior to that, he studied for a PhD in Materials at UC Santa Barbara. Outside the lab, Doug can be found running, cooking, climbing, and discovering new (old) music.



Arusha Acharyya

Advocacy Committee Chair

Arusha is a post-doctoral associate in the MIT Chemistry department since Aug 2021. Originally from India, Arusha obtained her PhD from UPenn, where she worked on developing spectroscopic and microscopic tools to study protein dynamics and interactions. Her current research at MIT focuses on understanding how energy transfer occurs through light-harvesting protein complexes responsible for photosynthesis, using single-molecule spectroscopy. When not in lab, Arusha loves traveling and trying out new food and binge-watching tv shows.
In MIT PDA, Arusha is excited about her role as the advocacy committee chair to communicate any issue or concern particularly regarding careers, benefits and inclusion and diversity of postdocs, with the administration. She looks forward to serving as a voice for the MIT postdoc community and advocating for its overall betterment.


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Emmanuel Kagning

IT & Information Committee Chair

Emmanuel is a Postdoctoral Research Associate affiliated with the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation (CBI). He is a Medical Laboratory Scientist by training and earned a Ph.D. degree in Medical Sciences (Medical Virology) from the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine (Japan). Emmanuel was previously involved in research projects to study epidemiology and genetic evolution of Rotavirus, Caliciviruses (Norovirus, Sapovirus), Influenza B virus, and SARS-CoV-2. Emmanuel’s current researches aim to develop rapid, sensitive and pathogen agnostic sequencing approaches to detect adventitious agent contamination to ensure safety during cell biomanufacturing for cancer treatment. As the IT & Information Committee Chair, Emmanuel hopes to help fully disseminate information from the MIT-PDA to other MIT postdocs and contribute as much as possible to them having a pleasant postdoc experience. He loves playing and watching soccer. 


Shiekh Uddin

Fundraising Committee Chair

Shiekh Uddin is a postdoctoral associate at MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics. His research focuses on developing nonclassical light emitters based on nonlinear optics. He received his Doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley where he worked on defect-tolerant optoelectronics based on low-dimensional materials. In his free time, Shiekh likes to play around with micro and macro photography, read the history of science or autobiographies, hike, and observe wildlife. As Chair of the PDA Fundraising Committee, he focuses on driving fund development to serve the MIT postdoc community. 


Ayo Arowosola

Human Affairs / Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Chair

Ayo is a post-doctoral research associate in the Materials Systems Laboratory at MIT. Before she joined MIT, Ayo was an adjunct faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where she also got her PhD in Sustainability. Her research was on critical and strategic material use in the automotive industry. Her current research at MIT targets key sustainability pathways across industries and organizations. Ayo is also affiliated with the Harvard Extension School as a teaching assistant in the Life Cycle and Supply Chain Sustainability Assessment course. As the DEI chair, Ayo aims to bring an apt representation of postdocs into the MIT community, work towards silent voices being heard, ignored concerns being addressed, and misaligned groups being supported and included in day-to-day MIT.

Maria De Simone_Headshot

Maria De Simone  

Community Building Committee Chair

Maria is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Theatre and Performance Studies. Her research brings together performance history, immigration law, and critical race theory to understand how immigrant artists in the USA have used racial impersonation on stage. She received her Doctorate from Northwestern University and comes to MIT following a term as Visiting Assistant Professor at Brown University. Prior to her academic activities, Maria was a dancer and theatre production manager in Rome, Italy—her country of origin. In her free time, Maria loves to go to shows and museums, eat good food, and hike with her puppy. After three years of limited social activity, Maria is committed to reintroducing in-person events both on campus and in the broader Boston area.  

pda-alumni [at] mit.edu

Tamal Batabyal

Alumni Committee Chair

Tamal Batabyal is a postdoctoral associate at The Picower Institute of Learning and Memory (building 46, Miller Lab), MIT. His primary research focuses on understanding the neuronal basis of auditory and visual cognition, consciousness and cortical communication. He is also interested in developing AI models inspired by our brain functions. Before joining MIT, Tamal obtained a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Virginia and completed his first postdoc in Neurology at the same university. As the Alumni Committee Chair, Tamal aims to foster postdoc-alumni network by organizing events and utilizing the Alumni Association at MIT. In his free time, Tamal likes Latin dancing and playing volleyball.
pda-professional [at] mit.edu

Laurel Kroo

Professional Development Committee Chair

Laurel Kroo is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Non-Newtonian Fluids Laboratory in the Mechanical Engineering Department, working with Professor Gareth McKinley. She is currently working on several projects involving elastic fluids and elastic emulsions, and is broadly interested in the design/control of complex and field-responsive fluids to achieve function. She did her PhD at Stanford University with Professor Manu Prakash, studying the self-organization of “active” foam. In collaboration with Professor Eric Shaqfeh’s group, she also studied novel methods of self-propulsion in elastic fluids with a “swirling” robot. Outside the lab, Laurel is a musician (flute), and enjoys trail/distance running, soccer, amateur radio, and downhill skiing. In the MIT PDA, Laurel is excited to serve as Professional Development Committee Chair— both as an advocate for the postdoctoral community in career-related support within MIT and as an organizer for campus-wide events within this topic area. 

Philipp Stegmann

Sports Committee Chair

Philipp Stegmann is a postdoctoral Leopoldina research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at MIT. His research focuses on the statistical analysis of stochastic processes such as quantum transport, spin and molecular dynamics, biochemical reactions and photon emission. The central objective of his research is to develop and establish mathematical schemes to deduce information from measured statistical data. He received his PhD degree from the University Duisburg-Essen in Germany where he worked on electron-transport statistics. In his free time, Philipp likes running, cycling, bouldering and watching (as well as playing) soccer.  Sport is a great way to connect postdocs beyond the borders of their department. As Chair of the PDA Sports Committee, he supports the network of postdoc sport activities in the hope of uniting the postdoc community by the desire for sport.