NSF-Simons Postdoctoral Fellows

William Gilpin

Dr. William GILPIN

William Gilpin completed his undergraduate degree in physics at Princeton University. He received his doctorate in applied physics from Stanford, where he studied fluid dynamics, chaos, and baby starfish. He is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Samantha Petti

Dr. Samantha PETTI

Samantha Petti completed her undergraduate degree at Williams College and earned her PhD in Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization at Georgia Tech. Her graduate work focused on random graphs, probability, and algorithms. Broadly, she is interested in applying her theoretical training to create computational tools to make sense of the recent explosion of biological sequence data. 


Dr. Gautam REDDY

Gautam graduated with a degree in Engineering Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. He then earned his Ph.D. at UC San Diego, where  he was fortunate to be advised by Prof. Massimo Vergassola. His past work has largely focused on two aspects of theoretical neuroscience: algorithmic aspects of animal behavior & the neurobiology of mammalian olfaction. Broadly, he is interested in how biological systems make decisions under various constraints imposed by physical laws, physiology, and the limits of computation. 


Dr. Asja RADJA

Asja received her doctorate in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation work focused on describing the formation of surface patterns on single cells as a consequence of a phase transition to modulated phases. Specifically, she determined how pollen grain surfaces develop their morphological diversity using imaging techniques, a mean-field modified Landau-Ginzburg formalism, and computational methods. She is interested in studying pattern and shape formation mechanisms in biological systems and applying quantitative approaches to describe their development. 

Krishna Shrinivas


Krishna received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT. His graduate work focused on investigating the role of biomolecular phase transitions in regulation of gene expression. More generally, he is interested in studying cellular physiology, with a focus on investigating the collective processes that underlie gene regulation, nuclear organization, and developmental processes. To this end, he develops models that integrate approaches from theory, simulation, and informatics, which are tested and refined in synergy with experimental collaborations. Read on more on his website at krishna-shrinivas.github.io .


student members

Maya Anjur-Dietrich

Maya Anjur-Dietrich

PhD Student (Applied Physics) - Needleman lab

Maya's project focuses on investigating mechanisms of force generation between chromosomes and microtubules in the mitotic spindle and how failures in force generation can contribute to chromosome segregation errors. During cell division, the spindle, a self-assembled microtubule structure, divides chromosomes by attaching to and exerting force on the kinetochore protein complex to pull chromosomes apart. She is interested in how the spindle is able to accurately and reliably generate forces to separate chromosomes, which relates to the ability of cells to successfully develop into tissues and organisms. Errors in force generation lead to chromosome segregation errors because chromosomes are not evenly separated to daughter cells, which can lead to birth defects and diseases.

Anqi Chen

Anqi Chen

PhD Student (Applied Physics) - Weitz lab

Adherent cells constantly interact with the extracellular matrix (ECM) to maintain tissue integrity and cellular functions. While microencapsulation of cells and organoids has recently emerged as a high-throughput solution both for fundamental research and for therapeutic practices, the mechanical interplay between cells and their ECM in the context of microcapsules is rarely investigated. Anqi develops experimental tools and methods to explore how cells interpret the mechanical signals from their microencapsulation substrates and how the substrate materials are in turn remodeled by the cells they accommodate. The findings could provide guidance for a variety of applications including cell therapies 

Tim Chiang

Tim Chiang

PhD Student (Applied Physics) - Manoharan lab

Tim is a PhD student in Applied Physics working with Vinny Manoharan. The goal of his research is to elucidate how simple viruses self-assemble and perform other complex functions through understanding the structure of their RNA genome. He is particularly interested in how genomic RNA is selectively packaged during viral capsid assembly, and is currently developing novel methods to alter and probe the structures of large, complex RNA molecules.

Zack Chiang

Zachary Chiang

PhD Student (Bioinformatics & Integrative Genomics) - Buenrostro lab

Zack is a third year graduate student in the Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics PhD program. His research is focused on developing new technologies that combine high-resolution imaging and high-throughput sequencing methods to characterize the three-dimensional organization of the genome in individual cells. He is particularly interested in applying these technologies to determine if certain epigenetic features are heritable across cell division and are important to re-establishment of cellular identity.

Nick Derr

Nicholas Derr

PhD Student (Applied Math) - Rycroft lab

Nick uses analytical techniques and novel computational methods to probe the behavior of model systems in biological settings, especially those with elements of poroelastic flow. His current projects include modeling polymer networks subject to active stresses induced by molecular motor binding dynamics; conducting asymptotic and numerical analysis of
reciprocal swimmers at intermediate Reynolds number; and developing high-performance methods for the simulation of multi-phase mixtures such as multiple gel droplets interacting within a solvent bath. He is particularly interested in mechanical signaling, especially in the context of developmental or invasive tissue growth.

Daniel Eaton

Daniel Eaton

PhD Student (Systems, Synthetic and Quantitative Biology) - Paulsson lab

Daniel is a graduate student in Johan Paulsson's lab studying the response of Escherichia coli to starvation stress. In order to survive periods of starvation, cells undergo several physiological changes including extensive proteome remodeling mediated by altered gene expression. It is critical that transcription induction be accomplished quickly, as the onset of starvation can be rapid and may not be predicated by environmental ques. Daniel is studying how negative feedback in a control circuit enables E. coli to respond to starvation quickly and generates heterogeneity to hedge against future starvation. He is also developing screening methods to identify other regulators that impact these induction dynamics. 


Yipei Guo

PhD Student (Biophysics) - Amir lab

Yipei is interested in problems relating to microbial evolution such as how fitness evolves over time, how different factors affect the distribution of mutant fraction, the evolution of stochastic phenotypic switching, and possible evolutionary constraints such as the stability of gene expression. She has also been studying how local rules and interactions between cells give rise to various desired multicellular spatial structures.

Gloria Ha

Gloria Ha

PhD Student (Systems Biology) - Needleman lab

Gloria is a third year graduate student studying the process of error correction in mitosis.  The mitotic spindle, a bipolar structure of crosslinked and bundled microtubules, segregates an equal number of chromosomes to daughter cells in eukaryotes. Chromosome segregation errors can arise from incorrect attachments between microtubules and chromosomes, which are typically corrected over time spent in mitosis. Gloria is interested in determining the relationships between time and attachment in error correction using live cell imaging and quantitative microscopy techniques.


Sylvia Hurlimann

PhD Student (Molecular & Cellular Biology) - Garner lab

Sylvia is a third year graduate student in Ethan Garner’s lab studying how Bacillus subtilis coordinates cytoplasmic growth with cellular elongation. A bacterial cell is a self-replicating machine that must duplicate its contents in coordination with the doubling time. To achieve this, cells must acquire nutrients from the environment to obtain the precursors and energy that is used to synthesize macromolecules. Due to the large cost of protein synthesis, a cell must carefully control the allocation of its biosynthesic capacity. In addition, bacterial cells must coordinate the required increase in cellular volume from their internal metabolism with the expansion of its cell wall, a structure which protects bacteria from their internal pressure. Sylvia studies the feedback between cell elongation and growth using mutants which have an increased rate of cell wall synthesis and cell elongation. 


Ofer Kimchi

PhD Student (Biophysics) - Brenner lab

Ofer is a graduate student working with Michael Brenner. He's interested in various problems related to RNA/DNA free energy landscapes, and particularly in the hybridization of multiple strands of RNA or DNA. Ofer is also interested in the self-assembly of protein multimers, and in designing synthetic post-translational protein oscillators.


Margaret Klureza

PhD Student (Chemistry and Chemical Biology) - Hekstra lab

Maggie’s research in the Hekstra lab uses electric field-stimulated X-ray crystallography (EFX) to investigate biophysical problems. To date, her research has focused on elucidating the concerted motions underlying allostery in the enzyme PTP1B and developing solid-state electrodes to enable EFX experiments with minimal crystal damage. In recent months, she has also begun a project seeking to utilize EFX to probe intra-nucleosomal dynamics. Outside of the lab, Maggie is an avid choral singer and currently performs with Voices Rising in Boston.


Katharina Kroll

PhD Student (Bioengineering) - Lewis lab

Katharina is a second year bioengineering graduate student in the laboratory of Jennifer Lewis. She completed her undergraduate and Master’s degree in Molecular Medicine at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Currently, she is working in the Lewis lab to improve engineered kidney tissue by vascularizing kidney organoids. These vascularized organoids exhibit markedly enhanced features and could open new avenues for studying fundamental kidney development, disease, and regeneration.


Danylo Lavrentovich

PhD Student (Systems, Synthetic and Quantitative Biology) - de Bivort lab

Individuality is a fundamental aspect of behavior that is observed even in isogenic flies reared in the same environment. Danylo is an SSQBio PhD student working in Benjamin de Bivort’s lab investigating how differences in brains correspond to differences in olfactory behavior in Drosophila. He develops computational models of neural circuits and engineers devices that jointly measure neural and behavioral activity to study the mechanistic underpinnings of variation between individuals and of temporal variation within individuals.

Katherine Lawrence

Katherine Lawrence

PhD Student (MIT Physics) - Desai lab

Katherine received her B.S. in Physics from Yale University in 2014, and after conducting research in atomic physics at MIT for several years, her interest in evolutionary dynamics led her to join Michael Desai's lab in 2017. She aims to develop high-resolution high-throughput experimental methods and statistical approaches to characterize fitness landscapes, including mapping quantitative traits in diverse wild yeast crosses and measuring the binding affinity trajectories of influenza antibodies.

Yuexia Lin

Yuexia Lin

PhD Student (Applied Math) - Rycroft lab

I’m a fourth year grad student studying Applied Mathematics at SEAS, Harvard University. My interest lies in using mathematical models and computation to explore problems and phenomena in nature. Together with my Ph.D. advisor, Prof. Chris Rycroft and my collaborators, we explore topics such as numerical methods for fluid-solid interaction problems, simulations of diffusion-limited dissolutions, modeling bacteria growth and pattern formation in biofilms. Besides developing mathematical and computational models, we also focus on building high performance computational implementations. 

Anjali Nelliat

Anjali Nelliat

PhD Student (Systems, Synthetic and Quantitative Biology) - Denic lab

Anjali is interested in dissecting how peroxisomes sense and respond to redox imbalance. Peroxisomes are ubiquitous eukaryotic organelles that have key roles in lipid metabolism and are named for their ability to produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as a natural product of peroxisomal lipid oxidation. To prevent protein and membrane lipid damage due to H2O2, peroxisomes also carry enzymes capable of detoxifying H2O2 and other reactive oxygen species, some of which might originate from non-peroxisomal cell sources. What are the peroxisomal quality control mechanisms for coping with inevitable H2O2-associated protein and membrane lipid damage? In addition, excess H2O2 in the cytosol is known to induce gene expression changes to re-establish redox  homeostasis, but whether peroxisomal H2O2 can elicit a similar but localized adaptive response remains poorly understood. Anjali is using systems level -omics approaches and recently developed genetic tools to answer these questions. 

Lauren Niu

Lauren Niu

PhD Student (Physics) - Mahadevan lab

The goal of Lauren's research is to find simple ways to express and exploit the role of geometry in morphology. However, the underlying equations of growth are almost always highly nonlinear, and calculating growth patterns can quickly become intractable. She uses tools from discrete differential geometry to create numerical programs that elevate discrete structures from coarse approximations to geometric objects with differential structure of their own. These structures naturally play host to physical principles, such as local conservation laws, regardless of the level of discretization. Furthermore, this framework can naturally enforce local growth laws at any scale, and consistently support other physical structures such as transport and fluid flow.

Arvind Srinivasan

Arvind Srinivasan

PhD Student (Applied Physics) - Prigozhin lab

Currently a PhD student in Maxim Prigozhin's lab. Interested in studying short timescale biological phenomena and instrument development. Undergraduate degree in Physics and Mathematics from St. Mary's College of Maryland. Worked on cold atom sources (clocks, magnetometers) and atomic sensors for my undergraduate thesis as well as for a year afterwards through the Naval Research Labs. Originally from the greater DC area in Maryland.


Ami Thakrar

Ami Thakrar

PhD Student (MIT Chemistry) - Prigozhin lab

Most cellular processes are too fast and too small to capture with traditional microscopy techniques. Ami's long-term goal is to develop a new tool for the visualization of dynamic nanoscale cellular architectures. Specifically, she aims to build novel sample preparation instrumentation for super-resolution fluorescence microscopy that will enable time-resolved, high-resolution imaging of intracellular protein motion following pharmacological stimulation.

Irina Tolkova

Irina Tolkova

PhD Student (Applied Math) - Mahadevan lab

Irina is an Applied Math PhD student interested in interdisciplinary projects on optimization, signal processing, robotics, and acoustics. After studying trajectory planning algorithms for the first two years of her PhD, she now works on the application of elastic functional data analysis and optimal transport to biological problems, including analysis of gait and of morphology. She is also very interested in the use of computational methods to assist sustainability and wildlife conservation; and particularly in the characterization and classification of acoustic signals for advancing passive environmental monitoring.


Suyang Wan

PhD Student (Systems Biology) - Paulsson lab

I am Suyang is interested in evolution and stochasticity. Currently she is combining experimental and computational methods to develop high-throughput bacterial phenotyping platforms.

Caroline Weisman

Caroline Weisman

PhD Student (Biophysics) - Murray lab

I'm interested in evolutionary novelty. My PhD work has focused on "lineage-specific" genes, which appear to be unique to a small group of related organisms: I'm studying where they come from, what they do, and what are their relationships to larger-scale forms of evolutionary novelty, like new tissues.

Ilker Yaman

Ilker Yaman

PhD Student (Applied Physics) - Ramanathan lab

Jacob Zavatone-Veth

PhD Student (Physics) - Pehlevan lab

Jacob is a second-year graduate student in the Physics program, working with Prof. Cengiz Pehlevan. His research broadly focuses on modelling how biological systems efficiently integrate sensory stimuli and execute complex behaviors under the constraints of physics and physiology. He is particularly interested in problems at the interface of neuroscience and machine learning, including biological solutions to the credit assignment problem.

Jenny Zheng

Jenny Zheng

PhD Student (Molecular & Cellular Biology) - Garner lab

Jenny is a third-year graduate student in the Garner lab studying a relatively unexplored domain of life, archaea. By studying the archaeal domain, she aims to understand the commonalities of how cytoskeletal elements, actin and tubulin homologs, help control essential processes across the domains of life. Her current work focuses on characterizing and understanding the role of Haloactin, an actin homolog in halophilic archaea. Haloactin is particularly interesting because it was recently discovered as the first dynamically unstable filament in archaea. While its function is completely unknown, dynamically unstable filaments are thought to probe space and across all domains have been involved in DNA segregation. For these reasons, she is studying this protein in archaea to elucidate the emergent properties of dynamic instability as well as the role of dynamically unstable proteins across all domains of life.