Harvard Doctor of Design students constitute a group of select students with a great variety of research interests. The program is intended for persons who wish to enter teaching, research and advanced careers in the theory and practice of architecture, landscape architecture, urban form and technology; or the analysis and development of cities, landscapes and regions with emphasis on social, economic, ecological, transportation and infrastructural systems. Further, students may wish to conduct research in the area of digital technologies within such context.
In addition to their studies, doctoral candidates are involved in many aspects of the school. Among other activities, they hold Research or Teaching Fellowships and organize speaker series, conferences,and journals.
Click here for recent DDes graduates.
Maryam Aljomairi is a Bahraini architect with interests in programmable material systems, building technology, and personal fabrication. She has worked internationally at the offices of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Studio Anne Holtrop. Maryam is an incoming doctoral student at Harvard University. She received an MS in Design & Computation from MIT (2022) and a BArch from the American University of Sharjah (2017).
Sulaiman Alothman is a fifth-year Doctor of Design candidate. His research focuses on using data-driven machine learning models to empower the design and manufacturing process in robotic fabrication. His research tackles issues related to material uncertainty in 3d printing of natural materials through machine learning and computer vision. His research— published in ACADIA and ROB|ARCH conferences— is supported by the Material System and Processes (MaP+S) group and sponsored by the Kuwait Foundation of the Advancement of Science (KFAS) and Kuwait University.
Sulaiman is a co-founder of Morphospace studio, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Kuwait. He has coordinated and co-directed the design of several digitally-driven projects and interactive installations in Kuwait. He also co-directed the Architectural Association Visiting School (AAVS), a design-and-built workshop for constructing inhabitable pavilions that are digitally designed and manufactured.
Sulaiman holds a Master in Design Studies (MDes) in Technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He also holds a Master of Architecture (MArch) in Emergent Technologies and Design from the Architectural Association and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona.
Rawan Alsaffar is a landscape architect, researcher and third-year doctoral student. Her work lies at the intersection of landscape, infrastructure and human ecology. In particular, her current research explores the role of desalination infrastructure in the production of landscapes in water-scarce regions and its impact on future energy and climate scenarios.
Prior to joining the DDes Program, Rawan worked at multiple landscape architecture offices, such as Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Sasaki. Her professional work has focused on resilience frameworks around the world including the US, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, with an interest in water as a tool of development and a risk factor to coastal and arid environments. Her past research has explored the aesthetic and political concerns of energy and infrastructure through ecologic narratives with work exhibited around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Rawan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) and Design Studies (MDes ULE) from Harvard Graduate School of Design with a full scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Education of Kuwait for academic excellence.
Nour-Lyna Boulgamh is an Algerian Amazigh Architect and doctoral student. She holds a BSc in Architectural Engineering from the American University in Cairo and Master’s in Design Studies from Harvard GSD. Her research expertise operates at the intersection of design, affordable housing, climate change resilience and spatial justice. As such, her research spans over a wide range of geographics from Egypt, Jordan to South Africa and the U.S, she worked with multiple local and international NGOs and IGOs such as the UN on human-centered and relief affordable housing projects where she co-curated multiple guides and frameworks. As a research scholar, Nour-Lyna conducted on-ground field research and undertook several endeavors investigating ways to leverage adequate affordable housing for conflict and climate refugees in the US and beyond, through activating the real estate market, and leveraging cooperative collaboration between the private and public sector and urban planners.
She is a recipient of the Harvard Real Estate Grant, The Harvard Conflict and Peace Initiative Grant, The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Thesis Grant, and The AUC Excellence in Research Award. She is a member of the Climigration Network, The Urban Land Institute, The American Planning Association and the Congress for The New Urbanism.
Her research methodologies include utilizing GIS mapping, R statistical analysis software conducting interviews and empirical on-site observations. Her design tools include Photoshop, InDesign, AutoCAD, Revit and Rhino.
Hamed Bukhamseen is an architect and third-year doctoral student. His research is concerned with the developmental projects undertaken by sovereign wealth funds and their socio-political impact within their host nations. Prior to his start at the DDes program, he had been an instructor at the Kuwait University – College of Architecture teaching design studios and seminars. Parallel to his time teaching, Hamed is the co-founder of the architectural office Civil Architecture. The work of Civil has been shown in the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, Oslo Triennale, Seoul Biennale, Amman Design Week, and Expo 2020. Along with Ali Ismail Karimi , Hamed curated the Kuwait Pavilion “Between East and West: A Gulf “at the 2016 Venice Biennale.
Hamed is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, earning degrees in the fine arts, architecture, and urban design. He has previously worked as an architect in Kuwait, Japan, Germany, and the US prior to the establishment of his practice.
Elence Xinzhu Chen is a fourth-year doctoral candidate at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), specializing in building technology, data science, and engineering. With the aim of creating sustainable buildings and cities, her primary research integrates building performance simulation and system control with machine learning algorithms. Elence’s research interests include model predictive control via data-driven approach, deep learning-based control optimization, machine learning, net-zero energy/carbon building design optimization, computational fluid dynamics, natural ventilation, co-simulation of building energy, control systems and indoor environment.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Project and Facilities Management from National University of Singapore, a Master in Design Studies with concentration in Energy and Environment from Harvard GSD. Her master’s thesis investigated the use of Phase Change Materials in heating buildings to reduce building energy consumption through a passive manner and was awarded the Daniel L. Schodek Award for Technology and Sustainability in 2020. Her papers have been published in Smart and Sustainable Cities and Buildings and presented in the International Conference of the Architectural Science Association.
Elence interned at Transsolar Germany, Building and Construction Authority Singapore and Arup Shanghai office. She has been involved in multiple national and international projects that aim to design ultra-efficient buildings with less dependence on machines and energy.
Zhanliang Chen is a doctoral student and urban artist. Zhan’s research focuses on the conservation of timber structural historical buildings of China. Specifically, it concerns the various methods, organizations, histories, and manners of China’s architectural conservation to resist the obsolesce of traditional wooden construction with regard to its physical characteristics. Born and raised in a family of architects and traditional arch-crafts persons, he received architectural training in both modern building and traditional Chinese craftsmanship before college. Zhan chose conservation of Chinese traditional vernacular architecture as a research topic at Zhejiang University, China, where he earned his M.Arch degree. He took part in village heritage conservation projects, including wooden clan temples, residences, stone roads and bridges, and general renovation design of Liruo village, Zhejiang, China. His master thesis was a study on facade renovation of buildings in traditional towns and villages in China, for which he had spent two years doing field research in 35 separate villages and towns.
Painting wall pieces (sometimes canvases) with spray cans(legally) since 2008, Zhan travels around the world creating murals in urban environments. Combining the Chinese building and calligraphy with graffiti murals, he develops his flow of art and co-works with commercial brands and art institutes. He and his crew have been hosting art and graffiti events, exhibitions and lectures around China since 2014.
Somayeh Chitchian is an architect, urban researcher and doctoral student at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. Her research focuses on the extended corridors of migratory circulation and uses a logistical lens as both a material and theoretical tool towards a respatialized approach to migration research’s inherent methodological nationalism. Somayeh’s work lies at the intersection of critical urban theory, migration research, border- and logistics studies, and is guided by de/postcolonial thought, critical race theory, and radical cartography as its overarching framework of analysis. The central question guiding her doctoral work is: How does the contemporary logistics space (re)produce its political figure on-the-move—i.e., “the migrant”?
Somayeh is a trained architect (B.Arch and M.Arch) from Delft University of Technology in the Netherland and holds a Master in Design Studies degree (MDes) in Critical Conservation (with distinction) from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her masters thesis research “Middle Eastern Immigration Landscape in America” won Harvard ESRI Development Center’s Student of the Year Award in 2014. During her years in the Netherlands, she practiced as an architect at several firms in both Amsterdam and The Hague, where she collaborated on various residential and cultural projects, as well as the design of advanced building envelopes. At Harvard, she has held various appointments as teaching and research fellow.
From 2015-2019, she held a doctoral fellow position at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany, working towards her doctoral dissertation.
Yona Chung is an architect, urban designer and thinker and a second-year Doctor of Design student. Her research lies in the redevelopment of modern housing superblocks in East Asia to address the idea of resiliency and flexibility in today’s anthropocentric climate.
Prior to joining DDes program, Yona worked at Grayscale Collaborative, an urban design and consulting agency, where she developed her interest in discovering how the different force of social, cultural and economic impacts the society and physical built environment and collaboratively working with communities and clients of multiple backgrounds to build more inclusive and better designed environment.
Yona is also a trained architect as she earned her Bachelor of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where she later joined Skidmore Owings and Merill (SOM), a multi-disciplinary architecture firm, to work as an architect and an urban designer on various scaled projects, from a skyscraper design to the campus masterplan.
Yona graduated from Harvard GSD in 2019 with Master of Architecture in Urban Design. While at GSD she took on a multiple research projects and teaching assisting, including serving as a professional design assistant at Harvard GSD Extension Education School.
Cameron Contreras is a Design Research Lead at CannonDesign and a first-year Doctor of Design student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Her research focuses on human experiences in ‘phygital’ spaces; immersive intersections of the built environment and the virtual world.
Prior to joining the DDes program, Cameron worked as a Strategy Consultant with Blue Cottage of CannonDesign, helping architects better understand people by translating data into design direction. She also founded the firm’s Research Practice and served as Interim Research Director.
Her work revolves around maximizing the human condition by scientifically exploring relationships with our surroundings. She has published eight articles and presentations in the past four years on several environmental psychology, ergonomics, and architectural industry topics, also serving as peer-reviewer for these journals and organizations.
Cameron holds a Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Psychology, with a minor in Information Science, from Cornell University, where she conducted empirical research on dyadic collaboration effectiveness in mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR). She also holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and Environmental Policy, with a minor in Human Services Management, from Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU). She has advised students in research methods, served as a Teaching Assistant at Cornell, and as a Research Assistant at IWU.
Bert De Jonghe is a third-year Doctor of Design candidate. His doctoral research anticipates and frames the next chapter in the story of Arctic urbanization. In the past, Arctic urbanization has been dominated by a nation-state point of view, was influenced by design perspectives appropriate to more southern landscapes, as well as suffered from a limited understanding by outsiders of the region’s internal dynamics, unique climatic conditions, and great diversity of cultures. Bert’s doctoral study is a response to such varied histories by proposing a transnational approach to Arctic urbanization, design influences that are more relational instead of one-directional, and a vision for a highly connected and adaptive city in a rapidly changing polar world. During the Fall of 2023, Bert will be based in Tromsø, Arctic Norway.
Prior to joining the DDes program, Bert worked together with Harvard GSD’s Office for Urbanization and with landscape architecture offices in Belgium, South Africa, and Norway. He is also the founder of Transpolar Studio, a spatial design practice specializing in landscape architecture, urbanism, and design research in the Arctic and Subarctic regions. Bert earned his Master in Design Studies degree at the Harvard GSD after completing a Master of Landscape Architecture at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Bert’s recent publications include “Inventing Greenland: Designing an Arctic Nation” (Actar Publishers, 2022) and “The Opening of the Transpolar Sea Route: Logistical, Geopolitical, Environmental, and Socioeconomic Impacts” (Marine Policy Journal, 2020).
Aisha S. Densmore-Bey has benefited from over twenty years of professional experience in the field of architecture. She has written articles and has organized or been a panelist at various symposia discussing architecture and design, including Build Boston/ABx and the national American Institute of Architects Convention. Aisha runs a Boston based eponymous creative office that specializes in architecture, interiors, graphic design, film, and art.
Aisha is a recipient of the American Institute of Architects Associates Award, and has been featured in Architect Magazine, ArchDaily, Design Bureau, Apartment Therapy, and the Lifework Blog of iconic furniture company, Herman Miller.
Developing and encouraging the next generation of designers, Aisha founded Future Prep 101: How to Prepare Teens for Design Careers™, a half-day seminar which exposes high school students and their parents to multiple design disciplines.
Aisha is author and illustrator of the children’s book Who Made My Stuff? Miles Learns About Design, and writer, producer, director of the award-winning film short ROOM. She is also co-founder of the collaborative open screening film platform 100 Minutes. Aisha is also a burgeoning playwright. Her first one act play, FLIP, was part of the 2022 MIT Playwrights Lab.
Aisha is a DDes candidate who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Florida A&M University, and a Master Of Science in Strategic Design and Management from the Parsons School of Design. While at Harvard, Aisha’s research explores how artists and arts-based planning in communities of color can create a framework for healthier and equitable neighborhoods in major US cities.
Vanessa Harden is a third-year student in the Doctor of Design program (DDes). She is an artist and designer focused on creating thought-provoking experiences and installations in the built environment. Her research focuses on how mycorrhizal networks facilitate plant connectivity in cities. She is developing tools and methodologies to help support the fitness and functions of urban ecosystems by incorporating healthy soil fungal communities and networks into the design of urban environments.
She is the founder of Subversive Gardener, an IF Concept Award winning design project turned non-profit organization that focuses on environmental education, design exploration, and public intervention connected to the guerrilla gardening subculture. Vanessa is also the founder of Wild Flag Studios, a design studio that creates interactive sculptures and produces art installations for clients worldwide.
Vanessa and her work have been featured in publications including Vogue, The Guardian, Wired, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Vice, and others, and on networks including CNN and the BBC. Her work has been shown in multiple exhibitions including at the Venice Biennale, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Royal Institution. She has delivered numerous talks about her work, addressing how public interventions act as vehicles that draw awareness to timely social and environmental challenges.
She holds three art and design centric degrees from the Ontario College of Art & Design (BDes), MIT Media Lab and the Royal College of Art (MA RCA).
Johanna Hoffman is an urbanist working in the space between design, planning, fiction, and futures. She specializes in using speculative futures tools to enhance collaborative capacities in urban planning and policy development. A founder of the research and action institute Design for Adaptation, she uses strategic planning and speculative practice to help communities, cities, and organizations survey the impacts of potential futures and spur proactive adaptation. She holds an MLA in landscape architecture and environmental planning from UC Berkeley and has been a fellow at institutions including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the European Futures Observatory, the Berggruen Institute, and USC. Her first book, Speculative Futures: Design Approaches to Navigate Change, Foster Resilience, and Co-Create the Cities We Need, was published in the fall of 2022. Her current research explores spatial visualization tactics to support collaborative, complex decision-making, with an emphasis on visualizing the impacts of socio-spatial imaginaries across time, space, and macro environmental factors.
While currently an Irving Instructional Technology Fellow and Deans Diversity and Inclusion Fellow, Esesua Ikpefan’s doctoral research highlights spatial dimensions of inequality and marginalization in Lagos, Nigeria. Her work sees the built environment as both an informer of conflict and identity, as well as a reflection of these issues. Her research focuses on the intersection between heritage, identity, inequality, and colonial legacies in Nigeria’s urban centers. This work assesses how claims of ownership and authenticity are performed in contestation over limited urban space in Lagos. It confronts popular hierarchies of place and persons in Nigeria, questioning who a given society sees as valuable enough to have a right to urban space, and why.
Her past research in the Master in Design Studies in Critical Conservation program at the GSD, examines colonial, religious, and cultural practices that together have form contemporary governmental and societal biases towards Nigeria’s urban poor. This research focuses on how heritage and narratives of history and place, and its built environment, can become tools for urban inequality and exclusion.
Esesua has a B.F.A. in Environmental and Interior Design form Syracuse University. She held teaching fellowships at the GSD Urban Planning and Design Department, the Department of History of Art and Architecture, and the General Education Department at Harvard University. She was also a Research Assistant at the Just City Lab, and served as the Logistics Committee Lead for the 2019 Harvard GSD Black in Design Conference.
Bora Ju is a second-year Doctoral student at Harvard GSD. Her interest lies in the intersection between “resilience” and urban climate adaptation against multiple hazards and shocks (such as heat waves and floodings), integrated adaptation frameworks and impact indexes that can be applied to different beneficiaries such as communities and industries. She is also interested in examining how socio-economic dynamics, transitional technologies, land use, and infrastructure can affect decarbonization.
Her previous research assessed how decentralized energy technologies can be applied in different residential neighborhoods in Seoul and examined mitigation potentials achieved through it. She believes that technologies and open data are essential to achieve greater resilience impacts and realize sustainable built environment design through formulating robust and accurate scenarios. Her research has been supported by the Harvard GSD research grant and was honored to be awarded the Howard T. Fisher Prize in GIS (Graduate category) in 2023.
Prior to joining Harvard GSD, she earned a master’s in urban and regional planning from Seoul National university and worked in the United Nations of Human Settlement climate change unit, and the World Bank as a land and geospatial analyst in the Urban, Resilience, and Land (URL) Global Practice team. While working at the Bank, she has co-authored several policy notes, which are published as part of the World Bank Innovation and technology note series. She has also co-authored KCI (Korea Citation Index) and Scopus (Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment) indexed publications on Heat wave vulnerability mapping and land quality evaluation and has a book chapter published in COVID-19 Pandemic, Geospatial Information, and Community Resilience, among others. More details of her works and projects are accessible on her personal website.
Sang Won Kang is a first-year Doctor of Design student whose research focuses on exploring the intersection of artificial intelligence, emerging technologies and Posthuman design. He is interested in synthesizing machine learning techniques and contemporary computational modeling methods to devise explorative maneuvers and flexible dynamics as novel tools to aid problem-solving and optimization strategies in the design of the built environment.
Prior to joining the DDes program, Sang was a researcher at the Empathy in Point Clouds laboratory of Taubman College, researching manipulation and control methods of point clouds as visual data components, receiving generous grants to advance the research forward. Sang was also a research assistant at the Architecture & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory working with instance segmentation and detection models using COCO datasets. Sang worked in the making of “The Doghouse” that was exhibited at the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna in 2023. Sang has taught and led multiple courses and workshops relating to fundamentals of computational design, procedural modeling and game engines at the University of Michigan.
Sang earned his Bachelor of Arts in Design from the University of California, Davis and his Master of Architecture with Distinction from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Joseph Kennedy is an interdisciplinary designer and creative technologist who works across multiple scales encompassing both natural and built environments. He is a second-year DDes student whose research leverages digital fabrication, tunable material and applied ecology to participate in the remediation of post-industrial landscapes.
He is a graduate of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked in the Mediated Matter group with Neri Oxman to produce bio-fabricated structures exhibited in MoMa, SFMoMA and the Cooper Hewitt. Joe received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University with a Goodwin Sands thesis prize, the Eidlitz Fellowship, and Cornell Council of the Arts Funds. Additionally, he co-taught a design-build studio at the AHO while completing his Fulbright Fellowship in Oslo.
Joe has held teaching positions at UC Berkeley, Woodbury University and the Boston Architectural College. Previously, he has worked for design firms such as Snøhetta in SF, Only If in NYC, and Miniwiz in Taipei as well as in creative roles at NASA JPL in LA, and OPT Industries in Cambridge. Currently, Joe operates a design consulting practice ARAЯA, and is a research affiliate in the Tangible Media Group at MIT.
Gorata Kgafela is a Doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research explores the influence of the geopolitical landscape on the motivators and behavior patterns observed in participatory practice and policy formulation. Emphasis is placed on local knowledge systems as a keystone for innovation of tools for civic engagement. Specifically, her research explores the potential of gamification for an imagined spatial production and its potential as an emancipatory tool for the civic participatory process.
Gorata holds an MBA from the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). She is trained as an Architect, qualifying with both an MArch and a Post Professional MArch in Computing from the University of Miami where she graduated valedictorian and was recipient of the Henry Adams Medal for Excellence in Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. Gorata received her B.A. in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
With over 18 years as a practising Architect and as President of Architects Association of Botswana, Gorata is a highly accomplished and multifaceted professional with expertise in architecture, design, real estate, and global business. Her teaching experience includes teaching fellowships at Harvard Graduate School of Design in Urban Economics for Planners and Policymakers (SES5495), Cases in Contemporary Construction (SCI6230), Construction Systems (SCI6123), and as a graduate teaching assistant at University of Miami.
Elitza Koeva is pursuing a Doctor of Design Studies (DDes) Degree at Harvard Graduate School of Design, with a secondary field in Critical Media Practice (CMP). Her practice plays with temporality, the impermanence of tangible and intangible nature, and the emerging in urban contexts interferences and resonances between sound and space and “cross-species sociality” (Haraway). Elitza’s aim is to understand how artistic practices engender people’s engagement, critical awareness, and participatory responses to digitally-mediated environments, reconciling the self and the social at the level of city construction and subjectivity, where a non-unitary subjectivity arises. Elitza is a co-editor of New Geographies 14, a special issue on assemblages and entanglements, and a researcher at Harvard Design Magazine. She is also a Media & Design Fellow at the BOK Center, Harvard University.
Elitza holds a Master’s Degree in Media & Cultural Studies Studies from the University of Tokyo. She has practiced at various art & architectural firms and institutions: OMA/AMO, Arata Isozaki & Associates, MAD Architects, MOT (Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo), and Junya Ishigami. At MOT, she worked on Oscar Niemeyer and Yoko Ono exhibitions. While at OMA/AMO, she was part of the exhibition team of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition/Fundamentals (Venice Architecture Biennale, 2014). Prior to Harvard, Elitza was a research fellow at the Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD), ETH Zürich. At ETH, she explored the convergence of art, philosophy, quantum physics, and coding. Elitza is a recipient of the Monbusho scholarship from the Japanese Government, the Fulbright and Thanks to Scandinavia grants, as well as of the ETH CAAD 2017 research fellowship.
Yihao Li is a fifth-year doctoral candidate with a focus on urban planning and infrastructure finance. Passionate about making urbanization work for developing countries, his dissertation investigates how China’s development banks, construction companies, and developers are reshaping the urban landscape in Sri Lanka in the form of mega transport infrastructure and urban development projects. He is a recipient of Harvard University Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship in 2021-22. His research is also supported by Harvard Fairbank Center, Harvard Asia Center, Harvard Ash Center, and GSD. Before graduate school, he worked as a land policy consultant at the World Bank, researching comparative land and urbanization policy. Yihao also worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Yihao has a master’s in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government with a concentration on international development, and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a B.A. in international relations and economics.
Hsuan Lo is an urban policy analyst and fourth-year doctoral candidate at Harvard GSD. He taught as a teaching fellow for Real Estate Finance and Development and Public and Private Development. Hsuan holds dual master’s degrees in Urban Planning from the University of Manchester and a Bachelor’s in Real Estate and Built Environment from National Taipei University. He also received a data science certificate from MIT’s Applied Data Science Program.
During the last 5 years, Hsuan published 6 journal and conference papers on urban renewal, housing policy, and social justice topics. His ongoing research investigates the impacts of property tax policies on housing affordability from Western to Eastern countries using Time Series, DID, and semi-structured interviews. His dissertation is by far supported by Fairbank Center and Harvard Real Estate Research Grant. The proposal was also presented at the 5th World Planning Schools Congress (WPSC) and Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) 62nd Annual Conference.
Previously, Hsuan interned at UN-Habitat, participating in Stockholm+50 and World Urban Forum and analyzing urbanization-related issues across the continents. Before Harvard, he also practiced as a researcher at the Ministry of Science and Technology and as an engineer at Taipei City Government. He founded his column in CommonWealth Magazine in 2015, continuously seeking dialogue with the public and resolutions for housing justice.
Yiwei Lyu is a first-year Doctor of Design student with an interest in building technology and simulation. With the goal to enable data-driven design and encourage passive design strategies, her research will focus on investigating the effectiveness of passive systems in the early design stage using life cycle assessment and machine learning. This research utilizes machine learning to overcome the challenge of uncertainty in the early design stage and the slow evaluation process of life cycle assessment.
Prior to the GSD, she received bachelor’s degrees from University of Southern California in architecture and mathematics. In 2023, she graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Master of Science in Architecture Studies specializing in building technology. Her master’s thesis presents a novel workflow in Grasshopper to provide early-design guidance with life cycle assessment. The tool addresses the early-stage uncertainty through random inputs with a Monte Carlo approach and implements surrogate models to accelerate the process for each iteration.
Yiwei has architecture internship experiences at von Oeyen Architects and Dosu Studio Architecture. She also worked as a research assistant at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub.
Dominique Mashini is a fourth-year DDes student at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design as a Fulbright Grantee. She is an architect and urban planner from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, with a focus on metropolitan governance, climate change and landscape ecology, always recognizing in the observation of socio-ecological interactions an opportunity for equity in Latin American and Caribbean cities.
Previously, she was a consultant for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) division (Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where she coordinated governance projects for emerging metropolitan systems in the framework of decentralization policies and institutional strengthening programs. She also supported the IDB Southern Cone countries team in research, operations and technical cooperation on sustainable development, Historic Urban Landscape (HUL), and neighborhood improvement in Chilean cities. She was also a researcher at the Urban Design Lab of the IDB, the Austrian Ministry of Finance, and the Technische Universität Wien (TU Wien), where she developed participatory methodologies for the design of urban projects with local communities in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and Panamá.
Dominique has participated in collaborative networks for research and urban design, and in editorial projects such as Plataforma Urbana (Archdaily).
Trained as an Architect from Bangladesh, Nusrat Jahan Mim, is a 4th year Doctor of Design candidate. Her research focuses on studying the socio-economic politics embedded in resource-constrained contexts of the Global South and designing novel and creative spaces to facilitate inclusive and democratic participation of the marginalized communities there. Her work draws upon cutting-edge critical literature in Urban Design Politics around Faith and Informalities and addresses the contemporary struggles of marginalized communities within the globalized projects of modernization, urbanization, and digitization. Her projects have been published in ACM SIGCHI ’22, ’21, ‘20(Best Paper Honorable Mention Awards) ‘15, Religions ‘20, Peer Production ’18, Interaction ’22,’21, and DIS ’19. She also co-authored a book chapter with Prof Rahul Mehrotra on the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, which appeared in Informal Settlement in the Global South from Routledge.
Nusrat received the Aga Khan Endowment Fund in the 2022-23 academic year. She served as a fellow at Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative and as a Graduate Student Associate at the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard. She completed her M.Arch from Syracuse School of Architecture with the A.I.A Henry Adams Medal for achieving the highest academic rank. She received her B.Arch from BUET, Bangladesh and was a lecturer there. She has received several international awards, including Lafarge-Holcim, Laka International: Architecture that Reacts, and HDR Graduate Student Award in Architecture and Urban Design, among others.
Sarah Norman studies self-actuated forms and systems, with particular interest in geometries exhibiting ranges of transformations; explored through additive 3D printing processes in multiple materials and robotics. In research at Harvard, she currently collaborates with Martin Bechthold and the Materials Processes and Systems Group (MaP+S) at the GSD; and James Weaver at the Wyss Institute for Biological Engineering.
With over ten years of experience as an interdisciplinary designer on civic, cultural, institutional and infrastructural projects, Sarah formerly worked in New York with Rafael Viñoly Architects, Schlaich Bergermann Partner and Santiago Calatrava. Her international projects include complex facades, grid shells, membrane structures, pedestrian bridges, slender spires and various complex/special structures.
Having taught most recently at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) as a visiting fellow, Sarah has also taught design studios and technology/theory courses at Parsons School of Design, The New School, and University of Michigan. She has also been an invited visiting critic for reviews at Columbia University, University of Virginia, Pratt Institute and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Sarah earned her MArch I from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), an MFA in Product Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and undergraduate degree concentrations in studio art, art history, journalism and photography.
Dawon Oh is a second-year doctoral student at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Her specialty is quantitative data analysis, such as processing big data using programming languages, statistical analysis, and machine learning to solve diverse urban issues.
Her research interest focus on human behavior generated through land use and transportation interaction, including floating population and mobility dynamics in metropolitan areas. Moving forward, she would like to delve into related research areas, including public transit accessibility in urban neighborhoods and the built environment’s impact on travel patterns.
Her prior research aimed to determine the degree of land use mix matters in the activity centers of a large city that already supports mixed land use and to investigate which land use has a more significant impact on population distribution during the day or at night. During the pandemic, she explored how the pandemic crisis has influenced the changes in the use of urban parks and travel behavior in Seoul. More about her research projects and papers: https://dawonoh.com/.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and Urban Studies (BE) from Chung Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning (MUP) from Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea.
Ryan Otterson is an architect and first-year doctoral student. His research focuses on energy, materials, and the role of the multi-layered building envelope in contemporary paradigms of climate manipulation. Ryan has nine years of experience in building envelope design and construction with Behnisch Architekten and is a registered architect in the state of Massachusetts.
Ryan is co-founder of Ji Otterson Studio, a practice focusing on projects dealing with energy and materials. Ji Otterson Studio is an invited artist to the 2023 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism’s Seoul 100-Year Master Plan exhibition, where they will present a future vision for Seoul’s neighborhoods through landscape, materials and thermodynamic interactions.
Ryan graduated with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design with an M.Arch II degree in Architecture, and a M.Arch from the University of Kansas, earning the Thayer Medal for design. He has held teaching positions at Cornell University AAP as a Visiting Critic in Architecture, and at Northeastern University as a Studio Instructor.
Begoña Peiro is a third-year DDes student. She has worked in the fields of architecture and urban planning, focusing on urban climate resilience, informal settlements upgrading, and climate justice. Begoña has recently been awarded a La Caixa Fellowship to carry out her doctoral studies. She holds an M.Sc. in International Cooperation from the International University of Catalunya and a Bachelor & Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia.
Begoña worked as part of UN-Habitat’s climate change team (Global Solutions Division), supporting the program on strengthened climate action. She also worked for the Bangkok Office, the Pacific Office, and the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. She conducted applied research on urban climate resilience, ecosystem-based adaptation, and informal settlements, collaborating with UNEP, UNESCAP, UNDRR, among others. In Fiji, she led the development of community-level vulnerability assessments and action plans in 16 informal settlements across four urban areas. She authored a guide on participatory methodologies to support community-level resilience planning and implemented them on the ground, working with local communities. Begoña has presented at international conferences including the World Urban Forum and the Urban Resilience Asia Pacific Conference.
Previously, Begoña worked at architecture and urban planning offices as a project leader, where she worked on a diverse range of internationally recognized European projects (including the International Architecture Award).
Shweta Ranpura is an architect and urbanist with over 20 years’ experience across geographies, scales and typologies. She is a first year DDes student and her research investigates design practice through the narratives of climate change. Her research is a comparative study of design practices across geographies through narratives, discourse analysis and speculation as ways to investigate contemporary practices and imagine practices for the future.
Shweta has explored architecture, urban design and master planning projects across various design cultures. She has worked as a design director in Bangalore and New York with Gensler, in Singapore, Mumbai and London with BroadwayMalyan as a board director and in Ahmedabad, India with a small practice. Having worked on international projects like the National University Hospital in Singapore, JFK airport in New York and various residential master planning projects, her core interest lies in civic and education typologies.
She has led and co-taught both advanced and introductory design studios and mentored undergraduate research thesis in architecture and urban design at CEPT University in Ahmedabad. Her students have presented their research papers in various seminars and have won excellence awards for best studio projects.
She has earned her March I from University of California, Berkeley and undergraduate degree in architecture from India.
Katarina Richter-Lunn is an architectural designer, researcher, and third-year doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research, found at the intersection of design, psychology, and neuroscience, aims to promote well-being through our environment.
By translating methods of traditional behavioral therapy, her research seeks to demonstrate how human, machine, and spatial interactions can be leveraged via AI algorithms to propose more seamless and intuitive solutions to addressing mental health. As part of this work, she explores how neurological and physiological cues can give insight to one’s behavior, and in turn support cognitive processes through the lens of materiality, computational design, affective computing, and social robotics.
Alongside her doctoral studies at Harvard, Katarina is a research assistant with the Materials Processes and Systems Group (MaP+S) at the GSD, as well as a member of the Aizenberg Lab at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
Katarina holds a Master in Design Technology (M.Des.) from Harvard GSD and a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with a minor in Sustainable Environments. She has worked at leading architecture firms including Snøhetta, Arup, IwamottoScott, and most recently Gehry Partners, where she worked as a project designer.
Pedro Rodríguez-Parets Maleras is a first-year Doctor of Design student, architect (B.Arch ’18 and M.Arch ’20), and cultural anthropologist (BA, 2017-now). He holds a Master in Design Studies from Harvard GSD.
Pedro explores the interdisciplinary collaboration between anthropologists and designers -ethnographies and projects- to promote culturally sensitive design. His research focuses on the role of architecture in the failure of “development” projects for ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. He is particularly interested in housing from the perspectives of kinship, political economy, and symbolic anthropology.
Prior to joining the GSD, Pedro studied in Spain (ETSAM Madrid, ETSAV Barcelona, and UNED Madrid), Switzerland (USI Mendrisio), and Chile (PUC, Santiago de Chile). He has worked at Herzog & de Meuron in Basel, and RCR arquitectes in Olot.
Adam Royalty develops programs that increase organizational effectiveness in social systems through human centered design. He is a fourth-year DDes student researching learning and leadership within public sector sustainability projects. With training as a learning designer, Adam is particularly interested in how individuals, organizations, and communities transfer knowledge into action.
Prior to the GSD Adam founded the Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio. The Design Studio hosts numerous interdisciplinary design courses at Columbia University, including the Design for Social Innovation initiative. DFSI teaches teams of students how to use human centered design to help social impact organizations advance an innovation project. Past organizations include Harlem Children’s Zone, Witness.org, the NYC Department of Education, and the Aga Khan Foundation in Kyrgyzstan.
Adam’s research journey began at the Stanford University d.school. There he started the d.school’s first research effort with the goal of measuring the impact of the institute’s programs. Using a mixed method approach, Adam developed and implemented quantitative and qualitative assessments of students’ design practice. This work led to over a dozen chapter and journal publications.
Outside of his work in academia, Adam consults with a range of companies and foundations to promote organizational learning through human centered design.
Adam’s academic background includes a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of California Berkeley and an M.A. in Learning, Design, & Technology from Stanford University.
Carolina Sepulveda is a first-year Doctor of Design candidate. She is an architect, curator, and researcher from Santiago de Chile. She holds a Master’s degree in Design Studies from Harvard GSD and a B. Arch. from Universidad Catolica de Chile. She is the founder of sentimental studio, an architecture practice that examines the role of emotions in the built environment. Carolina co-curated “Curating Architecture Across the Americas,” (2019-2023) a program that aimed to showcase architecture exhibitions across the Americas, promoted by the Harvard David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. She has also conducted research and curated architecture exhibitions at Harvard GSD, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Chile Architecture Biennial.
Carolina served as a Consultant at the Housing and Urban Development Division at the Inter-American Development Bank in Chile (2020-2023). Currently, she is conducting a research project called “Cruising,” granted by the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam, which explores queerness, artistic practices, and urban life. Carolina’s doctoral research explores queer artistic practices in cities, focusing on nightlife, and multidisciplinary research.
Annie Simpson is an artist and DDes student at the Harvard GSD. She works via sight-/site-based investigation to make videos, photographs, and essays.
When viewed as a constellation, Simpson’s projects re-conceptualize “the planetary” via aesthetic explorations rooted in paradigmatic shifts in the way ecological and industrial connectivity/flows are constructed by and across spatial scales. She is focused, geographically, on the Southeastern United States and studies how the region (vis-à-vis the logics of pine plantations and biomass energy) plays a vital role in exporting land and labor relations and material practices globally. Recent projects include instances of nuclear spelunking in the deep South and various investigations of tunnels and financialization in Atlanta, capsized cargo ships off of the Georgia coast, and zones of migration/production struggle in the Lower Chattahoochee River Valley.
Simpson is an ongoing contributor to Port Futures & Social Logistics, a speculative platform interested in port-city-hinterland geographies that connect circulation studies and struggles to planetary urban critique. She received an MFA from the University of Georgia and a BFA from UNC-Chapel Hill; her work has been exhibited internationally and she regularly publishes enviro-spatial criticism and exhibition reviews. In her free time, she builds canoes & rides horses.
Tom Sterling is an architect, landscape architect, and second year Doctoral student. His interests lie at the intersection of landscape simulation, visualization, perception, and climate science. His doctoral research is focused on the capacity of computational images to redistribute design agency and reframe the dynamic between humans and more-than-humans.
Tom currently teaches at the Boston Architectural College. His recent work has been displayed in the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Royal Scottish Academy. Before joining the DDes, Tom worked as an exhibition designer, curator, researcher, and designer in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New York, and Edinburgh; he also taught at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University.
Tom holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) with distinction from the University of Edinburgh.
Elaine Stokes, PLA, is an educator and landscape architect who studies the cultural and narrative implications of North American infrastructure. She is currently in her third year of the Doctor of Design program at the GSD, after spending several years working in professional practice, first at Stoss Landscape Urbanism and then Sasaki. Elaine’s research explores the riverine corridors of the Upper Mississippi River, focusing specifically on dams constructed on sites recognized as sacred land by Native nations. Her work considers storytelling as a critical method deployed by both federal agencies and indigenous communities to explore new infrastructural imaginaries. This research is situated within the theoretical frameworks of water rights, indigenous sovereignty, river infrastructural history, landscapes of memory, and contemporary territorial landscape practice.
Elaine currently teaches at Rhode Island School of Design, where she has led a range of studios and seminars focused on urban infrastructure and digital representation. Previously, Elaine earned her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and her Master in Landscape Architecture from the GSD, where she graduated with distinction.
Tianyu Su is a Doctor of Design (DDes) candidate at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, with a concentration in urban and spatial data science. His doctoral study focuses on the potentials and challenges (both analytical and ethical) of using large-scale social media data to understand health-promoting behavior in urban environments. He analyzes more than one million online posts with state-of-the-art machine learning models to mine self-reported health behavior on social media. Then, to understand who and what is invisible in this big data source, i.e., which population group and their activity, he conducts intensive fieldwork to ground-truth the big data-based results and assess the biases and ethical concerns of the big data approach. Through his dissertation, Tianyu aspires to create a heuristic about how to appropriately apply new technology for the betterment of cities and society.
While studying at Harvard, Tianyu founded Place AI, an initiative advocating for and experimenting with responsible practice and strategies in urban technology applications, with a team of urban scholars and technologists. Before joining Harvard, Tianyu received his Master in City Planning from MIT, concentrating on Urban Information Systems and City Design & Development. He also holds a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Architecture from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. For his professional and research work, check out his personal website: https://www.tianyu-su.city/.
Shining Sun is an architect, urban designer, doctoral student, and founder of ARCHIS Design Studio. She holds dual Master Degrees in Architecture (MArch II) and Urban Design (MAUD) from Harvard Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from Cornell University. Shining’s research focuses on the feedback loops between architecture, art, and technology. Her scholarship explores how multidisciplinary work in architectural theory can be articulated to address the changing models of author-user agency. Informed by her research interests in non-linear systems and generative design, Shining has taught at Central Academy of Fine Arts and Shanghai Jiao Tong University and served on the juries at Harvard, Syracuse, and Cornell University.
Since the establishment of ARCHIS in 2016, Shining has acted as the lead designer on a number of projects at the architectural and urban scale with the aim to produce solutions that are not formally preconceived, but rather emergent from each project’s particular contextual adjacencies and contingent interrelationships. Previously, she had practiced at internationally recognized offices, including OMA, AECOM, and Aedas.
In addition, Shining has won awards including Forbes 30 Under 30, Tatler Gen. T Award for Emerging Architect, Harvard John E. Irving Fellowship, KPF Honorary Paul Katz Fellowship, CCA Art Grant, and Canada’s Governor General Award. Shining’s work has also been exhibited at Shanghai Pudong Art Museum, Venice Biennale, Pingyao International Film Festival (AI-IF Film), SpamArt Foundation, and Hartell Gallery.
Juan Pablo Ugarte is a DDes candidate. He holds an Architecture degree from Universidad Católica de Chile, and a Master of Architecture from the Harvard GSD. Juan Pablo’s doctoral research seeks to advance our understanding of the design cognition processes that underlie model making. Using post-cognitivist theories of the mind and eye tracking technology, he is designing and conducting experiments to record and analyze the gaze behavior of designers during exploratory model-making tasks. The results of these experiments may shed light on how designers think when they physically materialize their ideas, which in turn may help inform the future development of robotic tools that support and enhance designers’ creative thinking.
Sophia Sufeng Xiao is a second-year doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) with a background in landscape architecture. Her research focuses on the theories of urban commons as shared resources, open access, and collective governance regimes and how they adapt to the future climate. She is interested in the ethnographic methods to investigate the social aspect of the urban built environment and works as a research assistant for the Critical Landscapes Design Lab at the GSD. She also joined the Data + Feminism Lab at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT, researching the issues of missing and murdered indigenous people and co-designing the online platform to support healing and justice for indigenous women and communities.
Prior to the DDes program, Sophia earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture with Distinction in Research from Cornell University, minoring in Environmental Science and Sustainability. She received her Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) and Design Studies (MDes) in Ecologies from the GSD. She practiced internationally at landscape and architecture firms and won several design competitions and student awards from World Landscape Architecture, the Charette, etc.
In 2022, Sophia worked as an instructor in GSD’s Design Discovery Virtual and In-person programs, teaching design studios, lectures, and seminars. At the GSD, she has been a teaching assistant and academic tutor for Master of Landscape Architecture, contributing to multiple core design studios, ecology courses, and theory seminars.
Ayaka Yamashita Ayaka Yamashita is a Japanese design producer and second-year doctoral student at Harvard GSD. Her work explores theories of sound and landscape. For over a decade, her nonprofit EDAYA has worked to preserve Kalinga indigenous bamboo musical instruments; that experience has formed her interest in how nature and the ways of life of locals are intertwined and represented through sounds. She has planned and produced over one hundred workshops, events, and exhibitions on this topic.
As an experienced fieldworker and community organizer, Ayaka consulted several of JICA’s international development projects and now teaches at the University of Nagano. She holds a Bachelor of Agriculture (International Sustainable Agriculture Development) and a Master of Health Sciences (Human Ecology) from the University of Tokyo. She is also a Fulbright scholar and graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Design (Master in Design Studies: Risk and Resilience). At GSD, She received a community service fellowship and serves as the Critical Landscapes Design Lab coordinator.
Seok Min Yeo (he) is a Doctor of Design candidate at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His research focuses on the relationship between ecological forces and design. His doctoral dissertation, titled Envelopes and Laboratories of Environmental Knowledge, narrates the story of architectural laboratories that sought to codify the formal relationship between climate and architecture. This dissertation is advised by Charles Waldheim, Ed Eigen, and Holly Samuelson. Yeo’s doctoral research has been supported by the Office for Urbanization Research Fellowship from 2019-21, as well as the GSD Summer Research Grant in 2020, and the GSD Doctor of Design Research Grant in 2021.
At the GSD, he has contributed to teaching courses in the Department of Landscape Architecture. Since 2018, he has been a guest Instructor for numerous workshops for core design studios, Teaching Fellow for theory and representation courses, and Teaching Assistant for Master in Landscape Architecture design thesis and option studio..
Yeo joins the School of Architecture as a Part-Time instructor in Fall 2021. At Syracuse University, he will teach the second-year undergraduate architectural design studio. He has also taught core architectural design studios at the Boston Architectural College from 2018-19.
Yeo was a Research Associate from 2018-19 and a Research Fellow from 2019-21 at the Office for Urbanization, led by Charles Waldheim. Yeo is a co-author of a forthcoming design research publication titled 50 Species-Towns (Harvard University, 2021) that imagines alternative futures of agrarian urbanization in China. A portion of this work was featured in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Design Week in 2021. He also contributed to the Office for Urbanization’s exhibition entry Heliomorphic Seoul for Seoul:Superground exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Architecture and Urbanism in 2018. Yeo has also held design positions at Payette and Safdie Architects in Boston.
Yeo earned his MLA from Harvard University in 2018, where he received the Master in Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize for his design thesis Wild: Manhattanism Unhinged. He earned his B.Arch from Syracuse University in 2015, where his design thesis Crazy Long: A Sticky Landscape Infrastructure received the Dean’s Citation for Excellence.
Maroula Zacharias is a final-year doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Design (DDes) program. She is an architect, designer and technologist working at the intersection of photobiology, design and advanced materials. In her doctoral dissertation titled “Photobiological Materials”, she develops systems for synchronizing the physical properties of buildings with the occupants’ circadian rhythm and physiological health. In 2021, Zacharias founded Atelier Morphology, a cross-disciplinary studio transforming the contemporary’s interior to nature through light. Prior to GSD, she completed a Master of Science in Design and Computation at MIT, where she taught Design after her graduation, and a Diploma in Architectural Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens.
Boya Zhang is a Chinese architect interested in the relation between urban form and the cultural, political, and economic forces. As a Doctor of Design candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Boya has been a member of Office for Urbanization since 2018, where he contributed to a series of design research projects centered around the idea of agrarian modernization. Boya is the co-author of the forthcoming book 50 Species-Towns (Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 2021). His research engages with the global discourse of agrarian urbanism, in particular as a response to the increasingly urgent call for alternative imaginaries of rural futures. His doctoral dissertation focuses on the reception of ideas about the agrarian from the West to China. It aspires to offer an account of history through which the urban-rural transformation in 20th-century China could be understood in a broader theoretical framework beyond the conventional East-West divide. Boya holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Architecture from Tsinghua University, and a post-professional master’s degree in architecture from Harvard GSD. Prior to pursuing the doctoral degree, he worked for architectural offices in Beijing, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Boston.