Center Spotlight: Ellie Jungmin Han

Ellie Jungmin Han stands outside of HouseZero.

For Ellie Jungmin Han, the most interesting research findings lie at the intersection between architectural design, building physics, and computer and data science.

As a fellow at the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities and lecturer in architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Han uses her own building simulation software to support architects with building performance analysis and early design decision-making. Her students also engage with this software in their coursework through case studies.

“Architectural sustainability can be achieved through a combination of real-world design application, computer and data science, and building physics fundamentals,” Han said. “While some researchers may focus on the details of building construction, materials, and sensor networks, others might think about the broader, human-related factors, such as how a comfortable living environment impacts occupants’ productivity and health conditions.”

Ellie Jungmin Han in the White Mountains.

Han grew up in South Korea, where she received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Korea National University of Arts. Though she knew early on that she would pursue a career in architecture, she did not know about the importance of computer science until she pursued her Master of Science in Building Performance and Diagnostics from Carnegie Mellon University.

“When I was young, I loved physics, math, and the natural sciences. But it wasn’t until I spent some time traveling and strolling at museums in different countries that I started to notice the architecture and become interested in it. I thought the development of theory and fundamentals into artifacts was beautiful,” Han said.

Han received a Doctor of Design (DDes) and a Master’s in Design Studies (MDes) with a concentration in energy and environments from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). In 2017, she began teaching her course, “Data Science for Performance Driven Design” to only a handful of interested students. Due to the increasing interest in this field of study, this number has expanded sixfold, and the course is now a full-term class at GSD.

“Research and teaching can both be long processes with a lot of frustrations. I personally like the quote, ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.,’” Han said. “Persistence and perseverance are the key factors in reaching academic goals.”

Ellie Jungmin Han holds her dog, Eggy.

In her teaching, Han guides students who are similarly interested in the intersection between data science and architectural sustainability. In her research, Han views concepts of the environment and sustainability through different scales and domains, from the urban scale, to the building scale, to the human scale.

Outside of her work, Han enjoys spending time with her dog, Eggy. She also likes to golf on sunny days and kayak around the Charles River. Above all, she remains confident in the interdisciplinary nature of her work and is passionate about her area of expertise.

“Design integration – how to combine design with fields like data science and engineering fundamentals – is ultimately what I’m most passionate about,” Han said. “I’m looking forward to developing in this field further and sharing knowledge with others.”


Ellie Jungmin Han teaches several courses at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, including “Data Science for Performance Driven Design,” which can be viewed in the course directory. Han has published several research papers, which can be viewed under our Publications page. To learn more about Ellie, visit the GSD website.