Core Research Team

Research Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows

Xu Han, PhD, Research Associate »
Xu’s primary research areas are building performance simulation and building system optimal control. His research interests include fast simulation of the indoor environment, coupled simulation of building systems and indoor environment, simulation-based optimization, model predictive control and learning-based optimal control. One of his papers was selected for a Best Paper Award by the journal Building and Environment. Xu received his Bachelor and Master of Engineering degrees from Harbin Institute of Technology and Tianjin University in China. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he conducted a dissertation on “Holistic Optimization of Data Center Cooling Systems and Airflow Management.”

Saurabh Mhatre, MDes, Senior Research Associate »
Saurabh Mhatre is a Senior Research Associate in the Material Processes and Systems Group (MaP+S) and the Center for Green Buildings and Cities at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He holds a Master's in Design Technology from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he graduated with distinction. His dissertation was titled "Embedded Materiality: Super Absorbent Polymers in Architecture.” He received a Bachelor of Architecture from BSSA, NMIMS University in Mumbai. He has worked on projects dealing with the 3d printing of ceramic and concrete, deployable mechanisms, smart materials and folding robots in collaboration with Harvard SEAS, Wyss Institute of Biological Engineering and the Autodesk Build Space.

Shide Salimi, PhD, Research Associate »
Shide’s primary research explores how energy-efficient building design and operation is influenced by building occupants’ behavior and their thermal comfort. She is interested in the applications of data analytics and optimization techniques, coupled with building simulation to incorporate building performance optimality within early-stage design and operational decision-making. Her doctoral research focused on the development of a data-oriented occupant behavior prediction model, which contributed near real-time optimized control strategies to analyze building performance. Her current research projects are centered around thermal comfort with an emphasis on sleep comfort conditions as well as a parametric study of building energy performance for the purpose of energy efficiency improvement. Shide holds a Ph.D. degree from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada for her work on “Simulation-Based Optimization of Energy Consumption and Occupants Comfort in Open-Plan Office Buildings Using Probabilistic Occupancy Prediction Model.” She received a Master of Science in Building Engineering from Concordia University, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering with Distinction from University of Mohaghegh Ardebili (UMA), Ardebil, Iran, and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Imam Khomeini International University (IKIU), Qazvin, Iran. She was a recipient of Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral (CGS D) from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Stand-Out Graduate Research Award as well as Merit Scholarship in Concordia University.


Doctor of Design and PhD Students

Spyridon Ampanavos »
Spyridon is a doctor of design studies student at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His research interest is centered around the synergy of artificial intelligence with human designers and he is exploring the influence of digitally mediated collaborative environments in the design process. His past research at the GSD includes fabrication workflows with industrial robots, interactive data visualization, VR applications, and web and software development for environmental data, water strategies and coastal simulations. Spyridon holds a Master of Design in Technology with Distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Diploma of Architectural Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece.

Elence Xinzhu Chen
Elence Xinzhu Chen is a 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, 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 and presented in ASHRAE Winter Conference, Smart and Sustainable Cities and Buildings, and International Conference of the Architectural Science Association.

Sunghwan Lim
Sunghwan Lim is a licensed engineer in architecture and building facilities. He is currently a PhD student in Architecture, concentrating in Architectural Technology at Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on sustainable and high-performance building technologies, with particular interests in energy simulation, natural ventilation, and HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system studies. Sunghwan earned his Master in Design Studies degree in Energy and Environment from Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2021. Before joining the Harvard community, Sunghwan double majored in Interior Architecture & Built Environment and Architecture & Architectural Engineering at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. After receiving his bachelor's degree, Sunghwan worked as a construction engineer at Samsung Construction and Trading company for six years. His invaluable experiences with building an airport in Mongolia and constructing a residential complex in Seoul profoundly shaped his research ideas and motivated him to contribute to the field of architecture.

Sabrina Osmany »
Sabrina is a PhD student in architectural technology at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her research explores how agency is mediated by digital interfaces. Her interdisciplinary work is divided between the development of tools to study decision-making in interactive systems as well as the development of experimental frameworks to study choice behavior. During her time at Harvard, Sabrina is particularly excited to explore machine learning and multi-agent simulation as tools to study human dynamics in the forthcoming age of consumer virtual reality, which promises real-time human avatars aplenty. She is a recent graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (MPS) where she prototyped interfaces for tangible and social computing. Her work includes the development of a programming language in Urdu, a mobile application that uses computer vision to identify and connect with network devices, and a one-hundred-and-twenty-foot video installation at InterActiveCorp headquarters in New York City.

Xiaoshi Wang »
Xiaoshi Wang is a PhD student exploring the potential integration of traditional architectural design and relevant engineering disciplines to improve building energy efficiency and indoor comfort. His research focuses on creating instant and straightforward connections between spatial layout and qualified natural ventilation scenarios with the intent to equip early stage design with quantifiable consideration of indoor environment and sustainability. He’s also interested in creating self-optimization mechanisms for space morphology that seek preferred indoor flow conditions by using learning algorithms. Xiaoshi holds a Master of Design degree with a concentration in Energy and Environments from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; a Master of Science Advanced Architectural Design degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Tongji University in Shanghai, China.