Core Research Team

Research Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows

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

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.

Ryan Otterson
Ryan Otterson is an architect and first-year Doctor of Design student. His research areas are high performance building enclosures, materials, and thermal comfort. Ryan has nine years of experience in building envelope design and construction and is a registered architect in the state of Massachusetts. 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. In 2023, Ryan’s practice, Ji Otterson Studio, won the Seoul Biennale Award for their speculative proposal “100 years on: Seoul in Thermodynamic Balance”. He has held teaching positions at Cornell University AAP as a Visiting Critic in Architecture, and at Northeastern University as a Studio Instructor.

Yiwei (Lucy) Lyu
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 using life cycle assessment and machine learning. This research utilizes machine learning to overcome the challenge of uncertainty and the slow evaluation process of life cycle assessment. Prior to the GSD, she received bachelor’s degrees from the 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.