Hao Cao

Research Associate
The overarching goal of my research is to understand the interior structure, dynamics, and evolution of planetary bodies. My research recognizes and emphasizes that understanding planetary magnetic fields is essential for understanding the host planets.  My research experience encompasses space magnetometer data analysis, analytical and numerical magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) modeling of planetary dynamos, and theoretical calculation of planetary gravity fields. I am a Cassini Participating Scientist, a member of the Cassini magnetometer (MAG) team, a member of the Juno Interior Working Group, and a Co-Investigator of the JUICE MAG team. Currently I am deriving the interior structures and dynamics of Saturn and Jupiter employing magnetic fields measurements from the Cassini Grand Finale and Juno.

Jinshan Guo

Research Associate
Perez-Mercader Group; Rowland Institute

Jinshan Guo ( earned his PhD degree in Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Jan. 2011, and his major is polymer chemistry. Afterwards, he came to USA for postdoctoral research in tissue engineering and biomaterials area, first in UT Arlington, then moved to The Pennsylvania State University (PSU). Afterwards, he left PSU as a Research Associate and went into medical device industry and worked for one year before joining into Pérez-Mercader group in Rowland Institute at Harvard University in Sep. 2017. Here, he is working on polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA), self-replication of vesicles and pH oscillation for investigating the origin of life.

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Ben Holtzman

Ben Holtzman

Associate of the Department
Research Professor at Columbia University
Ben Holtzman is a research professor at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, visiting the Mitrovica group. He did his Ph.D. (2003) in geophysics in David Kohlstedt's lab at the University of Minnesota. His research is a mixture of experimental and theoretical rock mechanics, seismology and geodynamics. Much of his work has focused on the coupling of melt migration and deformation and the influences of melt on the mechanical properties of rocks in the deep Earth. Currently, his research has two related fronts:
(1) Building computational tools for applying complex time dependent mechanical properties to the interpretation of seismic velocity, attenuation and geodetic measurements, towards constructing more detailed and self-consistent images of the thermal-mechanical structure of plate boundaries and the upper mantle. This work involves the development of new constitutive models for earth materials and applications to a range of settings, in collaboration with Harriet Lau and Jerry Mitrovica.
(2) Applying new machine learning methods to earthquake seismicity, with a focus on geothermal reservoirs, towards improving the efficiency of heat extraction. (
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Sai Krishna Katla

Research Associate
Perez-Mercader Lab, Rowland Institute
Sai Krishna Katla earned his Ph.D. in Materials Science from Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), India in 2011. After graduating, he pursued postdoctoral research in Nanofabrication and Nanomaterials group at the Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD), a Synchrotron Light Source at the Louisiana State University (LSU). His research at LSU was part of the Center for Atomic-Level Catalyst Design, a DOE sponsored Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC). During this period, his research focused on (i) Application of atomically precise gold nanoclusters in catalysis and magnetism, (ii) Application of millifluidics-based lab-on-a-chip devices for synthesis and in situ time-resolved characterization of nanomaterials. Later, he worked on electrocatalytic applications of nanomaterials as a Research Scientist from 2014 to 2015 in the 3D-Nanostructuring group at Institute of Physics & Institute of Micro- and Nanotechnologies (IMN), Technische Universität Ilmenau, Germany. Further, he worked on photothermal application of atomically precise gold nanoclusters as a Research Scientist - Associate and later as a Lecturer at The University of Texas at El Paso from 2015 to 2018. He is currently working on chemical computing and other problems associated with the creation of chemical artificial life as a Research Associate in Pérez-Mercader group.

Konstantin Latychev

Research Associate

Since receiving my PhD from the University of Toronto in 2000. I joined Prof. Jerry Mitrovica's group in Canada. After he left for Harvard, the collaboration continued and I became his Harvard group member in October 2017. The focus of my research is on development and application of numerical tools to examine problems related to the ice age geodynamics: visco-elastic deformation, sea level change, tidal response, Earth rotation, stress and gravity field calculation. Generally, we are trying to understand how Earth (or similarly structured planets) would respond to surface and/or potential forcing, given a loading history and an assumed visco-elastic structure, particularly three-dimensional, heterogeneous viscosity, as may be inferred from e.g. seismic tomography. Other important 3-D effects which we include in the models are variations in the lithospheric thickness, plate boundaries, slabs, low viscosity wedges, etc. This list is open-ended. The results are ultimately compared to observables, such as sea level markers or present-day deformation rates, available from satellite measuremets. We can, for example, provide a correction for the glacial isostatic adjustment contribution or assess the impact of a 3-D structure on such predictions, since conventional, radially stratified models are handled in a much more efficient way. The 3-D models require an excessive computer power, even for the forward problem. Currently, the simulations are performed on the Odyssey cluster (Harvard) with a finite volume MPI code, developed in Toronto in the early 2000-s. The latter is an ongoing project, including coding, maintenance, consulting and working with interested researchers on improvements. As a side product, this development has stimulated a strong interest in interpolation techniques and adaprive grid generation.

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Brad Lipovsky

Brad Lipovsky

Research Associate and Principal Investigator

Brad Lipovsky is an Earth Scientist who primarily studies glaciology, tectonics, and volcanology using geophysical observations, mathematical physics, and numerical simulations. On-going research focuses on the physics of the glacier-atmosphere, glacier-bed, and glacier-ocean interfaces.


Zhitu Ma

Research Associate
Denolle Group

I am a computational and observational seismologist. My primary research interests include: 1) measuring both the elastic and an-elastic property of the Earth’s lithosphere/asthenosphere system 2) understanding the thermal evolution of the oceanic lithosphere and 3) modeling ground motions from potentially damaging earthquakes by using ambient seismic wave fields

Juan Perez-Mercader

Juan Perez-Mercader

Senior Research Fellow and Principal Investigator

Juan Pérez-Mercader earned his Ph.D. from the City College of New York. He is an Elected Member of the International Academy of Astronautics and of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1998 in Association with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, he founded Spain's Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) of which he was its first Director. He is the architect of Spain's current participation with infrastructure and instrumentation on board Mars Science Laboratory that arrived on Mars in August 2012. He is Profesor de Investigación in Spain's National Research Council (CSIC) and an External Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute. In 2010, he joined Harvard as a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the university's Origins of Life Initiative, where he leads a project on the "Top-down Synthesis of an Ex-novo Chemical Artificial Living System".

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Fatemeh Sedaghatpour

Fatemeh Sedaghatpour

Research Associate/Scientist

Fatemeh Sedaghatpour has received her PhD in Space and Planetary Sciences from Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas in 2013. She has joined Professor Stein Jacobsen’s group as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2013 and promoted to Research Associate in June 2016. Her research involves stable isotope cosmochemistry to study the early solar system, origin and evolution of planetary bodies. Her current research is focused on Mg and Ca stable isotope systems in lunar samples and meteorites samples using high precision isotopic analyses to have a better understanding of the Moon’s origin and evolution, and investigate the planetary formation processes.