Research Team


Mohammad Jalali (‘MJ’), PhD

Assistant Professor | lab director |

Mohammad S. Jalali (aka, ‘MJ’) is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School based at MGH Institute for Technology Assessment. He is also a research affiliate and senior lecturer at MIT Sloan’s System Dynamics Group and a faculty affiliate with the Harvard Data Science Initiative. MJ uses data science and simulation-based approaches to help policymakers identify and develop high-leverage policies that not only are effective over the long haul, but also are not thwarted by unanticipated side effects. To achieve this goal, he spends a great deal of time working with decision-makers and policymakers, doing fieldwork, and collecting different types of data that can inform richer models and analyses.
Since 2019, MJ has received over $6 million grant funding, and his work has been featured by The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, The Hill, WIRED, Newsweek, Scientific American, Business Insider, Boston Globe, NPR, among others. He has been a reviewer for the National Science Foundation, an associate editor for System Dynamics Review, academic editor for PLOS ONE, and editor for the Journal on Policy and Complex Systems. He is the recipient of the 2015 Dana Meadows Award, the 2015 WINFORMS Excellence Award, and the 2014 Lupina Young Researcher Award. Before joining Harvard in Feb 2019, MJ was a research faculty at MIT Sloan and a consultant at the World Bank.

Erin Stringfellow, PhD

Instructor |

Erin holds a PhD in Social Work from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan, where she also earned her BA. She specializes in using qualitative and system dynamics methods to develop sustainable interventions and policies that support recovery from addiction. Prior to joining the lab, Dr. Stringfellow was a research scientist and assistant research professor at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, where she worked with a dedicated, passionate team to conduct evaluation and research of federally-funded opioid-related grants. She is currently working on the development of system dynamics models to improve policies focused on substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment for disorder, and recovery.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Huiru Dong, PhD

Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow |

Huiru received her PhD in Population and Public Health from the University of British Columbia and holds an MS in Epidemiology from the University of Alberta. The overarching goal of her research is to improve health and social outcomes for people living with substance use disorders through rigorous data science methodologies. Prior to joining the lab, Huiru was a senior statistician and investigator at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, where she spent the last eight years working on the development and implementation of novel statistical methods, investigation of the determinants of health and drug use outcomes, and evaluation of drug policies and services.

Daniel F. Otero-Leon, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow |

Daniel received his PhD in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan and holds a M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes. Also, Daniel is part of the Rising Scholars Postdoctoral Program at the University of Virginia. His research interests are generally in operations research and, more specifically, in stochastic models and stochastic dynamic programming applied to healthcare. During his PhD, he focused on data-driven models for improving decision-making in cardiovascular disease, working alongside clinical collaborators at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. His work seeks to develop new frameworks for health equity by considering patients’ health disparities in disease prevention policies.

Ali Akhavan, PhD candidate

Postdoctoral Research Fellow |

Alireza Akhavan Anvari (Ali Akhavan) received his PhD in Management from the University of Lugano in Switzerland. He holds a BS in Physics and an MBA from the Sharif University of Technology. Ali focuses on designing and developing simulation models to address, analyze, and explore different organizational, socio-economic, and environmental problems. He is developing system dynamics models on various health topics to inform policymakers for better decision-making.

Seyedeh Nazanin Khatami, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow |

Nazanin received her PhD in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. She also holds an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UMass Amherst. Her research focuses on disease modeling, control, and optimization. During her Ph.D., she has closely collaborated with the HIV division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she developed a sequential decision-making model to control HIV at a national level. She has developed control optimization models using reinforcement learning algorithms to control diseases like HIV and COVID-19 at the population level.

Mahmoudi, Hesam, PhD candidate

Postdoctoral Research Fellow |

Hesam received his PhD in Management Systems Engineering from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. He also holds an M.Sc. in Management Science and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, both from Sharif University of Technology. During his PhD, Hesam focused on the dynamics of learning from experience in biomedical clinical research, specifically as part of the moonshot to cure cancer. Currently, his research centers around developing simulation models to investigate the behavioral dynamics of the opioid crises and cancer screening.

This could be you! (read more)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

We welcome top candidates to apply! 

Research Associates

Tianna Herman, MSPH

Research Associate |

Tianna received a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Community Health from Rhodes College in 2018 and a Master of Science in Public Health in Health Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins University in 2021. Previously, Tianna worked in local government on analytic work surrounding the opioid epidemic. She has also worked on several other projects including developing a drug task force in Southwest Florida; testing well water for fecal coliforms in Kisumu, Kenya; and improving access to family planning services for immigrant teens in Teton County, Wyoming.

Zeynep Hasgül, MSc

Research Associate |

Zeynep received her BS degree in Industrial Engineering from Istanbul Technical University in 2019. After graduation, she started coursework for an MS in Industrial Engineering at Bogaziçi University. She specializes in system science and simulation modeling for public health problems. Her current work includes developing system dynamics models for quality of life in cancer immunotherapy, colorectal cancer screening, and substance use disorder.

Hannah Lee, BSc

Research Assistant |

Hannah received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a specialization in statistical modeling and computing from the University of Texas at Austin in 2023. Before joining the lab, she participated in a research lab to develop computational tools using machine learning techniques. Her research interests primarily lie in biostatistics.

Research Interns

Gin Mak
Intern, undergraduate student at McMaster University

Joshua Ghosh-Groen
Intern, undergraduate student at the Ohio State University

Alan Zhang
Intern, undergraduate student at Harvard College

Ashley Roes
Intern, undergraduate student at Boston University

Christine Lee
Intern, undergraduate student at Harvard College

Craig McFarland
Intern, undergraduate student at Harvard College

Jennifer Powley
Intern, undergraduate student at Harvard College

Meadow Hall
Intern, undergraduate student at Harvard College

Reanna Shah
Intern, undergraduate student at Duke

Pritika Paramasivam
Intern, undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin

Zuri Reid
Intern, undergraduate student at Boston University

Nikki Motabar
Intern, undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara

NIH K-award Mentees

Dr. Collette N. Ncube (K awarded in 2020)

Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Boston University

Dr. Nasser Sharareh (K application under review)

Research Associate, University of Utah Health

Dr. Larissa Calancie (K awarded in 2022)

Research Assistant Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

Other Mentees

Dr. Yan Epelboym (GERRAF fellowship awarded in 2023)

Instructor at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Andrijana Horvat (awarded by the Dutch Research Council, 2020)

Wageningen University & Research

Research Affiliates

Dr. Tse Yang Lim

PhD in System Dynamics, MIT Sloan

Dr. Toyya Pujol

Operations Researcher, RAND Corporation


Postdoc Researchers

Sumreen Javed, PharmD/PhD (2022-23; Clinical Pharmacist, CancerCare Manitoba, Canada)

Peeradon Wongseree, MD (2022-23; Doctor of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University)

Jaber Valinejad, PhD (2022-23; Computer System Analyst, The National Institutes of Health)

Carolina Vivas-Valencia, PhD (2021-22; Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at San Antonio)

Anneke Claypool, PhD (2021-22; AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)

Wesley J. Marrero, PhD (2021-22; Assistant Professor, Dartmouth College)

Alton Russell, PhD (2021-22; Assistant Professor, McGill University)

Gian-Gabriel Garcia, PhD (2020-21; Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech)

Melike Yildirim, PhD (2021; Research Fellow, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Research Associates

Lindsey Pawlowski, MSW (2022-23; Project Manager, UIC Institute for Healthcare Delivery Design)

Catherine DiGennaro, BA (2019-22; admitted to the PhD program in System Dynamics at MIT Sloan School of Management)

Celia Stafford, MPH (2019-21; admitted to the PhD program in Health Policy/Management at Harvard Business School)

Elizabeth Beaulieu, PhD (2020-22; Associate Principal Scientist, Merck & Co., Inc., Health Economics and Decision Sciences Group)

Students and Interns

Marichi Gupta (intern from UNC-Chapel Hill; Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company)

Marlika Marceau, BA (research assistant, information systems, MGH)

Genevieve Deveaux, MPH (intern from George Washington University; Outcomes Assessment & Evaluation Analyst at Haymarket Medical Education)

Nicole Poellinger, MPH (practicum student from Boston University; Clinical Trial Associate at MGH)

Ava Connolly (undergrad at Harvard; Data Engineer at Arrive Logistics)

Colleen Conger (visiting student from Cornell; admitted to MD/MPH at U of Texas)

Hannah Holmlund, MPH (practicum student from Boston University)

Elizabeth Mason (intern from Wellesley College; Associate at Berkeley Research Group)

Jaden Wood (intern from Wellesley College; Cyber Analyst at Deloitte)

Jillian Rochelle (intern from Northwestern)

Aditya Bansal (intern from the Indian Institute of Technology)

Malaika Zaidi undergrad student at Harvard College)

Marisa Papagelis (intern from Wellesley College)

Emily Pham (intern from Berkeley)

Lindsay Wang (intern from Tufts University)

Atharv Oak (intern from MIT)

Bhav Jain (intern from MIT)

Emily Allardi (intern from Middlebury College)

Hongjin Xu, MPH (practicum student from Boston University)

Amy Michals, MPH (practicum student from Boston University)

Danny (Onsung) Lee (undergrad student at Northeastern)

Yael Kohen (intern from Tufts University)

Tessa Archibald (intern from Tufts University)

Yikang Qi (visiting PhD candidate from China)

Setareh Parvaresh (visiting student from Johns Hopkins)

Maike Bruckes, PhD (visiting researcher from Germany; Senior Associate at McKinsey & Company)

Yuan Yuan (visiting PhD candidate from China)