2024 Design & Technology Fellows

| Business Fellows | Journalism Fellows | Law Fellows | Medical Fellows | Seminary Fellows |

Ebrahim Aljohani works as a silicon photonics engineer at SiPhox, a startup specializing in diagnostics devices located in the Boston Metropolitan Area. He earned a dual degree in EECS and physics from MIT in 2019. Ebrahim's interests have led him to various roles, including engineering the camera hardware at Apple, researching novel materials and electronics at MIT.nano and developing the next-generation of sensors for LiDAR applications. Born in Saudi Arabia, Ebrahim has lived in several countries, including the UK, South Africa, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. He is an avid baker and enjoys learning to play new musical instruments.

Patrick Barragán completed his Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology after his bachelor and master’s programs at the institute. His doctoral research in the Learning and Intelligent Systems Laboratory in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory focused on the area of personal robotics with emphasis on robotic manipulation and household task functionality. Currently, he is a Director of Engineering at Aurora Innovation, Inc. working on L4 autonomous trucking and ride hailing after having worked in or co-founded multiple other companies in the robotics and artificial intelligence spaces and aims to bring the benefits of technology in these spaces to the world.

April Chen is a software engineer who is passionate about both building technology that helps people and ensuring technologists consider their social impact. She currently works at Watershed, a climate technology startup. Before that, she conducted research in machine learning fairness and equity at Meta and Adobe. She received her BA and MS in Computer Science with a minor in Government from Harvard College, where she proposed and co-taught a course in the computer science department called Machine Learning for Social Good. In her free time, she enjoys making music (singing or playing piano) and running.

Elisabeth Crotty is a Security Technical Program Manager at Microsoft, working to protect the world with rapid and thorough response to security vulnerabilities. She studied Information Science, Systems, and Technology at Cornell University in the College of Engineering, where she developed a passion for building technology in a way that is not only responsible, but creates positive social impact. In her free time she enjoys spending time outside, working out, and exploring new places and activities both in her local area of Seattle and beyond.

Javier Ricardo Diaz Penaloza is a committed young professional with nearly a decade of experience in Colombia's public sector. He has held positions as a public servant in the Colombian presidency and as a public policy advisor for both the Ministry of Transportation and Bogotá's Mayor's Office. Specializing in advancing transit-oriented developments nationwide, Javier focuses on improving community well-being and economic prosperity, particularly in underserved areas. With a JD and an LLM from Universidad de los Andes, Javier is currently pursuing a Master's in City Planning at MIT while also contributing as a researcher for the MIT Transit Lab.

Liam Merz Hoffmeister is a PhD candidate in Computer Science with a focus on Robotics at Yale University, building on a foundation in Computer Science, Physics, and Mathematics from the University of Colorado Boulder. His research interests include task and motion planning for tool use, online planning and plan adaptation under uncertainty, and emergency situation planning. Liam has contributed to developing a real-time robotics framework for healthcare, leveraging Large Language Models for action optimization. He has also worked on projects for robotic learning via verbal feedback and torque-aware trajectory planning, demonstrating a commitment to practical and theoretical advancemancement in robotics.

Meagan Olsen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Northwestern University. Her work focuses on developing cell-free biotechnologies to enable low-cost, decentralized manufacturing of medical therapeutics. She is passionate about developing connections between science, policy, and society, and is involved in several local and national organizations dedicated to exploring and guiding how technology can solve global challenges. In her free time, Meagan enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, and exploring museums.

Alison Palmer is an experience designer at Ford Motor Company developing the next generation American truck. Their work includes designing for digital, physical, and environmental interactions. Previously, she developed a tool for design teams to increase equitable practices in their work. Alison recently graduated from Olin College where they collaborated on a psychology research project exploring identity integration in individuals who acquired physical disabilities post-adolescence. After work, Alison enjoys improv, aerial hoop, and cooking.

Lindsay Sanneman is a postdoctoral associate at MIT in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Her research focuses on the development of human-centered models, metrics, and algorithms for transparent and explainable AI (XAI) and AI alignment. Outside of research, Lindsay is a candidate for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and has enjoyed taking classes at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) and participating in the Addir Interfaith Dialogue Program at MIT. In her future career, Lindsay hopes to continue to build bridges between different academic disciplines, religious traditions, and more through dialogue across difference.

Hemaa Sekar is a Policy Enforcement Manager at Youtube, Google. She works in the field of Trust & Safety where she works to protect users on the platform from harmful content. Before Google, she worked in the same field at another Internet company. She has also been a Government Affairs consultant in Southeast Asia and a Legislative Assistant for a prominent Member of Parliament in Singapore. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences from the National University of Singapore, with a Double Major in Political Science and Economics.

Taylor Sihavong is a product designer from Stanford University, where they tackled designing ultra low-cost solutions for the global south. Taylor is now taking a break from the product universe to expand their education non-profit, Code.X. At Code.X, Taylor creates accessible technology and design education for youth around the world, working towards a future where every citizen has the opportunity to participate in technology innovation. Outside of work, Taylor floats around London’s public parks and knits, fantasizing about the weather back where they grew up in Hawai’i.

Cella Sum is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Her research focuses on the impacts of data, AI, and automation on labor, with an aim to protect and empower workers through technology design and policy. Using community-based participatory design methods, she works with affected communities to co-create more just alternatives.

Hanyong Xu is a doctoral student at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at MIT. Her current research focuses on uncovering, understanding, and rectifying algorithmic fairness concerns inherent in urban mobility systems. Prior to joining DUSP, she accumulated three years of professional experience orchestrating data analyses, developing algorithms, and crafting web-based solutions in the field of urban planning and e-commerce. She holds a Master of Urban Spatial Analytics from the University of Pennsylvania and an Honors Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Architectural Design and Economics from the University of Toronto.

Yaniv Yacoby is a postdoctoral fellow at the Nock Lab at Harvard University and Mass General Hospital, where he develops new machine learning methodology to advance the understanding of suicide and related behaviors. In the summer of 2024, he’ll join Wellesley College as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science. He completed his Ph.D. and B.A. in Computer Science at Harvard and his Master’s of Music from the New England Conservatory. In addition to research, Yaniv has led successful initiatives that create resilient and supportive student communities that value mental health; he’s excited to continue this work as faculty.