Maha Haji, PhD

Assistant Professor

Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

555 Upson Hall


Prof. Maha Haji joined Cornell University in 2021 as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Systems Engineering. At Cornell, her lab develops designs for symbiotic offshore systems to sustainably extract resources from the ocean such as power, water, and food, as well as mineral resources key to the progress of clean energy. Previously, Prof. Haji was an MAE Faculty Fellow at Cornell and a Postdoctoral Associate in the Engineering Systems Laboratory in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT where her research focused on utilizing multidisciplinary design optimization to develop a floating platform, known as PEARL, to provide recharging and data offloading capacity for autonomous underwater vehicles. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering in 2017 from the Joint Program between MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she focused on the design and prototyping of a symbiotic system to harvest uranium from seawater. Prof. Haji has worked in industry as an engineering consultant at ATA Engineering, where she used analysis-driven design to solve problems ranging from aircraft and rockets to robotics and rollercoasters. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.


Doctoral Students

Matthew Haefner

Ph.D. Student

Systems Engineering


Matt is a Ph.D. student in Systems Engineering focusing on the design optimization of Integrated Pumped Hydro Reverse Osmosis (IPHRO) systems. He received his B.S. and M.Eng. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in May of 2020 and December of 2020, respectively. As an undergraduate and M.Eng student, Matt conducted research with Professor Avedisian on biofuel droplet combustion in microgravity. He also played the trumpet in Cornell’s Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and occasionally in Cornell’s Chamber Orchestra. Outside of research, Matt enjoys playing the trumpet, golfing, hiking, and a good crossword puzzle.

Kapil Khanal

Ph.D. Student

Systems Engineering


Kapil is a Ph.D. student in Systems and is interested in the interdisciplinary research in Systems, Optimization, Computation and Mathematical modeling. In his free time, He enjoys hiking, traveling and playing/watching/analyzing soccer. Originally from Nepal, he received his B.S degree in Mathematics and Data Science from Winona State University, MN in Aug 2020 and worked as a Data Analyst for a year. During his undergrad, he worked with Prof. Carl Ferkinhoff on analyzing emission lines from early galaxies and later as a part of summer REU with Prof. Kostas Pelechrinis on improving xG model for soccer event data. His current research interests involves Complex Systems, Multidisciplinary Design Optimization and Scientific Machine Learning.

Rebecca McCabe

Ph.D. Student

Mechanical Engineering


Personal Website

Becca is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering interested in the design of renewable energy systems. She enjoys solving integrated mechanical, electromagnetic, fluid, and controls problems through simulation, systems design, and prototyping. Becca graduated from MIT in June 2021 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. At MIT, she focused on electric vehicles, writing her bachelor’s thesis on electric motor optimization for Formula SAE cars. Her current research involves offshore wind and wave energy. In her free time, she enjoys running, swimming, and tinkering with side projects.

Olivia Murphy

Ph.D. Student

Mechanical Engineering


Olivia is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering interested in offshore integrated wind-wave energy systems, sustainable mineral extraction, and green hydrogen production. She graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in May 2020 and an MS in Engineering in August 2021. As an undergraduate research student, she studied scaffold designs for bioinspired craniofacial bone implants and optimal axis orientation for offshore wind turbines. Her master’s thesis investigated biofuel secondary breakup processes through parametric and comparative analyses of secondary breakup models. In the SEA Lab, Olivia is working on modeling and analyzing an offshore wind-powered system that extracts hydrogen and critical minerals from seawater. Outside of the lab, Olivia is a proud plant mom who enjoys tending to her plants. She also enjoys walking trails, traveling, and spending quality time with her friends and family.

Master’s Students

Ryan Cheng

M.Eng. Student

Systems Engineering


Ryan is an M.Eng. student in Systems Engineering and is interested in renewable energy systems, semiconductor manufacturing, and supply chain systems. He received his B.S. degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Washington-Seattle in June of 2021. During his undergrad, he worked with Professor Zelda on COVID-19 vaccination program decision making and vaccine distribution strategies. In the SEA Lab, Ryan is working on the combined offshored wind-wave energy system. Outside of the lab, he enjoys running, swimming and watching football.

Junyi Jiang

M.Eng. Student

Material Science and Engineering


Junyi is an M.Eng. student in Materials Science and Engineering and is interested in renewable energy systems and melt smelting. He received his B.S. degree in Powder Materials Science and Engineering from Central South University in June of 2021. During his undergrad, he focused mainly on medium entropy alloys and high entropy alloys. In the SEA Lab, Junyi is currently working on analyzing an offshore wind-powered system that extracts critical minerals and hydrogen from seawater. He enjoys skiing, football, traveling in his free time.

Owais Khalid

M.Eng. Student

Chemical Engineering


Owais is an M.Eng. student in chemical engineering and is interested in a wide variety of different areas, ranging from energy systems to pharmaceuticals. He graduated with his BSc degree in chemical engineering from the University of Alberta in 2019 and gained two years of engineering work experience in Canada before starting his Master’s degree at Cornell in 2021. In the SEA Lab, Owais is currently working on IPHROS, an integrated system which combines desalination with energy production from hydropower. He enjoys travelling, hiking, and playing soccer in his free time.

Ray Weng

M.Eng. Student

Computer Science


Ray is an M.Eng. student in Computer Science and is interested in software development, machine learning, and simulation modeling. He graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Computer Science and Statistics in December 2021. In the SEA lab, Ray is currently working on modeling a system of systems for effective ocean event observations. Outside the lab, he enjoys travelling, playing basketball, and reading.

Undergraduate Students

Gabriel Ewig

Undergraduate Student

Mechanical Engineering


Gabriel is an undergraduate student studying Mechanical Engineering with a focus on environmental sustainability. In the lab, his work involves designing and testing a miniature wave energy converter to teach K-12 students about renewable energy. Gabriel also enjoys exploring the outdoors and is a mechanic at a local bike shop.

Ana Sofia Alonso Munera

Undergraduate Student

Mechanical Engineering


Sofia is a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering. She is currently working on developing hydrodynamic simulations to enable design optimization of the PEARL system. She is from Madrid, Spain. Outside of school, Sofia loves running, skiing, and reading. She also loves traveling and exploring the outdoors with family and friends.

Paul Young

Undergraduate Student

Mechanical Engineering


Paul is a junior studying Mechanical Engineering. In the lab, he is currently working on developing the salinity output mixing for the IPHROS system to ensure the IPHROS system does not result in the biological and environmental harm to nearby coastlines. Aside from academics, Paul is an active member of the Cornell Kendo Club, a Japanese martial art involving bamboo swords.


Mumtaziah Faaz

Class of 2021 M.Eng.

Material Science and Engineering


Now Engineer at Intel Corp.