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, Aerospace, 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.


Postdoctoral Researchers

Arezoo Hasankhani

Postdoctoral Researcher

Mechanical Engineering


Arezoo Hasankhani is a postdoctoral research associate, focusing on the design, optimization, and control co-design of renewable energy systems. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2022 from the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering, Florida Atlantic University. During her Ph.D., she focused on design, path planning, optimization, and control co-design of marine current turbines. Prior to her Ph.D., she received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Amirkabir University in electrical engineering in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Her research interests include optimization, control, control co-design, renewable energy systems, and reinforcement learning.

Doctoral Students

Nate DeGoede

Ph.D. Student

Mechanical Engineering


Nate is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering interested in research relating to sustainable source of energy, food, and clean water. He earned his Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Valpo in 2022. Throughout undergrad, Nate had the opportunity to research in the Markiewicz Solar Research Facility with Dr. Peter Krenzke and Dr. Luke Venstrom. Outside of Mechanical Engineering, Nate enjoys ultimate frisbee, hiking, and playing bass guitar.

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.

Olivia Vitale

Ph.D. Student

Aerospace Engineering


Olivia is a PhD student in Aerospace Engineering focusing on the optimization of wave energy converter (WEC) arrays for various sustainability applications. She graduated from the University of Missouri in May 2022 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Aerospace Engineering. During her undergraduate years, Olivia studied the mathematical modeling and optimal refrigerant fluids for ejector refrigeration systems (ERS) under the guidance of Dr. Hongbin Ma. In her free time, Olivia enjoys hiking, baking, and spending time with her cat, Phoebe.

Master’s Students

Jinzhou (Kane) Li

MEng Student

Systems Engineering


Jinzhou (Kane) is an M.Eng student studying Systems Engineering. He is currently a member of the PEARL and SOS project at SEA Lab. He is from Chongqing, China. In addition to that, Jinzhou likes to explore robotics and artificial intelligence.

Undergraduate Students

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.

Madison Dietrich

Undergraduate Student

Mechanical Engineering


Madison is a freshman studying mechanical engineering with hopes of getting into the aerospace industry. She is currently on the systems team for the SEA Lab’s wave energy converter project, and she is also a member of Cornell’s Marine Energy Collegiate Competition team.

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.

Isabel Mejía-Roberts

Undergraduate Student

Mechanical Engineering


Isabel is an undergraduate studying Mechanical Engineering, minoring in French (class of 2024). She is working on developing automated water quality sensing systems for offshore aquaculture systems that would eventually be transmitted back to shore. She is very passionate about sustainability and blue technology. Outside of the lab she is a member of the Cornell Mars Rover project team, and on the Wild Roses Ultimate Frisbee team. In her free time she enjoys thrifting, hiking, drinking tea, and caring for her plants.

Lalit Mistry

Visiting Undergraduate Student

Mechanical & Electrical Engineering


Lalit is a Visiting Undergraduate Research from the University of Edinburgh. He is researching mineral extraction from seawater and is interested in sustainability tech.


Anjana Asok

Class of 2022 M.Eng.

Computer Science


Mirelys Carcana Barbosa

Undergraduate Student

Engineering Physics

University of California, Berkeley

Ryan Cheng

Class of 2022 M.Eng. Student

Systems Engineering


Wen-Jung “Joanna” Chien

Class of 2023 M.Eng.

Material Science and Engineering


Now Engineer at Pou Chen Group

Mumtaziah Faaz

Class of 2021 M.Eng.

Material Science and Engineering


Now Engineer at Intel Corp.

Junyi Jiang

Class of 2023 M.Eng.

Material Science and Engineering


Owais Khalid

Class of 2022 M.Eng. Student

Chemical Engineering


Catherine Millwater

Undergraduate Student

University of Central Florida



Alex Niemi

Undergraduate Student

Minnesota State University Moorhead



Ray Weng

Class of 2022 M.Eng. Student

Computer Science


Paul Young

Class of 2023 Undergraduate Student

Mechanical Engineering