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Graduate Student Associates


Harvard Teaching Program Ignites Scientific Learning in India

The Program for Scientifically-Inspired Leadership, funded in part and administered by the Mittal Institute, pairs Harvard undergraduates and Osmania university students with high school students from public high schools in Telangana for a cross-cultural learning experience built on the scientific process and focused on the liberal arts and sciences philosophy. By interacting together, all three groups gain a deeper understanding of teaching and learning. The program is the brainchild of Dominic Mao, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies for two of Harvard’s life science concentrations and a lecturer in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard. We spoke with him for more on the program, and what the teacher/student interaction is like.

Palak Gupta: At the Intersection of Climate Change + Urban Design

Palak Gupta, Mittal Institute Graduate Student Associate, is an architect from India, and a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Since her undergraduate studies at Academy of Architecture, Mumbai University, she has been involved in pedagogical and research conversations involving the communities vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and urbanization. We spoke with Palak to learn more about her research.

Summer Reading 2023: GSA Recommendations

Summer is on the horizon and that means it’s a great time to catch up on a book (or two or three!). We spoke with some of the Mittal Institute’s Graduate Student Associates to see what’s on their reading list and to hear more about their favorite reads.

GSA Spotlight: Nusrat Jahan Mim on Designing in Urban Bangladesh

Nusrat Jahan Mim, a Mittal Institute Graduate Student Associate, is a Doctor of Design candidate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Her research focuses on post-colonial, post-secular urban designs and human-computer interaction. By examining existing systems, she explores how different spatial and technical designs challenge or propagate social exclusions in the Global South. She is a Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative Fellow for the academic year 2022-23. Prior to Harvard, she won the prestigious AIA Henry Adams Medal from Syracuse School of Architecture for achieving the highest academic rank in M.Arch. The Mittal Institute also profiled her work on makeshift cattle markets in Dhaka in a September 2021 newsletter. We spoke with Nusrat to get an update on her work and new GSA role.

Understanding the World Through Art: Explore Vaishnavi Patil’s Research

Vaishnavi Patil, one of the Mittal Institute’s new Graduate Student Associates, is a doctoral candidate in Harvard’s History of Art and Architecture department working on South and Southeast Asia. Vaishnavi received her B.A. in Ancient Indian History and Culture from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and an MA in History of Art and Archaeology from SOAS, London. She was a Yenching scholar at Peking University, China, receiving an MA in China Studies. In addition to her studies, Vaishnavi has participated in numerous internships, including curatorial training at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Harvard Art Museums. Vaishnavi is interested in studying female deities, especially mother goddesses, and how production, patronage, and development of religions play a role in the evolution of the mother goddess in South Asia. She is also interested in the text-to-image relationships in South Asian art, particularly the literal and the symbolic in the illustration of a text. Other areas of interest include popular practices, marginalized deities, depiction of evil, and gender issues. Her current research aims to analyze the origins and development of the cult of the mother goddess in South and Southeast Asia, particularly her representations and the popular practices centered on her.

Tina Liu has Witnessed the Growing Threat of Fires Firsthand. Now She’s Studying Their Impacts.

Tianjia (Tina) Liu joined the Mittal Institute as a Graduate Student Associate in the 2021-2022 academic year and is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Tina’s research focuses on using satellite data and atmospheric modeling to quantify the impacts of fires on air quality and public health in India, Indonesia, and globally. She has recently published 2 papers with another in review on the topic of crop residue burning and the impact on air quality degradation. Prior to joining the Mittal Institute, Tina received her B.A. in Environmental Science from Columbia University, and her research has primarily been focused on fires and air quality since her undergraduate days.