Principal Investigator



Elsa Olivetti

Atlantic Richfield Associate Professor of Energy Studies

Office: 8-403, email: elsao [at] mit [dot] edu

PhD, Materials Science and Engineering, MIT, 2007
BS, Engineering Science, University of Virginia, 2000

Professor Olivetti’s research focuses on improving the environmental and economic sustainability of materials in the context of rapid-expanding global demand. She has a particular passion for visiting manufacturing and recycling facilities as well as studying complex systems problems through a lens of materials science. If she can couple that with rock climbing and bike touring, all the better!

Postdoctoral Associates


Kevin Huang

Postdoctoral Associate in Materials Science and Engineering, MIT

PhD, Materials Science and Engineering, MIT, 2015
MS, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2007
BS, Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University, 2006

Office: 8-403; email: kjhuang [at] mit [dot] edu

Alongside others in the group, Kevin works toward the development of a machine learning platform to predict synthetic routes for new, desired materials. Additionally, Kevin investigates how such synthesis processes in the lab scale to industrial manufacturing capacities in order to identity processes and materials that may be commercially viable at wide deployment. Previously, Kevin studied the composition, structure, and performance of nanocrystal bulk heterojunction photovoltaic devices. And during his PhD, Kevin completed a minor in the Technology & Policy Program, for which he studied the attributes and predictors of venture capital investment in emerging energy technology companies.

Graduate Students



Tunahan Aytas

PhD Student in Materials Science and Engineering
BS Materials Science and Engineering, Sabanci University, 2018
BS Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering, Sabanci University, 2018

Office: 13-5005; email: tunahan [at] mit [dot] edu

The production of Ordinary Portland cement (OPC) is responsible for a substantial fragment of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission. To lower the carbon footprint and maintain sustainability, usage of some industrial waste materials instead of OPC is suggested. Tunahan’s research is focused on the investigation of the alkali-activated systems with industrial wastes. He also loves writing and consuming way too much caffeine with friends.

Josh Dennison

MS, Technology and Policy, IDSS, MIT, 2019
BS Civil Engineering, Tufts University, 2013

Office: 13-5001; email: jden [at] mit [dot] edu

Urbanization degrades natural habitats and demands consumption of construction materials with high environmental impact due to their extraction and production. Sustainable alternatives derived from industrial waste can replace conventional cement and masonry products, leading to lower carbon emissions, less energy-intensive production, reduced landfilled burden, and drastically lower ecological impact. Josh’s research focuses on characterizing innovative alkali-activated materials created from waste, and how this technology can alleviate the tension at the interface of ecology and the built environment. Through novel material development, GIS investigation, and policy analyses, he hopes to substitute mined and carbon-emitting materials with inexpensive alternatives derived from industrial waste to foster nature conservation.

Xinkai Fu

PhD Candidate in Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
BS, Physics, Nanjing University, 2014

Office: 8-403; email: xinkaifu [at] mit [dot] edu

Population growth, industrialization and urbanization require increasing use of metals. However, some metals critical to the development of clean energy applications might not be routinely available into the future. Xinkai’s research focuses on understanding the criticality of metals mined as byproducts, in terms of the economical, environmental impact and technical limits in material systems. You will most likely find him lifting weights in the gym in his spare time.

Zach Jensen

PhD Student in Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
BS, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2017

Office: 8-403; email: zjensen [at] mit [dot] edu

With recent advances in computational materials design, materials synthesis is often the bottleneck for novel materials design. Zach’s research focuses on learning new synthesis pathways for materials using natural language processing, machine learning, and data mining. He is interested in finding ways to utilize industrial waste as well as developing materials for energy generation and storage. In addition to research, he enjoys playing soccer, hockey, and biking.

Edward Kim

PhD Candidate in Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
BS, Nanoscience and Physics, University of Guelph, 2014

Office: 8-403; email: edwardk [at] mit [dot] edu

Eddie’s research focuses on predictive modelling of materials synthesis, using data mining and machine learning techniques to infer patterns from the literature at large scales. He used to work with synchrotrons and batteries (but not at the same time), and still thinks those things are cool too. In his spare time, he enjoys martial arts, writing code, and playing video games.


Basuhi Ravi

PhD Student in Materials Science and Engineering
B Tech with Honors in Engineering Physics, IIT Bombay, 2018

Office: 8-403; email: basuhi [at] mit [dot] edu

Today, plastics are indispensable to consumers and industries alike, proving to be one of the most useful materials in modern society. However, their end-of-life fate has been under environmental scrutiny for a while and the resources lost due to landfilling of waste plastics, often after a brief use, have become a recent concern. Recycling of post-consumer plastics is both an environmental solution and an economic opportunity, but its effectiveness in simultaneously redirecting recoverable resources while avoiding environmental impact involves investigating recycling systems, their technological capacity and the secondary markets for recycled outputs. In this context, Basuhi works towards understanding the relative costs and benefits of the various end-of-life options for all plastic waste generated in the US. Apart from her work, she likes to spend time reading, cooking and baking.


John Ryter

PhD Student in Materials Science and Engineering
BS Mechanical Engineering, Montana State University, 2017

Office: 8-403; email: ryterj [at] mit [dot] edu

As global materials consumption intensifies, the recovery and recycling of metals will become increasingly important due to their associated energy, economic, and environmental benefits. John’s research will focus on developing an understanding of metals markets, including the impact of recycling, the influence of alloying elements and materials substitution, and the associated thermodynamics. He is particularly interested in the government or industrial policies and technological improvements that would reduce human impact on the planet. In his spare time, you will find him hiking, rock climbing, or otherwise enjoying the outdoors.

Brian Traynor

PhD Candidate in Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
BS, Nanoscience, Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials, Trinity College Dublin, 2016

Office: 13-5005; email: btraynor [at] mit [dot] edu

Incorporation of industrial wastes into construction materials in lieu of traditional precursors has potential for reductions in carbon emissions. Brian’s research focuses on the development of alkali-activated masonry products from industrial waste materials, waste materials characterization and field work in research locations in the US and abroad. Outside of his passion for materials and environmental science, he likes reading and running.

Hugo Uvegi

PhD Candidate in Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
BS, Materials Science and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 2015

Office: 13-5005; email: huvegi [at] mit [dot] edu

Efforts aimed at reducing our carbon footprint have increased in recent years, with research into sustainable technologies resulting in a wealth of alternatives and novel practices for materials fabrication. Still one of the largest emitters, the construction industry has yet to incorporate many new materials into their repertoire. Hugo’s research focuses on reducing the energy associated with building-materials production by incorporating matter from untapped industrial waste streams, specifically focusing on applications in India and the greater developing world. Hugo enjoys listening to music, and hopes to learn to both blacksmith and sail (although not at the same time) while at MIT.

Alexander Van Grootel

MS, Technology and Policy, IDSS, MIT 2019
MS, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT, 2019
MEng Advanced Manufacturing and Design, MIT 2016
BEng Mechanical Engineering with Management, The University of Edinburgh, 2015

Office: 8-403; email: agrootel[at] mit [dot] edu

In order to move to more sustainable production practices we would like to be able to predict the environmental impact of novel manufacturing technologies. This prediction remains challenging, and relies heavily on an understanding of the way technology diffuses and of the context in which the technology is used. Alex’s research is on the development process of various new manufacturing methods (advanced composites, additive manufacturing, incremental sheet forming) with particular emphasis on how the repeatability of new processes can affect both the commercialization process and the ultimate environmental impact of these technologies.

Visiting Scholars


Jonathan Krones

Visiting Scholar in Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Postdoctoral Associate, Center for Industrial Ecology, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

PhD, Engineering Systems, MIT, 2016
MS, Earth Resources Engineering, Columbia University, 2011
SB, Materials Science and Engineering, MIT, 2007

Office: 8-403; email: jskrones [at] mit [dot] edu

Jonathan’s research with the Olivetti group examines the environmental implications of changing secondary material flows in the pulp and paper industry using a modified consequential life cycle assessment approach. In general, he is interested in leveraging interdisciplinary, industrial ecology analysis to better understand the environmental consequences of the material production and consumption patterns of modern industrial society, with a focus on large-scale solid waste management. Jonathan’s post-doctoral research pursues an estimate of the quantity and composition of non-hazardous industrial waste in the United States for the first time in over three decades.

Undergraduate Researchers (UROP)


  • Alexander Denmark
  • Ciara Mulcahy

Group Alumni


  • Bassal Tarabay, Visiting Student, 2018
  • Jiyoun Chang, Postdoctoral Associate, 2015-2018
  • Piyush Chaunsali, Postdoctoral Associate, 2015-2018
  • Jocelyn Newhouse, Postdoctoral Associate, 2014-2015
  • Stian Ueland, Postdoctoral Associate, 2014-2015
  • Weitong Liu, MS in Technology and Policy, 2015-2017
  • María Alcaraz Ochoa, MS in Technology and Policy, 2014-2016
  • Patrick Ford, MS in Technology and Policy, 2014-2016
  • Elinor Pennicott, Visiting Student, 2014-2015
  • Adriano Polli, Visiting Student, 2016
  • Nagisa Tadjfar, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2016-2017
  • Rachel Osmundsen, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2015-2017
  • Victoria Gong, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2015-2016
  • Caroline Liu, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2015-2016
  • Sara Matthews, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2016
  • Alex Tomala, Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2016