Mechanical engineering alum Rozhin Hajian ’14G ’18 PhD has joined the faculty of UMass Lowell faculty as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. 

She was most recently a Future Faculty Fellow at Northeastern University after serving as a postdoctoral associate at Harvard University. 

Hajian’s research focuses on bio-inspired fluid dynamics—“from the silent flight of owls to buzzing mosquitoes,” she says. Her work crosses fields including applied mathematics, aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, and machine learning and data-driven research methods.

“Mosquito bites are responsible for the transmission of deadly pathogens among humans, leading to the deaths of more than half a million people every year,” she says. “One of my projects investigates how mosquitoes can be classified using their flight tones and explores the underlying reasons behind the various emitted sounds among different species.”

The project combines mathematical and mechanical modeling of the insect flights with machine learning methods. Hajian aims to classify mosquito species and identify the disease-carrying ones using their buzzing sounds through physics-informed neural networks.

As a Lehigh PhD student, Hajian was advised by Justin W. Jaworski, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics who studies the mechanisms of silent owl flight. She completed her master’s thesis on autocatalytic biochemical networks working with Nader Motee, a professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics.  

During her graduate studies at Lehigh, she was honored for her research merit and leadership activities with the 2016 Graduate Student Life Leadership Award and the 2018 Graduate Student Merit Award. 

In 2021, Hajian was selected as a Rising Star in Aerospace Engineering. She has also received several awards, including the 2019 David Crighton Fellowship from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, UK.

Alumni Spotlight: Rozhin HajianRozhin Hajian

“Sometimes simple phenomena we observe in our daily life can be a powerful tool to tackle an existing challenge,” says mechanical engineering alum Rozhin Hajian ’14G ’18 PhD, now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UMass Lowell. 
Hajian points to the small insects known as water striders as an example: Their ability to walk on the water surface is explained by surface tension and capillary forces, she says. 
“Objects that deform a liquid interface are subject to capillary forces,” she says. “In one of my recent projects with my colleagues at Harvard, we used capillary forces to manipulate small objects on the water surface.” 
The team developed a “potentially inexpensive way to manufacture microstructured and possibly nanostructured materials,” says Hajian. “All we need is a tank of water and a 3D printer!”
The results of this study were recently published in Nature.
Why did you decide to attend graduate school?

“I have always been fascinated by nature and inspired by the science behind living systems. When I started my undergraduate studies, I felt that I was in the right place to learn more about what I have always been passionate about, which motivated me to move forward. Moreover, I faced the fact that women have very little representation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, which might be very discouraging, especially for young female students to enter STEM careers. Since then, my passion for becoming a university professor stemmed from both achieving my personal ambitions as well as encouraging and supporting young female scholars to join STEM fields and embrace and hone their talents.”

How did your Lehigh graduate education help set you up for success in your academic career?

“Solving challenging mathematical problems during my PhD taught me that most research problems have a solution, no matter how complicated. You just need to think about it from different perspectives. In addition, I had a chance to serve as the vice president of graduate student outreach at the Global Union [a student-led coalition of clubs and organizations at Lehigh that promote global awareness and cultural understanding]. During my term, I organized several events on campus, which taught me different skills, including leadership, which is a crucial skill for people in academia.”