Hi! I'm Alex Cohen, a PhD candidate at MIT
in chemical engineering and
computational science and engineering.

I am interested in using math and science
to improve human life and explore our universe.

About Me

I grew up in Needham, MA, and got my early education through the Needham Public Schools system. Throughout high school, I played a lot of tennis and participated on the cross country and squash teams. After high school, I moved to the midwest to attend the University of Chicago. At UChicago, I studied Molecular Engineering and Computer Science. I was also president of the club tennis team and spent most of my weekends running practices for other students and members of the Hyde Park community. I am now a second year PhD student in chemical engineering and computational science and engineering at MIT. I am a member of the Dunkel and Bazant groups. In my free time, I play on the MIT club tennis team and host trivia nights for the chemical engineering department. I also spend many weekends hiking and camping in the white mountains in New Hampshire.


  1. Cohen, A. E., Hastewell, A. D., Pradhan, S., Flavell, S. W., & Dunkel, J. (2022). Schrödinger dynamics of undulatory locomotion. arXiv preprint arXiv:2205.10725.
  2. This paper was my first first-author publication in graduate school. We develop a general method of representing biophysical systems with a mode representation. We also develop a physically-constrained inference method for learning models in this representation from data. The models can be used to compare dynamics across biophysical systems.
  3. Sadati, M., Martinez-Gonzalez, J. A., Cohen, A., Norouzi, S., Guzmán, O., & de Pablo, J. J. (2021). Control of Monodomain Polymer-Stabilized Cuboidal Nanocrystals of Chiral Nematics by Confinement. ACS nano, 15(10), 15972-15981.
  4. This paper was from my first-ever research project. I studied how blue phase liquid crystals (BPLCs) can be stabilized and controlled in confinement. These confined BPLCs could be used as microscale sensors, as they can be designed to change colors in the presence of specific chemicals.
  5. Cohen, A. E., Jackson, N. E., & De Pablo, J. J. (2021). Anisotropic coarse-grained model for conjugated polymers: investigations into solution morphologies. Macromolecules, 54(8), 3780-3789.
  6. This paper came from my undergraduate honors thesis research project. I developed a coarse-grained model for polymers with aisotropic interactions, such as conjugated polymers. We studied the single-chain properties of such polymers, which is useful in designing organic photovoltaic and other organic electronic devices.
  7. Bazant, M. Z., Kodio, O., Cohen, A. E., Khan, K., Gu, Z., & Bush, J. W. (2021). Monitoring carbon dioxide to quantify the risk of indoor airborne transmission of COVID-19. Flow, 1.
  8. This paper was my first paper of graduate school. We showed how quantitative models of indoor airborne disease transmission can be used with CO2 measurements to get real-time risk assessment in buildings. Working on this paper was especially meaningful to me, as my grandmother had passed away a few months prior from COVID-19, and she always loved hearing about my research.
  9. Cohen, A., Jonville, A., Liu, Z., Garg, C., Filippou, P. C., & Yang, S. H. (2020). Current driven chiral domain wall motions in synthetic antiferromagnets with Co/Rh/Co. Journal of Applied Physics, 128(5), 053902.
  10. This was my first paper from my internship with IBM Research. We studied current-driven domain wall motion in synthetica antiferromagnets. This behavior has potential to be used in neuromorphic computer chips.


  1. In June 2022, I gave an invited talk to the battery reading group of the machine learning research team at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). I presented on scientific machine learning with applications to continuum modeling of battery materials. My slides can be found here.
  2. I presented at the APS March 2022 Chicago meeting on spectral mode dynamics of animal behavior, and coupling these modes with physically-constrained machine learning matrix factorization methods for modeling animal locomotion and behavior.

Research Pictures

Here are some pictures I took of my research projects.

An image of micron-sized blue phase liquid crystal droplets. This image is from my first ever research project, which I began during the summer after my first year of college. The results were published in ACS Nano. I won third place in a university-wide photo contest for this image, which was also published in the 2021 Uchicago magazine.

An image of a coarse-grained conjugated polymer with side chains self-assembled into a toroid. I studied these systems for my undergraduate thesis project.

Nanowire used to study domain wall motion in synthetic antiferromagnets for use in neuromorphic computing devices.

Plot showing the relationship between CO2 levels and transmission rate in an office occupied by two people.

More BPLC droplets.

Even more BPLC droplets.

Sorry, they just look so beautiful.