Who we are


The AeroAstro REFS are graduate students trained in conflict management. You can contact an individual REF directly or find us all at aeroastro-refs@mit.edu. If you are interested in joining the team, contact us at aeroastro-refs@mit.edu for information about training. If you are interested in our organizational structure, you can read our constitution.

Mycal Tucker

Role: Member

  • Fourth year in the Interactive Robotics Group
  • Hometown: Palo Alto, California
  • Contact: mycal{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English, French

“Hello! I’m delighted to be part of the aero astro department because of all the great people I get to know – people like you. Before coming back to MIT for my PhD, I worked for two years, and, while I learned a lot of technical skills during that time, I also found out more about myself and how much I missed my time in school. All this to say that I’m happy to be here and want to make sure that I can enable everyone else to feel respected, happy, and empowered to do what they want.”

Victoria Preston

Role: Co-President

  • Fifth year in the Robust Robotics Group
  • Hometown: Edgewater, MD
  • Contact: vpreston{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English

“Hey! I’m an MIT-WHOI Joint Program student who gets to call both MIT AeroAstro and WHOI Applied Ocean Science and Engineering home. I view my role in dREFS as that of a pit crew in racing — while you’re in charge of driving and setting the course, I’m here to provide support on-demand by providing a listening ear, connecting you with resources that will make the ride go smoothly, and cheering you on as you cross the finish line.

Syed Shayan Zahid

Role: Member

  • Second year in the Lab for Aviation and the Environment (LAE)
  • Hometown: Lahore, Pakistan
  • Contact: szahid{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English, Urdu, French (intermediate)

“Hi! I’m Shayan, a motivated Mechanical and Aerospace engineer who enjoys working on topics such as combustion, propulsion, spectroscopy etc. After my undergrad, I worked for almost a year before joining MIT as a grad student. In my free time, I like traveling, working out, plane spotting, playing the piano and violin, dancing, and exploring good food places around the area. I’m glad to be able to help my fellow students out during their time at MIT, so please feel free to reach out if you’re having any issues, concerns, or if you just want to talk!”

Paula do Vale Pereira

Role: Member

  • Fifth year in STAR Lab (8th year in Grad school – 3 years done back in Brazil)
  • Hometown: Florianopolis, SC – Brazil
  • Contact: paulavp{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English, Portuguese

“Hi! I’m a passionate mechanical engineer who loves helping people! I have a CNC milling machine in my living room and my happiest days are when I’m able to use my machines and problem solving skills to help people overcome big challenges. Empowering people is inspiring! My goal as a REFS is to help you see the situation you are in from different perspectives, evaluate the possible paths forward, help you pick the path that resonates mostly with you, and making sure you have the resources you need to succeed in that endeavor.”

M Regina Apodaca M

Role: Member

  • Third year in SPL
  • Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Contact: mapodaca{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English, Spanish

“I trip at least 3 times a day.”

Mohammad Shafaet Islam

Role: Member

  • Sixth year in ACDL
  • Hometown: New York City, New York
  • Contact: moislam{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English

“My birthday is on the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year.”

Rachel Morgan

Role: Vice President

  • Fourth year in STAR lab
  • Hometown: Baltimore, MD
  • Contact: remorgan{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English

“Hi! My name is Rachel and I have been a part of the Aero Astro department for 7 years. In my research, I study optics and photonics instruments for spacecraft. I love the excitement and energy we have in Aero Astro! Outside of research, I enjoy cooking, reading, running, and playing the saxophone. My goal in dREFS is to listen and help you work through your issues in a positive and productive way so you can get back to being the awesome grad student that you are!”

Morgan Blevins

Role: Co-President

  • Third year in the Multifunctional Materials Group (MechE)
  • Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Washington
  • Contact: mblevins{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English

“Hi! I’m an Aero Astro graduate student with an advisor and lab group in MechE. My research area is nanophotonics, optics, and metamaterials with applications in solar and thermal energy generation. I really like running along the Charles and up in the Middlesex Fells trails. I also love playing guitar and having conversations over coffee. As a dREFS I’m here and available to discuss any points of stress or anxiety about grad school or life in that context!”

Chris Chin

Role: Member

  • Third year in the Dynamics, Infrastructure Networks, and Mobility (DINaMo) Group
  • Hometown: Seattle, Washington
  • Contact: chychin{at}mit{dot}edu
  • Languages: English

“Hi! I’m a graduate student in AeroAstro researching urban air mobility/unmanned aircraft systems traffic management. I enjoy playing many sports including soccer, frisbee, and tennis, and enjoy running/biking along the Charles. With dREFS, I’m happy to provide a listening, non-judgmental ear to any stressors or concerns that arise during your time at MIT.”

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