Katherine Xiang

2020 Hertz Fellow

The role of physics in biology motivates Katherine Xiang to understand the natural world better, particularly in energy flow and transport in biological systems.

Katherine is interested in how these systems exploit physical principles and hopes that studying them can provide input for bio-inspired technologies.

A senior at Johns Hopkins University, she is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics, biophysics, and mathematics. She will pursue a PhD in physics at Harvard University.

As an undergraduate, Katherine researched cell force generation under Professor Daniel Reich at Johns Hopkins University and modeled active transport in the cell under the guidance of Professor Elena Koslover at UC San Diego. Mentored by Professor Nadia Zakamska and Dr. David Nataf, she recently wrote a paper about galactic bar buckling, a brief instability crucial to the formation of barred galaxies like the Milky Way.

Outside of the lab, Katherine has worked as a graphic design consultant creating accessible science graphics, graphical abstracts, and science illustrations for labs and startups. She has led the TEDx Johns Hopkins University design team in curating event art focused on inspiring scientific wonder, and is currently working on an art installation involving light and optics. She also competed on the Johns Hopkins University NCAA fencing team.

Katherine grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having once raised an abandoned baby pigeon, she’s had a lifelong fascination with birds. She can often be found hiking or brewing tea.

Graduate Studies

Harvard University


2019, First Place Team, International Theoretical Physics Olympiad
2019, Early Career Astronomer Travel Assistance Fund Grant, Sloan Digital Sky Survey
2019, Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award, Johns Hopkins University
2018, Best Education Hack, WHACK (Wellesley Hacks)