Zeinab Hajjarian

Zeinab Hajjarian

Assistant Professor

Francis College of Engineering
Biomedical Engineering
Falmouth Hall, Room 302J


Optical Diagnostics, Laser Speckle Micro-rheology, Optical Imaging, Medical Devices, Tissue Biomechanics, Mechanobiology of Human Disease

Research Interests

The overarching objective of my research program is to create advanced optical imaging and sensing platforms to enhance our understanding of disease pathophysiology, particularly in the context of breast carcinoma. I aim to bridge the concepts of soft-matter physics, engineering, light-matter interactions, and imaging, to identify and characterize the key biomechanical and optical attributes of tissues that are implicated in the onset and progression of human pathologies. The specific focus of my research is the development of enabling medical devices that permit characterizing the micromechanical and optical heterogeneity indices present in breast carcinoma microenvironments. My ultimate goal is to integrate these advancements in the diagnostic pipeline, contributing to more accurate prognostic assessments and ultimately improving patient outcomes.


  • Ph.D.: Electrical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, State College,
    Dissertation Title: MIMO optical communications and imaging through turbulent cloudy atmosphere.
  • M.S.: Electrical Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
    Dissertation Title: Power-conservative channel coding in wireless sensor networks.
  • B.S.: Electrical Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
    Dissertation Title: Biological signal processing using joint time-frequency representations.


Zeinab Hajjarian, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 2009. Her doctoral research was primarily focused on modeling light propagation in free space, specifically targeting optical communications and imaging through turbulent and cloudy atmospheres. Recognizing the potential applications of her work in understanding light propagation in biological tissues, Hajjarian transitioned to the field of biomedical optics in 2010 when she joined the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital for a post-doctoral position. 

During her postdoctoral tenure, Hajjarian conducted experimental research centered on the dynamic behavior of laser speckle, a grainy pattern created by the back-scattering of laser light from biological tissues. Her investigations explored the intricate relationship between laser speckle patterns and the optical and biomechanical properties of the tissue microenvironment. Her work also involved in-depth investigation of the mechano-pathology of various human diseases, including cardiovascular conditions, coagulation disorders, orthopedic ailments, and carcinoma. During her time at Wellman center, Hajjarian invented multiple apparatus and algorithms for investigating the mechano-pathology of human disease. 

Recognizing the impact of her work, in 2013 Hajjarian was promoted to an instructor in the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and an Assistant in Electrical Engineering at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Hajjarian has a remarkable record of innovative scholarship. She has published over 20 original manuscripts, with 14 as the first author and two invited review articles. In addition, she has filed more than 15 national and international patent applications, out of which 6 are granted. Her current research interest includes developing novel optical microscopes and sensing devices that permit characterizing the biophysical and biomechanical properties of the soft tissues and biofluids and translating them to the clinical setting for integration in the pipeline of diagnosis.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Eleanor & Miles Shore Foundation Fellowship (2020)
  • American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery Research Grant (2019)
  • Biomedical Engineering Society Career Development Award (2018)
  • MGH Office of Women’s Career Scholarly Writing Award (2017)
  • Gordon Research Conference Best Poster Award (2016)
  • HST Harvard-MIT Summer Institute Yau Su Mentorship Award (2013, 2014)

Selected Publications

Hajjarian Z, Nadkarni SK. Technological perspectives on laser speckle micro-rheology for cancer mechanobiology research. J Biomed Opt. 2021 Sep;26(9). PMID: 34549559, PMCID: PMC8455299, https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JBO.26.9.090601

Hajjarian Z, Brachtel EF, Tshikudi DM, Nadkarni SK. Mapping Mechanical Properties of the Tumor Microenvironment by Laser Speckle Rheological Microscopy. Cancer Res. 2021 Sep 15;81(18):4874-4885. PMID: 34526347, PMCID: PMC8524785, https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-3898

Hajjarian Z, Toussaint JD, Guerrero JL, Nadkarni SK. In-vivo mechanical characterization of coronary atherosclerotic plaques in living swine using intravascular laser speckle imaging. Biomed Opt Express. 2021 Apr 1;12(4):2064-2078. PMID: 33996217, PMCID: PMC8086462, https://doi.org/10.1364/BOE.418939

Hajjarian Z, Nadkarni SK. Tutorial on laser speckle rheology: technology, applications, and opportunities. J Biomed Opt. 2020 May;25(5):1-19. PMID: 32358928, PMCID: PMC7195443, https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JBO.25.5.050801

Tshikudi DM, Tripathi MM, Hajjarian Z, Van Cott EM, Nadkarni SK. Optical sensing of anticoagulation status: Towards point-of-care coagulation testing. PLoS One. 2017;12(8): e0182491. PMID: 28771571, PMCID: PMC5542647, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0182491

Hajjarian Z, Tshikudi DM, Nadkarni SK. Evaluating platelet aggregation dynamics from laser speckle fluctuations. Biomed Opt Express. 2017 Jul 1;8(7):3502-3515. PMID: 28717586, PMCID: PMC5508847, https://doi.org/10.1364/BOE.8.003502

• Wang J, Hosoda M, Tshikudi DM, Hajjarian Z, Nadkarni SK. Intraluminal laser speckle rheology using an omni-directional viewing catheter. Biomed Opt Express. 2017 Jan 1;8(1):137-150. PMID: 28101407, PMCID: PMC5231287, https://doi.org/10.1364/BOE.8.000137

Hajjarian Z, Nia HT, Ahn S, Grodzinsky AJ, Jain RK, Nadkarni SK. Laser Speckle Rheology for evaluating the viscoelastic properties of hydrogel scaffolds. Sci Rep. 2016 Dec 1; 6:37949. PMID: 27905494, PMCID: PMC5131361, https://doi.org/10.1038/srep37949

Hajjarian Z, Nadkarni SK. Estimation of particle size variations for laser speckle rheology of materials. Opt Lett. 2015 Mar 1;40(5):764-767. PMID: 25723427, PMCID: PMC4605544, https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.40.000764

• Xu N, Yao M, Farinelli W, Hajjarian Z, Wang Y, Redmond RW, Kochevar IE. Light-activated sealing of skin wounds. Lasers Surg Med. 2015 Jan;47(1):17-29. PMID: 25418831, https://doi.org/10.1002/lsm.22308

Hajjarian Z, Tripathi MM, Nadkarni SK. Optical Thromboelastography to evaluate whole blood coagulation. J Biophotonics. 2015 May;8(5):372-381. PMID: 24700701, PMCID: PMC4605542, https://doi.org/10.1002/jbio.201300197

Hajjarian Z, Nadkarni SK. Correction of optical absorption and scattering variations in Laser Speckle Rheology measurements. Opt Express. 2014 Mar 24;22(6):6349-6361. PMID: 24663983, PMCID: PMC4083052, https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.22.006349

• Tripathi MM, Hajjarian Z, Van Cott EM, Nadkarni SK. Assessing blood coagulation status with laser speckle rheology. Biomed Opt Express. 2014 Mar 1;5(3):817-831. PMID: 24688816, PMCID: PMC3959840, https://doi.org/10.1364/BOE.5.000817

Hajjarian Z, Nadkarni SK. Evaluation and correction for optical scattering variations in laser speckle rheology of biological fluids. PLoS One. 2013;8(5): e65014. PMID: 23705028, PMCID: PMC3660338, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0065014

Hajjarian Z, Nadkarni SK. Evaluating the viscoelastic properties of the tissue from laser speckle fluctuations. Sci Rep. 2012; 2:316. PMID: 22428085, PMCID: PMC3306019, https://doi.org/10.1038/srep00316

Hajjarian Z, Xi J, Jaffer FA, Tearney GJ, Nadkarni SK. Intravascular laser speckle imaging catheter for the mechanical evaluation of the arterial wall. J Biomed Opt. 2011 Feb;16(2):026005. PMID: 21361689, PMCID: PMC3056316, https://doi.org/10.1117/1.3533322