Larissa Zhou headshot

I am a food scientist and engineer.

I received my PhD in Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science from Harvard University in 2024. My research is on improving how humans eat in low-resource environments, with a focus on cooking in space (5-min video explaining my work). My PhD work was supported by the extraordinary NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (it's evolved into the current NSTRGO; if you're a grad student working on space-related research, you must apply!). I draw widely from food science, aerospace engineering, systems engineering, and international development.

Previously, I spent 5 years as the food scientist at Modernist Cuisine, where I led technical R&D on the award-winning, extremely heavy, 5-volume Modernist Bread. I got my start in the field by designing and teaching classes on the science of cooking at Harvard and UCLA. I received my AB in Physics with a minor in Social Anthropology from Harvard in 2011.

I've also worked with the following organizations: Off Their Plate, Fundació Alícia, The Nordic Food Lab, and Black Sesame Kitchen.

Contact me at zhou6(at)

Sept 2023: I successfully defend my PhD dissertation "Cooking in Space: Food Systems and Technologies for Long-Duration Space Travel"! Thank you to all the friends, colleagues, and mentors who showed up in person and tuned in from afar. It was super fun to share what I had worked on for so long in a cohesive way. I even got to show the $10,000 orange clip from the comedy series Space Force as part of my motivation.
Aug 2023: I conduct an AMA with the thoughtful community members of Scope of Work. Full transcript here.
Jan 2023: I'm at APS CuWIP @ BU, giving a talk about my research through the lens of physics identity and belonging.
Dec 2022: I'm on This American Life! I talk about coming to terms with my neither-here-nor-there accent. And for the record, the library DID accept me as a book recorder, and I loved volunteering there.
Oct 2022: I'm at IAC, running an interactive session on Space Technology for Food System Resilience and Sustainability with co-conspirator Maggie Coblentz.
Sept 2022: Thank you to Harvard for putting together this 5-min video explainer about my work on H0TP0T.
Aug 2022: I stand up in front of strangers and talk about the supreme delight and fear of doing research on The Story Collider (start 15"20").