Pardis Sabeti
Pardi Sabeti receives an honorary degree from President Biddy Martin on May 24, 2015

Doctor of Science

Dr. Pardis Sabeti is a computational geneticist who specializes in genetic diversity, devising algorithms to detect genetic signatures of natural selection and carrying out genetic association studies. An associate professor at the Center for Systems Biology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Sabeti has been widely recognized for her discoveries related to the evolution and spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

In 2014, Sabeti led a group of researchers who used genomic sequencing technology to uncover the origins and human-to-human spread of the virus. Using blood samples collected from 78 people in Sierra Leone, her team also demonstrated how genetic mutations within the virus could affect diagnostics, vaccines and therapies. Their findings were published in Science magazine last August. Time magazine featured Sabeti in its “Person of the Year” issue, in which it honored Ebola fighters.

Sabeti first gained prominence as a student at Harvard Medical School, when she applied her data from years-long malaria research into an algorithm she designed. The results provided new information about human resistance to the disease.

Outside the classroom and lab, Sabeti hosts the educational series Against All Odds: Inside Statistics, sponsored by Annenberg Lerner and included in many high school statistics courses. She is also lead singer, songwriter and bass player for the rock band Thousand Days. The Boston-based group released its fifth album in February.

Born in Iran, Sabeti grew up in Florida and graduated from MIT in 1997. She received a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a doctorate in evolutionary genetics from Oxford in 2002. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 2006, only the third woman in history to do so. She is the recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award, a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health and an American Ingenuity Award in the Natural Sciences category from Smithsonian magazine.


audio Hear talks given by the honorary degree recipients over Commencement Weekend.