Who We Are

Serving the community of
religious, spiritual, and ethical
traditions at MIT

With over 20 chaplains representing many of the world’s religious, spiritual and ethical traditions, and more than 25 different student communities, ORSEL reflects the diversity of the institute’s community. Through regular opportunities for worship, meditation, prayer, and study, the office is a resource for students, faculty, and staff, of all faith traditions and belief systems.

For more information on student groups, visit

The chaplains provide religious, spiritual, and ethical programming, as well as confidential* counseling and crisis support. Please find bios and contact information for chaplains in the menu to the right.

*Chaplains who are ordained clergy within their religious traditions are confidential resources for members of the community.

ORSEL Staff and Affiliated Chaplains

After seven years as MIT’s Episcopal Chaplain, Thea Keith-Lucas is the Chaplain to the Institute at MIT, which makes her the university’s primary interfaith chaplain and leader of its Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life. She recently took on this role after serving in an interim capacity for a year and a half. From 2013 to 2020, Thea served a small community of progressive Christians as the Episcopal Chaplain at MIT. She was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2006 and previously served parishes in Randolph, Mass. and Danvers, Mass.

Nina Lytton is a Humanist Chaplain and Celebrant, a Candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry, and a member of the social justice activist community at MIT. Most recently she served as an Interfaith Chaplain in Clinical Pastoral Education at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Nina comes to ministry after a career in high tech and an informative detour in microbrewing. Nina is of European and Native American ancestry, and practices the Hawaiian culture with her Big Island ohana. She has an economics degree from Princeton, a business degree from the MIT Sloan School, and an M.Div from Meadville Lombard Theological School. Nina engages in spiritual practices anchored by movement—stargazing, watching the sun and moon rise and set, beachcombing, ocean swimming, walking, hiking, yoga, dance, knitting, looking out an airplane window. Nina enjoys watching things grow—from young people and small companies to roof gardening and fringe theatre.

Originally from South Carolina, Cody Sanders grew up gay and Baptist in a conservative part of the country, sensing a call to ministry that he was unsure he'd ever be able to fulfill. The pathway toward integrating sexuality, faith, and eventually ordination to ministry led Cody to Cambridge in 2015 where he serves as pastor to the Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Harvard Square, American Baptist Chaplain to Harvard University, and in the role of Advisor for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life at MIT. In addition to his role as a Baptist minister, Cody's academic specialization is in the intersection of sexuality, gender identity, and religion. He earned the Ph.D. in pastoral theology and pastoral counseling from Brite Divinity School at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, where his dissertation addressed the role of spiritual and religious narratives in the suicide experience of LGBTQ people and how they constructively reworked those narratives in the aftermath of surviving. He has published a number of articles and books addressing the intersection of religion and the embodiment of human difference, including A Brief Guide to Ministry with LGBTQIA Youth (Westminster John Knox, 2017). He counts it a privilege to help cultivate communities of affirmation where the religious, spiritual, and ethical lives of LGBTQ people can thrive and flourish.

Christina English has been part-time administrator in the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life at MIT since 2007. She handles various aspects of communications, project management, and office management, and she is always available to help you find the best resources for your needs. Christina earned her M.M. in vocal performance from New England Conservatory and a B.A. in music from Loyola Marymount University, where she was part of the University Honors Program, a selective course dedicated to fostering an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and creative community of scholars. In addition to her work at MIT, Christina is a nonprofit arts administrator and maintains an active singing career, appearing in opera, concert, and musical theater productions throughout New England. Learn more at

Brian Aull is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana. He studied electrical engineering at Purdue University and then at MIT, earning his Ph.D. in 1985.   Since then, he has worked as a staff scientist at MIT developing solid-state image sensors. An adherent of the Bahá’í Faith since 1981, Brian is interested in interfaith work, the dialogue between religion and science, and the role of spirituality in creating a peaceful and just society. His most recent project is the publication of a book, The Triad: Three Civic Virtues That Could Save American Democracy.

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi is President & CEO of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a center dedicated to inquiry, dialogue, and education on the ethical and humane dimensions of life. The Center is a collaborative and nonpartisan think tank, and its programs emphasize responsibility and examine meaningfulness and moral purpose between individuals, organizations, and societies. Six Nobel Peace Laureates serve as The Center’s founding members and its programs run in several countries and are expanding.

Venerable Tenzin's unusual background encompasses entering a Buddhist monastery at the age of ten and receiving graduate education at Harvard University with degrees ranging from Philosophy to Physics to International Relations. He is a Tribeca Disruptive Fellow and a 2018 Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Venerable Tenzin serves on the boards of number of academic, humanitarian, and religious organizations. He is the recipient of several recognitions and awards, and received Harvard’s Distinguished Alumni Honors for his visionary contributions to humanity.

Father Michael Medas, M.S.W., joins the MIT community with 32 years of varied and creative experience as a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston serving the local Church, and in service as a chaplain in the United States Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard. Through those years a quote from Pope Saint John XXIII has been a dynamic light: “Seek what unites, not what divides you one from another.” Fr Michael and the Tech Catholic Community welcomes all as brothers and sisters.

Rev. Michael Dean grew up in Greater Boston. As a chaplain at MIT for the last few decades he has led Baptist Campus Ministry and served as advisor for Baptist Student Fellowship. He leads a team at MIT who serve students well.  He enjoys the global diversity within the Christian faith and the unity shared by followers of Jesus. He has also sponsored a free English class for international students & spouses for twenty years. Michael loves time with his wife & kids & enjoys outdoor sports & recreation.

Pastor Andrew Heisen is a native New England Lutheran baptized in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He spent six summers working with youth as a counselor, head counselor, and finally the trainer of new counselors-in-training at Calumet Lutheran Camp in Ossipee, NH. He attended Dartmouth College, graduating with degrees in music composition and computer science. This led to four years of working in Johnson & Johnson’s IT “Advanced Technology Research” division and two years as a bartender before attending the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and then Andover Newton Theological School, from which he received a Master of Divinity. Pastor Heisen served for 7 years as pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Shrewsbury, MA, before becoming a chaplain at MIT. His interests include ecumenical and interfaith cooperation, creativity in fostering communities of faith, teaching, music, and social justice.

Susan Butterwoth Susan Butterworth has lived all her life on the coast of Boston’s North Shore. She has been involved in the Lutheran Episcopal Ministry at MIT as an intern, member of the community, and Taizé prayer leader since 2015. She holds a B.A. in French and Political Science from Tufts University and a M.A. in English from Salem State University, where she taught English composition and literature before earning her Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School in 2017. Her areas of special study at EDS encompass Anglican, Global, Ecumenical and Interfaith Studies. Susan’s training includes choral singing and leading congregational singing, as well as leading bedside music vigils for those suffering from dementia and in hospice care. She assists with liturgy and pastoral care at her home parish, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Marblehead.

While MIT does not have an Orthodox Christian chaplain, students can connect with the Orthodox Christian Fellowship student group at

Rev. Natalie Hill is a Methodist minister and chaplain to MIT from the Welsey Foundation, a Boston Cambridge Ministry in Higher Education, founded by an ecumenical consortium of UMC, UCC, PC(USA), and American Baptist traditions. Natalie holds a B.A. and M.Div. from Boston University, and an M.S.W. from Simmons College. She worked as a clinical social worker for many years with a specialization in eating disorders, and entered ministry as an extension of this work. She is particularly interested in the role of spirituality in emotional wellbeing, as well as the intersection of faith, food, and embodiment. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was known to say that the world was his parish. Natalie invites students to instead view the world as their laboratory, bringing their questions and creativity into a wide range of life experiences

Rev. Solomon Kim is the Reformed University Fellowship chaplain at MIT and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He has been serving as the RUF pastor at MIT since its beginning in 2015. Previously, Solomon worked as a data analyst for a software company and in various ministry settings including college ministry in Florida and church planting in California. He graduated with a B.S. in Operations Research from Cornell University and an M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary.

Solomon was born and raised in Los Angeles, and has also lived in the Pacific Northwest, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Korea - and not in that order. He currently lives in Somerville with his wife, Jane, and their two kids. These days, Solomon enjoys golfing, browsing the MIT Press bookstore, making coffee, and traveling with his family.

Sadananda Dasa did his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Allahabad and later his MBA from S P Jain Institute of Management, Mumbai, India. Sadananda has accumulated 10 years of experience in the corporate world in various management positions. During his stint of four years as a Lead Consultant at Infosys, he took keen interest in the philosophy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (a fifteenth century saint who inaugurated the Bhakti Movement of India). He joined ISKCON Bangalore in 2011 and was trained in the philosophy and practice of Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Srimad Bhagavatam. He also received diksha (spiritual initiation) from Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of ISKCON, under the Officiating Acharya system of initiation. While in ISKCON Bangalore, he actively counselled hundreds of students and young IT engineers in professional-personal life balance, peer pressure and stress management, life enrichment programs, meditation techniques, Yoga for Happiness – all on the principles of Bhagavad Gita.

Since August 2016, he is located in Boston, MA and continues to counsel students, university faculty and young families and help them as a spiritual guide. He also conducts online courses on meditation and Vedic literatures for students and young people from around the world. He also spends considerable time of his day in spiritual practices, mantra meditation, self-study and distance-study of Vedic literatures with his seniors in ISKCON Bangalore.

“Helping others to spiritually enrich their lives with wisdom, refined character, compassion and happiness is my life’s mission,” says Sadananda.


Swami Tyagananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order since 1976, is the head of the Vedanta Society in Boston, and is the Hindu Chaplain both at MIT and Harvard; Prior to coming to the United States, Swami was for eleven years the editor of the English language journal Vedanta Kesari based in Chennai, India. He has written, translated and edited ten books, including Monasticism: Ideals and Traditions (1991), Values: The Key to a Meaningful Life (1996), The Essence of the Gita (2000), Interpreting Ramakrishna (2011), Walking the Walk: A Karma Yoga Manual (2013), Knowing the Knower: A Jnana Yoga Manual (2017), and Vivekachudamani: A Vedanta Manual (2021).

Swami Tyagananda has presented papers at academic conferences and he gives lectures and classes at the Vedanta Society as well as at MIT, Harvard and, on invitation, other colleges and religious groups in North America; He shares the insights of his tradition on the campus, collaborating with the Hindu Students’ Council (HSC-MIT). The weekly meetings at the Vedanta Society consist of prayer, guided meditation, study of spiritual texts, and informal discussions; Swami makes himself available for personal interviews, meditation instruction, and spiritual guidance, and can be reached via e-mail or phone.

Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and MIT, and as Convenor for Ethical Life at MIT’s ORSEL. He is author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Good Without God.

A Harvard chaplain since 2004, Greg’s 2018 appointment at MIT marked a major career transition. After building a congregation of “atheists, agnostics, and allies” meeting more than 1,000 times between 2013-2018, Greg and colleagues shut the community down in 2018. A decisive factor was Greg’s conclusion that many secular young people he hoped to serve already were already active participants in a kind of congregation — but their community, rather than following a specific creed, could be summed up in a word: “technology.” He is now delighted to help people at a technological institute think about how to live ethically and meaningfully in a technological world; and how to be vulnerable and human when those around us too often expect us to act like impervious machines.

When not having deep discussions with MIT and Harvard affiliates, Greg can be found playing with his young son, planning a weekend family outing with his wife, hosting or appearing on podcasts, or writing. In 2019-2020 Greg was the “Ethicist in Residence” at TechCrunch; in 2021 he is a regular contributor to The Boston Globe. Other bylines include, The Washington Post, and Newsweek. He is currently working on a book about technology, religion, and humanism. For more information, see Greg’s LinkTree or find him on Twitter or LinkedIn. For a meeting, email Greg from your MIT email address and ask for the link to his Calendly.

Born in the heart of Brooklyn, Rabbi Menachem Altein was raised together with his 11 siblings by his parents, Rabbi Yaakov Altein, a leading scholar and author on Chassidic texts, and Mrs. Chava Altein, principal of Beth Rivka - the largest Chabad girls’ school in Brooklyn. Beginning Talmudic studies at the age of 10, his formal education in Chassidic philosophy began at Lubavitch Mesivta High School in Chicago. From there he went on to Yeshiva in Manchester, England, for 2 years to advance his Judaic studies and its practical application.

Continuing his advanced studies in Jewish mysticism and Chabad texts, he spent 2 years at the Rabbinical College of America (Morristown, NJ), where he received his BA in Religious Studies. Having taught for a year in Yeshiva Ohr Elchanan in Los Angeles, he returned to Brooklyn to further his study of Halacha (Jewish law) and received rabbinical ordination at Chabad World Headquarters in 2013.

After marrying his wife, Mussy, he studied a year in a Kollel in Midtown Manhattan, before moving to Cambridge in the summer of 2014 to head the new Chabad center at MIT, founded by Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, director of Chabad Lubavitch of Cambridge and Jewish chaplain at Harvard University.

Rabbi Michelle H. Fisher SM ’97 is the Executive Director of MIT Hillel, a job that now synthesizes her two academic courses of studies.  As an undergraduate at Princeton University and as a graduate student at MIT, she studied organic chemistry.  She received a Wexner Graduate Fellowship to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary in NY, from which she received her ordination in 2002. Before returning to MIT in her current role, Rabbi Fisher served as the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, MD and the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek, CA.  She also served as a Naval Chaplain Candidate, ministering to Jewish and non-Jewish sailors and Marines.

Rabbi Fisher has a passion for teaching, and for helping Jews of all ages travel along the paths of their Jewish journeys.  She loves the questioning and exploring that is inherent in the lives of emerging adults on the college campus, and is inspired by the dream that every MIT Jew will graduate from the Institute being able to see their lives, including the work they do in science and engineering, through a Jewish lens.  She describes her second career at MIT as “the mothership calling her home,” and she’s thrilled every day to be at the Institute.

Sister Nada El-Alami has been the MIT Muslim Chaplain to the Institute since 2017. She works with Dr. Hossein Mosallaei, the Muslim Shia Chaplain and is the advisor to MSA (Muslim Student Association). Sister Nada serves the needs of all MIT Muslims by providing spiritual programming, supporting students, and advocating for student needs on campus.

Prior to coming to MIT, Sister Nada served for over 15 years in leading spiritual study circles. She has planned and supported faith-oriented programs, such as camps and retreats, both locally and nationally. She has also led educational institutions focusing on young Muslims.

Sister Nada holds a BA in psychology and an MA in Administration and Leadership. Furthermore, Sister Nada has been awarded an Ijaza (authenticated certificate) in teaching Qur’anic reading.

Hossein Mosallaei is a Muslim Shia chaplain at MIT. He has been actively involved with student groups at different universities, also helping Shia student efforts at MIT from 2007 with Mobin and MSA also under ZEKR, in organizing various programs including Quran Study, Dua Kumayl, Nahj al-Balagha, Sahifa Sajjadiya, and Lecture Series. His vision is to be a good support for Muslim students in keeping them spiritually fulfilled while they pursue their studies.

Daryush Mehta is the Zoroastrian chaplain at Harvard and;MIT, an active member of the Zoroastrian Association of the Greater Boston Area(ZAGBA), andresearch scientist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in the field of voice and speech disorders. Daryush arrived to MIT for graduate school and became involved in ZAGBA, helping co-found the Zoroastrian Students of Boston (ZSB) that brought together students and youth from around the area to perform service activities, engage in religious dialog, and host eminent Zoroastrian leaders and scholars.

Daryush is honored to continue the good work of Dr. Cyrus Mehta who diligently represented the Zoroastrian community as MIT Chaplain for 15 years. Although not a minister by training, Daryush's maternal grandfather, Dasturji N. D. Minochehr-Homji, was a High Priest of the Zoroastrian community in Bombay and an eminent religious scholar. His grandfather’s teachings, kindness, and philosophy of dialog and inclusion are imbibed within Daryush. Along with Dr. Mehta, Daryush helps organize a Gatha Study Group that meets regularly at Harvard to discuss the Gathic scripture (holy songs) of the prophet Zarathushtra.

Among the chaplains of MIT, many of whom are affiliated with faculty, professors are Dave’s main focus. A co-founder of the first Faculty Roundtable in 2002 among The Five Colleges in the Amherst MA area, and co-chair of the Cambridge Roundtable, Dave partners with Rev. Dr. Danny Yamashiro and Affiliated Chaplains Bill Hager and Rev. Dr. Nathan Barczi. Dave is also the Project Director for a John Templeton Foundation funded project of 12 teams of colleagues from Boston to Chicago to Duke and the eight Ivies who are professionals at convening Faculty Roundtables to explore science, faith, and philosophy
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