Faculty

Aaron Ames

Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Control and Dynamical Systems

Professor Ames’ research interests center on robotics, nonlinear control, hybrid systems and cyber-physical systems, with special emphasis on foundational theory and experimental realization on robotic systems; his lab designs, builds and tests novel bipedal robots and prosthesis with the goal of achieving human-like bipedal robotic walking and translating these capabilities to robotic assistive devices.

José E. Andrade

George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Cecil and Sally Drinkward Leadership Chair, Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering

Professor Andrade's research focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of the multiscale and multiphysical behaviors of porous materials—everything from soils, rocks, and concrete to bone. He also studies the behavior of granular materials like sand, snow, and even grain stored in silos. His research has particular applications to geologic and engineering infrastructure materials, as well as to the petroleum industry.

Domniki Asimaki

Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering

Professor Asimaki's research combines geotechnical engineering, computational mechanics and structural dynamics to study natural ground surface features and man-made geotechnical systems --such as ridges, valleys, dams, tunnels, building foundations and offshore structures. She is particularly interested in assimilating high fidelity numerical simulations, field and experimental data, to develop engineering design models of infrastructure, resilient to hazards on urban scales and regional scales.

Jean-Philippe Avouac

Earle C. Anthony Professor of Geology and Mechanical and Civil Engineering

My research aims mainly at understanding better earthquakes, crustal deformation, and geomorphic processes.  
We use field observations, seismological and geodetic measurements, remote sensing to develop kinematic and dynamic models and inform theory.  Currently active projects concern: seismicity  and mountain building processes in the Himalaya; the imaging and dynamic analysis of seismic (‘regular earthquakes’) and aseismic (‘slow earthquakes’) fault slip; probabilistic forecasting of ground deformation and seismicity, in particular in the context of subsurface engineering operations (for CO2 storage or geothermal energy production for example; the effect of hydrology on crustal deformation and seismicity; ); dune dynamics on Mars and Earth

Kaushik Bhattacharya

Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science; Vice Provost

Professor Bhattacharya studies the mechanical behavior of solids, and specifically uses theory to guide the development of new materials.  Current research concerns three broad areas: (i) Active materials such as shape-memory alloys, ferroelectrics and liquid crystal elastomers, (ii) Heterogeneous materials and designing unprecedented properties by exploiting heterogeneities, (iii) Coarse-grained density functional theory to understand defects in solids.

Guillaume Blanquart

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Guillaume Blanquart focuses on modeling the interactions between combustion processes and turbulent flows. At the center of the work are fundamental problems such as the formation of pollutants, the effects of turbulence on the dynamics of nano-particles, and various hydrodynamic and flame instabilities.

John F. Brady

Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering; Executive Officer for Chemical Engineering

John Brady focuses on fluid mechanics and transport processes, and complex and multiphase fluids.

Joel W. Burdick

Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist

Professor Burdick focuses on robotics, kinematics, mechanical systems and control. Active research areas include: robotic locomotion, sensor-based motion planning algorithms, multi-fingered robotic manipulation, applied nonlinear control theory, neural prosthetics, and medical applications of robotics.

Tim Colonius

Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Colonius studies complex, multiscale flow phenomena and their control using theory, numerical experiments, and simulations. Simulations from his lab have provided key insights into such subject areas as turbulence, instabilities, sources of sound, and shock and bubble dynamics. His research has broad applications—from ultrasound imaging and therapy to mitigating jet noise to generating energy from flow systems.

Chiara Daraio

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

Professor Daraio focuses on materials science, condensed matter physics, and solid mechanics. Her lab is primarily interested in:

1. Developing a physical understanding of how stress propagates in nonlinear, ordered and disordered solid media at length scales ranging from nanometers to meters.

2. Studing the fundamental connections between structure and function in different physical domains (temperature sensitivity, electrical conductivity, etc.).

3. Exploiting this understanding for the creation of new materials and devices for engineering applications ranging from optomechanics to shock absorption.

To achieve these goals, her research takes advantage of nonlinearities in local material interactions (e.g., Hertzian contact interactions between particles or nonlinear interactions between nanostructures) to create novel systems and new materials with unprecedented global properties. These materials are composite systems in which typically basis elements that interact are arranged in well-defined geometries, such that the aggregate system as a whole exhibits properties that are not usually found in natural systems and can be exploited in engineering applications. Our work is primarily experimental, but it is informed by numerical and analytical studies, which serve as a guide in metamaterial construction and validation of their properties.

Julia R. Greer

Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering

Professor Greer focuses on nano-scale phenomena: mechanical properties, in-situ deformation, and nano-fabrication.

John F. Hall

Professor of Civil Engineering

John Hall's research interests include earthquake engineering, structural engineering, structural dynamics, strong ground motion, finite element modeling, and earthquake reconnaissance.

Thomas H. Heaton

Professor of Engineering Seismology

Professor Heaton focuses on engineering seismology, and earthquake rupture physics.  Special focus on earthquake early warning; understanding ground motions that cause building collapse; multi-scale self-organizing systems in dynamic rupture.

Melany L. Hunt

Dotty and Dick Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Hunt focuses on the transport and mechanics of multiphase systems including granular and particulate flows, fluidized beds, porous media, and related energy systems. 

Nadia Lapusta

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics

Professor Lapusta studies friction and fracture phenomena on both fundamental and practical levels.  Her work focuses on analytical and numerical modeling that incorporates and explains experimental findings. She has a special interest in failure of geomaterials in the presence of fluids, physics of earthquakes, and induced seismicity, where frictional faulting and cracking are key ingredients.

Austin Minnich

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

Professor Minnich researches the physics and engineering of nanoscale heat transport. Nanostructured materials have novel thermal properties with applications in energy such as for thermoelectric materials, which convert heat directly to electricity. Minnich uses experimental techniques, including ultrafast optical experiments, to study transport at the length and time scales of the energy carriers themselves. These experiments measure properties of the energy carriers that are lost at macroscopic scales, allowing for a more complete understanding of nanoscale transport physics. Minnich also uses these results to design novel materials and thermal devices, such as more efficient thermoelectric materials and devices for thermal energy storage.

Richard M. Murray

Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering

Research in Richard Murray's group is in the application of feedback and control to networked systems, with applications in biology and autonomy. Current projects include novel control system architectures, biomolecular feedback systems and networked control systems.

Michael Ortiz

Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering

Professor Ortiz's research interests include solid mechanics, computational mechanics, and nonlinear and failure processes in solids.

Sergio Pellegrino

Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aerospace and Civil Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project

Professor Pellegrino's research focuses on lightweight structures and particularly on problems involving packaging, deployment, shape control and stability.

Guruswami (Ravi) Ravichandran

John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science

Professor Ravichandran's research focuses on deformation and failure of materials, dynamic behavior, wave propagation, micro/nano mechanics, composites, active materials, biomaterials and cell mechanics, and experimental mechanics.

Ares J. Rosakis

Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering

Solid mechanics, dynamic mechanical properties, ballistic impact, hypervelocity impact of micrometeorites on spacecraft, dynamic fracture and fragmentation, adiabatic shear banding, mechanics of metallic glasses, mechanics of thin films, mechanics of geological materials, restoration of ancient stone monuments, earthquake fault mechanics, induced seismicity.

Joseph E. Shepherd

C. L. "Kelly" Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering; Allen V. C. Davis and Lenabelle Davis Leadership Chair, Student Affairs; Vice President for Student Affairs

Joe Shepherd teaches and conducts research on fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, chemistry, thermodynamics, and structural mechanics with applications to explosion dynamics, industrial safety including aviation and nuclear power, high-speed flight and propulsion,  fluid-structure interaction, energy conversion technologies, and medical devices.

Yu-Chong Tai

Anna L. Rosen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Andrew and Peggy Cherng Medical Engineering Leadership Chair; Executive Officer for Medical Engineering

Professor Tai’s research uses MEMS/NEMS technologies for medical applications. He has built the Caltech MEMS Laboratory (http://mems.caltech.edu), an 8,000-square-foot facility completely dedicated to medical devices. This facility has a clean-room (~3,000 sq. ft), CAD lab, a measurement/test/metrology lab, and a biological lab. It supports more than 20 researchers (graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, visiting scholars and industrial members) to develop innovative MEMS/NEMS and medical devices. Examples of MEMS/NEMS devices include micromotors, microphones, neural chips, micro relays, micro power generators, micro valves, micro pumps, etc. Over the past 15 years, Prof. Tai has launched a major research effort to apply all these technologies to medical devices. Research examples include HPLC-on-a-chip, blood-labs-on-a-chip, and micro drug delivery. More specifically, Tai’s group has had a major program for miniature or micro implants. To this end, Prof. Tai collaborates with many medical doctors and biologist (such as from USC, UCLA, and industries) to develop integrated implants for cortical, retinal and spinal applications. Micro implant devices included spinal neural stimulators, ECG implants, retinal prosthetic devices, intraocular lenses, etc. Tai's group is always looking for students, postdocs and researchers who love technology and enjoy building medical devices.

Sandra M. Troian

Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering

The Laboratory of Interfacial and Small Scale Transport {LIS2T} in the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology specializes in both fundamental analysis and engineering design of micro/nanoscale fluidic systems. Of particular interest are small scale systems  dominated by large surface forces due to patterned capillary, van der Waals, Maxwell, thermocapillary and Marangoni fields. Theoretical analysis, numerical simulations (both continuum and molecular scale) and experimentation are all used to develop fundamental physical insight as well as robust design principles for application driven projects. Group focus is on formation, propagation, stability, coupling and control of nonlinear wave phenomena at the micro/nanoscale which induces rapid transport of mass, momentum and heat at moving interfaces. Systems of current theoretical interest include cusp formation in thermally and electrically driven thin films for super anti-reflecting coatings and space micropropulsion devices; nanofluidic phenomena involving Kapitza thermal jumps, layering transitions and thermal rectification in nanoscale devices; spatio-temporal parametric resonance and array formations in thin polymeric films exposed to large thermocapillary and Maxwell patterned fields; Lyapunov, modal and transient growth stability analyses of non-normal systems at zero Reynolds number; capillary and field enhanced propellant management systems for space micropropulsion applications; and solution of inverse problems for 3D lithographic patterning of nanofilms. Systems of current experimental interest include non-contact lithography of 3D micro-optical structures by patterned external fields; Marangoni wave phenomena and fractal wavefronts in biophysical systems; influence of layering transitions on slip behavior in nanoscale films; and optical wave propagation in structured polymeric waveguides.

Emeriti

Allan Acosta

Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus

James L. (Jim) Beck

George W. Housner Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus

Professor Beck focuses on the development of theory and algorithms for stochastic system modeling, uncertainty propagation and Bayesian updating of dynamic systems and networks based on sensor data, treating both modeling and excitation uncertainty. The primary computational tools are advanced stochastic simulation algorithms based on Markov chain Monte Carlo concepts. Some applications of current interest are stochastic predictions of the performance of structural systems under earthquakes, reliability assessment of technological networks, fast automated decision making for mitigation actions based on earthquake early warning systems, earthquake source inversions from seismic sensor networks, damage detection and assessment from structural sensor monitoring networks, Bayesian compressive sensing, and a stochastic mechanics approach to quantum mechanics.

Christopher E. Brennen

Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus

Norman H. Brooks

James Irvine Professor of Environmental and Civil Engineering, Emeritus

Fred Culick

Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Jet Propulsion, Emeritus

Wilfred Iwan

Professor of Applied Mechanics, Emeritus

Paul C. Jennings

Professor of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Emeritus

Theodore Y. Wu

Professor of Engineering Science, Emeritus