I am an Assistant Professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. I received my PhD in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. My doctoral dissertation was awarded the Alain Fournier Ph.D. Dissertation Annual Award. Prior to joining CMU's faculty, I was a Research Scientist working in the Disney Research Zurich lab. I am interested in a variety of research topics that include control strategies, motion planning algorithms, physics-based modeling, computational design and digital fabrication. As an overarching goal that unifies these topics, I aim to develop mathematical models that can be used to understand and explore the relationship between form and function for devices ranging from artistic artifacts to complex robotic systems. For my work in this area, I was the recipient of an Intel Early Career Faculty Award. TedXZurich and Robotics Institute Seminar talks I gave are available online.
NEW: I am looking for motivated students and postdocs with strong mathematical backgrounds and a passion for computer graphics and/or robotics. Interested students should apply through the SCS online application system - deadline is in early December!
I am interested in a broad range of problems that span the fields of computer graphics, robotics, biomechanics, computational design and digital fabrication. Some of my main lines of research are as follows:
3D Printable Robots: In the not-so-distant future, a rich ecosystem of robotic devices will be tightly integrated in our daily lives. Robots that help with housekeeping, gardening and do-it-yourself projects, assistance devices for people with disabilities, robot companions for exploration and search-and-rescue operations, interactive kinetic art, smart furniture that adjusts to individual needs, robotic pets for therapy, education and entertainment, these will all fundamentally change the way we work, learn and play. Many of these devices will have to be specifically created for different tasks, or according to the individual needs and preferences of their users. Consequently, current approaches that rely on mass-producing a small number of designs are likely to become too limiting. My research investigates mathematical models, computational design methods and fabrication techniques that may change how future robotic devices are designed, manufactured and controlled.
Next-gen CAD tools: 3D Printing is forecasted to significantly impact the global economy over the next decade. This is for two main reasons. First, 3D printing eliminates constraints associated with traditional manufacturing techniques, leading to a limitless space of designs for arbitrarily complex structures composed of materials ranging from titanium to biological tissues. Second, it gives anyone - artists, tinkerers, even children - the means to create unique, personalized artifacts. The combination of vast design spaces and new class of designers requires the development of next generation computational design tools that will leverage the 3D printing revolution. To this end, I am interested in digital geometry representations, optimization methods, physically-based simulation and forward and inverse models for computer-aided design.
Motor Control Models: Humans and animals move with remarkable skill, grace and agility. And while we devote little thought to moving around, even everyday tasks like walking require a tremendously complex interplay of sensory information processing, motion planning, and coordinated muscle control. One of my main research goals is to study the mathematical, biomechanical and motor-learning principles required to reproduce the wide range of motions displayed by humans and animals. In addition to direct applications to character animation and robotics, this line of research could potentially inform problem domains as diverse as studying the locomotion behavior of dinosaurs or predicting a patient's ability to walk after surgery.
Novel Tools for Animation: Animation plays a central role in creating the immersive virtual worlds we see in video games, CG movies and virtual training simulators. Given the growing demand for increased complexity and realism in these digital worlds, the evolution of animation techniques has never been more important. Consequently, I am interested in developing new methods for a variety of different application domains: from techniques that leverage the skill of professional animators, to tools that allow children to create animated versions of their imaginative stories; from models for simulating and controlling the behavior of passive objects, to methods that breathe life into virtual characters; from highly accurate simulations of the human musculoskeletal system, to autonomous digital creatures that can be directed with high-level commands, as if they were actors under the guidance of a film director.
In the News
Makezine: Design Tool for 3D-Printable Robots from Disney Research
3ders: Disney Research makes 3D printable robotic design easier than ever with interactive design tool
IEEE Spectrum: Disney Software Makes It Easy to Design and Print Custom Walking Robots
Wired UK: Disney Research helps novices 3D print robots from scratch
New Scientist: 3D print extra bits for old objects to help extend their life
Wired: Disney Infinity STAR WARS reinvents the classic AT-AT takedown
Gizmag: Disney Research software makes mechanizing characters easy
Gizmodo: Animatronics Could Go Mainstream Thanks to Disney's Latest Program
Wired: Disney Research: computational design of mechanical characters
Wired UK: Disney software simplifies creation of gear-driven automata
The Engineer UK: Mechanical motion added to 3D-printed creations
3D Printing Industry: Disney Develops Method to Simplify Animatronics with 3D Printable Parts
Phys.org: Software systems add motion to physical characters