People

Director

Elliott J. Rouse, PhD

Dr. Rouse is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Neurobionics Lab. The vision of his group is to discover the fundamental science that underlies human joint dynamics during locomotion and incorporate these discoveries in a new class of wearable robotic technologies. The Lab uses technical tools from mechanical and biomedical engineering applied to the complex challenges of human augmentation, physical medicine, rehabilitation and neuroscience. Dr. Rouse and his research have been featured at TED, on the Discovery Channel, CNN, National Public Radio, Wired Magazine UK, Business Insider, and Odyssey Magazine.

Dr. Rouse is a member of the IEEE Robotics and Automation  Society and the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, as well as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a member of the IEEE EMBS Technical Committee on Biorobotics, and is on the Editorial Board of  RESNA’s Assistive Technology journal. He is dedicated to effective student mentoring and training, as well as translating his research to the public through entrepreneurship; he holds patents for the design and control of wearable robotic systems.

Dr. Rouse received the BS degree in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University in 2007, and the MS and PhD degrees in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Subsequently, he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Postdoctoral Fellow, working with the Biomechatronics Group in the MIT Media Lab. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Dr. Rouse was faculty in the School’s of Medicine and Engineering at Northwestern University, and a Research Scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the RIC). More information can be found on his personal website.

Postdocs

Tyler Clites, PhD     Mechanical Engineering

Tyler Clites builds human cyborgs. After graduating from Harvard in 2014 with a BS in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, Tyler earned his PhD in 2018 from the Harvard/MIT program in Health Sciences and Technology. He carried out his doctoral research in the Biomechatronics Group (Professor Hugh Herr, MIT Media Lab), where he developed novel techniques for limb amputation surgery, with the goal of improving the neural and mechanical interfaces between persons with amputation and their prosthetic devices. As of January 2019, he is a postdoc at the University of Michigan (Professor Elliott Rouse, Mechanical Engineering), where he is focused on the mechanical design of advanced prosthetic limbs.  His work has been funded by DARPA and other mechanisms within the Department of Defense, as well as the NIH. Tyler is an NSF graduate research fellow, and was recently awarded the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for excellence in invention.

Varun Joshi, PhD     Mechanical Engineering

Varun Joshi earned B.Tech and M.Tech degrees in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras in 2012, and a PhD from The Ohio State University in 2018. His doctoral research, with Prof. Manoj Srinivasan, was focused on using perturbation experiments and trajectory optimization to understand human stability and to develop dynamic simulations of stable human walkers. Varun is currently a postdoc at the University of Michigan studying the dynamics of pathological gait, working with Prof. Elliott Rouse (Neurobionics lab) and Prof. Chandramouli Krishnan (NeuRRo Lab). His research interests lie in understanding the movement of biological systems and recreating their capabilities with computer simulations and robotic hardware.

Gray Cortright Thomas, PhD       Electrical and Computer Engineering

Gray Thomas dreams of grandparents teaching soccer to children over the jet engine wails of their high power exoskeletons. With a self-designed 2012 B.S. in Engineering: Robotics from Olin College of Engineering fresh in his hand, he began his career at the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition to work on an ostrich-inspired passive dynamic running robot. He joined their humanoid robotics team, and helped them win the 2013 DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge. He worked in Java and added, among other features, a multi-contact controller modification that allowed the simulated robot to enter and exit cars. He got his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in Mechanical Engineering, working with Professor Luis Sentis. His doctoral work delved deep into the theory of feedback control for uncertain series elastic actuators, which won him NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship NNX15AQ33H, “Controlling Robots with a Spring in Their Step,” and the opportunity to work with the NASA R5 Valkyrie humanoid. During this time, a collaborator (Prashant Rao) and he won the ICRA 2017 best paper award in manipulation for their work on the control limits imposed by series elasticity in robot hands. Yet he drifted away from humanoids when he discovered strong parallels between force control of series elastic actuators and strength amplification control for exoskeletons—and that exoskeletons are also multi-contact robots. Exoskeletons then led him to become a postdoc at the University of Michigan in October 2019, working with Professors Robert Gregg (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Elliott Rouse (Mechanical Engineering). Gray’s expertise has grown to include frequency domain control theory, system identification for uncertain systems, and linear matrix inequalities for robust control. Personal Website.

Doctoral Students

University of Michigan

Alejandro F. Azocar, MS     Mechanical Engineering

Alejandro received a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. As an undergraduate, Alejandro worked in the Land, Air, and Space Robotics (LASR) Lab; Vehicle Systems and Control Lab (VSCL); and the Advanced Mechanical Bipedal Experimental Robotics (AMBER) Lab. In addition to research, Alejandro completed six internships at NASA Johnson Space Center. His current research interests include the design and control of prostheses and exoskeletons, human-machine interaction, and rehabilitation of pathological gait.

Alejandro is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a GEM Associate Fellow. He is the 2015 recipient of the Sigma Gamma Tau Ammon S. Andes National Award, recognizing him as the top aerospace engineering student in the United States. He also received the 2013 NASA Aeronautics Scholarship. More information can be found on his personal website.

Raveena Doshi, BS     Mechanical Engineering

Raveena graduated from North Carolina State University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Her undergraduate research at the Movement Biomechanics Laboratory focused on the development of musculoskeletal models to study the effect of brachial plexus injury on gait. She also spent a summer at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where she developed guidance algorithms for missile defense. Raveena is a PhD Student at the University of Michigan and she is interested in research at the intersection of biomechanics, controls, and dynamics.

Kim Ingraham, MS     Mechanical Engineering

Kim is a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan. She received a BE in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2012. Before starting at Michigan, she worked as a Research Engineer in the Center for Bionic Medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. She is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and is interested in the control, optimization, and biomechanics of bionic prostheses and exoskeletons. More information can be found on her personal website

Ung Hee (Jordan) Lee, BS     Mechanical Engineering

Ung Hee is a PhD student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. His research interests include control of robots and robot programming, human & robot perception, and developing prosthetics using brain-machine interfaces. Ung Hee received a BS degree in Physics from Korea University in 2015. While he was in Korea, he worked in rehabilitation robotics research at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. Before joining the Neurobionics Lab, he worked in the Automotive Research Center at the University of Michigan from 2016 to 2017 and interned in Fetch Robotics Inc., as a robotics software engineer during Summer 2017.

Leo Medrano, BS     Mechanical Engineering

Leo graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering. For his undergraduate research at the Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility, Leo earned the President’s Undergraduate Research Award. At Georgia Tech, Leo served as the Mechanical Lead for Georgia Tech’s undergraduate robotics organization, in which he designed a fleet of small robots to play autonomous soccer in several international competitions. He also collaborated with the GTRI RoboLab to design an unmanned underwater drone platform for maritime mapping and exploration. He is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, and his primary interest is studying the impact of powered exoskeletons on human energetics to inform future device designs.

 Yves Nazon II, MS     Mechanical Engineering

Yves Nazon II received the BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and the MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University. During his time as an undergraduate student he participated in the Meyerhoff Scholars and the MARC U*STAR trainee programs, became a member of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, worked in the Energy Harvesting & Design Optimization Lab under the direction of Dr. Soobum Lee, and did summer research at Purdue University, MIT, and University of Southern California. Yves has been named an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a GEM University Fellow. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and is interested in the control of exoskeletons. 

Northwestern University

Max Shepherd, MS     Biomedical Engineering

Max is a PhD candidate interested in improving stroke mobility with wearable robotics.  Max graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina, where he studied biomedical engineering. Before coming to Northwestern, he interned at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, and Walt Disney Imagineering/Disney Research. In his spare time, he climbs, plays ultimate, designs furniture, plays in a bluegrass band, and designs model prosthetics with Lego.

 

Amanda Shorter, MS     Biomedical Engineering

Amanda Shorter received her BAS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada in 2015, and her MS degree in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL USA, in 2017.  As an undergraduate student, she worked at the Hospital for Sick Children in the Center for Image Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention. Her work focused on the mechanical design of pediatric neurosurgical continuum robots. Amanda was recognized as the 2015 Sandford Fleming Foundation Award recipient for her outstanding contributions throughout her multiple work placements. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. Her primary research interests include changes to the biomechanics and neural control of movement in the presence of pathology, and applications in the design and control of assistive technologies and rehabilitation. 

Andrew Vigotsky, BS     Biomedical Engineering

Andrew graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University, with a BS in Kinesiology, where he also completed research in the Movement Analysis Laboratory, in addition to interning for a local sports scientist, Dr. Bret Contreras. Before attending Northwestern, Andrew interned in the Leon Root, MD Motion Analysis Laboratory at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in addition to the Human Performance Laboratory at CUNY Lehman. His primary research interests pertain to the relationship between muscle structure and function; his current work focuses on quantifying muscular contributions to joint stiffness by combining dynamometric measures of joint stiffness with shear-wave ultrasound. 

Master’s Students

Brandon Peterson, BS, BA     Robotics

Brandon received a BS in Computer Engineering and a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Florida. As an undergraduate, he worked on two robotics teams in UF’s Machine Intelligence Lab. His contributions focused on path planning and computer vision tasks for a small ground robot and an autonomous submarine. He also conducted research on an interdisciplinary project in the mathematics and biology departments, which focused on the leaf economics of plant species with different life-history strategies. Further, he completed a Player Development/Baseball Operations internship with the New York Mets in St. Lucie, FL. He is now a first-year student at the University of Michigan, pursuing a Master’s in Robotics. His current interests lie at the intersection of robotics and medicine, with the overall goal of developing robots for the greater good.

   

Alumni

Postdocs

Timothy Reissman, 2016, Northwestern (Assistant Professor, University of Dayton)

Doctoral Students

Max Shepherd – Biomedical Engineering, 2019, Northwestern 

Master’s Students

Hashim Quraishi – Biomedical Engineering, TU Delft

Rachel Harris – Robotics, 2018, Michigan (Controls Engineer, Dephy)

Chien-Wen (Wayne) Pan – Robotics, 2018, Michigan (PhD Student, Arizona State University)

Alex Wind – Biomedical Engineering, 2018, Northwestern (Medical Student, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Ricki Irwin – Robotics, 2016, Northwestern (Controls Engineer, HDT Robotics)

Christopher Nesler – Biomedical Engineering, 2016, Northwestern (Research Engineer, UT Dallas)

Jeff Lee – Biomedical Engineering, 2016 (Product Development Engineer, Smith & Nephew)

Claire Melvin – Mechanical Engineering, 2016 (NPI Manufacturing Engineer, Intuitive Surgical)