The science & engineering of
dynamic & dexterous movement
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, UC San Diego
(PI) Nick Gravish


I am interested in movement dynamics in biology and robotics. I am driven by developing new methods for analysis and generation of locomotion using tools from robotics, computer vision, and physics.


  • Postdoctoral scholar at Harvard University (2013 - 2016)
    • School of Engineering & Applied Sciences
    • Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
    • Advisers: Robert J. Wood and Stacey A. Combes
  • Ph.D. in Physics at Georgia Tech (2008 - 2013)
    • Thesis: Collective dynamics of active and passive granular media
    • Minor: Mechanics of materials
    • Adviser: Daniel I. Goldman
  • B.S. in Physics at UC Santa Barbara (2001 - 2005)
    • Undergraduate Research Honors, 2004 & 2005

Post-doctoral fellows

Glenna Clifton


Glenna comes to the gravishlab with a background in physics and organismal biomechanics. Glenna is studying the dynamics and control of high-speed legged locomotion in small insects (ants) to better understand the limitations of legged locomotion in small-scale systems.


Emily Lathrop

Emily is co-advised by Prof. Tolley. She is working on developing new soft-robotic technologies for robot mobility on granular and real-world substrates.

Wei Zhou

Wei is working on the design of low-mass legged robots for collective exploration in extreme environments.

Shivam Chopra

Shivam is working on self-excited piezoelectric actuators for robust and multi-modal (swimming, running, flying) locomotion in insect scale robots.

Mingsong Jiang

Jason (Minsong) Jiang is developing new laminate-based technologies for bio-inspired robots.


Sayan Mondal

Sayan is studying the contact mechanics of high-speed running in milliscale organisms (ants). Using high-speed videography and a total-internal reflection surface he is visualizing the coordination of limb kinematics and adhesive engagement/disengagement.

Bowen Zhang

Bowen is how bumblebees avoid looming obstacles as they navigate complex aerial environments.

James Lynch

James is studying the interaction between aerodynamic forces and compliant actuators in a dynamically scaled flapping wing robot.

Mengxi (Marcy) Ren

Marcy is working on a flexible, bio-inspired transmission system for flapping wing flight. Specificaly how to incorporate elastic elements into the robot airframe to minimize flight energetics.


Jhonathan Bituin

Jhonathan is working with Daniel Ortiz on locomotion physics of soft-robots on sandy terrain.

Previous students

Jeremy Lu

Jeremy visited us from Taiwan

Siming Deng

Siming worked in our lab from 2017-2018. He is now pursuing a Master’s in robotics at Johns Hopkins University.

Daniel Ortiz

Daniel graduated with a Masters studying bio-inspired soft-robots for locomotion within granular material. He is now an engineer at Cymer.

Dennis Wu

Dennis worked as a research technician in the lab.