Featured Students and Post Docs

Summer 2017: Philip Brown 

Philip Brown is a Ph.D student from Colorado who has been working under Faculty member Jason Marden. His research focuses on the consequences of ignoring information in multi-agent systems. After receiving his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech he went on to help start a biodiesel production company in Tennessee. In 2012 he went back to school to receive his M.S from the University of Colorado before transferring here to UCSB. His advisor Jason Marden writes:

“It is widely known that social systems can exhibit highly inefficient system-level behavior. Accordingly, there has been a significant research focus on the derivation of mechanisms for influencing social behavior to improve the efficiency of such systems. Philip's research has sought to address the robustness of these influencing mechanisms. More formally, is it possible to successfully influence a given social system in situations where a system-operator has uncertainties pertaining to how the actors in a society will respond to the influencing mechanisms. Focusing on the role of taxation mechanisms in transportation networks, Philip's results have identified how the information available to the system operator, pertaining to both the characteristics of the underlying network and the population's sensitivities to taxes, directly ties into the system operator's ability to do this essential task.”

Brown’s long-term goals are to collaborate with economists and computer scientists to gain a better understanding on the impact of social behavior on engineering design criteria. In his downtime he can be found on long runs or at his house making beer, wine, and bread for friends.

Spring Quarter 2017: Kyriakos Vamvoudakis

Kyriakos G. Vamvoudakis was recently awarded the “International Neural Network Society (INNS) Young Investigator Award” for his pioneering engineering contributions in the area of neuro-inspired control systems and adaptive dynamic programin. By designing a family of optimal adaptive learning systems for continuous-time systems, Kyriakos was able to allow for the first time the learning solution of complicated continuous-time Hamilton-Jacobi equations that serve as the basis for optimal and game theoretic design both online and in real-time without full information of the system dynamics.

Fascinated by the idea that complicated systems can be brought under our control by manipulating mathematical equations, Kyriakos moved from Greece to the US to pursue his Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Texas, Arlington. Later he moved to UC Santa Barbara where he has been working as a research scientist under Joao Hespanha ever since. He currently teaches an undergraduate class called “Basic Electrical and Electronic Circuits” in the Mechanical Engineering Department at UCSB, and conducts research in the general area of network security, game theory, smart grids and multi-agent optimization.

Outside of the lab, Kyriakos enjoys hiking, playing the piano and exploring local restaurants. He also appreciates escaping to nearby Santa Monica or Malibu to unwind at the local beaches. He can regularly be seen at the local Coffee Bean, along with other colleagues, discussing exciting upcoming projects as well as collaborating on recent research findings. He also travels back to Greece at least once a year to visit his family and friends. Click here for more information about Kyriakos

Winter Quarter 2017: Maurice Filo

Maurice Filo is a Mechanical Engineering Ph.D student who has been working under Faculty member Bassam Bamieh. His research focuses applying control theory on spatially distributed dynamical systems. After receiving his B.S. in electrical engineering from the Lebanese University he went on to get his Master’s degree from the American University of Beirut. 

Currently Maurice is working on mobile sensors in distributed stochastic environments, investigating cochlear instabilities using structured stochastic uncertainties and a preconditioned constrained gradient descent for optimal control problems. He would like to use his work to collaborate with otologists to better understand the ear from an engineering point of view. Part of the reason for his passion for control theory and dynamical systems is due to a system analysis and design course taught by professor Bamieh when he was studying in Beirut. Ultimately Maurice wants apply for a professor position.

While Maurice’s wife and family is back home in Lebanon, he gets to visit a few times a year between his studies. Outside of school and skyping with his family, he is known to play piano and study music which is part of the reason why studying the ear fascinates him. He also likes to visit with friends and walk around campus and the beach as an escape. Click here for more information about Maurice.

December - January 2017 Anantharaman Subramanian

Anantharaman Subramanian recently completed his PhD defense and dissertation at UCSB. His research centered on developing a complete Lyapunov function based on characterization of the recurrence property for a specific class of stochastic hybrid systems. Ananth earned his Bachelors degree in Instrumentation and Control Engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirapally, moving to Santa Barbara to obtain his Masters and PhD.

Ananth chose UCSB because of the great program offered for control engineers. He joined Professor Teel’s research group and worked in collaboration with visiting research scholars and fellow graduate students, which lead to many of his contributions to the literature on stability for stochastic systems. Ananth believes that the frequent interactions with colleagues and his adviser were pivotal in gaining knowledge and understanding of new techniques and concepts. He also explains that in general, finding elegant solutions to the intricate mathematical problems he is faced with to be rewarding and fundamental for his draw toward control systems.

Ananth will be starting as a research engineer at Bosch in the near future where he plans to better develop analysis tools for studying general classes of stochastic hybrid systems. He also plans on using these tools in control design oriented problems. Outside of the lab, Ananth enjoys playing tennis with his friends and roommates as well as video games and interacting with others living at the UCSB graduate student housing. Click here for more information about Ananth

November 2016: John Simpson-Porco

John W. Simpson-Porco is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UCSB, studying under advisor Professor Francesco Bullo. His research is centered around the stability and control of multi-agent systems and complex dynamic networks, focusing on modernized electric power grids. John earned his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario

Recently John won the Peter J. Frenkel Foundation Fellowship. This fellowship is awarded to a student who exhibits exceptional graduate research in energy and energy efficiency and who has advanced to doctoral candidacy. Advisor Francesco Bullo nominated John for his outstanding work on electric power system controls that help ensure network stability and efficient system performance.

John will be starting as an assistant professor in the ECE Department at the University of Waterloo in April, 2016.  Currently his goal is to develop an analytical theory of power system stability for on-line control use and optimization algorithms. He would like to collaborate with industry to refine this theory and make it more widely applicable.  In his free time, John enjoys playing the guitar, enjoying Santa Barbara’s eateries and nightlife, and playing basketball with his friend and colleagues. Click here for more information about John

October 2016: Chelsea Lau

Chelsea Lau earned her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Currently she is part of Professor Katie Byl’s lab at UCSB where her research focuses on motion planning for legged robots.

Recently Chelsea and the robotics team competed in the DARPA Robotics Competition where they placed 5th. The competition was designed to simulate a rescue situation in which a disaster took place that makes human intervention too dangerous. The robots were put through a series of both announced and surprise tasks, having to navigate an obstacle course. The Byl lab partnered with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), who created their entry for the competition, a quadruped robot with spider-like limbs and an ape-like body named RoboSimian. RoboSimian was one of only two robots to not require human intervention and navigated the obstacle course in just under 48 minutes. Chelsea’s job was to help write the software to control how the robot would move.

Currently Chelsea is continuing research on a motion planner that will better help robots, RoboSimian in particular, navigate over rough terrain, especially in situations where communication is limited. She is also looking at developing methods to ensure smooth joint trajectories that obey dynamic constraints for locomotion. These methods will improve the quality and reliability of low-level trajectory planning in the motion planner.

Chelsea is also part of the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society of IEEE, which is dedicated to "encouraging and recognizing individual excellence in education”, among other areas of interest to IEEE. She plans on continuing research here at UCSB to obtain her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. Click here for more information about Chelsea

September 2016: David Copp

David Copp earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona. He began research there with CCDC alumnus Professor Ricardo Sanfelice who encouraged David to apply to graduate school at UCSB for his Master’s and PhD degrees.

David is currently working with Professor João Hespanha on combining Moving Horizon Estimation with Model Predictive Control for nonlinear systems with output feedback. Together they have come up with a method to solve both the estimation and control problems simultaneously as a single min-max optimization problem. Applications include coordination of unmanned aerial vehicles for target tracking, estimation and control of an artificial pancreas for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, as well as adaptive control of systems with model uncertainty.

Recently David participated in the Grad Slam, which is a campus-wide competition for the best three-minute research talk given by a graduate student. The competition allows graduate students to showcase their area of research as well as compete for a cash prize and a chance to represent their campus in a final University of California system-wide competition. After advancing through preliminary and semi-final rounds, David was selected to compete in the final round of the UCSB competition where he presented a condensed three-minute talk about his contributions towards a more effective artificial pancreas.

Outside of research David enjoys staying active, playing both basketball and ultimate Frisbee as well as hiking, biking and running. He currently lives with his wife Stacy in Goleta and plans on applying for postdoctoral research positions after the completion of his PhD.  Click here for more information about David