Student Spotlight

Spring 2018: Tim Matchen

Tim Matchen is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate working under advisor Professor Jeffrey Moehlis in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University. His research focuses on developing phase models for Parkinsonian neurons as well as developing electrical control signals to alleviate the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Tim was born in Millburn, New Jersey. As an undergraduate at Princeton he interned at both Los Alamaos National Labs and Princeton’s 3D Audio Lab. Tim’s advisor, Jeffrey Moehlis, stated, "It has been a great pleasure working with Tim. His recent paper on controlling a population of neurons to achieve a clustered state is a particularly nice piece of work which suggests a novel paradigm for treating Parkinson's disease using deep brain stimulation." In his free time Tim likes to watch TV, play video games and attend local spin classes.

May 22, 2018

Winter 2018: Jorge Poveda

Jorge I Poveda is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of California, Santa Barbara working under Professor Andrew R. Teel. He was a Research Intern with the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, MA during the summers of 2016 and 2017. He received the 2013 CCDC Outstanding Scholar Fellowship at UCSB, and was a finalist for the Best Student Paper Award at the 56th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control in 2017. Jorge’s research combines tools from robust hybrid systems, optimization, adaptive control and game theory in order to analyze and design robust feedback mechanisms for cyber physical systems. Before coming to UCSB he received his M.S and B.S degrees from the University of Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia where he worked in population dynamics and evolutionary game theory under the supervision of Professor Nicanor Quijano.

January 14, 2018

Fall 2017: Chitra Karanam

Chitra Karanam is a Ph.D. student working under the guidance of Professor Yasamin Mostofi in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of California Santa Barbara. She received her B.Tech and M.Tech degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in 2014, and her M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of California Santa Barbara in 2016. Her research is in the field of RF sensing and robotics. She is currently working on using unmanned vehicles and drones for 3D through-wall imaging with RF signals such as WiFi.

Chitra's advisor, Yasamin Mostofi, wished to say a few words about her contributions to the lab: "Chitra has been working on imaging through walls with WiFi and drones for the past couple of years in my lab. This is an extremely challenging problem at the intersection of robotics and communications. It further requires both theoretical expertise and experimental developments, a combination that may not be of interest to many students. Chitra has done great on this project, contributing to through-wall sensing fundamentals while developing the needed hardware to test new methodologies. I am proud of her accomplishments."

​​​​In Chitra’s spare time she can be found out on a local hiking trail or playing squash with friends. In her down time she likes to read and relax.

September 30, 2017

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.

Read more about Philip at

June 30, 2017

Spring 2016: Nithin Govindarajan

Nithin Govindarajan is a PhD student under the guidance of Igor Mezic and Shivkumar Chandrasekaran at UCSB where he studies operator theoretic methods in Dynamical systems. Recently Nithin was awarded the CCDC Fellowship for his hard work developing codes for a numerical scheme that approximates spectral properties of the Koopman operator for volume preserving dynamics on compact metric spaces.
Nithin was born in India but shortly moved to the Netherlands where he has spent most of his life. While in the Netherlands he practiced Wing Chun, a form of martial arts that takes both physical and mental discipline and perseverance to master. This discipline transferred to his personal and educational goals. Initially Nithin dreamed of becoming a commercial pilot for the Netherlands, but due to poor eyesight those dreams were cut short. Instead he earned his private pilots license and began taking aerobatic classes. At this time he also took an internship at NASA and his love for engineering skyrocketed.
Now Nithin focuses on his educational goals, working to make integral progress for the computation of spectral properties of the Koopman operator. His ultimate goal is to become an assistant professor and pass on the knowledge he has acquired to future generations.

May 31, 2017