The center's faculty members focus on interdisciplinary research and education in the area of biomimetic and bioinspired engineering. Those who work in these areas attempt to create an approach to transfer or extract from nature technologies, design principles, and solutions into our own designs for small, multi-functional machines, technologies, and devices. Michael Plesniak, a professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is the director of the Center.


Michael W. Plesniak
Professor & Director
Ph.D., Stanford University, 1990.
Experimental fluid dynamics, Turbulence and complex flows, Mixing phenomena, Biological flows: cardiovascular and phonation


Elias Balaras
Ph.D., Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland, 1995
Computational mechanics, fluid structure interactions, parallel computing, turbulent and transitional flows, biological fluid dynamics


Lorena A. Barba
Associate Professor
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 2004
Computational science, fluid mechanics, biophysics, biological flight, numerical algorithms, fast multipole method, high-performance computing, GPU computing.


James Hahn
Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1989
Medical Simulation; Image-guided Surgery; Medical Informatics; Visualization; Motion Control


L. Patricia Hernandez
Associate Professor  
Ph.D. in Biology, Harvard University
Functional morphology of feeding mechanisms in fishes, fluid mechanics of feeding in fishes, flow patterns in larval fish feeding at incredibly low Reynolds numbers, biomechanics of building crushing surfaces out of bone, mineralized cartilage, and other biological materials.


Stephen M. Hsu
Ph.D Pennsylvania State University, 1976
Nanomaterials, nanometrology, ceramics, tribology, biomaterials, and engine technology.


Michael Keidar
Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, 1997
Advanced spacecraft propulsion, plasma-based nanotechnology, plasma processing, electrical discharge.
Website: Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Lab  


Megan Leftwich
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Princeton University, 2010
Experimental fluid dynamics, biological flows: swimming and flying, the aerodynamics of groups, wind farm designs, high-energy fluid instabilities, shock-driven turbulence and mixing.
Website: Leftwich Lab


Yongsheng Leng
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Tsinghua University, 1999
Molecular modeling of nanometer confined fluids and self assembly at organo-metallic interfaces; nanotribology; mechanical properties of metal nanowires and nanomechanics in atomic force microscope (AFM); contact mechanics.
Website: Computational Materials Science and Molecular Modeling Group  


Zhenyu Li
Associate Professor 
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 2007
Integration of nanophotonics and microfluidics (or optofluidics) for biological and biosensing applications, biomimetic photonics, biomimetics of compound eyes, biophotonic crystals and adaptive micro-lenses.


Chunlei Liang
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of London, 2005
Computational fluid dynamics, solar convection, heat transfer, human heart, harnessing wind and tidal energy.
Website: Computational Aerodynamics and Hydrodynamics Laboratory  



Rahul Simha
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, 1990
Bioinformatics and biomedical computing; Computer science; Computer security and information assurance; Networking and mobile computing; Pervasive computing.



Adam Wickenheiser
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Cornell University, 2008
Mechatronics and embedded systems for UAVs and energy harvesters, smart material transduction, adaptive/reconfigurable aircraft mechanisms and flight control
Website: Smart Systems Laboratory  


Lijie Grace Zhang
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Brown University, 2009
Nanomedicine, biomaterials, bone, cartilage and vascular tissue engineering, drug delivery, stem cell, self-assembly tissue engineered constructs and biomechanics
Website: The Bioengineering Laboratory for Nanomedicine and Tissue Engineering



Affiliated Members

Rajat Mittal
Affiliated Member
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 1995
Computational fluid dynamics, turbomachinery flows, biofluid mechanics, microflow, fluid-structure interaction, flow control.


R. Ryan Vallance 
Affiliated Member
Chief Technology Officer, Nano Precision Products, Camarillo, CA.