Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Yiyang Sun Receives Young Investigator Program Award  

Yiyang Sun

Assistant professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering Yiyang Sun has received the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award. She has been awarded for her research efforts and contributions to unraveling multi-modal interactions in fluid flows using modal analysis, a cutting-edge technique in analyzing and understanding intrinsic physics in unsteady aerodynamic problems. 

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the lead scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. It aims to improve the career development of young investigators while providing opportunities for discovery and research.  Recipients of this award have received a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in their respective fields and demonstrate outstanding ability and potential to conduct research for the AFRL. The AFOSR will award $21.5 million in grants to scientists and engineers across different U.S. research institutions.  

Sun’s research outcomes could have a significant impact on advancing the designs of aircraft with improved aerodynamic performance for challenging operation conditions. She will receive about a $450,000 grant in this award for three years to continue her research activities in unsteady aerodynamics. 

“I am so grateful for receiving this award from AFOSR as the recognition motivates me to continue contributing to aerospace engineering at Syracuse University and the field in general,” says Sun. “The College of Engineering and Computer Science and Mechanical and Aerospace Department have been amazingly supportive in helping me pursue my career and forming an engaging environment for my students to do great work.” 

Aoyi Luo

Areas of Expertise:

  • Solid Mechanics
  • Materials
  • Design and Manufacturing
  • Soft Robotics
  • Thermophysics

Dr. Luo’s research group specializes in leveraging the expertise in mechanics, materials, and computational methods including data-driven methods to address cutting-edge challenges in robotics, design, and manufacturing. The group’s research encompasses a diverse range of topics, including the design and analysis of microtransfer printing processes, the development of variable stiffness structures and mechanisms, the exploration of adhesion-based soft robotic grippers, and the creation of architected materials with tailored adhesion or fracture properties. By focusing on these research thrusts, the group aims to advance the understanding and application of mechanics and materials in robotics, enabling the development of innovative designs and manufacturing techniques.

Selected Publications:

  • Luo, A., Zhang, H. and Turner, K.T., 2022. Machine learning-based optimization of the design of composite pillars for dry adhesives, Extreme Mechanics Letters54, p.101695.
  • Luo, A., Pande, S.S., Turner, K.T., 2022. Versatile adhesion-based gripping via an unstructured variable stiffness membrane, Soft Robotics.
  • Luo, A., and Turner, K.T., 2022. Adhesion of beams with subsurface elastic heterogeneity. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids159, p.104713.
  • Luo, A., and Turner, K.T., 2021. Achieving enhanced adhesion through optimal stress distributions. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids156, p.104610.
  • Luo, A., and Turner, K.T., 2020. Mechanics of crack path selection in microtransfer printing: Challenges and opportunities for process control. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids143, p.104066.
  • Luo, A. §, Nasab, A.M. §, Tatari, M., Chen, S., Shan, W. and Turner, K.T., 2020. Adhesion of flat-ended pillars with non-circular contacts. Soft Matter16(41), pp.9534-9542. (§ represents co-first author)
  • Nasab, A.M. §, Luo, A. §, Sharifi, S., Turner, K.T. and Shan, W., 2020. Switchable adhesion via subsurface pressure modulation. ACS applied materials & interfaces12(24), pp.27717-27725. (§ represents co-first author)
  • Tan, D. §, Luo, A. §, Wang, X., Shi, Z., Lei, Y., Steinhart, M., Kovalev, A., Gorb, S.N., Turner, K.T. and Xue, L., 2020. Humidity-modulated core–shell nanopillars for enhancement of gecko-inspired adhesion. ACS Applied Nano Materials3(4), pp.3596-3603. (§ represents co-first author)
  • Luo, A. and Lior, N., 2017. Study of advancement to higher temperature membrane distillation. Desalination419, pp.88-100.
  • Luo, A. and Lior, N., 2016. Critical review of membrane distillation performance criteria. Desalination and Water Treatment57(43), pp.20093-20140.

Kasey Laurent


  • Ph.D. Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University, 2023
  • B.S. Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, 2017

Research Interests:

  • Experimental Fluid Dynamics
  • Bio-Inspired Flight and Swimming
  • Bio-Inspired Noise Mitigation
  • UAV Flight Performance in Wind

Dr. Laurent’s research focuses on the role of turbulence and fluid dynamics on aerodynamic performance. She explores both biological and man-made vehicle flight. In her work studying golden eagles, she found a strong relationship between the motion of the bird and the small-scale turbulence experienced by the bird when soaring. These results indicate a need to fully incorporate an understanding of turbulence into our understanding of eagle movements, with implications for other natural and artificial fliers. In the Laurent Fluid Dynamics Lab, her research aims to find engineering solutions to challenges in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by exploring both biological flight and swimming.

Selected Publications:

Laurent, K. M., Fogg, B., Ginsburg, T., Halverson, C., Lanzone, M. J., Miller, T. A., … & Bewley, G. P. (2021). Turbulence explains the accelerations of an eagle in natural flight. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences118(23), e2102588118.

Laurent, K., La Ragione, L., Jenkins, J. T., & Bewley, G. P. (2022). How vertical oscillatory motion above a saturated sand bed leads to heap formation. Physical Review E105(5), 054901.

Yiyang Sun


  • Ph.D. Florida State University, Tallahassee, 2017
  • B.S. Huazhong University of Science & Technology, Wuhan, 2012

Areas of Expertise:

  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Flow Control
  • Unsteady Aerodynamics
  • Data Science

Dr. Sun’s research interests focus on understanding the underlying physics of fluid flows and designing physics-driven control strategies using computational fluid dynamics, modal/non-modal analysis, and data science. The ability to control fluid flow behaviors can lead to quiet, economical, and efficient systems in fluid mechanics and aerodynamics. Because of high dimensionality, strong nonlinearity, and complexity in fluid physics, design of effective control strategies can be challenging. Dr. Sun’s research focuses on uncovering underlying physics of complex fluid flows using the cutting-edge technique of modal analysis, such as dynamic mode decomposition, global stability analysis, and resolvent analysis. The insights obtained from these analyses provide guidance for physics-driven control designs.

Honors and Awards:

  • AFOSR Young Investigator Award, 2024
  • Amelia Earhart Fellowship, 2016

Selected Publications:

  • Yao, H., Sun, Y., Mushtaq, T., and Hemati, M. S., “Reducing transient energy growth in a channel flow using static output feedback control,” AIAA Journal, Vol. 60, No. 7, 2022.
  • Yao, H., Sun, Y., and Hemati, M. S., “Feedback control of transitional shear flows: sensor selection for performance recovery,” Theoretical and Computational Fluid Dynamics, Theoretical and Computational Fluid Dynamics, Vol. 36, pp. 597-626, 2022.
  • Liu, Q., Sun, Y., Ukeiley, L. S., Cattafesta, L. N., and Taira, K., “Unsteady control of supersonic turbulent cavity flow based on resolvent analysis,” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 925, A5, 2021.
  • Sun, Y., Liu, Q., Cattafesta, L. N., Ukeiley, L. S., and Taira, K., “Resolvent analysis of compressible laminar and turbulent cavity flows,” AIAA Journal, Vol. 58, No. 3, 2020.
  • Taira, K., Hemati, M. S., Brunton, S. L., Sun, Y., Duraisamy, K., Bagheri, S., Dawson, S. T. M., and Yeh, C-A., “Modal analysis of fluid flows: application and outlook,” AIAA Journal, Vol. 58, No. 3, 2020.
  • Sun, Y. and Hemati, M. S., “Feedback control for transition suppression in direct numerical simulations of channel flow,” Energies, Vol. 12, No. 4217, 2019.
  • Sun, Y., Liu, Q., Cattafesta, L. N., Ukeiley, L. S., and Taira, K., “Effects of sidewalls and leading-edge blowing on flows over long rectangular cavities,” AIAA Journal, Vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 106-119, 2019.
  • Zhang, Y., Sun, Y., Arora, N., Cattafesta, L. N., Taira, K., and Ukeiley, L. S., “Suppression of cavity oscillations via three-dimensional steady blowing,” AIAA Journal, Vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 90-105, 2019.
  • Edstrand, A. M., Sun, Y., Schmid, P. J., Taira, K., and Cattafesta, L. N., “Active attenuation of a trailing vortex inspired by a parabolized stability analysis,” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 855, R2, 2018.
  • Sun, Y., Taira, K., Cattafesta, L. N., and Ukeiley, L. S., “Biglobal instabilities of compressible open-cavity flow,” Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 826, pp. 270-301, 2017.
  • Sun, Y., Taira, K., Cattafesta, L. N., and Ukeiley, L. S., “Spanwise effects on instabilities of compressible flow over a long rectangular cavity,” Theoretical and Computational Fluid Dynamics, Vol. 31, Issue 5-6, pp. 555-565, 2017.

Wanliang Shan


  • Ph.D. Princeton University
  • B.E. University of Science and Technology of China

Research interests:

  • Solid Mechanics
  • Materials Engineering
  • Thermophysics
  • Machine Learning
  • Soft Robotics

Lab/Center Affiliation:

  • Syracuse Biomaterials Institute

Current Research:

Shan Research Group (SRG) currently focuses on interdisciplinary research in Smart, Hybrid, Active and Nature-inspired Materials, Mechanics, and Machines (SHAN 3M). Fundamental insights from solid mechanics, materials engineering, thermal science, and machine learning are emphasized for the design and fabrication of soft multifunctional materials and high-performance robotic mechanisms, which impact critical application domains such as soft robotics, biomedical devices, and wearable devices. The ultimate goal of SRG’s research is to improve human-machine-environment interactions.

Teaching Interests:

  • Introduction to Robotics
  • Soft Robotics
  • Continuum Mechanics
  • Fracture Mechanics

Select Publications:

Sharifi, C. Rux, N. Sparling, G. Wan, A. Mohammadi Nasab, A. Siddaiah, P. Menezes, T. Zhang, W.L. Shan*, Dynamically Tunable Friction via Subsurface Stiffness Modulation, Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 2021.

Mohammadi Nasab, S. Sharifi, S. Chen, W.L. Shan*, Robust three-component elastomer-particle-fiber composites with tunable properties for soft robotics, Advanced Intelligent Systems, 2000166, 2020.

Mohammadi Nasab, A. Luo, S. Sharifi, K.T. Turner*, W.L. Shan*, Soft Gripping Device Based on Pneumatics-Modulated Tunable Dry Adhesion, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2020.

Luo◦ , A. Mohammadi Nasab◦ , M. Tatari, S. Chen, W.L. Shan*, K.T. Turner*. Adhesion of flat-ended pillars with non-circular contacts, Soft Matter, 2020. Link

Huang, K. Kumar, M.K. Jawed, A. Mohammadi Nasab, Z. Ye, W.L. Shan, C. Majidi*, Highly Dynamic Shape Memory Alloy Actuator for Fast Moving Soft Robots, Advanced Materials Technologies, 1800540, 2019.

Wang, N. Hu, S. Huang, A. Mohammadi Nasab, K. Yang, M.C. Abate, X. Yu, L. Tan, W.L. Shan, Z. Chen*, Buckling and Post-buckling of an Elastic Rod Embedded in a Bilayer Matrix, Extreme Mechanics Letters, 25:1-6, 2018.

Huang, K. Kumar, M.K. Jawed, A. Mohammadi Nasab, Z. Ye, W.L. Shan, C. Majidi*, Chasing biomimetic locomotion speeds: Creating untethered soft robots with shape memory alloy actuators, Science Robotics, 3, eaau7557, 2018.

Tatari, A. Mohammadi Nasab, K.T. Turner*, W.L. Shan*, Dynamically Tunable Dry Adhesion via Sub-Surface Stiffness Modulation, Advanced Materials Interfaces, 5:1800321, 2018.

Mohammadi Nasab, D. Wang, Z. Chen, W.L. Shan*, Buckling Shape Transition of an Embedded Thin Elastic Rod after Failure of Surrounding Elastic Medium, Extreme Mechanics Letters, 15:51-56, 2017.

Mohammadi Nasab◦ , A. Sabzehzar◦ , M. Tatari, C. Majidi, W.L. Shan*, A Soft Gripper with Rigidity Tunable Elastomer Strips as Ligaments, Soft Robotics, 2017.

Tutcuoglu, C. Majidi*, W.L. Shan*, Nonlinear Thermal Parameter Estimation for Embedded Internal Joule Heaters, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 97:12-421, 2016.

Sabzehzar*, W.L. Shan, M. Shariat Panahi, O. Saremi, An Improved Extended Classifier System for the Real-Input Real-Output (XCSRR) Stability Control of a Biped Robot, Procedia Computer Science, 61:492- 499, 2015.

W.L. Shan◦ , S. Diller◦ , A. Tutcuoglu, C. Majidi*, Rigidity-tuning Conductive Elastomer, Smart Materials and Structures, 24(6):065001, 2015.

Amit K. Sanyal


  • Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering, U of Michigan)
  • MS (Mathematics, U of Michigan)
  • MS (Aerospace Engineering, Texas A&M)
  • B. Tech. (Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur)

Lab/Center Affiliation:

  • Syracuse Center of Excellence
  • Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering (CASE)

Research Interests:

  • Nonlinear dynamics
  • Geometric control
  • Nonlinear estimation
  • Geometric mechanics
  • Aerospace control
  • Mobile robots

Current Research:

My primary research interests are in dynamics modeling, control and estimation of mobile robots, spacecraft and unmanned vehicles modeled as rigid body and multi-body systems. The framework of this research is based on geometric mechanics and geometric control. These methods provide the substantial practical advantage of Lyapunov stability in the control and estimation schemes obtained. A secondary practical advantage is that such schemes lead to energy-efficient and robust control that is implementable with current technology. Geometric mechanics is the study of the mechanics of systems that evolve on state spaces that may not be vector spaces. The overall (translational and attitude) motion of aerospace vehicles cannot be described globally on a vector space, as their states evolve on a differentiable manifold that cannot be continuously deformed to a vector space. For spacecraft, maneuverable aerial vehicles and several robotic systems, the large ranges of rotational motion necessitate a global analysis of the state space to tackle dynamics, state estimation and control problems of interest. The vast majority of current schemes for control and state estimation of such systems are either applicable to local motion due to singularities, or they are unstable in the sense of Lyapunov, or they require discontinuous or hybrid control schemes that cannot be implemented by attitude actuators that can only provide continuous inputs. Technical challenges that can be overcome with the nonlinear estimation and control techniques that I have developed include robustness to uncertainties in the dynamics; coupled control, power and communication constraints; actuator constraints; and control and estimation of system states and uncertain inputs over large ranges of possible motions.

Courses Taught:

Courses taught at NMSU from fall 2013 till spring 2015 are:

  • AE 362 (Orbital Mechanics)
  • ME 452 (Control System Design)
  • AE 561/ME 405 (Spacecraft Dynamics and Control)
  • AE/ME 527 (Control of Mechanical Systems)
  • AE/ME 529 (Nonlinear and Optimal Control)
  • ME 580 (Numerical Analysis II)

Courses taught at Syracuse University from fall 2015 are:

  • AEE 577 (Introduction to Space Flight)
  • MEE 725 (Advanced Engineering Dynamics)
  • MAE 312 (Engineering Analysis)
  • MAE 675 (Methods of Analysis)
  • MAE 700 (Advanced Nonlinear Control)
  • MAE 600/700 (Spacecraft Dynamics and Control)


  • 2001 Distinguished Graduate Student Masters Research Award, Texas A & M University.
  • 2002 College of Engineering Fellowship, University of Michigan.
  • 2003 Engineering Academic Scholar Certificate, College of Engineering, University of Michigan.
  • 2012 Summer Faculty Fellow, Air Force Research Laboratory.
  • 2013 AIAA Senior Member.
  • 2015 IEEE Senior Member.

Selected Publications:

R. Hamrah, R. Warier, and A. K. Sanyal, “Finite-time stable estimator for attitude motion in the presence of bias in angular velocity measurements,” to appear in Automatica, in press, 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.automatica.2021.109815.

A. K. Sanyal, “Data-Driven  Discrete-time  Control  with  H¨older-Continuous  Real-time  Learning,” to appear in International Journal of Control, 2021, doi: 10.1080/00207179.2021.1901993; arXiv version available at:

R. Hamrah and  A. K. Sanyal,  “Finite-time  Stable  Tracking  Control  for  an  Underactuated  System  in SE(3) in Discrete Time,” International Journal of Control, published online: 11/09/2020, doi: 10.1080/00207179.2020.1841299.

X. Li, A. K. Sanyal, R. R. Warier, and D. Qiao, “Landing of hopping rovers on Irregularly-shaped small bodies using attitude control,” Advances in Space Research, vol. 65(11), pp. 2674-2691, 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.asr.2020.02.029.

R. R. Warier, A. K. Sanyal, and S. P. Viswanathan, “Finite Time Stable Attitude Estimation of Rigid Bodies With Unknown Dynamics,” Asian Journal of Control, vol. 21(4), pp. 1522-1530, 2019, doi: 10.1002/asjc.2089.

X. Li, R. R. Warier, A. K. Sanyal, and D. Qiao, “Trajectory Tracking Near Small Bodies Using Only Attitude Control and Orbit-Attitude Coupling,” AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, published online, doi: 10.2514/1.G003653. JGCD-G003653_online

S. P. Viswanathan and A. K. Sanyal, “Adaptive Singularity-free Control Moment Gyroscopes,” AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 2018, doi: 10.2514/1.G003545. ASCMG-JGCD-final

S. P. Viswanathan, A. K. Sanyal and E. Samiei, “Integrated Guidance and Feedback Control of Underactuated Robotics System in SE(3),” Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, vol. 89, pp. 251-263, 2018, doi: 10.1007/s10846-017-0547-0.JIRS-FinalPub-Print

A. Siravuru, S. P. Viswanathan, K. Sreenath and A. K. Sanyal, “The Reaction Mass Biped: Geometric Mechanics and Control,” Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, vol. 89, pp. 155-173, 2018.JIRS-RMB

Garrett Ethan Katz


  • B.A. Philosophy, Cornell University, 2007
  • M.A. Mathematics, City College of New York, 2011
  • Ph.D. Computer Science, University of Maryland, College Park, 2017

Areas of Expertise:

  • Automated Planning
  • Automated Program Induction and Synthesis
  • Robotic Manipulation
  • Neural Computation

Current Research:

My research focuses on “vertically integrated” artificial intelligence, ranging from low-level robotic motor control and synaptic learning rules to high-level planning and abstract reasoning.  My recent work has focused on neurocomputational systems for cognitive-level robotic imitation learning.

Honors and Awards:

  • Best Paper Award at the SAI Computing Conference, 2020
  • Larry S. Davis Doctoral Dissertation Award, UMD, 2018
  • Best Student Paper Award at the 9th International Conference on Artificial General Intelligence 2016

Selected Publications:

  • Katz GE, Tahir N.  Towards Automated Discovery of God-Like Folk Algorithms for Rubik’s Cube.  In 2022 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence.  AAAI.
  • Katz GE, Akshay, Davis GP, Gentili RJ, Reggia JA. Tunable Neural Encoding of a Symbolic Robotic Manipulation Algorithm. Frontiers in Neurorobotics. 2021:167.
  • Tahir N, Katz GE. Numerical Exploration of Training Loss Level-Sets in Deep Neural Networks. In 2021 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) 2021 (pp. 1-8). IEEE.
  • Katz GE, Gupta K, Reggia JA. Reinforcement-based Program Induction in a Neural Virtual Machine. In 2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) 2020 (pp. 1-8). IEEE.

Zhenyu Gan

Areas of Expertise:

  • Robotics
  • Legged Locomotion
  • Gait analysis
  • Multibody Dynamics
  • Control

My research interests lie at the intersection of robotics and nonlinear dynamics. I study mechanical systems with interesting dynamical behavior and apply the resulting findings to the control of robots. Examples of this include the study of different gaits in legged robots, as well as wearable robotic devices.

Honors and Awards:

  • The First Prize in Design, Engineering Graduate Symposium Award (2013)
  • The First Prize in National Advanced Graphical Skills and Innovations Contest (2010)
  • National Scholarship, China (2009)

Selected Publications:

  • Ding J, Moore TY, Gan Z. A Template Model Explains Jerboa Gait Transitions Across a Broad Range of Speeds. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2022 Apr 27;10:804826. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2022.804826. PMID: 35600899; PMCID: PMC9121427.
  • Gan Z, Yesilevskiy Y, Zaytsev P, Remy C. All common bipedal gaits emerge from a single passive model. Journal of The Royal Society Interface. 2018 September 26; 15(146):20180455-. Available from: DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0455
  • Gan Z, Jiao Z, Remy C. On the Dynamic Similarity Between Bipeds and Quadrupeds: A Case Study on Bounding. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters. 2018 October; 3(4):3614-3621. Available from: DOI: 10.1109/LRA.2018.2854923
  • Gan Z, Remy C. A passive dynamic quadruped that moves in a large variety of gaits. 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014); ; Chicago, IL, USA. IEEE; c2014. Available from: DOI: 10.1109/IROS.2014.6943255
  • Gan Z, Wiestner T, Weishaupt M, Waldern N, David Remy C. Passive Dynamics Explain Quadrupedal Walking, Trotting, and Tölting. Journal of Computational and Nonlinear Dynamics. 2016 March 01; 11(2):-. Available from: DOI: 10.1115/1.4030622