Kam K. Leang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of the DARC Lab
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Detail CV available upon request
[Personal web site] [Link to Google Citation Report][LinkedIn]



  • Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle WA (Dec. 2004)
    Advisor: Santosh Devasia; Specialization: Dynamic systems and controls; mechatronics; robotics
    Dissertation: “Iterative Learning Control of Hysteresis in Piezo-based Nano-positioners: Theory and Application in Atomic Force Microscopes” [ Click here to download (PDF) ]
  • M.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah (Dec. 1999)
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah (Dec. 1997)

Honors and awards

  • Student Best Paper Award, 2017 ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Conference (DSCC) (Student author: Dejun Guo)
  • Student Best Paper Award, 2015 ASME Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems Conference (Student authors: J. Carrico and N. Traeden)
  • Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regent’s Rising Researcher of the Year Award (2014)
  • College of Engineering Faculty Excellence Award, University of Nevada, Reno (2013)
  • University of Nevada, Reno College of Engineering Senior Scholar Mentor; Senior Scholar: Charley Voos (2011-2012)
  • VCU NBSE Professor of the Year Award (2006-2007)
  • National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellow (2001-04)
  • Univ. of Utah, College of Engin. Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (1999)
  • Univ. of Utah, Teaching Assistant of the Year Awards (1997-98, 1998-99)
  • NSF Human and Computer Interface, and Intelligent Control Traineeship (1999)

Academic positions

  • Associate Prof., Univ. of Utah (2014 – present)
  • Associate Prof., Univ. of Nevada Reno (2011 – 2014)
  • Assistant Prof., Univ. of Nevada Reno and Virginia Commonwealth Univ. (2005-2011)
  • Research Associate, Univ. of Washington (January 2005 – July 2005)

Editorial positions (journals and conferences)

  • Lead Guest Editor, Focus Section on Soft Actuators, Sensors, and Components, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics (Sept 2017 – present)
  • Guest Editor, Focus Section on Advances in Soft Robotics, Int. J. of Intelligent Robotics and Applications (IJIRA) (June 2016 – present)
  • Associate Editor, Int. J. of Intelligent Robotics and Applications (IJIRA) (April 2016 – present)
  • Associate Editor, Mechatronics, The Science of Intelligent Machines, Elsevier (January 2016 – present)
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering, Nature Publishing (2015–present)
  • Associate Editor, IEEE Control Systems Magazine (2012–present)
  • Associate Editor, International Symposium on Flexible Automation, Cleveland, Ohio, August 1-3, 2016.
  • Associate Editor,  IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2016
  • Technical Editor, IEEE/ASME Trans. Mechatronics (2012–2015)
  • Associate Editor, IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics July 7-11, 2015. Busan, Korea.
  • Guest Editor, Int. J. Smart and Nano Materials (2011-2012)
  • Associate Editor, 15th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR 2011), Tallin, Estonia, June 20-23, 2011.

Conference Organization


Core Collaborators

  • Andrew J. Fleming, University of Newcastle, Australia
  • Kwang J. Kim, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Nevada NanoTech System, Inc., Sparks, Nevada


Current graduate and student scholars

DARC Lab group, November 2016.

DARC Lab group, November 2016.


Joseph Bourne, Ph.D. Candidate
Focus: Multi-agent source detection and localization for environmental monitoring
 James Carrico, Ph.D. Candidate (Expected summer 2018)
Focus: Fabrication and control IPMCs for soft robotics
 Dejun Guo, Ph.D. Candidate
Focus: Advanced control systems for precision positioning and robotics
 Xiang He, Ph.D. Candidate
Focus: Robotics and control systems
 William Nagel, Ph.D. Candidate
Focus: Control of dual-stage nanpositioning systems
Jake Steiner, Ph.D. Student
Focus: Robotics
Erik Andersen, BS/MS Student
Focus: Wireless power transfer for aerial robots
Keith Dockstader, BS/MS Student
Focus: Robotics
Kyle Charles Hoffman, MS Student supported by DoD SMART Fellowship
Focus: UAVs
 Katharin Jensen, BS/MS Student
Focus: Autonomous robotics
 Tom Tyler, MS Student
Focus: IPMC soft robotics
Iman Adibnazari, Undergraduate Researcher, NSF REU Support
Focus: Nanoposition
Connelly Buchanan, Undergraduate Researcher, NSF PIRE Support
Focus: IPMC soft robotics
Kylee Fluckiger, Undergraduate Researcher, NSF REU Support
Focus: Nanopositioning and robotics
Cole Mortensen, Undergraduate Researcher, U.S. ARMY Support
Focus: Aerial robots

Alumni: Ph.D and M.S. Graduate Student Scholars

  1. Daman Bareiss, Ph.D. (May 2016)
    Dissertation title: “Model-based collision avoidance for dynamic single- and multi-robot systems: theory and application in ground and aerial robots” [download dissertation (PDF)] Dr. Bareiss joined Omron Adept Technologies, Inc. after completing his Ph.D. degree.
  2. Roman Regulski, Visiting Ph.D. Student (Poznan University of Technology, September 2015-December 2015)
    Focus: Piezo-driven flapping wing
  3. Yingfeng Shan, Ph.D. (December 2011)
    Dissertation title: “Repetitive control for hysteretic systems: theory and application in piezo-based nanopositioners” [download dissertation (PDF)].
    Dr. Shan joined Advanced Materials, San Jose, CA., after completing his Ph.D. degree.


  1. Christopher J. Pratt, MS  (December 2016)
    Thesis title: “Design and modeling of the dynamic underactuated flying-walking (DUCK) robot” [download thesis (PDF)]
  2. Marissa Tsugawa, MS (August 2014)
    Thesis title: “Development of a Tube-Shaped Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Actuator with Integrated Sensing”
  3. Christopher J. Dudley, MS  (June 2014)
    Thesis title: “A Spherical Aerial Terrestrial Robot (ATR)” [download thesis (PDF)]
  4. M. Brandon Hurd, MS (December 2013)
    Thesis title: “Control of a Quadcopter Aerial Robot Using Optic Flow Sensing” [download thesis (PDF)]
  5. Maxwell J. Fleming, MS (May 2012)
    Thesis title:  “Mitigating IPMC back relaxation through feedforward and feedback control of patterned electrodes ”  [download thesis (PDF)]
  6. Robert Riddle, MS (August 2011)
    Thesis title: “Design and characterization of scanning probe microscopy platform with active electro-thermal microcantilever for multifunctional applications.” [download thesis (PDF)]
  7. Joel Hubbard, MS (July 2011)
    Thesis title: “Design and characterization of sectored (patterned) IPMC actuators for propulsion and maneuvering in bio-inspired underwater systems.” [download thesis (PDF)]
  8. Seth Ashley, MS (October 2010)
    Thesis title: “Application of an Inverse-Hysteresis Iterative Control Algorithm for AFM Fabrication.” [download thesis (PDF)] Seth Ashley is currently employed as Electrical Product Engineer at ALSTOM Power in Richmond, VA.
  9. Brian J. Kenton, MS (August 2010)
    Thesis title: “Design, characterization, and control of a high-bandwidth serial-kinematic nanopositioning stage for scanning probe microscopy applications” [download thesis (PDF)]
  10. Yingfeng Shan, MS August 2008
    Thesis title: “Fabrication and Integrated Feedforward and Feedback Control of Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Actuators”. [download thesis (PDF)]


Alumni: Undergraduate Student Scholars

  1. Matthew Givens, Undergraduate researcher (January 2015 – May 2017)
  2. Nikola Nikolaev, Undergraduate researcher (January 2017 – May 2017)
  3. Justin Schramm, Undergraduate researcher (September 2016 – May 2017)
  4. Chad Wing, Undergraduate researcher (January 2017 – May 2017)
  5. Jonathan Zubair, Undergraduate researcher (August 2016 – May 2017)
  6. Ryan Farr, Undergraduate researcher (August 2016 – December 2016)  
  7. John Erickson, Engineering Scholars Undergraduate researcher (January 2016 -September 2016)  
  8. George Cairo, Graduate Preparation Institute (GPI) Undergrad Researcher (June 2015-July 2015)  
  9. Raeleigh Jones, Undergraduate researcher (June 2015-August 2015)  
  10. Connor Yeaton, Undergraduate researcher (June 2015)  
  11. Alyx Colburn, Undergraduate researcher (September 2013 — December 2013)  
  12. Brandon Alber, Undergraduate researcher (September 2013)  
  13. Ketan Mittal, Undergraduate researcher (July 2012 — May 2013)  
  14. Alex Woods,  Undergraduate researcher (May 2012 — May 2013)
  15. Maxwell Smith, Undergraduate researcher (September – December 2011)
  16. Samantha Ashmore, Undergraduate researcher (September – December 2011)
  17. M. Brandon Hurd, Undergraduate researcher (January – December 2011)
  18. Alex Wirth, Undergraduate research scholar (September 2009 – May 2010)
  19. Conan Song, Undergraduate research scholar (September 2009-December 2009)
  20. Stephanie Cutler, Undergraduate Research (June 2007 — June 2008)
    Project: Modeling and control of piezoelectric actuators for nano/bio technology
    Project support: The National Science Foundation, DUE
  21. Mike Freed, Undergraduate Research (January 2007 — January 2008)
    Projects: (1) Modeling and control of piezoelectric actuators for nano/bio technology, and (2) Finite element modeling of an active AFM cantilever.
    Project support: The National Science Foundation, DUE
  22. Robert Riddle, Undergraduate Research (January 2008 — June 2008)
    Project: Modeling and control of AFM.
  23. Matthew R. Vaerewyck, Undergraduate Research (September 2007 — June 2008)
    Project: Fabrication of a high-speed AFM scanner.
    Matthew joined VCU for graduate studies in August 2008.
  24. Timothy Hall, Undergraduate Research (June 2007 — August 2007)
    Project: Optimizing the Design and Fabrication of Ionic Polymer Metal Composite (IPMC) Actuators to Propel an Autonomous Underwater Robot.
  25. Robert Brik, K-12 student scholar, Godwin High School, Richmond, VA (June 2006 — June 2008)
    Robert joined MIT for undergradute studies in Mechanical Engineering.
  26. Jacob Dodson, Undergraduate Research (September 2006 — May 2007)
    Project: Design and control of a biaxial cell-stretching platform.
    After graduating VCU, Jacob attended Virginia Tech and entered Ph.D. program.
  27. Greg G. Anderson, Undergraduate Research (January 2006 – June 2006)
    Project: Development of control software for a wireless mobile robot.
    Project support: VCU CTE Small Grant Award
  28. Ryan M. Mohr, Undergraduate Research (October 2005 – August 2006)
    Project: Control of a shape memory alloy actuator.
    After graduating VCU, Ryan attended UC Santa Barbara and entered Ph.D. program.
  29. James Beck, Undergraduate Research (October 2005 – May 2006)
    Project: Hysteresis characterization under charge-feedback control of a LIPCA device
    After graduating VCU, James attended Columbia University and entered Masters program.