Kam K. Leang, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of the DARC Lab
ASME Fellow
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Robotics Center, University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
[Personal web site] [Link to Google Citation Report][LinkedIn]


  • Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle WA
    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
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah

Honors and awards

Academic positions

  • Professor, Univ. of Utah (2020 – present)
  • Associate Prof., Univ. of Utah (2014 – 2020)
  • 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)

  • Associate Editor, ASME Letters in Dynamic Systems and Control (Sept. 2019  – present)
  • Associate Editor, Mechatronics, The Science of Intelligent Machines, Elsevier (January 2016 – present)
  • Associate Editor, 2024 American Control Conference (ACC) (Sept. – December 2023)
  • Associate Editor, 2024 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) (Sept.-Dec., 2023)
  • Associate Editor, Int. J. of Intelligent Robotics and Applications (IJIRA) (April 2016 – 2020)
  • Associate Editor, 8th IFAC Symposium on Mechatronic Systems (MECHATRONICS 2019) and the 11th IFAC Symposium on Nonlinear Control Systems (NOLCOS 2019)
  • Associate Editor,  IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2019
  • Lead Guest Editor, Focus Section on Soft Actuators, Sensors, and Components, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics (Sept 2017 – February 2019)
  • Guest Editor, Focus Section on Advances in Soft Robotics, Int. J. of Intelligent Robotics and Applications (IJIRA) (June 2016 – 2017)
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering, Nature Publishing (2015–2019)
  • Associate Editor, IEEE Control Systems Magazine (2012–2017)
  • 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

  • Program Chair, American Control Conference 2024
  • Workshop Chair, 2023 Modeling, Estimation, and Control Conference (MECC), Lake Tahoe, NV
  • Finance Chair, American Control Conference 2022, Atlanta, GA
  • Finance Chair, IEEE/ASME Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM) Conference, 2023, Seattle, WA
  • Workshops Chair, 2020 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Las Vegas, Nevada (October 24-30)
  • Operating Committee Member, Local Arrangements Chair, American Control Conference 2020
  • General Chair, 2019 ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Conference (DSCC)
  • Operating Committee Member, Publicity Chair, American Control Conference 2016
  • Program Committee Member, American Control Conference 2015
  • Program Committee Member, American Control Conference 2014

Current graduate and student scholars

DARC Lab group, November 2016.

DARC Lab group, November 2016.

Ph.D and M.S. Graduate Student Scholars

  1. J. Anderson, Ph.D. Candidate
  2. S. McKee, Ph.D. Candidate
  3. W. S. Nagel, Ph.D. (Defended April 2022)
    Dissertation title: “Long-Range Low-Coupling Dual-Stage Nanopositioning: Design and Control for High-Speed Atomic Force Microscopy”. Dr. Nagel joined Widener University as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Robotics Engineering Department in Sept. 2022.
  4. J. A. Steiner, Ph.D. (Defended August 2022)
    Dissertation title: “Locomotion and Steering of a Magnetic-electroactive Endoluminal Soft Robot”
  5. J. R. Bourne, Ph.D. (Defended April 2020)
    Dissertation title: “Decentralized Multi-agent Information-theoretic Target Localization and Estimation: Finding and Predicting Chemical Gas Leak”
  6. X. He, Ph.D. (Defended January 2020)
    Dissertation title: “Modeling and control of in-ground-effects on rotorcraft unmanned aerial vehicles”
  7. D. Guo, Ph.D. (August 2019)
    Dissertation title: “Dynamic and aggressive image-based flying in GPS-denied environments: estimation, motion planning, and control”.
  8. J. D. Carrico, Ph.D. (August 2018)
    Dissertation title: “3D printing, performance characterization, and machine learning control of ionic polymer-metal composite actuators with applications in soft robotics”
    Dr. Carrico joined the University of Mary as an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering on August 2018.
  9. D. 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)]
  10. Y. Shan, Ph.D. (December 2011)
    Dissertation title: “Repetitive control for hysteretic systems: theory and application in piezo-based nanopositioners” [download dissertation (PDF)].
  11. N. Olsen, MS (November 2022)
    Thesis title: “Information-Based Mobile Sensor Network Coordination for Localizing and Tracking of an Uncooperative Target”
  12. M. Goodell, MS (April 2022)
    Thesis title: “Bayesian Find-and-Consume Strategy for Mobile Robotic Sensor Networks: Estimating and Localizing Multiple Gas Leaks”
  13. G. Kou, MS (June 2021)
    Thesis title: “The Effect of Surface Roughness on Quasi-Steady in-Ground Effect for Multirotor Aerial Vehicles”
  14. T. Tyler, MS (May 2019)
    Thesis title: “Hygroscopic swelling for 4D fabrication of ionic polymer-metal composite soft-robotic devices”
  15. E. Andersen, MS (October 2018)
    Thesis title: “Design and control of a micro aerial vehicle powered with resonant inductive wireless power transfer”
  16. K. Jensen, MS (July 2018)
    Thesis title: “Near-Optimal Area Coverage Path Planning for an Energy Constrained Autonomous Mobile Robot: Application to Autonomous Aerial Chemical Sensing”
  17. K. C. Hoffman, MS (July 2018)
    Thesis title: “Characterization, Modeling, and Feedforward Compensation of Gas Sensor Dynamics for Aerial Robot Chemical Plume Mapping and Swarm-based Localization”
  18. K. Dockstader, MS (January 2018)
    Thesis title: “Design, modeling, and gait control of a rolling quadruped (Roll-U-Ped)”
  19. C. J. Pratt, MS  (December 2016)
    Thesis title: “Design and modeling of the dynamic underactuated flying-walking (DUCK) robot” [download thesis (PDF)]
  20. M. Tsugawa, MS (August 2014)
    Thesis title: “Development of a Tube-Shaped Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Actuator with Integrated Sensing”
  21. C. J. Dudley, MS  (June 2014)
    Thesis title: “A Spherical Aerial Terrestrial Robot (ATR)” [download thesis (PDF)]
  22. M. B. Hurd, MS (December 2013)
    Thesis title: “Control of a Quadcopter Aerial Robot Using Optic Flow Sensing” [download thesis (PDF)]
  23. M. J. Fleming, MS (May 2012)
    Thesis title:  “Mitigating IPMC back relaxation through feedforward and feedback control of patterned electrodes ”  [download thesis (PDF)]
  24. R. 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)]
  25. 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)]
  26. S. 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.
  27. B. 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)]
  28. Y. Shan, MS August 2008
    Thesis title: “Fabrication and Integrated Feedforward and Feedback Control of Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Actuators”. [download thesis (PDF)]

Visiting Graduate Student Scholars

  1. R. Regulski, Visiting Ph.D. Student (Poznan University of Technology, September 2015-December 2015)
    Focus: Piezo-driven flapping wing

Undergraduate Student Scholars

  1. G. Kuo, Undergraduate researcher (September 2017 – December 2018)
  2. C. Buchanan, Undergraduate researcher (January 2017 – January 2018)
  3. I. Adibnazari, Undergraduate researcher (January 2017 – August 2018)
  4. K. Fluckiger, Undergraduate researcher (September 2016 – December 2017)
  5. C. Mortensen, Undergraduate researcher (November 9, 2015 – December 2017)
  6. M. Givens, Undergraduate researcher (January 2015 – May 2017)
  7. N. Nikolaev, Undergraduate researcher (January 2017 – May 2017)
  8. J. Schramm, Undergraduate researcher (September 2016 – May 2017)
  9. C. Wing, Undergraduate researcher (January 2017 – May 2017)
  10. J. Zubair, Undergraduate researcher (August 2016 – May 2017)
  11. R. Farr, Undergraduate researcher (August 2016 – December 2016)  
  12. J. Erickson, Engineering Scholars Undergraduate researcher (January 2016 -September 2016)  
  13. G. Cairo, Graduate Preparation Institute (GPI) Undergrad Researcher (June 2015-July 2015)  
  14. R. Jones, Undergraduate researcher (June 2015-August 2015)  
  15. C. Yeaton, Undergraduate researcher (June 2015)  
  16. A. Colburn, Undergraduate researcher (September 2013 — December 2013)  
  17. B. Alber, Undergraduate researcher (September 2013)  
  18. K. Mittal, Undergraduate researcher (July 2012 — May 2013)  
  19. A. Woods,  Undergraduate researcher (May 2012 — May 2013)
  20. M. Smith, Undergraduate researcher (September – December 2011)
  21. S. Ashmore, Undergraduate researcher (September – December 2011)
  22. M. B. Hurd, Undergraduate researcher (January – December 2011)
  23. A. Wirth, Undergraduate research scholar (September 2009 – May 2010)
  24. C. Song, Undergraduate research scholar (September 2009-December 2009)
  25. S. 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
  26. M. 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
  27. R. Riddle, Undergraduate Research (January 2008 — June 2008)
    Project: Modeling and control of AFM.
  28. M. 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.
  29. T. 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.
  30. R. Brik, K-12 student scholar, Godwin High School, Richmond, VA (June 2006 — June 2008)
    Robert joined MIT for undergradute studies in Mechanical Engineering.
  31. J. 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.
  32. G. 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
  33. R. 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.
  34. J. 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.