Professor Sarkar elected ASME Fellow

Nilanjan Sarkar, mechanical engineering professor and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a distinction awarded to ASME members who have made significant engineering achievements. He is one of only 3,335 Fellows out of 127,651 ASME members.

Nilanjan Sarkar

Sarkar is recognized as an expert in robotics, including developing robotic and computer technology that can aid individuals with disabilities. A current interest is developing emotion-sensing robotic technology for use with people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

He is also interested in developing virtual reality technology that can be used to design social tasks for people with ASD and other neuropsychological disorders, as well as new methods of quantifying human interactions during interventions using advanced technology.

In May, his work with a humanoid robot named Russell was featured at the 20th annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) exhibition and reception, a major event held to encourage Congress to continue its support for the National Science Foundation.

Sarkar and Zachary Warren, Vanderbilt associate professor of pediatrics, psychiatry and special education, developed Russell and ARIA (Adaptive Robot-Mediated Intervention Architecture), an elaborate system of cameras, sensors and computers developed at Vanderbilt that helps young children diagnosed with ASD learn basic social skills.

Professor Sarkar also was featured in a 2011 National Geographic article on creating a new generation of robots.

Sarkar leads the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Laboratory in the School of Engineering. The lab’s focus is both theoretical investigation into the dynamics of mechanical and electro-mechanical systems and the application of advanced planning and control strategies for controlling these systems. Primary research efforts are on the dynamics and control of autonomous dynamic systems, such as robotic manipulators, mobile robots, mobile manipulators and other robotic devices.

His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Office, NASA, DARPA and several foundations such as the Marino Autism Research Institute, Autism Speaks Foundation and Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. Sarkar is an author or co-author of 68 journal articles, 14 book chapters and more than 100 conference publications.

He is the recipient of a number of awards and honors, including the Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Research Award and Vanderbilt School of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award. Sarkar has served as an associate editor, a guest editor and as a member of the editorial board of several journals including IEEE transactions on Robotics, ASME Transactions of Mechatronics, and Journal of Intelligent and Robotics Systems.

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314
Twitter @VUEngineering