Sarkar named chair of mechanical engineering department

Nilanjan Sarkar has been named chair of the mechanical engineering department at Vanderbilt University.

Nilanjan Sarkar

Sarkar is a professor of mechanical engineering and computer engineering. He is recognized as an expert in robotics, including developing robotic and computer technology that can aid individuals with disabilities.

Sarkar succeeds Professor Robert Pitz who remains a faculty member. Pitz served as department chair from Sept. 1, 1999 to Dec. 31, 2017. Pitz and Sarkar were recognized at a School of Engineering reception in May.

Sarkar develops virtual reality technology that can be used to design social tasks for people with autism spectrum disorders and other neuropsychological disorders, as well as new methods of quantifying human interactions during interventions using advanced technology.

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 joined the engineering faculty as an assistant professor in January 2000.

Sarkar is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He 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 on Mechatronics, and the Journal of Intelligent and Robotics Systems.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314