Principal Investigator

Veronica J. Santos, Ph.D.
Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Biography: Veronica J. Santos is a Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Director of the UCLA Biomechatronics Lab. She earned her B.S. degree in mechanical engineering with a music minor from the University of California, Berkeley in 1999. From 2000 to 2001, she was a Quality Engineer and Research and Development Engineer at Guidant Corporation in Santa Clara, CA, specializing in life-saving cardiovascular technology. Dr. Santos earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering with a biometry minor from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 2004 and 2007, respectively, with Dr. Francisco J. Valero-Cuevas. From 2007 to 2008, she was a postdoctoral research associate with Dr. Gerald E. Loeb at the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, where she worked on a team to develop a novel biomimetic tactile sensor for prosthetic hands. From 2008 to 2014, Dr. Santos was an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program at Arizona State University, where she directed the ASU Biomechatronics Lab. She has served as an Editor of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), an Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, an Associate Editor of the ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction, Editor-in-Chief for the 2020 IEEE Haptics Symposium, and General Co-Chair for the 2022 IEEE Haptics Symposium. She currently serves as a General Co-Chair for the 2024 IEEE Haptics Symposium, and as Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Faculty Affairs for the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.
Research Interests: grasp and manipulation, hand biomechanics, haptics, human-machine systems, machine learning, machine perception, neural control of movement, prosthetics, robotics, stochastic modeling, tactile sensors
Awards and Honors: Selected for the Defense Science Study Group (2018-2019), for a UCLA Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Dept. Teaching Award (2016-2017), for an ASU Young Investigator Award (2014), for two ASU Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Top 5% Teaching Awards (2012, 2013), as a Lindseth Lecturer by the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University (2012), for a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development CAREER Award (2010), and as an attendee at the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium (2010)
Google Scholar citations

Postdoctoral Researchers

Kenneth Gutierrez, Ph.D. (UCLA Mech. & Aero. Engin., 2021)

Ph.D. Dissertation: “Model-free Approaches to Robotic Manipulation via Tactile Perception and Tension-driven Control”
Research Interests: artificial tactile perception, machine learning, manipulation of deformable linear objects
Awards and Honors: Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship (2019-2020), National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Award (2015-2019), National Science Foundation “Bridge to the Doctorate” Fellow (2014)

Not pictured:

  • Alexis Block, Ph.D.

Ph.D. Students

Alireza Haji Fathaliyan

Research Interests: 3D gaze tracking for action recognition to enhance human-robot collaboration
Concurrently: Data Scientist at Meredith Corporation


Shengxin Jia

Research Interests: artificial tactile perception within granular media



Eric Peltola

Research Interests: modeling of human hand kinematics, underwater tactile sensor skins



Xiaoyu Wang

Ph.D. Dissertation: “Eye Gaze-based Approaches to Recognize Human Intent for Shared Autonomy Control of Robot Manipulators”

Research Interests: eye tracking, inference of human intent, shared autonomy

Lionel Zhang

Research Interests: granular media jamming, artificial tactile perception in granular media
Awards and Honors: UCLA MAE Dept. Outstanding TA Award (2018-2019)


Not pictured:

  • Evan Harber
  • Jimmy Penaloza
  • Aileen Villalpando
  • Huajing Zhao
  • Yi Zheng

Master’s Students

Not pictured:

  • Ryan Ling

Undergraduate Students

Not pictured:

  • Angela Gao (UC LEADS, UCLA)
  • Aidan Montiel
  • Sruthi Mukkamala
  • Jacob Serber
  • Cole Ten (UCLA – Santa Monica College)
  • Ryan Wong
  • Annalise Wulf

High School Students

Not pictured:

  • Max Kramer (Marlborough High School)