Expert in dynamical systems elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers

NYU Tandon’s Maurizio Porfiri recognized for wide-ranging research spanning biomimetic robotics, collective behavior, multiphysics modeling, and complex systems

Maurizio Porfiri in his office with bookshelves in background

BROOKLYN, New York, Thursday, May 30, 2019 — Maurizio Porfiri, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and biomedical engineering at New York University Tandon School of Engineering known for his research in dynamical systems, has been selected as a fellow by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

ASME fellows have achieved the highest level of distinction accorded to the organization’s members; of the more than 100,000 ASME members worldwide, fewer than 4,000 are fellows.

Porfiri, who directs the Dynamical Systems Laboratory at NYU Tandon, is recognized for a decade of research contributions spanning several areas, including biomimetic robotics, collective behavior, multiphysics modeling, and complex systems. He is best known for designing and deploying a series of biologically inspired robotic fish that, through their interactions with live fish, are providing new insights into animal behavior. His use of robots that can “see” and mimic live fish behavior has led to a greater understanding of the physical cues and psychological drivers of leadership, fear, and even courtship among fish — critical steps toward realizing the potential of aquatic robots to aid in environmental and animal protection efforts. The robots also help carry out translational experiments in the laboratory.

Porfiri’s interest in underwater environments also encompasses research that aims to capture and utilize energy from naturally occurring underwater eddies and vortices, as well as manmade mechanical vibrations, to power underwater sensors. Similarly, his studies of fluid-structure interactions have yielded findings that could inform a new generation of lightweight, more resilient marine vessels that could maneuver in arctic regions.

“Maurizio Porfiri certainly belongs among the elite ranks of ASME members, and it is gratifying to see him earn this recognition from his peers,” said NYU Tandon Dean Jelena Kovačević. “Fiercely interdisciplinary and creative, Maurizio’s work in robotics, smart materials, collective behavior — and even the dynamics of social phenomena such as the spread of infectious diseases — never ceases to be impactful. His impact as an educator has been noteworthy, as well, through his mentorship of young scholars and his dedication to engaging young children in engineering and science.”

A devoted advocate of STEM educational efforts for K-12 students, Porfiri led the development of an underwater robotics and marine science program at the New York Aquarium. Visitors to local museums in New York can often engage and interact with robotic fish from his lab, which are featured in exciting exhibitions.

Professor Porfiri’s work has earned him multiple prior ASME accolades, including the 2013 Dynamics Systems and Control Division Young Investigator Award, the 2013 Gary Anderson Early Achievement Award, and the 2015 C.D. Mote, Jr., Early Career Award. He is also the recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award, and he was named among the 2011 “Brilliant 10” — Popular Science magazine’s annual roundup of the most promising young scientists. In 2018, Porfiri was elected as a fellow by the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE).

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About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, one of the country’s foremost private research universities, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on start-up businesses in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit