Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Johns Hopkins University
Host Nikhil Chopra
Many stochastic problems of interest in engineering and biology involve random rigid-body motions. These include the statistical mechanics of DNA and other biopolymers, mobile robot path planning, and robot-arm kinematics. These topics will be reviewed and will lead to a discussion of our current work on multi-robot team-diagnosis and repair, information fusion, and self-replicating robots. In order to quantify the robustness of such robots, measures of the degree of environmental uncertainty that they can handle need to be computed. The entropy of the set of all possible arrangements (or configurations) of spare parts in the environment is such a measure, and has led us to study problems at the foundations of statistical mechanics and information theory, which we have in turn brought back to model problems in structural biology, including the modeling of Brownian-motion-induced motions of end-constrained DNA. Our work on class averaging methods in electron microscopy will also be discussed as time permits.
Gregory S. Chirikjian received undergraduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University in 1988, and the Ph.D. degree from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, in 1992. Since 1992, he has been on the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, where he has been a full professor since 2001. From 2004-2007 he served as department chair. His research interests include robotics, applications of group theory in a variety of engineering disciplines, and the mechanics of biological macromolecules. He is a 1993 National Science Foundation Young Investigator, a 1994 Presidential Faculty Fellow, and a 1996 recipient of the ASME Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal. In 2008 he became a Fellow of the ASME, and in 2010 he became a Fellow of the IEEE. He is the author of more than 180 journal and conference papers and primary author on two books: Engineering Applications of Noncommutative Harmonic Analysis (2001) and Stochastic Models, Information Theory, and Lie Groups, Vol. 1. (2009).