Indian-American professor from UPenn elected to the American Philosophical Society

Vijay Kumar, the Nimirovsky Family Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, who was just inducted into the renowned American Philosophical Society. (Photo:

The Indian-American Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science has been elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.

UPenn announced the election of Professor Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky Family Dean of SEAS, May 3, in a press release.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge,” the American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned society in the United States, continuing its founder’s spirit of inquiry by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, the press release noted.

Kumar studies collective behaviors in biological and robotic systems. He and his group design novel architectures, create abstractions for systems of interacting individuals, and develop new algorithms for cooperating robots, according to his profile on the UPenn website. The overarching themes in his research include modeling nature and developing bio-inspired architectures and algorithms, understanding group/individual dynamics, and the design and composition of controllers for robust, scaleable autonomous systems.

The Indian-American professor is a member of General Robotics, Automation, Sensing ad Perception (GRASP); the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute; and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science. He has a Ph.D in mechanical engineering from Ohio State.

He was elected to National Academy of Engineering in 2013. Other honors and awards include – Fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers – 2005; Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers- 2003; Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching – 1996; and National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award – 1991

Kumar joined the Penn Engineering faculty in 1987 and has appointments in the departments of  Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer and Information Science, and Electrical and Sysstems Engineering. During a scholarly leave in 2012–14, Kumar served in the White House as assistant director for robotics and cyber physical systems in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama administration.

He previously served as Penn Engineering’s deputy dean for education, deputy dean for research, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and director of GRASP Laboratory. The author of more than 400 refereed articles and papers and more than 20 books and book chapters, he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

“Kumar is recognized around the world for his groundbreaking work on the development of autonomous robots and on biologically inspired algorithms for collective behavior,” UPenn said in its press release. He has mentored doctoral students who are themselves leaders in research and education.




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