Current Members

Prof. Horacio Dante Espinosa

Group Leader

Professor Espinosa received his Civil Engineering degree from Northeast National University in Argentina in 1981. From 1982 to 1985, he practiced the profession by designing foundations of multi-story buildings, reinforced concrete plates, beams, columns used in multi-story buildings, and shells used in elevated reservoirs. Another activity he pursued was the design of city pavement and draining systems. In September of 1985 he started graduate studies at the Polytechnic of Milan until completion of a Master Degree in Structural Engineering. In August of 1987 he moved to the USA and started graduate studies at Brown University, earning a Ph.D. in Solid Mechanics. In January of 1992 he joined the faculty at Purdue University in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Since January of 2000, he has been a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University. Currently, he is the James N. and Nancy J. Farley Professor in Manufacturing & Entrepreneurship, Director of the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Program, and the President of the Society of Engineering Science.

Dr. Wei Gao

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Wei joined Prof. Espinosa’s group as a postdoctoral fellow in August 2014. His primary research interest focuses on the interdisciplinary study of the mechanical properties of materials spanning length scales from atomistic to continuum levels. Wei received his Ph. D. degree in Engineering Mechanics from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014. At UT Austin, he studied the effects of thermal fluctuation on the mechanical properties of monolayer graphene using classical statistical thermodynamics and molecular dynamics simulations. In close collaboration with experimentalists, he also studied the interfacial adhesion of graphene by multiscale modeling. Before joining UT Austin, Wei worked as a mechanical engineer for two years in Los Angeles after he obtained his master degrees from Tsinghua University in China and the University of California, Irvine, respectively in 2006 and 2007.

Dr. Ruiguo Yang

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Ruiguo Yang received his Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering in Mechatronics Engineering degrees from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Nanjing, China in 2004 and 2007, respectively. At Michigan State University, he worked on atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based nanorobotics and its application for characterizing cell-cell adhesion structures and their role in regulating cell mechanical behavior, where he received a PhD degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2014. Subsequently, he joined Prof. Espinosa's group as a Postdoctoral Fellow. His current research interests include the development and application of nanofountain probe (NFP) technology for single cell electroporation, and continued study of quantifying cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesion strength in wild type and mutant cells using AFM and bioMEMS techniques.

Dr. Michael J. Chon

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Michael J. Chon was born on January 9th, 1987 in Paraguay but grew up in nearby Lincolnwood, Illinois -- a neighboring suburb of Evanston. He credits his love of learning to the caring and passionate teachers throughout his public schooling at Lincolnwood School District 74 and Niles West High School District 219. In the fall of 2005, he began his formative career at Brown University as an undergraduate student concentrating in Engineering before continuing his doctoral studies with Prof. Pradeep Guduru, also at Brown. His primary expertise is in Experimental Solid Mechanics on the nano- and micro-scale. His Doctoral thesis topic was an interdisciplinary study in Solid Mechanics, Material Science and Electrochemistry that investigates the mechanics and mechanical behavior of silicon as a high-capacity Li-ion battery electrode material, which he successfully defended during the winter of 2016. He joined Prof. Horacio Espinosa's group in the Spring of 2016 as a post-doctorate research associate and is currently investigating design principles of biological materials to apply towards lighter, stronger and tougher materials. Along the way, he taught and mentored middle school students, wrote software in Silicon Valley, built houses in New Orleans, hiked the Appalachian Trail, learned to snowboard in Vermont, built bicycles and met his wife, Anna.

Alireza Zaheri

Graduate Student

Alireza was born in Tehran, Iran and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Sharif University of Technology (Iran) in 2010. As an undergraduate student, he proposed a novel method of calculation of elastic properties and strain gradient material constants by utilization of quantum mechanical studies under the supervision of Prof. Shodja. He then joined the department of Mechanical Engineering at Princeton University as a graduate student and earned his Master of Science in Engineering degree in 2013. During his research at Princeton, he worked with Prof. Haataja to understand the role of microstructure on the mechanical behavior and deformation mechanism of bulk metallic glasses and composites undergoing phase transformations by employing a mesoscale phase-field model. Alireza joined Prof. Espinosa’s group in Fall 2014 to pursue a PhD degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. His current research interests include ultrastructural and mechanical characterization of biological species as well as biomimetic syntheses.

Rajaprakash Ramachandramoorthy

Graduate Student

Raj was born in Virudhunagar, India. He received his bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from both University of Glasgow (Scotland, UK) and University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (USA). He worked as a research assistant at the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology at UIUC with Prof. Scott White on visualization of impact damage in self-healing composites. He then went to McGill University (Montreal, Canada) to earn his master’s degree in mechanical engineering, where he worked with Prof. Pascal Hubert on laser transmission welding of thermoplastic composites using laser refraction. He joined Prof. Espinosa’s group in Fall 2011 to pursue a PhD degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. His current research interests include in situ SEM/TEM nanomechanical testing at high strain rates and fatigue testing of nanowires.

Siyan Dong

Graduate Student

Siyan is from Xiamen, China. He received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA in 2014. During his undergraduate education he joined the Microsystems Laboratory and worked on developing an advanced biological imaging system based on selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM). He also gained experience during his undergraduate career working on microfluidic device fabrication, flexure structure design and simulation, and Smart Grid implementation. He joined Prof. Espinosa’s group in the fall of 2014 in pursuit of a PhD degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. He currently works on characterization and utilization of 2D piezoelectric materials.

Rafael A. Soler-Crespo

Graduate Student

Rafael was born in Manatí, Puerto Rico. After spending most of his life in the coastal town of Vega Alta, he went on to obtain his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez with highest honors. Due to his training in the fields of chemical and materials engineering, Rafael ardently pursued projects that linked microscopic to macroscopic properties during his undergraduate research work. This led him to obtain two patents for the synthesis of nanoporous materials under Prof. Marcelo Suárez. Additionally, Rafael worked under Prof. María Curet Arana developing reaction mechanisms, aided by DFT calculations, for the transformation of carbon dioxide to functional chemicals with the use of novel catalysts. He joined the Espinosa group in Fall 2012 to obtain a Ph.D. degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, working on atomistic modeling applications for mechanics. His research interests include multiscale modeling, materials design, and computational mechanics.

Shiva Prasad

Graduate Student

Shiva was born and raised in southern India. He received his Bachelor of Technology degree in Civil Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati in 2010. As an undergraduate student, he worked on research projects in the fields of Applied Mathematics (adaptive grids in singular perturbation problems), Inverse Problems in Engineering (leakage detection in pipe networks using inverse transient analysis), and Computational Mechanics (comparative study of locking-free shear-flexible beam in mesh-free methods). During 2010-12, he worked as Project Engineer with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. in a 1000 km pipeline project. At Indian Oil, he designed and executed quality control (QC) plans related to construction of civil health monitoring units (repeater cum cathodic protection), pipe milling (submerged arc welding), and coating (coal-tar enamel and concrete weight). He joined Prof. Espinosa's group at Northwestern University in Fall 2012 to pursue his Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. His current research interests include designing microfluidic platforms for single cell biology applications and using computational methods to explore nano-mechanics for system and material designs.

Prithvijit Mukherjee

Graduate Student

Prithvijit was born in West Bengal, India. He received his Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) degree in Mechanical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani in 2015. During his undergraduate studies he worked on the simulation of convective heat transfer in nanofluids and the design of a travelling wave DEP based microfluidic system for particle separation. He also worked on a MEMS based in situ fuel cell sensor under the guidance of Dr. Rustom Bhiladvala at the University of Victoria, Canada. His bachelor’s thesis involved the numerical investigation of instabilities at microfluidic interfaces. Prithvijit joined Prof. Espinosa’s group in fall 2015 to pursue his PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. His current research involves developing BioMEMS platforms for cell transfection and sampling via localized electroporation.

Zhaowen Lin

Graduate Student

Zhaowen is from Xinhui, China. He received his bachelor’s degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from University of Science and Technology of China in 2015. During his undergraduate education he joined Hongyuan Jiang’s group and worked on modeling of cell migration, cell division and friction between soft materials. He joined Prof. Espinosa’s group in the fall of 2015 in pursuit of a PhD degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. He currently works on characterization and of metallic nanowires and development of MEMS devices.



Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
McCormick Home | Northwestern Home | Northwestern Calendar | Contact | Emergency Plan | Maps
© 2009 Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University
2145 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60208-3100 | Phone: (847) 491-5220 | Fax: (847) 491-8539
Email: | Last modified: May 22, 2015 | Legal and Policy Statements