Centers + Institutes

Our interdisciplinary research centers and institutes span across all departments in Penn Engineering and foster collaborations across different schools throughout the University. The physical connectivity of engineering buildings and our proximity to each of the other schools enables exciting collaborations with faculty, students and postdocs in the Schools of Medicine, Arts & Sciences and The Wharton School, just to name a few. From biotechnology and robotics, to computer animation and nanotechnology, Penn Engineering’s centers and institutes are at the forefront of research on each scientific and technological frontier.

Center + Institute Summaries

Center for Analyzing Evolved Structures as Optimized Products (AESOP)

Shu Yang, Director

The Center for Analyzing Evolved Structures as Optimized Products (AESOP): Science and Engineering for the Human Habitat is a dynamic and highly collaborative center bringing together materials scientists, chemical and biomolecular engineers, mechanical engineers, robotics engineers, systems engineers, and computer scientists with expertise in both active and real time control of materials, metamaterials, and structures. Its goal is address societal issues related to conservation of water, nutrients, energy, and sustainability.

Center for Engineering MechanoBiology

Vivek Shenoy, Director

The Center for Engineering MechanoBiology (CEMB) is a multi-institutional Science and Technology Center funded by the National Science Foundation to advance the study of mechanical forces in molecules, cells, and tissues in plants and animals. The mission of the CEMB is to create new materials, biomedical therapies, and improved agricultural technologies. Our researchers utilize multidisciplinary approaches to interrogate and guide the formation of biological structures on multiple scales and will create new platforms for innovative research and training as a pipeline to the workforce of the future.

Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine (CT3N)

Vladimir Muzykantov and Andrew Tsourkas, co-Directors

CT3N is a joint interdisciplinary venture between the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, with the mission to facilitate and accelerate translational research in targeted therapeutics and nanomedicines by bringing together the many leading laboratories active in these areas at the University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and surrounding academic institutions. Research areas being pursued by CT3N faculty include design of biomaterials and carriers for drug delivery, identification of molecular targets for cell-specific delivery, studies of targeting, binding, sub-cellular trafficking and metabolism of targeted drugs. These studies use modern strategies of nanotechnology, bioconjugation and recombinant fusion proteins, phage display libraries, cellular grafting, monoclonal antibodies, bioengineering, computational modeling, and diverse imaging modalities. The efficacy and safety of novel therapeutic approaches are evaluated in a wide range of cell culture and animal models.

General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab

Dan Lee, Director

The General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab is a truly inter-disciplinary research center at the University of Pennsylvania. Founded in 1979, the lab has grown today to be one of the premier research centers focusing on fundamental research in robotics, vision, perception, control, automation and learning.

Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM)

Arjun G. Yodh, Director

The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) is the intellectual focal point of materials research at Penn. It hosts the Materials Research Science & Engineering Center (MRSEC), which consists of five Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) plus selected seed projects. The MRSEC provides crucial support for faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students drawn from different disciplines, to tackle complex materials science projects that can only be addressed in a truly collaborative mode.

Penn Center for Health, Devices and Technology (Penn Health-Tech)

Brian Litt and Insup Lee, co-Directors

The Penn Health-Tech mission is to foster novel medical-device ideas based on basic science and technology developed at the University of Pennsylvania, facilitate the development of medical devices and healthcare technology, and provide education and research opportunities to next-generation medical device innovators.

Penn Center for Molecular Discovery (PCMD)

Scott Diamond, Director

The Penn Center for Molecular Discovery (PCMD) is a multi-disciplinary center that screens small molecules from around the world in search of new, potentially useful biologically effective agents. The Penn Center for Molecular Discovery is housed within the Institute for Medicine and Engineering.

Penn Institute for Computational Science (PICS)

Ravi Radhakrishnan, Director

The formation of the Penn Institute for Computational Science derives from the observation that computing is an important tool for research in essentially every field of study today; from the physical and biological sciences to every part of engineering to linguistics to medicine to psychology. Computing’s rapidly changing landscape, while presenting immense opportunities, makes it a challenge for researchers to stay at the state-of-the-art. PICS is formed to address these challenges and opportunities across the University of Pennsylvania.

Penn Research in Embedded Computing and Integrated Systems Engineering (PRECISE)

Insup Lee, Director

PRECISE is the point of convergence for several related research efforts by the affiliated faculty in the areas of cyber-physical systems, distributed, real-time, and embedded systems, formal specification and verification, control theory, and trust management. Comprised of researchers from the departments of Computer and Information Science and Electrical and Systems Engineering, the center also collaborates closely with researchers in Robotics, Bioengineering, the School of Medicine, and Wharton. PRECISE research is being applied to several application domains, including embedded software-intensive medical devices, embedded software design and verification, wireless sensors, and robotics.

Penn Research in Machine Learning (PRiML)

Shivani Agarwal and Alexander Rakhlin, co-Directors

The need to analyze and make effective use of the vast amounts of data has made Machine Learning indispensable in many fields of science, medicine and engineering, as well as technology powering modern high-tech industry. Machine Learning addresses the fundamental problems of extracting models and patterns from data. PRiML’s focus is on both theoretical and applied aspects of machine learning, especially dealing with fundamental challenges of large scale learning: high dimensionality, very large datasets, limited supervision, adversarial settings, structured outcome spaces.

Singh Center for Nanotechnology

Mark Allen, Director

The Singh Center is centered around four major research facilities, all featuring state-of-the-art equipment for nanoscale characterization, measurement, and fabrication: the Quattrone Nanofabrication Facility, the Nanoscale Characterization Facility, the Scanning and Local Probe Facility, and the Material Property Measurement Facility.

The ViDi Center

Norm Badler, Director

The ViDi Center will fundamentally address the connections between visual analysis and re-synthesis problems, primarily involving 3D objects and environments that pose significant and interesting questions in the Humanities (but also in Medicine and Engineering). The ViDi Center will bring together Engineering and Humanities faculty to embark on deeply collaborative investigations to discover new Computer Graphics modeling and animation methods and apply the best and most appropriate techniques to modeling and visualization challenges presented by human artistic, structural, and cultural artifacts.

The Warren Center for Network & Data Sciences

Michael Kearns, Director; Rakesh Vohra, co-Director

The Warren Center for Data & Network Sciences is an incubator of forward-thinking research, culturally impactful innovation, and potent interdisciplinary collaboration that challenges how the world views technology. High-caliber faculty members from across the university have a place to centralize, share and develop their wide range of approaches to network science, from economics to sociology to cryptography and more. Here, the brightest data-centric minds at Penn spearhead collaborative research projects, generating collective solutions from once disparate schools of thought.