Naomi Ehrich Leonard,
Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Director, Council on Science & Technology
Associated Faculty, Program in Applied & Computational Mathematics
Affiliated Faculty, Princeton Neuroscience Institute & Quantitative and Computational Biology
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, & International Federation of Automatic Control.
Ph.D. University of Maryland (1994)
Leonard's main area of research and teaching is in the field of control and dynamical systems, where she has made contributions both to theory and to application. The field involves designing and analyzing feedback and the behavior of complex, dynamical systems. In recent years she has focused on multi-agent systems in engineering (design of robotic teams) and in nature (analysis of animal and human groups) and mathematical approaches for leveraging insights across contexts. Her work examines the role of distributed feedback and interconnection in collective motion and collective decision-making and makes rigorous the connections between network and leadership structure and decision-making speed, accuracy, and robustness.
She led a large, collaborative, multidisciplinary Adaptive Sampling and Prediction project on the development and demonstration, in Monterey Bay, CA in 2006, of an automated and adaptive ocean observing system consisting of a coordinated network of underwater robotic vehicles that move about on their own and carry sensors to collect scientific data about the ocean. She has collaborated with biologists to study the mechanisms that explain the collective dynamics of animal groups, including killifish, honeybees, caribou, and starlings, and to explain human decision-making under uncertainty. In 2010 she co-created Flock Logic, an art-making project that explored what happens when dancers carry out the mathematical rules for dynamic response used to model flocking birds.