Principal Investigator

Simon Sponberg

Simon moved to Georgia Tech in the fall of 2014. He studies how the versatile, agile locomotion of animals arises from their physiological components using the perspective of physics and comparative biology. He completed his graduate training at UC, Berkeley and postdoctoral research at the University of Washington. 

University Contact Info

Simon Sponberg
Dunn Family Associate Professor
School of Physics
School of Biological Sciences
Quantitative Biosciences Graduate Program
Bioengineering Graduate Program
Georgia Institute of Technology
Howey Physics Building C205
837 State St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

The Sponberg Group @ Georgia Tech
Agile Systems Lab
837 State St. NW
Howey Physics Building W208/W209
Atlanta, GA 30313

Graduate Students

Usama Bin Sikandar

Ph.D. student

Electrical Engineering

Usama received his B.S. from LUMS and M.S. from Georgia Tech. He is interested in biomechanics, control systems and dynamics. He uses models of flapping flight, control systems and integrative biology approaches to understand how hawkmoths display remarkable agility in their flight. In his spare time, you might find him going on road trips, exploring restaurants, listening to some good music or just watching cricket.

Varun Sharma

Ph.D. student

Quantitative Biosciences

Varun is a Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS)  PhD student interested in the Neuroscience of flight behavior. He got his B.E. in Mechanical Engineer at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani,  and his MS in Mechanical Engineering at CU Boulder. His work involves control theoretic analysis of flight behavior, and electrophysiological study of sensory and motor processes.

Leo Wood

Ph.D. student

Quantitative Biosciences

Leo obtained his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M, and his M.Sc. in zoology from the University of British Columbia. His prior research always focused on how matter capable of changing shape can be arranged and controlled to produce motion. Now at Georgia Tech, he’s studying how nervous systems can interact with and control muscle mechanics to produce locomotion. In his spare time, he likes to play with his dog, make music, watch bad movies, read, and get demolished by friends at chess.

Ethan Wold

Ph.D. student

Quantitative Biosciences

Ethan is in the Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS) PhD program interested in the mechanisms of superfast and powerful organismal movement. He received his ScB in  Biology and Geophysics at Brown University in 2020. His work in the lab involves resonant mechanics and strain-dependent muscle activation in insect flight. Outside of research, he enjoys playing the guitar, cooking, and hanging out with his dog Remy.

Ellen Liu

Ph.D. student

Quantitative Biosciences

Ellen received her B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering in 2021 from the University of Limerick, Ireland. Her interests are in biological locomotor systems and how features from these systems can be applied to robotics. She is investigating neuromechanical control architectures under various conditions to determine optimal control strategies. When she’s not in the lab she likes to play music, video games and travel.

Research Technician

Mahir Patel

Lab Technician

Mahir Patel studied Physics at Georgia Tech. During his time as an undergraduate student, he studied and analyzed the properties of some peculiar stars, specifically CN stars. He currently runs the day to day maintenance of the lab. When off work, he enjoys watching movies, playing video games, going on hikes, and socialize with friends and family.



Manon Harris


Manon is a Physics major and is pursuing a concentration in Physics of Living Systems and a minor in Biology. She is currently working with Ethan to gain knowledge on the spring constants and resonant frequencies of different species of moths. In her free time, Manon likes to crochet, paint, and to spend lots of time with her friends and family.

Delaney McGowan


Delaney is a third-year physics major pursuing a concentration in Physics of Living Systems. She is working with Leo to understand the interactions between moth nervous systems and flight. She spends her free time rock climbing and watching A24 movies.

Thatcher Spears


Thatcher is an undergrad biology major, with interests in movement and physiology. He is working to understand the system interactions foundational to movement. In his free time, Thatcher likes to read, go on a run, and spend time with his family.

Joanna Baker

Joanna is originally from Atlanta and now studies Biology and Art Practice at Stanford University. This summer she is working with Ethan to segment, process, and analyze CT scans of thorax muscles in hawkmoths and silkmoths. This project will help visualize and quantify the anatomical differences that underly the divergent flight strategies of these two evolutionary branches. In her free time, Joanna likes to make art, play guitar, and hang out with her family and cats.

Lab Alumni

Dr. Brett Aiello (Post-doc, Ph.D. Integrative Biology from University of Chicago)

Dr. Joy Putney (Ph.D. Quantitative Biosciences, Georgia Tech)

Dr. Stephanie Gage (Post-doc, Ph.D. Neurobiology & Neuroscience from University of Arizona)

Dr. Megan Matthews (Ph.D. Physics, Georgia Tech)

Dr. Jeff Gau (Ph.D. BioEngineering, Georgia Tech)

Dr. Travis Tune (Ph.D. Physics, Georgia Tech)

Dr. Izaak Neveln (Post-doc, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University)

Jiyeon Maeng (Quantitative Biosciences Grad Student)

Julianne Cato (Biology undergrad)

Miguel Zadorosny (ME undergrad)

Emine Zeynep Ulutas (Neuroscience undergrad)

Marc Guasch (Research Technician -- now a grad student at Georgia Tech)

Gabriel Montes (Physics undergrad)

Haritha Sigili (Neuroscience undergrad)

Harrison Fu (BME undergrad)

Manognya Sripathi (BME undergrad)

Sofia Russo (Physics REU)

Rebecca Burns (Physics REU)

Ali White (Physics REU)

Tobias Niebur (ECE -- now a grad student at JHU)

Brandon Pratt

Gabriela "Ella" Small (Swarthmore -- Physics)

Martha Rimniceanu (Research Technician -- now at Frye Lab, UCLA)

Amoolya Tirumalai (BME -- now at Bhandawat Lab, Duke)

Elizabeth Veith (Bio)

Rachel Barker (Physics -- now at Sober Lab, Emory)

Chidinma "Chi Chi" Chukwueke (BME -- now at Abbott Labs)

Steven Chandler (Research Technician)

Gabriela Maria Hernandez (Physics, Univ. of Miami)

Brittany Bayley (Physics -- Masters)

William Xia (ECE)

Natalie Murray (Physics)

Frank Adams (Physics/Mech. Eng. Clark Atlanta Univ.)

Hunter Hakimian (Physics)

Ravi Chauhan (Mech. Eng.)