About Me


Broadly, I am interested in how medical imaging (especially MRI) can be used to inform mechanical models of compliant fibrous structures. I believe such models will advance musculoskeletal health and comparative biology applications while the insights gleaned will provide advanced design and control strategies for soft, compliant robots. I am currently exploring how embodiment is manifested in the complex muscular architecture of an octopus arm. I am working with the CyberOctopus project, which is developing a computational analog to living octopuses that can adapt, learn, and evolve to novel tasks, situations, and environments. We are developing models of octopus biomechanics and neuro-muscular control using Elastica, which is a software package we are developing for numerical simulations of Cosserat rods.

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Mechancial Engineering at Virginia Tech. Before this I was a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology where I investigated how biological embodiment guides behavioral selection and control. I earned my Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I was an NSF Graduate Fellow. There, I coupled high-performance computational modeling of diffusion-weighted MRI physics with machine learning-based, data-driven inverse models to non-invasively characterize the microstructural properties of skeletal muscle. I am originally from St. Paul, MN where I completed my undergrad at the University of Saint Thomas.

email: nnaughton@vt.edu

ORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-5553-4718