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CMR Ph.D. Student Todd Nelson Awarded NSF Fellowship

Mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Todd Nelson was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

Of 16,500 applicants, Nelson was one of the 2,000 offered a fellowship which will support his work describing curved-folding techniques and investigating curved-folding-inspired applications.His recent work includes a conference article “Large-Curvature Deployable Developable Structures via Lamina Emergent Arrays” which he co-authored with his advisor Dr. Howell and the development of a deployable joint constructed from folding.

The NSF fellowship is given to graduate students in the early stages of graduate study to enable them to pursue their own research, and is awarded over a five-year fellowship period. In addition to funding, the fellowship will give Nelson access to additional resources, such as the opportunities for international collaboration and various cyberinfrastructure programs.

In the research supported by his fellowship, Nelson will work to model curved-folding origami techniques, to create morphing surfaces with tailorable properties suitable for work with curved-fold applications, and to use these models and surfaces to create curved-fold-inspired mechanisms and structures. His research in curved folding has potential application in morphing aerospace structures, self-folding structures, and medical devices.

Nelson grew up in Centerville, Utah and enjoys the outdoors and fly fishing in his spare time. He says, “I am grateful and excited about the chance to investigate a subject which has already produced complex, intriguing works of art and to discover the potential it holds for new engineering applications which can benefit humanity.”