James Bern

Position: Professor
Pronouns: he/him
Office: TPL 315
Phone: 413.597.2855
E-mail: [email protected]


  • PhD in Computer Science, ETH Zurich, 2020
  • MS in Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University, 2017
  • BS in Mechanical Engineering, Minor in Computer Science, Minor in Control and Dynamical Systems, California Institute of Technology, 2015


  • Soft and Rigid Robotics
  • Computational Design
  • Numerical Simulation
  • Computer Graphics
  • Toys & Games
  • Robotic Art


James was a Ph.D. student in the Computational Robotics Lab at ETH Zurich, advised by Prof. Stelian Coros, and was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Distributed Robotics Lab at MIT CSAIL, advised by Prof. Daniela Rus. His graduate and postdoctoral work developed general, computational answers to fundamental questions in the field of soft robotics and showed how simulation and numerical optimization can help us navigate the vast complexity of soft systems.


James is interested in the following questions. (1) How do we model complex physical phenomena that change unpredictably over time? (2) How can we efficiently navigate massive design and control spaces? (3) How do we put our new computational tools into the hands of artists, designers, and the general public?