Dr. Jianguo Zhao is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University.  He is a roboticist and currently directs the Adaptive Robotics Lab at CSU, which aims to design and build adaptive robots that can reconfigure their shapes, structures, or functionalities to fulfill tasks in diverse environments. Dr. Zhao’s research is mainly supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). He has published many papers on robot design, modeling, and control, including robotics journals (e.g., IEEE Transactions on Robotics, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Soft Robotics, etc.) as well as multidisciplinary scientific journals (e.g., Science Advances).  His work has been selected as the finalist twice (one as a student, another as the advisor) for the best student paper award in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).  He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society, and the IEEE Control Systems Society. Before joining CSU in 2015, he received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Michigan State University in 2015; his M.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology, P. R. China in 2007 and B.E. in 2005.

Openings: I am always looking for motivated Ph.D. students to join my lab for various projects. Please submit your application to the Mechanical Engineering Department.


Dr. Zhao’s research is focused on adaptive robots. Specifically, he is interested in the following areas. Details can be found on his lab website.

  • Soft Robots: Actuation, Modeling, and Control
  • Flying Robots: Aerial Perching and Grasping
  • Reconfigurable Robots

Selected Projects


Dr. Zhao has taught the following courses at CSU:

  • MECH 307: Mechatronics and Measurement Systems
  • MECH 529: Advanced Mechanical Systems
  • MECH 564: Fundamentals of Robot Mechanics and Controls
  • MECH 630: Biologically Inspired Robotics

Recent Publications

A full publication list can be found at Dr. Zhao’s Google Scholar:

  • J. Sun and J. Zhao, “Physics-based Modeling of Twisted-and-Coiled Actuators Using Cosserat Rod Theory,” IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 38, no. 2, 2022.
  • H. Zhang, E. Lerner, B. Cheng, and J. Zhao, “Compliant Bistable Grippers Enable Passive Perchingfor Micro Aerial Vehicles, “IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, vol. 26, no. 5, 2021
  • J. Sun, B. Tighe, Y. Liu, andJ. Zhao, Twisted-and-Coiled Actuators with Free Strokes Enable SoftRobots with Programmable Motions, Soft Robotics, vol. 8, no. 2, 2021.
  • Y. Tang, Y. Chi, J. Sun, T. Huang, O. H. Maghsoudi, A. Spence, J. Zhao, H. Su, J. Yin, Leveraging Elastic instabilities for Amplified Performance (LEAP): high-speed and high-force soft machines, Science Advances, vol. 6, no. 19, pp. eaaz6912, 2020.
  • P. Liu, S. P. Sane, J.-M. Mongeau, J. Zhao, and B. Cheng, Flies land upside down on a ceiling using rapid visually-mediated rotational maneuvers, Science Advances, vol. 5, no. 10, pp. eaax1877,2019.
  • J. Sun and J. Zhao, An Adaptive Walking Robot with Reconfigurable Mechanisms using ShapeMorphing Joints, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 724 – 731, 2019.

Professional Activities

  • Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Robotics (TRO), 2022-now
  • Technical Editor, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics (TMECH), 2021-now
  • Associate Editor, IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM) (2019-2021)
  • Associate Editor, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) (2017, 2018, 2020, 2021)
  • Associate Editor, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) (2017-2019)
  • Editor, the Newsletter of ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Division (DCSD) (2019)

Contact Information