Organizing Committee Winterschool and Symposium


Dr. Ir. Aimée Sakes (Chair)

Assistant Professor (Delft University of Technology)

Dr. ir. Aimée Sakes is an assistant professor at the Biomedical Engineering Department (BMechE – BITE group) of the faculty Mechanical, Maritime & Materials Engineering (3mE) at TUD, where she earned both her MSc and PhD titles with honors (2013, 2017). Her research focuses on the development of bio-inspired soft instrumentation based on shooting and transport mechanisms found in nature, such as the chameleon tongue, ovipositors of parasitic wasps, and snake locomotion. Her work has resulted in a range of novel prototypes, among which a series of innovative impulse catheters, the world’s first steerable 3D-printed bipolar electrosurgical grasper, and a new type of transport mechanism inspired by the ovipositor (egg-laying needle) of parasitic wasps (patent pending). For her work, she has been awarded the best PhD thesis on a cardiovascular topic in 2019, best female PhD Cum Laude of the TUD in 2018, the journal on Cardio-Vascular Engineering and Technology (CVET) Most Downloaded Article Award in 2017, and the Medical Delta Young Talent – Scientist Award in 2017.


Dr. Ir. Rob Scharff (Chair)

Postdoctoral Researcher (Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia) Rob Scharff is a postdoctoral researcher in the Bioinspired Soft Robotics group at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy. He obtained a PhD degree at the Materializing Futures section in 2021 from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. His research focuses on soft robotics, with an emphasis on soft pneumatic actuators with proprioception.

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Dr. Ir. Michaël Wiertlewski

Assistant Professor (Delft University of Technology)

Michaël Wiertlewski is Assistant Professor at the Cognitive Robotics Department of the TU Delft in the Netherlands. He obtained his Ph.D. degree at the Université  Pierre et Marie Curie under the auspices of the Laboratoire d'Intégration des Systèmes et des Technologies of the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA-LIST) in Fontenay-aux-Roses, France. In 2012, he joined the Neuroscience and Robotics (NxR) lab at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, USA,  where he studied the physics of ultrasonic friction-modulation. From 2015 to 2019 he was CNRS Chargé de Recherche at Aix-Marseille university. He received the Early Career Award from the Technical Committee on Haptics in 2017. His main research interests include the design of tactile interfaces and sensors, the physics of the skin/surface interaction and tactile perception of human and robots.

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Dr. Ir. Guillermo Amador

Assistant Professor (Wageningen University and Research)

Guillermo J Amador is an assistant professor in the Experimental Zoology group at Wageningen University and Research. He obtained his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA in 2015, where his thesis, titled How Insects Stay Clean, was awarded Best PhD Thesis award by the Sigma Xi organization. After his PhD, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Physical Intelligence group at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, and then a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Leading Fellow in the departments of Process & Energy and Bionanoscience at TU Delft. Guillermo is an experimentalist interested in interfacial phenomena within the context of biology, including how animals stick to surfaces when climbing or hunting. Through his work, he will shed light on the physical mechanisms dictating biological form and its evolution, as well as motivate and develop bio-inspired solutions for controlled locomotion and mass transfer.


Dr. Ir. Irene Kuling

Assistant Professor (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Irene Kuling is an assistant professor in the Dynamics and Control group within the department of Mechanical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology. She earned her Ph.D. degree in 2016 from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on human proprioception and its applications in haptics. Her thesis was part of the STW (now TTW) Perspectief program H-Haptics, a multi-disciplinary collaboration between several Dutch universities on human-centered haptics including tele-operation systems and shared control. In 2017, she was rewarded a NWO Rubicon grant and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the IoNS (Institute of NeuroScience) at Université catholique de Louvain. Before joining Eindhoven University of Technology she was research scientist at TNO, working on the i-Botics program on tele-manipulation robots and embodiment. Her research interests focus on Haptics and Soft Robotics and includes human haptic perception, tele-manipulation, haptic design and human-robot interaction.

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Dr. Ali Sadeghi

Assistant professor (University of Twente)

Ali Sadeghi is an assistant professor at the University of Twente, where he directs the Soft Robotics Lab. He received his Ph.D. degree in 2013 (cum laude) in the field of Micro-BioRobotics from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy. After his Ph.D., he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Bioinspired Soft Robotics group of the Italian Institute of Technology (iit) where his research was focused on the design and manufacturing of soft robots inspired by biological models such as plants, sea urchins, and octopuses. Inspired by plant movements, he pioneered the new concept of “Growing Robots” particularly by incorporating additive manufacturing technology as part of the robot structure. Ali’s research focuses on assembly integrated additive manufacturing of fiber-reinforced soft robots, using new types of materials, sensing, and actuation techniques.


Junior Academic Staff


Mostafa Atalla

PhD researcher (Delft University of Technology)

Mostafa Atalla is a PhD researcher affiliated with the BioMechanical Engineering (BME) and Cognitive Robotics (CoR) departments at TU Delft. Obtained his BSc in Mechanical Design from Cairo University, Egypt and his MSc in Robotics Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, U.S.A. His research focus is at the intersection of surgery, tribology and ultrasonics. In his PhD project, he works on developing catheters whose frictional properties are controllable and can be adjusted depending on the catheterization procedure. Prior to starting his PhD program, He worked on several medical-oriented projects including wearable assistive devices and needle-size continuum wrists for surgical applications during his MSc studies. Moreover, he had the chance to intern twice at Philips Research North America where he worked on developing a mechanical-vibration-based ultrasound elastography probe as well as developing an endovascular robotic platform for research purposes.


Jette Bloemberg

PhD researcher (Delft University of Technology)

Jette Bloemberg is a PhD researcher at the Bio-Inspired Technology group at the TU Delft. Her research focuses on designing and testing MRI in-bore ready steerable needles to position an optical treatment fibre at the target region. The main application is focal laser ablation to treat prostate cancer. A novel actuation system will allow for safe use inside the MRI scanner. The integration of the steerable needle, the novel actuation system, and a laser ablation fibre will make the needle suitable for use under MRI guidance to enable precise ablation of the prostate tumour.


Esther de Kater

PhD researcher (Delft University of Technology)

Esther de Kater is a PhD researcher at the Bio-Inspired Technology group at Delft University of Technology, where she also graduated for the master mechanical engineering and the master biomedical engineering. Her current research focuses on improving spinal fusion surgery by the development of a steerable bone drills and novel bone anchors. For inspiration she looks at different drilling and anchoring techniques in nature such as insects that are able to drill through wood.


Merle Losch

PhD researcher (Delft University of Technology)

Merle Losch is a PhD candidate at the BioMechanical Engineering Department (BMechE – MISIT group) of the faculty Mechanical, Maritime & Materials Engineering (3mE) at TU Delft. Before joining the MISIT group in January 2020, she obtained her BSc and MSc in Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University (Germany) and Diplôme d'Ingénieur at École Centrale de Marseille (France). In her PhD research, she aims at improving spinal fusion surgery outcome by a novel technique that allows for the surgeon to steer through the vertebra. In the scope of this project, she focuses on tissue optics for 3D guidance of the steerable probe.


Fabian Trauzettel

PhD researcher (Delft University of Technology)

Fabian Trauzettel is a biomedical / mechanical engineer working as a PhD student as part of the ATLAS consortium between the Bio-Inspired Technology group at TU Delft and the Robot-Assisted Surgery group at KU Leuven. His main interests lie in the field of follow-the-leader actuation of flexible medical devices, 3D printing and pneumatic / tendon-based actuation of steerable instruments.