UCLA Engineering 2024 Award Recipients Profiles of the Edward K. Rice Outstanding Student Awardees


Edward K. Rice Outstanding Doctoral Student
Wenzhong Yan Ph.D. ’23

Following the completion of his doctorate in mechanical engineering, Wenzhong Yan has continued his academic career at UCLA as a postdoctoral scholar, working with his doctoral advisor Ankur Mehta, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Yan’s research interests include soft and origami robotics, mechanical intelligence, smart materials and structures, computational fabrication and wearable devices. While pursuing his doctorate, Yan mentored high school, undergraduate and master’s students, with particular attention to guiding those from underrepresented groups. He has also been instrumental in driving many new collaborations, with groups both inside and outside of UCLA.

A prolific young researcher, Yan has published many research papers in notable journals such as Nature Communications, Science Advances, Soft Robotics and Advanced Materials Technology. His work has been highlighted by the National Science Foundation and Popular Science. Yan is the recipient of several awards and recognitions, including the 2022 Southern California Robotics Symposium Rising Star Talk, the 2023 UCLA Samueli Harry M. Showman Prize honoring a graduate student for excellence in communicating research and the best presentation award at the 2022 ICRA Soft Robotics workshop. Yan is pursuing a faculty position so he can continue working on impactful research and generating new knowledge.



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