University of California, Santa Barbara

Faculty Profile

Jeff Moehlis


Mechanical Engineering

Jeff Moehlis


UCSB Department of Mechanical Engineering
Engineering II Building, Room 2350
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5070

tel: (805) 893-7513
fax: (805) 893-8651

Personal web site

Research Description

Biological Dynamics
- control of neural populations
- natural and artificial swarms: schooling fish, flocking birds, etc
- territorial behavior
- coupled oscillators

Fluid Dynamics
- shear flow turbulence
Mechanical Systems
- theoretical analysis of individual and coupled MEMS devices
- vibrational energy harvesting

- information propagation through social networks
- collective decision making

Dynamical Systems
- bifurcation theory
- canards


Jeff Moehlis received the B.S. degree in Physics and Mathematics from Iowa State University in 1993, and the Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000. He was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University from 2000-2003. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2003, and received tenure in 2007. He has been a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship in Mathematics and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and was Program Director of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Activity Group in Dynamical Systems from 2008-2009. Jeff's research interests involve using techniques from dynamical systems theory to understand and control natural and technological systems. His application areas include neuroscience (developing algorithms for controlling neurons, inspired by deep brain stimulation of patients with Parkinson's Disease), turbulence (understanding the transition to and nature of shear flow turbulence), energy harvesting (converting vibrational energy to useful power), and collective behavior (fish schooling, social networks, group decision making).


  • Department of Mathematics
  • Center for Control, Dynamical Systems, and Computation
  • Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies


  • Northrup Grumman Excellence in Teaching Award, 2008
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 2006-2011
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Mathematics, 2005-2007
  • University of California at Santa Barbara Regents’ Junior Faculty Fellowship, 2004
  • National Science Foundation Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Princeton University, 2000
  • Bernard Friedman Memorial Prize in Applied Mathematics for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1999
  • Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1999

Selected Publications

See complete list of publications
  • A broadband vibrational energy harvester, Applied Physics Letters, 100, 2012, 253904, L. Van Blarigan, P. Danzl, and J. Moehlis, web link
  • Group decision-making models for sequential tasks, SIAM Review, 54, 2012, 121-138, M. Kimura and J. Moehlis, web link
  • Time optimal control of spiking neurons, Journal of Mathematical Biology, 64, 2012, 981-1004, A. Nabi and J. Moehlis, web link
  • A continuation method for calculating global isochrons, SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems, 9, 2010, 1201-1228, H. Osinga and J. Moehlis, web link
  • Equilibrium configurations for a territorial model, SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems, 8, 2009, 1234-1260, R. Votel, D.A.W. Barton, T. Gotou, T. Hatanaka, M. Fujita, and J. Moehlis, web link
  • Event-based minimum-time control of oscillatory neuron models: phase randomization, maximal spike rate increase, and desynchronization, Biological Cybernetics, 101, 2009, 387-399, P. Danzl, J. Hespanha, and J. Moehlis, web link
  • Chaos for a microelectromechanical oscillator governed by the nonlinear Mathieu equation, Journal of MEMS, 16, 2007, 1314-1323, B.E. DeMartini, H.E. Butterfield, J. Moehlis, and K.L. Turner, web link
  • Coarse-grained analysis of stochasticity-induced switching between collective motion states, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 104, 2007, 5931-5935, A. Kolpas, J. Moehlis, and I.G. Kevrekidis, web link
  • The physics of optimal decision making: A formal analysis of performance in two-alternative forced choice tasks, Psychological Review, 113, 2006, 700-765, R. Bogacz, E. Brown, J. Moehlis, P. Holmes, and J.D. Cohen, web link
  • On the phase reduction and response dynamics of neural oscillator populations, Neural Computation, 16, 2004, 673-715, J. Moehlis, E. Brown and P. Holmes, web link

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