MRC Graduate Research Assistantship Program

2024-2025 MRC Graduate Research Assistantship Announcement

The Maryland Robotics Center (MRC) in the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland (UMD) invites full-time UMD PhD students to submit an application to the MRC Graduate Assistantship Program in the following eight research areas:

  • Multi-Robot Systems: robotic swarms, robotic cooperation under limited communication, distributed robotics, crowd and multi-agent simulation, long-distance collaborative autonomy;
  • Medical Robotics: surgical robotics, haptics-enabled robotics, exoskeletons for rehabilitation, and magnetic micromanipulation for drug delivery;
  • Miniature Robotics: mesoscale robots, cell manipulation, and micro and nano manipulation;
  • Robotics for Extreme Environments: space robotics and autonomous underwater vehicles;
  • Autonomous Unmanned Systems: aerial robotics, unmanned sea surface vehicles, planetary surface rovers, robot motion planning, digital twin development, robot navigation of complex terrain, and simulation-based verification for autonomous systems;
  • Bioinspired Robotics: Robots inspired by biological forms, bio-inspired design and manufacturing, artificial muscles, adaptive control of bio-inspired robots, biosensors, soft robots, co-robotics, multifunctional materials and structures, biomaterials, and biolocomotion;
  • Cognitive Robotics:  explainable artificial intelligence, perception-based interaction, and metareasoning to improve team performance;
  • Human-Robot Interaction: Human-robot collaboration, human behavior modeling, human-robot communication, learning and cognition, planning and re-planning, management of trust and its effects on collaboration, and forensics for human-machine teaming.


  • The MRC Graduate Research Assistantship Program is open to outstanding mid-career UMD PhD students whose advisors are current members of the Maryland Robotics Center.
  • Applicant’s research must fall into one or more of the above eight research areas.
  • Applicants must be full-time students and be involved in ongoing robotics research.
  • Previous recipients of the MRC GRA are eligible to apply, however, priority consideration will be given to students who have not previously received an MRC GRA.

We recognize that strength comes through diversity and actively seek and welcome students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities. We especially encourage women and minority candidates to apply.


The MRC Graduate Research Assistantship Program start July 1st of each year. Recipients will receive an annual stipend, tuition, and benefits commensurate with their current appointment.

How to apply

The MRC Graduate Research Assistantship application should include the following materials:

  1. 1-2 page research statement stating the primary research area(s) above and highlighting the originality of the student’s dissertation research and its potential impact on the research field; 
  2. CV including publication list;
  3. Letter of endorsement from the student’s PhD advisor (MRC faculty member) that describes student’s research potential and highlights the relevance of the student’s research to MRC’s mission and critical activities and states the expected graduation date; and
  4. A sample publication (optional).

Applicants should submit all application materials as a single pdf file named Applicant’s LastName_MRCFY24GRA to, with the subject line of the email: MRC FY24 GRA APPLICATION. The letter of endorsement from the student’s advisor (MRC faculty member) should be included in the pdf file application. The best consideration date is February 1 annualy.

Questions should be directed to

Current and Former MRC Graduate Research Assistantship Program Recipients

Madelyne Rossman, Aerospace Engineering 
Faculty Advisor: Derek Paley

Sarah Wielgosz, Aerospace Engineering 
Faculty Advisor: Mumu Xu

Sara Honarvar, Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Yancy Diaz-Mercado

Anthony Thompson, Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Derek Paley

Lasitha Weerakoon, Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Nikhil Chopra

Anna Packy, Neuroscience
Faculty Advisor: Rodolphe Gentilli

Chethana Nilesh Suriyarachchi, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty Advisor: John Baras

Olivia Young, Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Ryan Sochol

Anthony Jones, Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Eleonora Tubaldi

Anthony Thompson and Lasitha Weerakoon are supported in part by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) under the ArtIAMAS cooperative agreement.