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Michael W

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins University


Electrical/mechanical engineering, robotics, neuroscience of memory and sensation, control systems, and locomotion


My name is Michael Wilkinson and I am going into my 3rd year of my PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. I got my bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Alabama, so I have a mixed background of information. My current work looks at how animals make the navigation decisions they make, looking at their motion paths and their brain signals while they make decisions. I have worked with bats, rats, fish, and people, which I did not ever think I would be doing as an engineer. My time at Hopkins has showed me how much a project can dip into multiple areas of research and can expand your skillset. Aside from academics I love playing Dungeons and Dragons (and I liked it before Stranger Things came out so bonus points for that), working out, playing video games, and traveling to new places. I will geek out with you about these things just as much as I will geek out about my research.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Automated Bird/bat feeder

This feeder detects the presence of flying animals and once the animal lands on the feeder, it automatically dispenses food. It will also record a short video when the animal is flying up to the feeder. This can be used for monitoring animals during research as well as gain insight into their flight/perching behaviors when coming to eat.

Coding skills

Matlab, C/C++, python, PLC coding.

Languages I know

Spanish (semi-fluent)

Teaching experience

MentorUPP Program, Outreach Committee Chair and Alumni Mentor, University of Alabama, Aug.2017-May 2019: Through the MentorUPP Program at the University of Alabama I was a mentor for freshmen in the College of Engineering. I was also on the Advisory Board of MentorUPP that oversees all the aspects of MentorUPP such as activities, programs, communications, recruiting, etc. As the Outreach Committee Chair my role was to reach out to various companies that want to interact with our mentors and mentees through various events such as career fairs and attend all MentorUPP events to supervise networking opportunities with various companies. I was also an Alumni Mentor that provides mentorship to upper level students at the University of Alabama.


Work experience

Deshazo Automation (2016 - 2017)
Electrical Engineering Co-op Employee


University of Alabama
BS Bachelor of Science (2019)
Robotics, power electronics, power transmission, and electromagnetics
Johns Hopkins University
MSE Master of Science in Engineering
Control Systems, locomotion, neuroscience of memory and sensation, bats
Johns Hopkins University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Control Systems, locomotion, neuroscience of memory and sensation, bats

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