News and Media Highlights

Congratulations to Jenny Dodoo

We are excited to see our graduate student Jennifer Dodoo entering the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) university final on 22nd June (#uoe3mt17). Jennifer presents her work on a nanotech uric acid biosensor. 3MT is an academic competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia, and has been run annually by The University of Edinburgh since 2013. PhD students entering the competition must summarize their thesis in a three-minute-long presentation aimed at a lay audience.

01st May 2017

Congratulations to Markus Nemitz

Congratulations to Markus Nemitz. He is awarded the International Internship Grant (£4000) sponsored by the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Sensing and Measurement. He is going to visit the Autonomous, Perception, Robotics, Interfaces, Learning (APRIL) laboratory at the University of Michigan (USA) from May 1st to November 1st 2017. We look forward to conducting collaborative research on Distributed Sensing with Swarm Robots with our partners in Michigan.


27th March 2017

Mohammed El-Sayed Becomes VP for Eng. Grad. Soc.

Mohammed El-Sayed was appointed as the new Vice President for the Engineering Graduate Society at the University of Edinburgh by the previous committee that was led by Markus Nemitz. The Engineering graduate society brings all researchers across the School of Engineering together and motivates new students to get the best out of their university and research experience. The society supports the postgraduate community in the school of engineering and Mohammed is responsible for representing the society in public matters, discussing funding with the Graduate School, and supporting the other members of the society in organizing a wide range of events throughout the year.

27th March 2017

Markus Nemitz wins the CDT Presentation Prize

Congratulations to Markus Nemitz on winning the best presentation award at the annual Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Sensing and Measurement conference 16/17.


9th November 2016

Stephen Mahon's Team Win the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostics Challenge (AMR DxC) 2017

The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge (AMR DxC) was developed by the University of Edinburgh’s Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine under the leadership of Till Bachmann. The division, based in the Edinburgh Medical School Chancellors Building adjacent to the Royal Edinburgh Infirmary, is comprised of a multidisciplinary network of academics and clinical researchers working across basic, clinical and translational aspects of infection medicine with collaborative research projects with centres around the world.

The meeting addresses Antimicrobial Resistance through rapid and sensitive diagnostics at the point of care. A range of early stage researchers from different disciplines and backgrounds, including physicians, pharmacists, microbiologists, engineers, enabling the cross-disciplinary interaction between researchers who might otherwise not have met. The invited speakers represented academia, industry, and healthcare, gave an overview of their research, and were encouraged to illustrate a multidisciplinary framework for the imposing threat of AMR. In this symposium, a range of disciplines were discussed including microfluidics, chemical and molecular biology, and social anthropology, with an emphasis on diagnostics.

The main ethos of the AMR DxC symposium is to initiate new collaborative interactions and this aim is recognised by an AMR DxC Pilot Prize, an exercise to develop an innovative project to tackle AMR within a 6-month timeline and a hypothetical budget of £6000.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the third most common reason patients (very young, the elderly, and pregnant women) come to a general practice or hospital in Mexico. The antibiotics needed depend on the bacteria causing the UTI, leading to a wide spectrum antibiotic prescription, which in turn is causing the antimicrobial resistance epidemic. There is an unmet need for an easy use diagnostic tool that recognises bacteria and its susceptibilities in a small amount of time, giving patients the right treatment to prevent complications and the increase of antimicrobial resistance. Bacteriophage are common and diverse entities in the biosphere that infects and replicates within a bacterium. Phages can be engineered and their genome can be injected into the cytoplasm of a bacteria. The DNA of the viral genome changes the DNA of bacteria, and can create a colour change on a substrate for a specific identification of the infection bacteria.

Stephen’s team described an easy to use diagnostic test for identifying bacteria causing UTIs using phages where an infection triggers a colour change on paper. They presented their project proposal to a panel of AMR experts: Dr Gyorgy Abel, Daniel Berman, Professor Stephen Gillespie, Professor Susan Welburn and Dr Penny Wilson. Stephen explained a simplified process for sample preparation by using an inkjet printer to accurately print the phages and substrates to paper to be tested against a potential infected sample in a container. Judges were impressed with the novel use of the inkjet printer because of its inexpensive nature, and awarded 1st prize in the AMR DxC Pilot to Stephen’s team based on their presentation and approach to solving the AMR problem.

The AMR DxC Winter School is also supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) sponsored Global Challenges Research Fund-Impact Acceleration Account at the University of Edinburgh, a £1.5Bn resource stream to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing problems faced in developing countries.


21st February 2017

Seminars and New Papers

Dr Stokes and Ross McKenzie travelled to The University of Cambridge this July to attend a UK-Japan Workshop on Soft Robotics. Dr Stokes provided a seminar to the School of Chemical Engineering at The University of Birmingham, and contributed to a workshop on “Living machines that grow, evolve, self-heal, and develop: how robots adapt their morphology to the environment” at the Living Machines conference 2016.
Tianqi Wei presented his paper on "A bioinspired maggot robot" at the Living Machines conference. Markus, Dylan, and Tom have had two papers accepted to the Journal of Soft Robotics, which has recently been given the highest impact factor of all journals in the robotics field. Congratulations to all.

20th March 2016

Congratulations to Dr Adam Erskine

Many congratulations to Dr Adam Erskine, who successfully passed his viva on Friday 15th March, we wish you all the best in your future career.

20th March 2016

Dr Stokes' Comments in Chemistry World

Dr Stokes supplied his comments on how chemists are helping make robots with a more gentle touch, in the Royal Society of Chemistry's, Chemistry World.

18th March 2016

Congratulations to our recent Graduates

Congratulations to Dr Tom Barraclough, Abeer, Tasos and Lijun on their recent graduations.

TomG AbeerG TandL

30th November 2015

Markus Nemitz wins the CDT Poster Prize

Congratulations to Markus Nemitz on wining the inaugural Integrative Sensing and Measurement CDT Poster competition. Ian Reid, CEO of CENSIS presented Markus with his prize.


30th November 2015

SOPHIA Project Partners visiting from Brazil

The SOPHIA project investigates the design, calibration and testing of the “SOPHIA” (Soft Orthotic Physiotherapy Hand Interactive Aid) system. SOPHIA is a soft robotic device for stroke rehabilitation, more specifically for hand motor impairment recovery.

The project is funded by the Royal Society/Newton Fund and it is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University (HWU), University of Edinburgh (UoE) and the International Institute of Neuroscience – Edmond and Lily Safra (IIN-ELS) in Macaiba, Brazil.

This October we, together with Dr Patricia Vargas and Prof David Corne, welcomed Dr Fabricio Brasil and Dr Renan Moioli from IINN-ELS to Edinburgh where we protoyped our second control system. The system is a lightweight design, low cost, aesthetically friendly, and it will help patients to recover normal patterns of motion in their hand after a stroke. It will also aid physiotherapists in tracking how the rehabilitation is progressing.

5th November 2015

ERASMUS Students from Sabanci, and Nemitz in Michigan

The Stokes Research Group were delighted to host three excellent students from Sabanci University over the summer this year. Onur, Hande, and Ekin worked on their ERASMUS projects in our labs and made the initial steps towards an exciting new soft-materials project.
Markus, meanwhile, is visiting the University of Michigan for six weeks to start a new collaboration on robotics with some extremely distinguished colleagues and mentors, and we look forward to growing this collaboration.


18th September 2015

Dr Stokes Selected to Present at the Scottish Crucible Forum 2015

Dr Stokes was selected to present at the Scottish Crucible Forum 2015 and joined a panel of Crucible Alumni to address questions around the impact of The Scottish Crucible on the panel's research careers to date. He was also joined by Mags Currie where they presented the latest version of the BodBot project, a system that is designed to improve access to data collection from children. The device, which was built by Maketechnics, enables a small character that the student has built to dance and performs movements in response to questions answered on a bluetooth-connected mobile device.


18th September 2015

Dr Stokes and FabLab+ Selected for MIT/Harvard Entrepreneurship Bootcamp: Scotland Can Do Scale

Dr Stokes is taking FabLab+ to Scotland Can Do Scale 2015. The SCALE 2015 programme will be led by Bill Aulet from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Noam Wasserman from Harvard Business School, incorporating some sessions delivered by entrepreneurship educators from Scottish Higher Education Institutes and from Scottish entrepreneurs. The content will draw from international best practice and experience and be tailored to specifically fit the Scottish audience.


3rd August 2015

Updates on the FabLab+ and Dr Stokes' Comments in Chemistry World

Ahead of our launch of the FabLab+ Costa Talalaev gives his opinion of the challenges facing the technology startup scene in Scotland.
And, Dr Stokes supplies comments on the latest combustion powered soft robotics systems from Harvard, in the Royal Society of Chemistry's, Chemistry World.


15th July 2015

Congratulations to Alistair McConnell and Intelligent Recovery

Alistair McConnell, a PhD student in the Stokes Research Group and HWU Robotics Lab, has reached the final stages of the Converge Challenge. Together with his co-applicant David Corne, and co-supervisor Patricia Vargas, he is part of the Magnificent-Seven, who are in the final stages of the competition.

4th June 2015

Visit from Prof. Albert Van Den Berg and the BIOS Lab-on-a-chip Group

The Stokes Research Group recently hosted a seminar series for The BIOS Lab-on-a-chip Group from The University of Twente.
Prof Van Den Berg and three members of his group provided a wonderful series of talks and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. The photograph below shows the Stokes Research Group and the BIOS group together outside the Scottish Microelectronics Centre. We are looking forward to future exchange visits from both students and faculty.


28th April 2015

Robosoft Summer School and 2nd Plenary Meeting

The Stokes Research Group recently attended the Robosoft Summer School and 2nd Plenary Meeting in Livorno, Italy.
Six representatives from our group attended, and the students competed in the first soft robotics challenge, with Pavel Mihayalov's group winning the open competition.


28th April 2015

Stokes Research Group on BBC Parliament and Sky News

Dr Stokes has been expanding our science and technology communications outreach, with media appearances on BBC Parliament and Sky News.
The BBC Parliament Programme is a recording of the Science and Technology Select Committee - Voices of the Future - meeting, where young scientists put questions to the government chief scientific advisor, MPs, and science ministers. Dr Stokes was in parliament representing the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

This Sky News article is about soft robotics and their potential uses in society. Dr Stokes provides his views on the future utility of this new class of machines, and their potential for interaction with people.

7th April 2015

Welcome to our new FabLab Manager

Our group has a new addition, Costa Talalaev has been appointed to the position of FabLab Plus manager, he is leading development of The University of Edinburgh FabLab Plus project.

7th April 2015

Happy 2015

Happy New Year from the Stokes Research Group. We have four new additions to the group this year:
Firstly Dr Stokes has a new daughter, Belle, who was born in December 2014.
Secondly, we welcome Dr Tom Barraclough as a new Research Fellow, working on new types of prostheses.
Thirdly, due to Dr Stokes' recent appointment as an Adjuct Asst. Professor in the School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore - we now have a visiting Doctoral student Tao Liang who will be working with us this Spring on kick starting a new microfluidics project.
Fouthly, and finally, Dr Stokes has recently appointed a new manager for our rapid prototyping facility - more details to follow.

We are all looking forward to an exciting, and productive, 2015!

13th January 2015

Final Lecture of 2014 at The ESF Minibrains Symposium

Dr Stokes is travelling with the MINIMAL group, including Stokes Research Group members Dylan Ross and Tianqi Wei, to the ESF Minibrains Symposium in Barcelona where he will give his final international lecture this year. It's been a busy 2014 with Dr Stokes giving invited talks in Pisa, California, Maryland, Nanjing, London, Stuttgart, and Barcelona.


8th November 2014

Welcome to our new colleagues

We have three new members of the group. Tianqi Wei has joined the group as a PhD student as part of the MINIMAL project. Tianqi is mainly interested in robotics and neural networks. He is now working on the design of a robot that mimics Drosophila larvae, and the integration of neural network algorithms to the robot. The research is being conducted under the joint supervision of Dr Barbara Webb and Dr Adam Stokes. Previously, Tianqi worked on The Centipede Robot and The Four-wing Ornithopter, and had a short-term research project on a lunar robot. He also has keen interests in Astrophysics and Biology. His undergraduate was in Mechatronical Engineering, from the School of Mechatronical Engineering at the Beijing Institute of Technology.

We also welcome Fredrik Lund and Xu Cheng, who will be working on a combined project involving the design and fabrication of a myoelectrically controlled robotic hand.

30th October 2014

Emily Williams, Drummond Community High School, CareerWISE Work Experience

CareerWISE is funded by the Scottish Government and they work with employers to tackle issues of the underrepresentation of women in STEM. A key part of the CareerWISE project involves offering work based learning opportunities to girls in order to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
I was working with Dr Adam Stokes in the Scottish Microelectronics Centre (SMC) for a total of five days as a work placement organised by CareerWISE. In my project I aimed to to create an air powered gripper made out of silicone as an example of soft robotics.
I had the opportunity to work with the new rapid prototyping tools (including 3D-printers and laser-cutters). We started my project by 3D printing an Enderman (a character from Minecraft). We then used the same printer to make a mold for a soft- gripper, and we used this mold to cast the gripper in silicone. I discovered that the gripper was not perfect because it was not cured on a level surface. To solve this problem I designed an adjustable platform that Adam kindly insisted on calling the "Emily Williams' levelling table". I used the new laser cutter to make this device out of acrylic and Adam assures me that it will be used by his PhD students.
I've learned a lot about soft robotics and a lot of chemistry on the side (I went to one of Adam's Bioelectronics lectures!), and I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the new rapid prototyping machines in the SMC. It's been a great week, and I've had lots of fun. Although I'm not sure what I want to do in the future, this has definitely given me an idea of what university is like, and I'm going to need to find out what I want to do so I can come back soon.


20th September 2014

Two New Soft Robotics Papers

Together with our colleagues at Harvard we have published two new papers, one in Advanced Materials and another in Advanced Functional Materials. The video below from new scientist describes our work on Using "Click-e-Bricks" to Make 3D Elastomeric Structures.

8th August 2014

New Fabrication Tools

We’ve been successful in obtaining ~£250k of funding from the EPSRC (via the Robotarium and CDT) to buy new fabrication tools for the lab. In addition to our existing 3D printing and CNC tools, we'll will have an LPKF Protolaser U3 laser micromachining system, a Shopbot large format CNC, and an Epilog Fusion 32 laser cutter.

7th August 2014

Invited Speaker at RSS 2014, Berkeley, California

Dr Stokes will be travelling to California to give two invited talks on soft robotic systems at RSS Berkeley this July.
Details on the sessions are below:

Robot Makers

Advances in Soft Robotics

2nd July 2014

International Visiting Student

We are very pleased to welcome a visiting UG summer-student, Onur Zirhli, from Prof. Ozge Akbulut's lab at Sabanci University in Turkey.

2nd July 2014

Member of The Royal Society of Edinburgh: Young Academy of Scotland

Dr Stokes has been elected to be a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland, and will be formally inducted on the 26th August this year. More information on the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Young Academy can be found here.

The School of Engineering have a write up on this appointment, here.


30th June 2014

FAB10, Barcelona

Dr Stokes will be travelling to Barcelona this July to further links with the MIT FabLab community.

27th June 2014

ESOF 2014, Copenhagen

Dr Stokes recently attended the European Science Open Forum meeting as a member of the Scottish Crucible Delegation who we were hosted by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.


26th June 2014

Robosoft Meeting, Pisa

Dr Stokes recently attended the first RoboSoft meeting as a member of the FP7 co-ordination action on Soft Robotics. The Stokes Research Group here at The University of Edinburgh look forward to contributing to the creation of EU working papers. A link to the project, links to the presentations, and photos of the first meeting is here.


9th April 2014

Judge at The IET Present Around The World Competition

Dr Stokes was delighted to be selected as a judge for the IET presentation competition in Edinburgh. It was a pleasure to judge the winner of the IET competition, and wonderful to see the diverse range of topics being presented by these outstanding young engineers.

25th March 2014

EPSRC Retreat

Dr Stokes is one of only eight young-academics to be invited to an event with the Scientific Advisory Network of the EPSRC to explore future strategies on support for early career researchers in the UK.

23rd February 2014

Bioinspired Robotics Challenge at Innovative Learning Week and TedX Edinburgh

This innovative learning week, seven undergraduate teams worked around the clock to design and build a bioinspired robot. In just four days our teams build some fantastic machines, the prize for all their hard work was a slot at TedX Edinburgh. The winner of the challenge, as picked by the audience, was Tom Johnson (a 2nd year painting student from Edinburgh College of Art) and his SnakeBot.

Robots Straandbeest

Our seven teams, at the morning pitches. ILWGroup

21st February 2014

Kick-Off Meeting for MINIMAL: Miniature Insect Model for Active Learning

Project MINIMAL (Miniature Insect Model for Active Learning) is an EU Collaborative Research Project funded by the 7th Framework Programme (FP7).

Biology provides the inspiration for a vision of small low-power devices that are able to learn rapidly and autonomously about environmental contingencies, enabling prediction and adaptive anticipatory action. Larval Drosophila have fewer than 10,000 neurons, yet express a variety of complex orientation and learning behaviours, including non-trivial anticipatory actions requiring context-dependent evaluation of the value of learned cues. Current computational learning theory cannot fully account for or replicate these capacities. We aim to develop a new foundation for understanding natural learning by developing a complete multilevel model of learning in larvae.

More details on the MINIMAL project are available here!


27th January 2014

Magnetic Assembly of Soft Robots with Hard Components

Our latest soft robots paper from Harvard is published in Advanced Functional Materials: Magnetic Assembly of Soft Robots with Hard Components.

11th December 2013

Nature Article on 3D Printing and FabLabs

Read Dr Stokes' comments in Nature on 3D printing and the promise of FabLabs. The University of Edinburgh FabLab is a digital manufacturing facility that we aim to open in The School of Engineering in 2014.

27th November 2013

EPSRC Workshop, Engineering Leaders for the Future

Dr Stokes has been nominated as a rising star in engineering by senior colleagues at The University of Edinburgh and has been invited to attend this two day EPSRC workshop.

31st October 2013

Puncture Resistant Robots

Our latest soft robots paper from Harvard is published in Advanced Materials: Soft robots that are resistant to puncture, and that self seal.

7th October 2013

Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scottish Crucible Funding Award

Dr Stokes is delighted to be part of the BODBOT team, researching how to bring data to life for research with children.

3rd September 2013


Dr Stokes is extremely excited to be part of the new robotarium project, a joint venture between Heriot-Watt University and The University of Edinburgh.

23rd August 2013

Fully Funded PhD Studentship

We have an open position for a fully-funded PhD position with stipend. Apply online now!
This position has now been filled.

1st August 2013

Hybrid Hard and Soft Robots

Dr Stokes's latest paper focuses on hard robotic and soft robotic hybrids, you can get the full text here. Please do have a look at the supplemental text and videos!

2nd July 2013

The Edinburgh Alliance in Robotics and Autonomous Systems

We are extremely proud to be part of the EDU-RAS team that were recently awarded more than £6M to develop a joint research centre in Robotics and Autonomous Systems.

UKESF Summer School at Imperial College London

Dr Stokes was delighted to teach at the 2013 UKESF summer school at Imperial College London.
Many thanks to all the students for their insightful and probing questions.


3D Printed Protein Models

We have been working with a commercial partner, who has been using the UofE FabLab, to produce these beautiful 3D-printed and hand-painted protein models. Miramodus are taking orders now!


UKESF Summer School at Imperial College London

This July Dr Stokes will be teaching at the UKESF summer school at Imperial College London..

New Video from the UofE FabLab

Sam Travis, a recent graduate from The School of Engineering, has produced this fantastic video showing how he used the UofE FabLab to complete his MEng project.

Edinburgh International Festival

This August, in association with colleagues from The School of Engineering and The Edinburgh College of Art, Dr Stokes will be helping to put on a two-hour interactive lecture in the ECA Sculpture Hall: Synthetic Biology: Where Organic Meets Digital..

Scottish Crucible 2013

Dr Stokes is delighted to be selected as a member of The Scottish Crucible 2013: RSE Scottish Crucible.

Member of SynthSys

Dr Stokes is now a member of The University of Edinburgh Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology: SynthSys.

Feature by The Harvard Gazette: Robots With Lift

Nature News Article on Soft Robots

Great article by Nature News on our internal combustion powered soft robots.

Royal Society of Chemistry Article on Soft Robots

Great article by the RSC on our internal combustion powered soft robots.

Exploding Soft Robots

Our most recent paper on rapid actuation of soft robots has been published in Angewandte Chemie; we've also been featured in news stories by New Scientist, Scientific American, and Engadget.

Small Equipment Grant

We've just taken delivery of our shiny new 3D printer!

Innovation Initiative Grant

We've been awarded an Innovation Initiative Grant from The University of Edinburgh Campaign! Dr Stokes and collaborators will be starting a new student-led workshop in The School oF Engineering at Edinburgh, more details on The University of Edinburgh FabLab will follow...

Bioinspired soft robots capable of colour display and camouflage

Why do animals use colour? How do squid camouflage or display themselves? Why?
The videos below show pioneering work on bioinspired soft robots that are capable of camouflage and display. This work, undertaken in the laboratory of Prof. George M. Whitesides, has been published in Science and it represents another step forward in unconventional, bio-inspired, engineering.
Dr Stokes is very proud to be part of the team.

Soft Robotics for Hard-Problems

A new area of research, in which Dr Stokes is involved, is soft robotics. This new field has gathered a lot of media attention and holds much promise for the future of robotics. The video below is from Dr. Robert Shepherd's PNAS paper "A Multigait Soft Robot", and shows work that was undertaken in the laboratory of Prof. George M. Whitesides.

The Search For the Higgs Boson Explained

This video succinctly explains what is happening at CERN. The search for the Higgs has nothing to do with our group's research, but it has everything to do with reality.