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Bergbreiter, Sarah

Sarah Bergbreiter
Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Joint Appointment, Institute for Systems Research
2170 Glenn L. Martin Hall, Building 088
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Research Interests 

  • Microrobotics
  • Micro-electro-mechanical systems
  • Microactuators
  • Soft robotics
  • Robot locomotion
  • Networked centimeter-scale robots
  • Millimeter-scale power systems


Sarah Bergbreiter joined the University of Maryland, College Park in 2008 and is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Institute for Systems Research. She received her B.S.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University in 1999, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004 and 2007 with a focus on microrobotics. She received the DARPA Young Faculty Award in 2008, the NSF CAREER Award in 2011, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2013 for her research on engineering robotic systems down to sub-millimeter size scales. She also received the Best Conference Paper Award at IEEE ICRA 2010 on her work incorporating new materials into microrobotics and the NTF Award at IEEE IROS 2011 for early demonstrations of jumping microrobots.


  • Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 2007
  • M.S.E.E. University of California, Berkeley, 2004
  • B.S.E. Princeton University, 1999

Honors and Awards 

  • 2014 - Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
  • 2011 - NSF CAREER Award for research on engineering robotic systems down to sub-millimeter size scales
  • 2010 - IEEE ICRA Best Conference Paper Award for work incorporating new materials into microrobotics
  • 2008 - DARPA Young Faculty Award

Selected Publications 







  • Gerratt, A. P., Balakrisnan, B. and Bergbreiter, S., “Batch microfabricated bidirectional dielectric elastomer actuators,” in Transducers, Beijing, June 5-9, 2011.
  • Penskiy, I., Gerratt, A. P., and Bergbreiter, S., “Efficient electrostatic inchworm motors with simple control and high force density,” in Transducers, Beijing, June 5-9, 2011.
  • Vogtmann, D. E., Gupta S. K., and Bergbreiter, S., “Multi-Material Compliant Mechanisms for Mobile Millirobots,” in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Shanghai, May 9-13, 2011.
  • A. P. Gerratt, I. Penskiy, and S. Bergbreiter, “Integrated Silicon-PDMS Process for Microrobot Mechanisms,” ICRA 2010, Anchorage, AK May 3-7.
  • W. Churaman, A. P. Gerratt, and S. Bergbreiter, “First leaps toward jumping microrobots,” in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Sept. 25-30, 2011.


  • Gerratt, A. P., Penskiy, I., and Bergbreiter, S., “SOI/elastomer process for energy storage and rapid release,” Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, vol. 20, no. 10, p. 104011, 2010.
  • Currano, L. J., Churaman, W., Rajkowski, J., Morris, C. J., Bergbreiter, S. “Nanoenergetic Silicon as a Thrust Actuator for Jumping Microrobots,” Hilton Head 2010 Workshop, June 6-10, 2010.
  • Gerratt, A.P., Penskiy, I., Bergbreiter, S. “Integrated Silicon-PDMS Process for Microrobot Mechanisms,” ICRA 2010, Anchorage, AK, May 3-7, 2010.


  • Hollar, S., Flynn, A., Bergbreiter, S., and Pister, K.S.J.**, "Robot Leg Motion in a Planarized-SOI, Two-Layer Poly-Si Process," Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, vol. 14, pp. 725-740, 2005.

Related News 

Lu, Gollob, Picard win ISR annual awards
ISR's outstanding graduate student, undergraduate student, and staff member awards were given at the Institute's  welcome back reception. August 30, 2018

Bioinspired robotics REU students present final projects
The REU was led by Hugh Bruck and Sarah Bergbreiter, along with Clark School faculty and graduate student mentors. August 15, 2018

Best paper award for Bergbreiter, St. Pierre, Gosrich at Hilton Head workshop
The award was given for “A 3D-Printed 1 MG Legged Microrobot Running at 15 Body Lengths per Second.” June 7, 2018

Why a robot can't yet outjump a flea
New research could help explain why nature still beats robots, and describes how machines might take the lead. April 26, 2018

Five Mechanical Engineering Graduate Students Named Future Faculty Fellows
Clark School program prepares graduate students for future academic career. January 24, 2018

Sarah Bergbreiter wins ISR Outstanding Faculty Award
Bergbreiter is known for her creative research, quality scholarship, and student advising. September 13, 2017

Miao Yu named Maryland Robotics Center director
Yu develops sensors useful in a variety of robotics applications. June 20, 2017

Graduate Students Selected as Future Faculty Fellows
Seven graduate students were chosen as Clark School Future Faculty Fellows this year. March 7, 2017

Sarah Bergbreiter engineers submillimeter-sized robotic systems
Sarah Bergbreiter, microroboticist, engineers robotic systems down to sub-millimeter size scales. March 3, 2017

Maryland part of $253 million federal Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute
Research will create jobs, make industrial robotics more afforable, adaptable and useful for U.S. aerospace, automotive, electronics, fulfillment and logistics industries. January 23, 2017

UMD Research Featured on Advanced Materials Technology Cover
Tactile sensor research by UMD alumni Alexi Charalambides (Ph.D. '16) and Professor Sarah Bergbreiter featured on Advanced Materials Technology cover. January 19, 2017

Maryland Robotics Center Receives NSF Funding for REU Site in Bioinspired Robotics
Applications now being accepted for summer 2017 bioinspired robotics Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. November 15, 2016

UMD Microrobotic Work Featured in IEEE Spectrum
IEEE Spectrum spotlights Bergbreiter and St. Pierre's work on "the tiniest little quadruped robot ever seen." June 6, 2016

Five Mechanical Engineering Graduate Students Selected for Clark School Future Faculty Program
Graduate students selected for program designed to produce next great engineering professors. April 19, 2016

Bergbreiter named director of Maryland Robotics Center
Microrobotics expert brings both research expertise and leadership accomplishments to position. December 23, 2015

UMD Ties with Stanford, MIT for Most Researchers on 2015 DOD Multidisciplinary Research Grants
UMD Represented on 6 of 22 Teams Awarded University Research Initiative Grants by the Department of Defense June 9, 2015

Penskiy Awarded UMD Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship
Mechanical Engineering graduate student Ivan Penskiy receives 2015-2016 Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship. April 17, 2015

New AFOSR NIFTI Center features eight Clark School faculty
Center will create bio-inspired solutions for small, remotely operated aircraft. April 14, 2015

Sarah Bergbreiter gives TED Talk on microrobotics
She appeared at TEDYouth 2014 in New York City. January 22, 2015

New NSF grant funds research to build network of tiny robots for bridge inspection
Nuno Martins, Sarah Bergbreiter, Richard La to collaborate with Resensys on development of semi-autonomous system. August 29, 2014

Bergbreiter to attend NAE U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium
Microrobotics researcher one of 83 "outstanding young engineers" invited to prestigious event. July 7, 2014

Clark School Faculty Promotions Announced
Faculty promoted to full professor, associate professor with tenure. June 5, 2014

Sarah Bergbreiter promoted to associate professor with tenure
Bergbreiter, a 2013 PECASE Award winner, directs the Microrobotics Laboratory. May 14, 2014

Bergbreiter and Paley Honored at White House Ceremony
UMD researchers were honored yesterday at the White House as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). April 16, 2014

Two Clark School Faculty Members Receive Presidential Early Career Awards
Bergbreiter and Paley honored by the White Houseas outstanding early-career scientists. December 23, 2013

Bergbreiter one of '25 women in robotics you need to know about'
She's honored for 'packing impressive capabilities in tiny mobile robots.' October 22, 2013

UAE students, Northrop Grumman engineers tour robotics laboratories
Visitors were in town for the annual AUVSI conference. August 14, 2013

REU in Miniature Robotics holds final project symposium
Nine projects range from wings for MAVs to vision sensors for small robots to small grasping hands. August 14, 2013

IEEE Spectrum website features quadruped microrobot
Super-fast robot developed in Sarah Bergbreiter's Microrobotics Lab. June 7, 2013

NASA Selects Bergbreiter Robotics Project for Development
Mechanical engineering professor's work will support future missions and the National Robotics Initiative September 24, 2012

Miniature Robotics REU students give final presentations
Ten undergrads from around the country give talks on their summer projects. August 10, 2012

Espy-Wilson, Bergbreiter receive ADVANCE Seed Grants
Fifteen projects funded for 2012. June 13, 2012

Antbot research profiled in Pacific Standard magazine
Article explores potential of antbots in search and rescue operations June 12, 2012

Two Mechanical Engineering Professors Awarded ADVANCE Grants
Profs. Sarah Bergbreiter and Kenneth Kiger collaborate with faculty from a variety of disciplines on research projects with engineering applications. June 6, 2012

ISR welcomes 10 REU microbotics students for the summer
Students will develop interdisciplinary research projects in 10-week program. June 4, 2012

Casarez Wins Goldwater Scholarship
Mechanical engineering junior receives premier award for undergraduates interested in research. March 29, 2012

Booz Allen Colloquium Spring Series to Feature Variety of Distinguished Speakers
ECE's Booz Allen Hamilton Distinguished Colloquium begins February 17, 2012. February 13, 2012

Bergbreiter and students win NTF Award at IROS 2011
Award is for the research, "First Leaps Toward Jumping Microrobots." October 4, 2011

IEEE Spectrum features story on jumping robots
Sarah Bergbreiter's work with insect-inspired microrobots is highlighted. October 3, 2011

New REU site to offer research opportunities in miniature robotics
Sarah Bergbreiter is principal investigator for NSF program. June 15, 2011

Sarah Bergbreiter wins NSF CAREER Award
Grant supports development of legs that can move microrobots quickly over rough terrain. February 21, 2011

Schaler Earns Prestigious Churchill Scholarship
Mechanical engineering major will use funds towards study of micro and nanotech. January 19, 2011

Dean's Master's Student Research Awards Announced
Research on microbots, optical tweezers and particle synthesis recognized. May 24, 2010

Bergbreiter, Gerratt, Penskiy win Best Conference Paper Award
Award presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. May 6, 2010

Ethan Schaler Named Goldwater Scholar
Mechanical engineering junior earns prestigious award. April 5, 2010

Leishman, Schaler Named Goldwater Scholars
Aerospace, mechanical engineering students receive premier award for undergraduates. March 31, 2010

Martins, Abshire, Smela, Bergbreiter win $1.5 million NSF grant
The team will develop self-organizing ant-sized microrobots. September 25, 2009

Bergbreiter interviewed on robot podcast
ISR faculty member talks about her work with micro-sized jumping robots. December 8, 2008

Bergbreiter wins 2008 DARPA Young Faculty Award
Research will develop mechanisms for autonomous jumping microrobots. April 1, 2008

Department Welcomes New Faculty this Fall and Spring
Dr. Byeng Youn and Dr. Nikhil Chopra join the department as Assistant Professors. July 3, 2007