In the spirit of a multidisciplinary researcher also referred to as a polymath or renaissance man, Prof. Marko B. Popovic's research interest ranges across numerous fields including engineering robotics systems that assist and augment humans, biomechatronics, biomechanics, neuroscience and sensorimotor control, space and planetary robotics, bio-inspired engineering, as well as fundamental physics, specifically theoretical particle physics. Prof. Popovic is the founder and director of Popovic Labs http://users.wpi.edu/~mpopovic/ where researchers study physics, biomechanics, and robotics with the goal of answering how living systems function and to synthesize systems that have resembling architecture and functionality and/or may improve life.
Professor Popovic teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses within PH, RBE and BME, such as RBE 520 Biomechanics and Robotics; RBE 595 Space and Planetary Robotics, PH 597 Particle Physics, PH 1110, PH 1111, PH 1120, PH 1121, PH 1130, PH 1140, PH 2201, PH 2301, PH 3301, PH 3401, PH 3402, etc.
Previously, Popovic held research scientist position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Popovic received his PhD in Physics from Boston University, followed by post-doctoral positions at both Harvard University Physics and MIT Biomechatronics group. He single-authored ‘Biomechanics and Robotics’, published in 2013 by Pan Standard Publishing. He authored and edited ‘Biomechatronics’, published in 2019 by Elsevier Academic Press. Popovic is an avid and successful inventor. His Hydro Muscle invention received the largest compensation for intellectual property from an industry partner in WPI history. The Boston Patent Law Association (BPLA) program "Invented Here!" selected Popovic’s Hydro Bone invention among top 12 patents from more than 12,000 patents granted in New England in 2018 as part of the BPLA’s initiative to honor the region’s newest and most innovative technologies. Results of his work were showcased by Reuters, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Channel News Asia, Business Insider, CNBC, Yahoo! News, Toronto Sun, Daily Times Pakistan, UK Eurosport, CNN, TIME Magazine, National Geographic, and many other domestic and overseas media.
He is one of the founders of the MIT Biomechatronics Group, and a member of the team praised for the best innovation in health in 2007, the robotics ankle, by CNN and TIME. In 2011, Professor Popovic's Society of Physics Students (SPS) team received top Sigma Pi Sigma Research Undergraduate Award at the national level for the project, Physics Applied to Post-Stroke Rehabilitation: Shoulder Soft Robotics Brace. In 2011, Professor Popovic chaired the Biomechanics and Robotics Theme of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference, the top biomedical conference in the world and the largest conference in New England in 2011. His inventions generated notable interest; e.g. Hydro Muscle IP rights had been purchased by Lockheed Martin in 2014 ($235K for non-exclusive license) and by Toyota ($10K for a single year research license) in 2016.
Professor Popovic enjoys teaching and working on research projects with students. He considers himself to be a knowledgeable, fair, approachable, and inspiring professor and advisor who always praises good ideas, hard work, and a hands-on approach. He promotes creativity and professionalism.
Professional Highlights & Honors
Boston Globe columnist Thomas Farragher wrote a column about WPI robotics engineering professor Marko Popovic and undergraduates Mia Buccowich ’22, Andy Strauss ’23 and Brian Fay ’22 helping to develop a partial hand prosthetic for University of Houston student Payton Heiberger. “Working with them in the lab and coordinating with students of my own age has been amazing,” Heiberger said of her experience working with the WPI team.
In its College Town section, The Telegram & Gazette noted the roles of WPI robotics engineering professor Marko Popovic and undergraduates Mia Buccowich ’22, Andy Strauss ’23 and Brian Fay ’22 in helping to develop a partial hand prosthetic for University of Houston student Payton Heiberger.