Newsletter September 2021

Message from the DISC Office

At the DISC Office we have had an exceptionally busy few months. From June 29-July 2 the long awaited ECC 2021 finally took place. As you can imagine much preparation went into this but we are very pleased with the outcome and we hope that all 600+ registered participants had a good conference experience.

Besides the ECC there was also the Hybrid DISC Summer School “Planning, Learning and Control for Multi-Robot and Multi-Agent Systems” and the Benelux Workshop which took place at De Doelen on June 29.

On July 16 a DISC team presented a bid for the IFAC 2029 . and together with two other competitors we were selected to prepare an official bidbook.

The DISC course program for 2021-2022 is now ready. We weren’t able to schedule courses in Fall 2021, though we are offering an interesting Fall Course on Numerics and Control.

In the past few months many new people have joined DISC, and we welcome them all!

With best regards,

Henk Nijmeijer,
scientific director

Martha Otte,
DISC secretariat

Course program 2021-2022

The DISC course program 2021-2022 is ready. You can find it here. Registration is open on the DISC course platform.

We will start in January 2022 and the courses will take place in Utrecht, at Cursus- en vergadercentrum Domstad.

We are offering the following courses:

Mathematical Models of Systems
Nonlinear Control Systems
Modeling and Control of Flexible and Soft Robots
Modelling and Control of Hybrid Systems
Design Methods for Control System

DISC Fall course on Numerics and Control, November 23-25 2021.

The course on Numerics and Control will deal with distributed parameter systems with boundary control and observation, described as port-Hamiltonian systems (pHs). The pHs representation emphasizes the power flows between subsystems and over the system boundary, and is therefore particularly favourable for multi-physics modelling and for energy-based control designs.

The focus in this course will be structure-preserving numerical methods, which transform an infinite-dimensional pHs into a finite-dimensional one, and/or a continuous-time pHs into a discrete-time pHs, mimicking the structural power balance at the discrete level.

We introduce specific numerical methods which achieve this goal, such as the Partitioned Finite Element Method (PFEM). The mathematical language will be vector calculus at the beginning, and exterior differential calculus at the end. Examples will be first treated thoroughly in one space dimension, and in a second stage in higher space dimension. The last part of the course is devoted to geometric time integration, discrete-time pHs and the use of the introduced concepts for discrete-time energy-based control.

In order to be as concrete as possible, two labs are planned for structure-preserving PFEM: the first one in Matlab will enable to tackle 1D problems quite easily, whereas the second one in Python will pave the way for simulation and control of 2D and 3D problems, making use of FEniCS software. The part on discrete-time systems and control will be accompanied by Matlab examples.


Ghislain Haine is Associate professor and Denis Matignon is full professor, both at the Institut Superieur de_l’Aeronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE), France. Paul Kotyczka is a professor at the Technical University of München, Germany

Date and Location
The course will take place from Tuesday November 23 to Thursday November 25 in Eindhoven.

Fee and credits
There is no fee for DISC members. Non-DISC members pay € 250. You can obtain 1 ECTS for taking part in the Fall Course.

More information and Registration
Registration on the DISC Course Platform, for more information see

Summer School 2021 “Planning, Learning and Control for Multi-Robot and Multi-Agent Systems”







From June 8-11 the DISC Summer School took place. With 60 participants we can definitely say it was very successful. The organisers Javier Alonso Mora, Ming Cao and Ömür Arslan put together an excellent programme with top notch speakers.  The first three days were online, and on Friday the participants met up in Utrecht. For those who couldn’t attend live, there was streaming. We were very happy that after the lectures at Domstad we could all gather for drinks at het Muntgebouw. What a nice way to end this edition of the DISC Summer School!


Benelux workshop for PhD students

On June 29 we were able to organize the “Benelux Workshop on Systems and Control”. We got together with a group of 80 people at De Doelen in Rotterdam. Due to corona regulations the group was split in two and organizers Erjen Lefeber and Julien Hendrickx put together interesting and coherent sessions for both groups.  Of course opportunities for socializing were somewhat limited but we hope the students had a nice day and enjoyed meeting some colleagues.

European Control Conference 2021

After years of preparation the Dutch edition of European Control Conference took place from June 29-July 2, 2021. Not at De Doelen in Rotterdam as originally planned but as a virtual conference.
600 people attended the conference and almost 300 papers were presented. From a studio in Delft general Chair Henk Nijmeijer and presenter Becca Fenton Frieson provided daily updates of the program.

The organizers look back on a successful conference and wish to thank all the DISC colleagues who played a part in making this happen!


DISC prepares a bid for the IFAC World Congress 2029

After a successful presentation DISC has been selected to make bid for the IFAC World Congress 2029, together with the United States and Italy. We will prepare a bidbook and in July 2022 the winner will be announced.

VIDI grant for Laura Crespo (TUD)

Robotic rehabilitation is promising, but still artificial and therefore ineffective: abstract task environments limit stroke survivors in relearning functional movements. Laura Marchal Crespo will reveal the processes that govern maximal individual recovery, incorporating insights into a hyper-realistic multisensory training system that provides patients with personalized lifelike interactions with tangible virtual objects.

Read more here

New DISC group: Vasso Reppa (TUD) and Hassan HosseinNia (TUD)

In June 2021 two new groups joined DISC. These memberships are on an “individual” basis and concern an Assistant professor and his/her PhD’s, not the entire department.

Vasso Reppa (Department of Maritime and Transport Technology of TU Delft)








Dr. Vasso Reppa has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Maritime and Transport Technology of TU Delft since 2018. She is a member of the coordinating scientific team of ResearchLab Autonomous Shipping ( at TU Delft. Together with the PhD researchers Zhe Du, Nikos Kougiatsos and Tasos Tsolakis, and the postdoctoral researcher Pablo Segovia, she is working on the multi-level fault tolerant operation of interconnected autonomous transport systems. The main application areas include: (i) inland waterway transport (H2020 ‘NOVIMOVE’ (, Marie Curie ETN ’AUTOBarge’ (, INTERREG ‘AVATAR’), (ii) multiple vessel operations (3mE/TU Delft Cohesion Project SCoop), and (iii) marine automation systems NWO ‘READINESS’ ( ).

Hassan HosseinNia (Department of Precision and Microsystem Engineering at TU Delft)








Hassan HosseinNia is an assistant professor at the department of precision and microsystem engineering at TU Delft. He received his PhD degree with honors “cum laude” in electrical engineering specializing in automatic control: application in mechatronics, in 2013. His main research interests are in precision mechatronic system design, precision motion control and mechatronic system with distributed actuation and sensing. He has an industrial background working at ABB, Sweden. He is an associate editor of the international journal of advanced robotic systems, Journal of Fractional Calculus and Applications and Journal of Frontiers in Control Engineering. He was general chair of 7th international conference in control, mechatronics and automation

PhD position Autofarming available at Wageningen University

Wageningen University has a vacancy for a PhD AUTOFARMING: Autonomous production control of greenhouse farming system using Reinforcement Learning. The full text is available here.


New people

Delft University of Technology

Marta is a futurist scientist, who many scholars regard as a polymath due to her contributions to a variety of scientific fields. Her main scientific areas of interest include Robotics, Neuroscience, Human-Space Exploration and Evolutionary Biology. Marta is currently engaged in future prototyping R&D activities in the private sector and works as an editor in the Journal of Future Robot Life. She is now a research fellow at TU Delft, Cognitive Robotics research group, under the supervision of Dr.-Ing. Jens Kober – working on the topic Interactive Robot Learning.

Marta’s hobbies are surfing and playing the drums with her iconic Dutch band, Charles Bonnet.

Hi everybody! My name is Lorenzo Lyons, I am a PhD student and I will be working with Laura Ferranti in the reliable robot control lab.
I come from Rome in Italy where I completed my bachelor degree in mechanical engineering before moving to Milan for my masters in mechatronics and robotics. As a controls engineer my research in TUDelft will focus on the implications of introducing privacy to the control of autonomous agent groups.

I look forward to meeting everybody, hopefully in person, and to enjoy the wonderful weather I heard so much about!

Name: Nils Wilde
Starting date: 01-09-2021
Function: Postdoc
Group: CoR
Supervisor: Javier Alonso Mora

Hello, my name is Nils Wilde, and I am a new postdoc joining Javier Alonso Mora’s lab.

I’m originally from Germany, but spent the last 5 years in Waterloo, Canada, where I did my PhD under the supervision of Stephen L. Smith and Dana Kulic. My past research focused on intuitive human robot interaction that allows non-expert users to specify complex robot behaviour via reward learning frameworks. Here at CoR I will be part of an EU project on autonomous mobile robots in hospital environments.

Hi, my name is Luis Pablo Borja Rosales (everybody calls me Pablo for short). I have been appointed as a postdoctoral researcher. I will work with Cosimo Della Santina and Azita Dabiri to combine reinforcement learning with passivity-based control to control soft robots.

I was born and raised in Mexico City. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I received my PhD degree from the University Paris Saclay, France. Then, I moved to The Netherlands to continue my career. For the past four years, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher and faculty fellow (a postdoc with more teaching duties) at the University of Groningen.

Concerning my personal life, I live with my wife and my cat. I am a football (soccer) fan. In addition, I like playing pool, table tennis, and I also play the guitar.

I am quite excited to start this new challenge and look forward to meeting all my new colleagues.

Dr. Leandro de Souza Rosa has a bachelor in computer engineering and a PhD in computer sciences and computational mathematics at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. His research focused on compiling and optimizing code for hardware generation. In the past two years, he worked in the Italian Institute of Technology as a post-doc researcher focusing on perception using event-driven sensors and data fusion. Currently, he is starting a post-doc position on iterative learning for robotics, under the supervision of Prof. Dr Kober. He loves to cook and bake Brazilian and Italian food, playing games (as a good nerd), hiking, beach, and dancing.

My name is Zlatan Ajanović and I am postdoctoral researcher working with Jens Kober on TERI ERC project.

I am originally from Bosnia and Hezegovina, where I received Bachelor’s and Master ‘s degree from the University of Sarajevo, followed by a Ph.D. degree from the Graz University of Technology, all focused on Automation and Control. During my PhD research, as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, I was visiting researcher at TU Delft, University of Sarajevo, AVL List and Volvo Cars.

My research interests include Planning, Learning and Control methods for Intelligent Systems. For my contributions so far I was awarded with the IFAC Young Author Award and Hans List Scholarship.

I am very excited to be back at TU Delft and I am looking forward to doing research in Robot Learning in a such an amazing environment.

Hello, my name is Micah Prendergast and I am a postdoctoral researcher working with Luka Peternel and Rudy Helmons on their Deep-Sea Robotics project!

I am originally from the United States and did my graduate work at the University of Colorado where I conducted research on robotic perception and control for medical endoscopy applications. I joined TU-Delft in August 2020 as part of a collaboration between BME and CoR on robotic physiotherapy. I am excited to be starting this new project and looking forward to fewer lockdowns (hopefully) and more opportunities to interact with faculty and students face to face again!

I am a mechanical engineer, born in Germany in 1999. After visiting primary and high school, I got my B. Sc. In Mechanical Engineering at the TU Braunschweig in Germany. Afterwards, I went on to the TU Delft, where I completed my studies and received my master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
I now stand before the next chapter of my education, namely doing a PhD. For that, I will work under Dr. Arkady Zgonnikov, where I will develop hybrid behaviour prediction models, which are a combination of neuroscientific models and data driven machine learning, with the goal of allowing automated vehicles to interact smoothly with their environment.
In the last two years, beside studying, I have also been a member of the local student orchestra, Krashna Musika, where I am a part of the cello section. Additionally, for recreation I also like to bake cakes.


Hi everyone! Some of you might already know me: I am Sebastiaan Mulders and I graduated last year on the topic of wind turbine control in the data-driven control group of Jan-Willem. The focus of my PhD was on the development of control algorithms to alleviate and prevent turbine (fatigue) loading. In the past year I have been a business software consultant and learned a lot about business processes, the Agile way-of-working and software development using a low-code platform. However, I have missed the technological challenges, doing awesome research, and an inspiring academic environment. That’s why I am really excited to be back to further advance my own and to support other people’s research, along with industry collaboration, teaching and so much more!

Mostafa Osman received his B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Mechatronics and Industrial Automation from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt in 2017. After graduating, he joined the Intelligent Systems Lab at the University of Carlos III, Madrid, Spain.

There he focused on developing sensor fusion techniques to enhance the localization of autonomous vehicles. He also studied the problem of covariance estimation for the different odometries. Mostafa received his M.Sc. degree in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada in 2020. During his M.Sc. study, he focused on enhancing the localization of autonomous mobile platforms through the use of visual odometry, optimization-based sensor fusion, and covariance estimation. Furthermore, he also worked on applying Model Predictive Control for the navigation problem of mobile manipulators and omnidirectional robots. Mostafa is currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree at the Delft University of Technology under the supervision of Dr. Manon Kok. The main focus of his Ph.D. study is localization using the magnetic field.

Hi, I am Mohammed Rayyan Sheriff from Mysore, India. I am working with Prof Peyman at DCSC as a Postdoc from May 2021. Prior to that, I completed my Master’s and Ph.D. from Systems and Control Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. I have worked on two very well-known problems of Machine Learning namely Linear Inverse Problems and Dictionary Learning for my thesis, with primary motivation coming from image processing problems.”

I am very interested in topics involving Optimization, Learning (or Statistics), and Control, particularly in their mathematical aspects. It is my opinion that many engineering problems often reveal new insights when studied from the perspective of these fields, which gives rise to a lot of interesting ideas for both classical and modern engineering problems. I very much enjoy good conversations on these high-level ideas, as well as some other fun topics like History, Coffee, and Fountain pens.

I’m Frederik, a 25 year old Dane coming to Delft. I’ve been studying my bachelor’s and master’s at Aalborg University in Denmark with a 6 months stint at University of California Berkeley. My research so far has been on deep learning for physical systems or simulations thereof with some light sprinkles of model predictive control and reinforcement learning.
During my studies I’ve been working at Advanced Traffic Systems part time where I’ve been developing traffic light optimization with UPPAAL (a formal verification and optimization tool developed at Aalborg University) and real-time statistics based on the traffic radar data. In my past time, I’ve been working at a Formula Student team, and volunteering at socials clubs and more. I am also always up for a board game or some social VR games.

At Delft, I’ll be doing my PhD under supervision of Luca Laurenti at the HERALD lab with an emphasis on probabilistic modelling of multi-agent systems. Some of the topics we will be looking at are probabilistic safety guarantees, robustness, and reinforcement learning in the context of autonomous vehicles. I’m looking forward to starting and meeting you all.”

I am Mohammad Shokri, new postdoctoral researcher supervised by Prof. Sergio Pequito. I joined DCSC on July 2021. Currently, I am working on machine learning and control theory approaches for neural spike sorting in neural networks during direct electrical stimulation. My research and work interests are optimization, machine learning, and game theory.

I received my B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees in control engineering focus of electrical engineering from University of Tehran. In my master, I worked on the charging management problem for plug-in hybrid vehicles in a smart grid using game theoretic approach. In this project, I modeled the power consumption of household costumers and their electrical vehicle, and proposed an optimization algorithm for peak shaving of power grid by selfish decision making of the costumers. In my Ph.D., I worked on distributed bi-level optimization for network aggregative games which is suitable to model some real-world applications such as cellular networks or social networks. The goal of the project was to propose distributed optimization methods for the agents of the network, and study on the uniqueness and convergence of the Nash equilibrium point for the game.

My hobbies are fitness training, cycling, and mountain climbing.

Hi! My name is Mahmood and I am very excited to join the DCSC team. I have obtained my MSc. diploma from Eindhoven University of Technology in August 2018. I have 2 years of work experience as a control engineer at a robotics startup company where I was involved with the development of their quadcopter platform. I am joining DCSC to work under Dr. Ferrari’s supervision on “Sparse Data-Driven Methods for Prognosis of Electric Vehicles”. I am looking forward to meet you in person. Stay safe and happy.”

I received my BSc and MSc degrees in Mechanical Engineering and worked on controlling a steam power plant’s boiler and fault detection of a wind turbine. I will be soon a member of DAI Energy Lab and will work on the interface of control and machine learning.
For my hobbies, I play Chess and Piano, and go walking and running.
I am looking forward to seeing you all.”

I am Paulo Cerqueira, from Portugal, and I’ve joined DCSC as a PhD candidate on the 1st of April. I have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico, and a master’s degree in Systems & Control from TU Delft. My research focuses on the modelling and analysis of systems in cognitive neuroscience from the perspective of control theory, under the supervision of Dr. Matin Jafarian.”

Hi all, my name is Andrea Peruffo. In March 2021, I started as a postdoc within the DCSC under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Mazo, working on data-driven estimation for event-triggered control systems.
I am interested in problems relating to control theory, formal verification, and machine learning. A significant portion of my research deals with approximate, data-driven models for a population of stochastic (hybrid) systems. Lately I have also been developing an approach to automatically synthesise stability certificates, exploiting SMT solvers and neural architectures.
I received my DPhil (PhD) from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, following a BSc. in Information Engineering and an MSc. in Automation Engineering, both from from the University of Padova.
I worked as a research engineer at Inria Rennes and lately visited the Erato MMSD Group at NII, Tokyo.
In my free time I like eating, sleeping and hiking. Hope to see you all soon

University of Groningen

Hello, my name is Praveen Kumar and I am a PhD student at DTPA research group from 01.05.2021. My research involves incorporating tactile stimulation to enhance the virtual reality experience for rehabilitation.

While pursuing a bachelors degree in Mechatronics, I developed a strong interest in Control engineering and thus I did my masters in Systems and Control at the University of Twente. My stay in the Netherlands for the past 2 years has boosted my enjoyment of cycling/walking in this beautiful landscape. Also, I have adapted to the bipolar weather of the Netherlands, in fact, I have developed a fondness for this modulating weather conditions (of course not when I am outside 😉 ). Finally, I have revived my habit of reading books after lockdown and been trying to include genres that I haven’t tried earlier.

Project: Optimization algorithms acceleration: a restart scheme for dynamics with Hessian damping
Introduction: Hi! My name is Juan Jose Maulen, I’m 29 years old and I am from Chile. I am a Phd student, and I am pursuing a double titulation program between RuG and Universidad de Chile, so I will be in Groningen for a year. I am currently working with my advisor, Dr. Juan Peypouquet, on the study of acceleration of optimization algorithms. We have been studying the acceleration of fixed point algorithms, defined by a family of cocoercive operators via inertia, and the relation between optimization algorithms and the convergence of certain dynamics, in particular, one that has a damping depending on the Hessian of a convex function.
Outside of work, I am a guitar player, so I enjoy listening and playing music.

Eindhoven University of Technology

Being my own creation I started my research publications in 2004 using my author name Kiemen, but my official family name is Peeters. It is fascinating how people respond to an unusual act, which is what my research is all about, understanding creativity and innovation by communities. In 2004 it started as research on Artificial Intelligence using agent based modeling to investigate creativity (artificial-life simulation). The initial research led to discovering a system of creation, which sets me on a path to develop an interdisciplinary PhD.

In 2005 my applied research on collective intelligence started. Via participation research in open tech communities and controlled experiments using living labs. After a lot of field research I was able to validate my research by building a peer-learn platform (2011). In 2012 I helped to set up the Global Brain Institute (as a research project) and eventually defended my PhD in the institute (12 feb. 2015), becoming doctor in: applied science, science, applied economics, economics and social sciences.

After my PhD I focused on entrepreneurship and consulting. Being involved in a few startups and doing free-lance consulting, with a short period employed in an international consulting company. For the NEON project I’ll do R&D ecosystem dynamics helping the NEON consortium in effective collaboration. As Point of Contact for the partners and management architect I’m assisting the project lead to reach an effective organization.

I am Busra Sen, a new PhD student in the Control Systems Technology Group under the supervision of dr. Elena Torta. I received my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and then Control and Automation Engineering as a dual degree at Yildiz Technical University, Turkey. I studied the stability analysis of sampled-data asynchronous switched systems for my master’s thesis at the Department of Control and Automation Engineering. During my PhD, I will be working on robot learning. I will investigate reinforcement learning and learning from demonstration methods and implement these methods in a medical robot.

Hi all, I am Yannick and I have just started my PhD at the TU/e. In 2016 I started studying at this university, first doing the Bachelor “Automotive Technology” and after that the Master “Systems and Control”. Which I finished with the thesis titled: “An Adaptive Restart Heavy-Ball Projected Primal-Dual Method for Solving Constrained Linear Quadratic Optimal Control Problems”.

University of Twente

Hello everyone. My name is Alexander Wierzba and I joined the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Twente as a PhD student.
I obtained my MSc from Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics, working mainly in the fields of gravity and field theory.
At Twente I will be part of the interdisciplinary PACOF project working on mathematical aspects of avatar robotics.

PhD defences May / September 2021

Groningen University

Candidate: Liangming Chen
Thesis: Angle Rigidity Graph Theory and Multi-agent Formations
Promotores: Ming Cao en Jacquelien Scherpen
Date: 21-5-2021

Eindhoven University of Technology

Candidate: Dr. K. Rogov
Group: Dynamics & Control
Thesis: Numerical Methods for Pattern and Bifurcation Analysis in Complex Networks
Promotor:Prof.dr. H. Nijmeijer
Date: 25-06-2021

Candidate: Dr. R.B.A. van Hoek
Group: Dynamics & Control
Thesis: Cooperative Trajectory Planning for Automated Vehicles
Promotores :Henk Nijmeijer & Jeroen Ploeg
Date: 06-07-2021

Candidate: S. Shi
Group: Control Systems
Thesis: Topological Aspects of Linear Dynamic Networks: Identifiability and Identification
Promotores: Paul Van den Hof and Xiaodong Cheng,
Date: 01-09-2021

Candidate: Dr. Q. Voortman
Group: Dynamics & Control
Thesis: Network Control and Estimation Under Restrictions on Channel Capacity
Promotores :Prof.dr. H. Nijmeijer &. Sasha Pogromskiy
Date: 03-09-2021

Delft University of Technology
Candidate: Ewoud Pool
Group: CoR
Thesis: Context-Based Cyclist Path Prediction. Crafted and Learned Models for Intelligent Vehicles
Date: June 7, 2021

Candidate: Ali Ahmadi Dastejerdi
Group: PME
Thesis: Frequency-domain analysis of Constant in gain Lead in phase (CgLp) reset compensators
Date: 11-06-2021

Candidate: P. Piscaer
Group: DCSC
Thesis: High-resolution focal-plane wavefront sensing for time-varying aberrations
Promotor: M.H.G. Verhaegen
Date: 09-06-2021


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The next issue of this Newsletter will appear in November 2021. We encourage the contributors to provide newsworthy information. In principle, we intend to publish any message offered. However, we reserve the right to edit certain parts of a submission.
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