The Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab is always looking for talented students and postdocs interested in conducting cutting-edge research in the design, fabrication, and control of novel robotic systems. On this page, you will find details of what we look for in applicants and some tips for improving the competitiveness of your application.

Prospective Graduate Students

Please consult instructions for applying to the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at UC San Diego at the following link (note: it is possible, but less common, to join the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab while pursuing a degree in another department at UC San Diego). Please note that admission is for Fall only:


Here are some characteristics that will make you competitive for a position in the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab:

  • A passion for biologically inspired robotics, and a desire to push the boundaries of human knowledge

  • Previous research experience (publications are a plus) and/or previous experience designing, fabricating, modeling, or controlling robotic/mechatronic systems (please include details in your personal statement)

  • Competitive GPA/GRE scores

  • Strong communication skills (written and verbal)

If you have a competitive application, and are interested in conducting research in the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab, please list Prof. Tolley as a potential advisor on your application to UC San Diego. If you have additional questions, you may contact Prof. Tolley by email at tolley@eng.ucsd.edu.

Aside from these guidelines, securing external funding (e.g. through programs such as the NSF GFRP, NDSEG in the US, or international programs that allow you to study in the US) is one of the best things you can do to make your Ph.D. application competitive. For resources on how to apply for to these fellowships, please see http://grad.ucsd.edu/financial/fellowships/.

Prospective Postdoctoral Fellows

The Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab does not currently have funding available for postdoctoral fellows. However, it is possible to apply for external funding. Please see the following list of opportunities:


The is also the University of California Postdoctoral Fellowship Program that supports outstanding women and minority postdocs at UC schools:


Exceptional candidates interested in applying for external fellowships are encouraged to contact Prof. Tolley. The characteristics listed above under Prospective Ph.D. Students— with an emphasis on success in research—will make you a competitive candidate.

Prospective Undergraduate Students

The Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab is often looking for talented undergraduate volunteers looking to gain research experience in the design, fabrication, and control of bioinspired robotic systems. However, there are a limited number of positions available. Due to the training required, we are looking for students interested in working longer than a single quarter. Competitive candidates have:

  • A passion for biologically inspired robotics

  • Previous experience designing and fabricating robotic/mechatronic systems (either in a lab, project team, internship, or coursework)

  • Previous research experience is a plus

  • A high undergraduate GPA

  • Good communication skills in English (written and verbal)

Interested students are invited to submit an application using the link below. We look at applications on a rolling basis, so please do not expect a response unless a project opens up for which we think you may be a good fit.

Application Form: https://goo.gl/forms/9ucaNJsObExcYR2q1

What to do if you don't hear back? You should also consider applying for summer programs that might fund a research project. For example, we often have undergraduate researchers join our group through the UCSD Summer Training Academy for Research Success program. If you apply, please feel free to indicate if you would be interested in a project in the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab. Undergraduate engineering student organizations are also an excellent way to gain hands-on design and engineering experience.