Rolf Müller, professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the Raymond E. and Shirley B. Lynn Professor of Mechanical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Raymond E. and Shirley B. Lynn Professorship of Mechanical Engineering was established through a gift from the Shirley B. Lynn estate. The professorship acknowledges teaching and research excellence in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who have shown exceptional merit in research, teaching, and/or service. Recipients hold the position for a five-year term.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2008, Müller's research has generated new principles for sensing in complex natural environments by taking inspiration from bats. His research has resulted in new fundamental insights into biological sensing, demonstrating the ability of bats to carry out a complex nonlinear transformation of the incoming echoes through Doppler shifts created by fast motions of their own ears. There was no parallel to this phenomenon in sensory physiology, and his findings were published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019.

Using these insights, Müller’s team combined a biomimetic dynamic sound receiver with deep-learning analysis of the complex Doppler shift patterns to demonstrate, for the first time, a system that could localize the source of a single-frequency sound with just a single receiver.

Müller’s achievements are also reflected in research grants totaling $11.8 million, including funding from the Office of Naval Research’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (ONR MURI) program and the National Science Foundation’s International Research Experiences for Students program.

He has led Virginia Tech’s portion of an ongoing ONR MURI that works with partners at Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, and Texas A&M University. His work on biomimetic robotic sonar has been supported continuously by the Naval Engineering Education Center since 2014. Additional funding and infrastructure support has come from the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office, NASA, IBM, and Microsoft.

Müller has mentored 43 Ph.D. and master’s degree students and is currently supervising 10 graduate students. He has co-authored 125 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers and five book chapters and has made more than 200 presentations, including many invited and keynote talks. He has received prestigious honors such as a Fulbright award from the U.S. Department of State in 2022, the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research in 2016, and a Taishan Endowed Professorship from Shandong University in 2009. He has been a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America since 2019.

Müller received his bachelor's degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from the University of Tübingen.

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