Our research group’s name is LEADCAT: LEArning, Decision, Control, AuTonomy. Please click on each current member’s name to read more about them and their work.

Jean-Baptiste Bouvier
Jean-Baptiste Bouvier

Jean-Baptiste is a PhD student in aerospace engineering. He graduated with a dual master’s degree from UIUC and the French aerospace engineering school ISAE-SupaĆ©ro.

Jean-Baptiste’s area of expertise is in control theory and space trajectories, as he worked on rendezvous strategies on lunar Distant Retrograde Orbits, on the design of low-energy low-thrust transfers to halo orbits using feedback control, and on the adaptive control of an orbit around a splitting binary asteroid. He is also invested in the Illinois triathlon team as the swim coordinator and he completed an Ironman distance triathlon in June 2019.

Hamza El-Kebir
Hamza El-Kebir

Hamza is a PhD student in aerospace engineering, co-supervised by Prof. Joseph Bentsman. He completed his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology in 2020. He has been conducting undergraduate research in range-restricted sounding rocket guidance in Delft.

Hamza’s interests lie in the area of space vehicle guidance, trajectory prediction and reusable launch vehicle design. He is currently working on the in-flight estimation of environmental parameters and vehicle capabilities. He is an avid spaceflight enthusiast, and is intrigued by both its history and current developments. Hamza spends his free time working on future sounding rocket designs and enjoys taking long hikes in the countryside.

Pranay Thangeda
Pranay Thangeda

Pranay is a PhD student in aerospace engineering. He recently received his MSc from our group with the thesis titled “Efficient Learning and Planning Using Spatial Side Information”.

Pranay’s interests lie in the areas of decision making under uncertainty, learning and autonomy. Currently, he is working on problems in reinforcement learning, transit planning, and multi-agent coordination. Pranay spends his free time on photography, baking, and traveling.

Taha Shafa
Taha Shafa

Taha is a PhD student in aerospace engineering. In parallel with his graduate studies, he is an employee at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. He graduated with a dual master’s degree in electrical engineering and robotics from the Arizona State University, where he was involved in design of a bipedal roadrunner robot.

Taha’s current work is on guaranteed reachability for partially unknown nonlinear systems. He is originally from the Boston area, and believes that, contrary to what you might hear, as nice as the seafood from Boston is, their cheesesteaks are better. He plays tennis and used to play the saxophone.

Ani Pirosmanishvili
Chloe Hettick



Completed Degrees
Farhad Nawaz — MSc (UIUC, 2021), thesis title: Multi-Agent, Multi-Objective Path Planning in Complex Environments
Undergraduate Research Students
Kathleen Xu, 2019-2021
Zhengguan Dai, 2019-2021
Wanzheng Zheng, 2020-2021
Peter Piatek, 2020
Alen Golpashin — PhD student, 2020-2021
Gregory Rodriguez — Summer Predoctoral Institute student, 2020