University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota: Department of Mechanical Engineering

Timothy Kowalewski

Richard and Barbara Nelson Assistant Professor

Office: ME 207
Phone: 612-626-0054

Ph.D. 2011, Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle
M.S, 2009, Controls and Robotics, University of Washington, Seattle
B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle

Medical Robotics and Devices Lab



The goal of my research is to advance the emerging field of computational surgery: the fusion of signal processing, controls, cyber-physical systems, and pervasive instrumentation with applications in next-generation  surgical robotics, medical devices, simulation, healthcare management, and related technology.   The ongoing incursion of novel technology into the operating room and health clinic suggests that today, surgical tools and medical devices generate vast streams of data and bring significant learning challenges to practitioners. My research projects leverage this data and fall within one of the four following areas, each requiring close collaboration with surgeons,  healthcare providers, and industrial partners.

Smart Tools
These are instrumented surgical tools which enable quantitative techniques in the operating room.  Applications include surgical graspers that can provide online diagnostics for tissue or prevent unintended damage as well as tracking for tools, operating room materials, and patient anatomy.

Surgical Robotics
This includes custom built robots that automate access to all patient surgical sites and the operating room environment, extracting meaningful information such as procedural markers or surgical skill from the sensor streams of the robot, and creating new algorithms and tools that enable novel surgical procedures.  

Surgical Simulation
In collaboration with the center for research in education and surgical training (CREST), we investigate novel techniques for training surgical procedures in virtual reality or realistic mock tissues.   This includes the development of accurate physical or virtual simulation platforms for surgical training and quantitative skill assessment.

The Surgical Genome Project
In collaboration with the University of Washington, this project aims to create a large, open database of surgical procedures including tool tracking, operative video, and a variety of sensors inputs.  The aim is to provide a common resource for researchers to investigate surgical behavior, design requirements, and to develop and compare analysis algorithms in a repeatable way.