Principal Investigator

Professor Shelly Zhang is an Assistant Professor at both the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Mechanical and Science Engineering Department in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also a Faculty Fellow at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

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We are always seeking self-motivated, creative, and hard-working students and postdocs to join our MISSION Lab. We are particularly interested in candidates with a strong background in topology optimization, computational mechanics, 3D/4D printing, high-performance computing, machine learning methods, and uncertainty quantification. To apply, please contact Prof. Zhang ( with your CV, publications, and transcripts. Please apply through the graduate application at CEE Illinois and indicate your interest in working with Prof. X. Shelly Zhang. You may find application instruction to our graduate program HERE.

Welcome to MISSION Laboratory! Our research group focuses on exploring
                    – multi-physics topology optimization
                    – stochastic programming
to create multifunctional, resilient, sustainable, and innovative engineering structures and materials for applications at different scales, from as large as high-rise buildings to as small as material microstructures.

See Ongoing Projects.

Recent News

(June 2021) Prof. Zhang is organizing a series of ISSMO (International Society for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization) virtual female networking events, where 6 panelists sharing their success stories, career paths, career development advice, and work-life balance during WCSMO14 (14th World Congress of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization). Sign up HERE.

(June 2021) Our paper “Additive manufacturing of topology-optimized graded porous structures: An experimental study” is published in JOM (Z. Zhao and X. S. Zhang). (Link)

(June 2021) Our paper “Design of composite structures with programmable elastic responses under finite deformations” is published in Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids (W. Li, F. Wang, O. Sigmund, and X. S. Zhang). (Link)

(January 2021) The 9th (thematic) TOP Webinar (Topology Optimization Webinar) on "Data-driven Approaches in Topology Optimization (DATO)" is hosted by Prof. Wei Chen (Northwestern University) and Prof. Shelly Zhang on January 26, 2021. See the Program and Webinar Recording.

(January 2021) Prof. Zhang receives the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. This new project entitled "CAREER: Programming Multi-functional Responses into Civil Structures via Topology Optimization," will explore topology optimization to create and enable civil structures with a variety of unique and tunable multi-functionalities. See CEE news.

(December 2020) Our paper “Design of graded porous bone-like structures via a multi-material topology optimization approach” is accepted in Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (Z. Zhao and X. S. Zhang).

(October 2020) Our paper “Topology optimization of fiber-reinforced hyperelastic structures under large deformations” is accepted in Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering (X. S. Zhang, H. Chi, and Z. Zhao).

(October 2020) Prof. Zhang serves as the editor of the inaugural newsletter of International Society for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (ISSMO). See Newsletter.

(September 2020) Prof. Zhang was selected to the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent in Summer 2020.

(July 2020) Our paper “Paved guideway topology optimization for pedestrian traffic under Nash equilibrium” is accepted in Journal of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (X. S. Zhang, W. Li, and Y. Ouyang). (Link)

(May 2020) Prof. Zhang serves on the Early Career Special Committee of the International Society for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (ISSMO).

(May 2020) Prof. Zhang serves as the Event Officier in Female Researchers Group (FRG) of U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM).

(May 2020) Prof. Zhang was selected to the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent in Spring 2020.

(May 2020) Prof. Zhang serves on the Organizing Committee of 16th U.S. National Congress on Computational Mechanics (USNCCM) to be held on July 25-29, 2021.

(March 2020) Our group works on the UIUC-Carle Health Covid PPE project and led the design team for the N95 mask and face shield. See College news, CEE news, and media coverage.

(March 2020) Our lab works on a new project on guideway optimization considering pedestrians’ behavior for Quad Day Traffic Management at UIUC. See CEE news article.

(Feburary 2020) Prof. Zhang teams up with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to use topology optimization to design novel openings for lightweight beams for Campus Instructional Facility project at UIUC. See here for details.

(February 2020) Prof. Zhang delivered an invited seminar at the symposium “Leveraging Materials in Topology Optimization” at 2020 TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society) Congress, San Diego, CA, 2020.

(Feburary 2020) Our paper “Topology optimization with many right-hand sides using mirror descent stochastic approximation—reduction from many to a single sample” is published in Journal of Applied Mechanics (X. S. Zhang, E. de Sturler, and A. Shapiro). (Link)

(Feburary 2020) Our paper “Adaptive multi-material topology optimization with hyperelastic materials under large deformations: A virtual element approach” is published in Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering (X. S. Zhang, H. Chi, and G. H. Paulino). (Link)

(Feburary 2020) Our paper “Efficient multi-material continuum topology optimization considering hyperelasticity: achieving local feature control through regional constraints” is published in Mechanics Research Communications (X. S. Zhang and H. Chi). (Link)

See Archive of News and Announcements