Department: Engineering

Areas of expertise: 

  • Biomimicry
  • Engineering Design Methods
  • Engineering Education
  • Manufacturing Automation
  • Sensors and Instrumentation
  • Mechatronics

Dr. Nagel’s specializations are biologically-inspired design (biomimicry) and manufacturing automation. Her long-term research goal is to drive engineering innovation by applying her multidisciplinary engineering expertise to design, instrumentation, analysis, manufacturing and educational challenges. 

Her recent work includes contributions on the process and pedagogy of bio-inspired design and mechatronic systems. She has established tools and methods, based in design theory, that assist engineers with intentionally creating bio-inspired designs as well as instructional materials for teaching bio-inspired design to engineering students. Dr. Nagel recently completed a collaborative project with engineering researchers in Egypt focused on the development and testing of a periodic biasing control scheme for hybrid bearings (combination of journal bearings and active magnetic bearings). She has also worked with students to develop table-top systems that model manufacturing operations for teaching mechatronic concepts. 

Prior to joining the JMU Department of Engineering in 2011, Dr. Nagel was an engineering contractor at Mission Critical Technologies working on the DARPA-funded Meta-II Project, where she supported system-level design and analysis of complex cyber-physical systems through model library development, design requirement analysis and system integration efforts. 

Her doctoral work explored the integration of biologically-inspired design with function-based design methodologies for the systematic creation of biomimetic products.  Application of the systematic design methodology lead to the development of chemical and optical biomimetic sensor systems and a lichen inspired solar thermal collection device. 

Dr. Nagel's master’s work lead to the full automation of the Laser Aided Manufacturing Process system and a scheme for modular, rapid manufacturing system design. 

She also gained considerable work experience in industrial automation, manufacturing and instrumentation as both an undergrad and graduate student.  As an undergrad she spent three co-op terms with Kimberly-Clark Corporation working as an electrical engineer at multiple manufacturing facilities. As a graduate student she spent one summer each working in the Advanced Systems Group at Yaskawa Motoman Robotics (formerly Motoman, Inc.) and the Instrumentation and Controls group at Intel Corp. 

She received a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University, a master's degree in manufacturing engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology; a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and an associate's degree in pre-engineering from Kansas City Kansas Community College. 


Media contact: Eric Gorton,

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