Visual simulation methods for natural phenomena involving complex solid and fluid dynamics have been widely applied in digital animation and effects. Computer graphics and computational mechanics have also proved to be a powerful combination for pushing the boundaries of science and engineering in diverse fields such as soil mechanics, geophysics, biomechanics and engineering design. Our research alleviates existing computational bottlenecks and improve simulation resolution, with an emphasis on interacting coupled virtual materials with elaborate geometry and intricate frictional contact. The algorithms not only directly benefit computer graphics foundations, but also extend to various science and engineering applications such as the analysis of geo-mechanical phenomena (landslides, debris flows, avalanches), the simulation of fully coupled human body parts for medical training (skin, muscle, organ, bone), and the design of granular material processing (in food, agriculture, mining, and the pharmaceutical industry).

We collaborated with Disney on using our particle-based simulation algorithms in featured 3D animations, including Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana. In addition to high fidelity animation and effects, we are also looking into applying our simulation algorithms of granular materials (snow and sand) as well as their interaction with other materials (such as liquid) to the prediction and structural design for geohazards.

For more information, see Computer Graphics at Penn.


Students and Postdocs

  • Andre Pradhana (Postdoc)
  • Joshuah Wolper (PhD)


  • NSF
  • Nvidia
  • Awowd


  • UCLA, UW-Madison
  • EPFL
  • Disney
  • Dreamworks
  • Weta Digital