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Daniel Robertson, Ph.D., P.E.

Daniel J. Robertson, Ph.D., P.E.

Grand Challenge Scholars Program Director, Assistant Professor


Gauss-Johnson 234 G



Mailing Address

Mechanical Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 0902
Moscow, Idaho 83844-0902

  • ME 223 Mechanical Design Analysis
  • Engr 204 Engineering Grand Challenges
  • ISEM 301 Engineering Grand Challenges
  • ENGR 404 Grand Challenges Leadership
  • ME 404 / 504 Compliant Mechanism Design
  • ME 424 / 426 Interdisciplinary Capstone Design
  • ME 504 Crop Biomechanics

  • Biomechanics
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary design

Daniel Robertson is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering and the director of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program for the University of Idaho. He acquired his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University in 2013.

After receiving his doctorate, Robertson spent four years working overseas as a senior research scientist in the emerging area of crop biomechanics. His unique interdisciplinary research enabled him to work across numerous industries which led to his appointment as a United States Department of Agriculture NIFA-AFRI Fellow. His research eventually led Robertson to return to Idaho where he is working with local agronomists and industry partners to develop solutions to the long standing problem of stalk lodging (i.e., corn, wheat, rice, barley and canola plants breaking in wind and rain storms). In general, Robertson’s teaching and research efforts are focused on using engineering principles to accomplish what the White House has called the great challenge of the 21st century: sustainably providing food, fuel and fiber for the world’s growing population.

Robertson’s past research projects include, characterizing soft tissue material responses, spinal biomechanics, orthopedic device design, plant biomechanics and stochastic analyses of complex computational models.

  • Enhancing Undergraduate Education Through the Engineering Grand Challenges Global Competition - Idaho Space Grant Consortium - $18,093
  • Multiscale, Multiphysics Modeling Frameworks for Genome-to Phenome Mapping via Intermediate Phenotypes – National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track II – Award# 1826715 – $6 million
  • Stalk Lodging: Development and Validation of Novel Devices to Measure Stalk Strength – United States Department of Agriculture NIFA – Award# 1008002 – $316,980
  • An Engineering Investigation of Wheat Stem lodging in the Palouse – University of Idaho Seed Grant - $11,578
  • Inspiring Female Students through the Engineering Grand Challenges – Idaho Space Grant Consortium - $50,000

  • Al-Zube L., Sun W.*, Robertson D., Cook D. The elastic modulus for maize stems. Plant Methods 14:11 (2018)
  • Crepeau J., Maughan M., Cordon D., Beyerlein S., Swenson M., Robertson D., Quallen S. Development and Implementation of a Longitudinal Design Assessment, 2018 ASEE, Paper#21045
  • Al-Zube L., Robertson D., Edwards J.*, Sun W.*, Cook D. Measuring the compressive modulus of elasticity of pith filled plant stems. Plant Methods 13:99 (2017)
  • Robertson D., Julias M., Lee S.*, Cook D. Maize stalk lodging: Morphological determinants of stalk strength Journal of Crop Science 57:926-934 (2017)
  • Cook D. Robertson D., The generic modeling fallacy: average biomechanical models often produce non-average results! Journal of Biomechanics 49:3609-3615 (2016)
  • Robertson D., Lee S. Y., Julias M., Cook D. Maize stalk lodging: flexural stiffness predicts strength. Journal of Crop Science 56:1711-1718 (2016)
  • Robertson D., Cook D. Hyperelasticity and the failure of averages, Civil Comp Press, 2015, doi:10.4203/ccp.108.204
  • Robertson D., Zañartu M., Cook D. Comprehensive, population-based sensitivity analysis of a two-mass vocal fold model. PLoS ONE 11(2):e0148309 (2015), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148309
  • Von Forell G., Robertson D., Cook D. Preventing lodging in bioenergy crops: a biomechanical analysis of maize stalks suggests a new approach. Journal of Experimental Botany (2015), doi: 10.1093/jxb/erv108
  • Robertson D., Julias M., Gardunia B., Barten T., Cook, D. Corn stalk lodging: a forensic engineering approach provides insights into failure patterns and mechanisms. Journal of Crop Science 55:2833-2841 (2015)
  • Robertson D., Smith S., Cook, D. On measuring the bending strength of septate grass stems. American Journal of Botany 102:5-11 (2015)
  • Robertson D., Cook, D. Unrealistic statistics: How average constitutive coefficients can produce non-physical results, JMBBM 40:234-239 (2014)
  • Robertson D., Smith S., Gardunia B., Cook D. An improved method for accurate phenotyping of corn stalk strength. Journal of Crop Science 54:2038-2044 (2014)
  • Robertson D., Von Forell G., Alsup J., Bowden A.E. Thoracolumbar spinal ligaments exhibit negative and transverse pre-strain. JMBBM 23:44-52 (2013)
  • Robertson D., Willardson R., Parajuli A., Cannon A., Bowden A.E. The lumbar supraspinous ligament demonstrates increased material stiffness and strength on its anterior aspect. JMBBM 17:34-43 (2013)
  • Robertson D., Cook D. Hyperelasticity and the failure of averages, Civil Comp Press, 2015, doi:10.4203/ccp.108.204

  • Outstanding Young Faculty Award, College of Engineering, 2019

Press Coverage

  • Research article in Capital Press Ag Weekly, Dec 2018
  • Article on the Grand Challenge Scholars Program in Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Fall 2018
  • Research interview broadcast on over 90 radio channels, Fall 2018
  • Research article featured on the homepage of The Global Plant Council, Fall 2018
  • Research article featured on Intermountain Farm and Ranch homepage, Fall 2018
  • Research article featured on Feedstuffs homepage, September 2018
  • Research article in Spokesman-Review, September 2018
  • Interview on Boise State Public Radio, September 2018
  • Journal publication featured on the cover of the Journal of Crop Science, March 2017
  • Journal publication featured on the Journal of Biomechanics homepage, Nov 2016
  • Journal publication highlighted in CSSA News Magazine, Dec 2015

Presentation Awards

  • 3rd Place Podium Presentation, Botany, 2015
  • 1st Place Podium Presentation, Philadelphia Spine Research Symposium, 2012
  • 2nd Place Poster Presentation, BYU Emerging Ideas Conference, 2012
  • 1st Place Podium Presentation, Intermountain Graduate Research Symposium, 2011

Travel Awards

  • Crop Science Society of America research presentation award, Nov 2016
  • National Science Foundation CMMI Travel Award, July 2012
  • Force and Motion Foundation Travel Award, Feb 2012
  • BYU Research Presentation Award, Feb 2012
  • BYU Research Presentation Award, Jan 2011

Contact Us

Engineering Physics Building Rm. 324K

Mailing Address:

Mechanical Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0902
Moscow, ID 83844-0902

Phone: 208-885-6579

Fax: 208-885-9031