Mechanical engineering Ph.D. student with research and industry experience in reinforcement learning, nonlinear dynamical systems, mechanical simulation, electromechanical controls, numerical optimization, testing and verification, data analysis, and software development.


  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering – 4.00 GPA Duke University Durham, NC

    • 2017 National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellow: Merit-based, national, full-ride fellowship
    • 2015 James B. Duke Fellow: Merit-based, four-year fellowship
    • 2015 Pratt/Gardner Fellow: Merit-based fellowship
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering – Valedictorian, 4.00 GPA North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC

    • Minors: Spanish & Computer Programming
    • 2015 NCSU Mech. & Aero. Engineering Senior Award for Leadership
    • 2014 Goldwater Scholar: Merit-based, national scholarship
    • 2011 NCSU Park Scholar: Merit-based, full-ride scholarship

Publications & Presentations

  • Turner, J. D., L. H. Manring, and B. P. Mann. “Reinforcement learning for active damping of harmonically excited pendulum with highly nonlinear actuator”. Nonlinear Structures and Systems, Volume 1: Proceedings of the 37th IMAC, Jan. 2019, (2020), pp. 119–123. (more info)

  • Turner, J. D., M. J. Mazzoleni, J. A. Little, D. Sequeira, and B. P. Mann. “A nonlinear model for the characterization and optimization of athletic training and performance”. Biomedical Human Kinetics, 9.1 (Feb. 2017), pp. 82–93. (more info)

  • Turner, J. D. and B. P. Mann. “Sensitivity of final field position to the punt initial conditions in American football”. Proceedings of the ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference. Charlotte, NC, August 2016. (more info)

  • Turner, J. D. and Y. Zhu. “Three-dimensional structures from electrically-activated self-folding of polymer sheets”. Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. North Carolina State University. Raleigh, NC, July 2014. (more info)

  • Mack, C. M., B. J. Lin, J. D. Turner, A. F. Johnstone, L. D. Burgoon, and T. J. Shafer. “Burst and principal components analyses of MEA data for 16 chemicals describe at least three effects classes”. NeuroToxicology, 40 (Jan. 2014), pp. 75–85. (more info)

  • Qin, Q., R. W. Mailen, J. D. Turner, Y. Liu, J. Genzer, M. D. Dickey, and Y. Zhu. “Self-folding of polymer sheets into origami: modeling and experiments”. SEM Annual Conference and Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics. Lombard, IL, June 2013. (more info)

Work & Research Experience

  • Duke University, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science Graduate Researcher Durham, NC

    • Conducted independent research involving reinforcement learning, embedded controls, nonlinear dynamics, optimization, and data analysis.
    • Designed, built, configured, and documented a computer cluster for the lab group; trained the group to use the cluster.
  • Applied Research Associates Engineering Intern Raleigh, NC

    • Designed and developed graphical, memory management, and simulation components of vulnerability assessment engineering software.
    • Developed custom Python scripts for version control, data visualization and analysis, and systems integration route visualization.
  • N.C. State Univ., Dept. of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Researcher Raleigh, NC

    • Developed automatically foldable structures out of prestrained polymer sheets using nanowire film to generate localized heating.
    • Designed and fabricated equipment and samples, developed procedures, tested samples, analyzed results, devised improvements.
  • Deere & Company Product Research & Development Engineering Intern Waterloo, IA

    • Developed and tested the control software for the power takeoff (PTO) on 5M/5R series tractors. Started with no functioning PTO; by the end of the summer, had fully functional PTO with new mode of operation and superior performance than previous model tractors.
  • Applied Research Associates Engineering Intern Raleigh, NC

    • Performed and improved validation testing, analysis, and debugging for accreditation of state-of-the-art munitions effects simulation software.
    • Received the Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Research Intern Durham, NC

    • Developed multiple custom computer programs and scripts to analyze experimental data; modified existing software to work with EPA’s data.

Leadership, Involvement, & Service

  • Open Source Software Project Manager

    ndarray, ndarray-npy, ndarray-rand, ndarray-stats, ndarray-parallel, py_literal

  • National Honor/Professional Societies

    Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, ASME, SIAM

  • University Honor Societies

    Society of Duke Fellows, NCSU Golden Chain, NCSU University Honors Program

  • N.C. State Engineers’ Council Department Representative, Secretary, Committee Chair

    • Managed two events with panels, mock interviews, and group sessions to prepare 280 students for Engineering Career Fairs.
  • General H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center Coach/Mentor/Trainer, Organizing Subcommittee Chairman, Peer Leader

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