Richard Neptune

Honorary Mechanical Engineer, 2020
BSME, University of California, Davis, 1991
MSME, University of California, Davis, 1993
PhD, University of California, Davis, 1996

Dr. Rick Neptune grew up in Truckee, CA where he loved sports and was a two-time All-State running back in football. After rupturing his spleen in a game his senior year, he attended junior college at the College of Siskiyous, where he was an All-Conference and California junior college All-State safety. Truth be told, the only reason he went to college was to play football. Not sure what to study, he initially majored in business and quickly realized that engineering was the career path for him. Rick went on to receive his BS, MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Davis, where he was also an all-conference strong safety. Following graduation, he did a post-doc at the University of Calgary and then was a Biomedical Engineer at the Rehabilitation R & D Center at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Since 2001, he has served on the faculty in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Biomechanical Engineering and Dynamic Systems and Control areas. He served as the Department Chair from 2016-2021. His research is focused on improving rehabilitation outcomes and quality of life for those with movement disabilities, including lower-limb amputees, individuals post-stroke and those with spinal cord injuries. He is recognized as a world leader in developing computer modeling and simulation techniques to analyze normal and pathological movement to identify the neuromotor and biomechanical mechanisms that contribute to locomotor impairments. He is also one of the first to use additive manufacturing techniques to fabricate patient-specific orthotic and prosthetic components that seek to improve the functional mobility of those with lower-limb neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders. For his research contributions in this area, he was recognized with the da Vinci Award for applied research aimed at aiding those with lower limb disabilities from the Engineering Society of Detroit and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Rick enjoys teaching and is dedicated to mentoring the next generation of engineers. Over the years, his students have been the recipients of a number of prestigious awards at regional and national conferences as well as holding academic positions. He was the first faculty member from the Cockrell School of Engineering to be elected as a UT Austin Provost Teaching Fellow, who are faculty appointed by the Provost Office to advance education through individual initiatives that improve teaching and learning across the UT campus. For both his teaching and research, he has received a number of prestigious awards, including the American Society of Biomechanics Young Scientist Award, Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the Houston Society for Engineering in Medicine and Biology, and CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. More recently, he received the Joe and Bettie Branson Ward Endowed Excellence Award from UT Austin for his teaching and research that has contributed to changes of positive value to society. He received the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Award for Excellence in Engineering Teaching from the Cockrell School of Engineering and was elected Fellow of both the American Society of Biomechanics and American Society of Mechanical Engineers. These societies have also recognized his contributions to research, education and mentoring with the Van C. Mow Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Founders’ Award from the American Society of Biomechanics.

Rick met his amazing and beautiful wife Denise when they were both students at UC Davis, where she was on the track and field team and studying English. In his spare time, Rick enjoys the mountains, cycling, reconciling faith and science, and spending time with Denise and their four wonderful children, Aleka, Kendrick, Mikaylie and Derrick.