Research Homepage for Mark Schenk

Mark Schenk (PhD, MSc, BSc)

Mark Schenk
image credit: Corrie Macleod

I am a lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol, working within Bristol Composites Institute (ACCIS).

Previously I held a position as post-doctoral researcher in deployable structures with the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, and with the Advanced Structures Group at the Cambridge University Engineering Department. I did my PhD in Structural Engineering at the University of Cambridge with Professor Simon Guest, and studied Mechanical Engineering at Delft University of Technology where I graduated for my MSc. degree under Professor Just Herder.

Contact Details

Research Interests

My research interests currently cover

  • structural mechanics
  • engineering origami
  • experimental methods for nonlinear structures
  • compliant/morphing/deployable structures
  • zero stiffness structures


Journal and Conference Publications

Neville, R.M., Groh, R.M.J., Pirrera, A., Schenk, M. (2020), "Beyond the Fold: Experimentally Traversing Limit Points in Nonlinear Structures". Proceedings of the Royal Society A, vol. 465, issue. 2233. [DOI]
Wang, S., Schenk, M., Guo, H., Viquerat A.D. (2020), "Tip force and Pressure Distribution Analysis of a Deployable Boom during Blossoming". International Journal of Solids and Structures, vol. 193–194, pp. 141-151 [DOI]
Grey, S.W., Scarpa, F., Schenk, M. (2020), "Mechanics of Paper-folded Origami: A Cautionary Tale" Mechanics Research Communications, vol. 107. [DOI]
Stacey, J.P., O'Donnell, M.P., Schenk, M., Kim, C.J. (2020), "Visualing Compliance of Composite Shell Mechanisms". Proceedings of ASME IDETC/CIE 2020, August 16—19, 2020, St. Louis, MO, USA [preprint]
Wang, S., Schenk, M., Jiang, S., Viquerat A.D. (2020), "Blossoming Analysis of Composite Deployable Booms"; Journal of Thin-Walled Structures, vol. 157, pp. 107098 [preprint | DOI]
Shen, J., Groh, R.M.J., Schenk, M., Pirrera, A.P. (2020), "Experimental Path-Following of Equilibria Using Newton's Method. Part I: Theory, Modelling, Experiments"; under review at IJSS.
Shen, J., Groh, R.M.J., Schenk, M., Pirrera, A.P. (2020), "Experimental Path-Following of Equilibria Using Newton's Method. Part II: Applications and Outlook"; manuscript under review at IJSS.
Grey, S.W., Scarpa, F., Schenk, M. (2020), "Embedded Actuation for Shape-Adaptive Origami"; under review at ASME Journal of Mechanical Design.
Stacey, J.S., O'Donnell, M.P., Kim, C.J., Schenk, M. (2020), "From Shear Centre to Eigenwrenches"; under review at Journal of Thin-Walled Structures.
Grey, S., Scarpa, F.L., Schenk, M. (2019), "Strain Reversal in Actuated Origami Structures". Physical Review Letters, 123(2):025501 [DOI]
Champneys, A.R, Dodwell, T.J., Groh, R.M.J., Hunt, G.W., Neville, R. M., Pirrera, A., Sakhaei, A.H., Schenk, M., Wadee, M.A. (2019), "Happy Catastrophe: recent progress in analysis and exploitation of elastic instability". Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics [DOI]
Aza, C., Pirrera, A., Schenk, M. (2019), "Multistable Morphing Mechanisms of Nonlinear Springs". ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, 11(5), JMR-19-1034. [DOI]
He, Y., Suliga, A., Brinkmeyer, A., Schenk, M., Hamerton, I. (2019), "Atomic oxygen degradation mechanisms of epoxy composites for space applications". Journal of Polymer Degradation and Stability, 166:108-120 . [DOI]
Stacey, J., O’Donnell, M.P., Schenk, M. (2019), "Thermal Prestress in Compliant Shell Mechanisms". ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, 11(2):020908 [DOI]
Neville, R.M., Groh, R.M.J., Pirrera, A., Schenk, M. (2019), "Quasi-static Experimental Path-Following", AIAA SciTech 2019, 7 – 11 January 2019, San Diego, USA. [DOI]
Groh, R.M.J., Neville, R.M., Pirrera, A., Schenk, M. (2018), "Virtual Testing of Experimental Continuation" submitted. [arXiv]
Neville, R.M., Groh, R.M.J., Pirrera, A., Schenk, M. (2018), "Shape Control for Experimental Continuation" Physical Review Letters, 120(25):254101 [DOI]
Underwood, C, Viquerat, A.D., Schenk, M., Taylor, B., Massimiani, C., Duke, R., Stewart, B., Fellowes, S., Bridges, C., Aglietti, G., Sanders, B., Masutti, D., Denis, A. (2018), "InflateSail De-Orbit Flight Demonstration Results and Follow-On Drag-Sail Applications". Proceedings of the 69th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), 1 – 5 October 2018, Bremen, Germany.
Grey, S., Scarpa, F., Schenk, M. (2018), "Local Actuation of Tubular Origami", 7th International Meeting on Origami in Science, Mathematics and Education (7OSME), 5–7 September, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Aza, C., Pirrera, A., Schenk, M. (2018), "Multistable Trusses of Nonlinear Morphing Elements", 4th IEEE/IftoMM International Conference on Reconfigurable Mechanisms and Robots (ReMAR 2018), 19–22 June, 2018, Delft [PDF | DOI]
Aza, C., Pirrera, A., Schenk, M. (2018), "Reconfigurable Trusses of Nonlinear Morphing Elements", ASME IDETC/CIE 2018, 26 – 29 August, 2018, Quebec, Canada.
Stacey, J., O’Donnell, M.P., Schenk, M. (2018), "Thermal Prestress in Compliant Shell Mechanisms", ASME IDETC/CIE 2018, 26 – 29 August, 2018, Quebec, Canada.
He, Y., Suliga, A., Brinkmeyer, A., Schenk, M., Hamerton, I. (2018), "Durability of Composite Materials in Deployable Structures for Space Applications", ECCM 18, 18th European Conference on Composite Materials, Athens, Greece, 24 – 28th June 2018. [PDF]
Filipov, E.V., Liu, K., Tachi, T., Schenk, M. and Paulino, G.H. (2017), "Bar and hinge models for scalable analysis of origami", Vol 124, pp. 26–45 [DOI]
Underwood, C., Viquerat, A., Schenk, M., Fellowes, S., Taylor, B., Massimiani, C., Duke, R., Stewart, B., Bridges, C., Masutti, D. and Denis, A., 2017, "The InflateSail CubeSat Mission – The First European Demonstration of Drag-Sail De-Orbiting". 4th IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions and CubeSat Workshop.
Viquerat, A., Schenk, M. (2016), "Viscoelastic Effects in Metal-Polymer Laminate Inflatable Structures"; 3rd AIAA Spacecraft Structures Conference, SciTech 2016, 4–8 January 2016, San Diego, CA [DOI | PDF]
Berthoud, L., Schenk, M. (2016), "How to Set Up a CubeSat Project – Preliminary Survey Results" 30th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, 6–12 August 2016, Logan, Utah, USA. [URL]
Viquerat, A., Schenk, M., Lappas, V.J. & Sanders, B. (2015), "Functional and Qualification Testing of the InflateSail Technology Demonstrator"; 2nd AIAA Spacecraft Structures Conference, SciTech 2015, 5–9 January 2015, Kissimmee, FL [DOI | PDF]
Fernandez, J.M., Visagie, L., Schenk, M., Stohlman, O.R., Aglietti, G., Lappas, V.J. & Erb, S. (2014), "Design and Development of a Gossamer Sail System for Deorbiting in Low Earth Orbit" Acta Astronautica, Issue 103, pp. 204–225. [DOI]
Schenk, M., Viquerat, A.D, Seffen, K.A. & Guest, S.D. (2014), "Review of Inflatable Booms for Deployable Space Structures: Packing and Rigidisation"; Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp. 762-778. [DOI]
Viquerat, A, Schenk, M., Sanders, B. & Lappas, V. J. (2014), "Inflatable Rigidisable Mast For End-Of-Life Deorbiting System" European Conference on Spacecraft Structures, Materials and Environmental Testing (SSMET) 2014, April 1–4, Braunschweig, Germany. [PDF]
Stohlman, O.R., Schenk, M. & Lappas, V.J. (2014), "Development of the Deorbitsail Flight Model" 55th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference, 13–17 January 2014, National Harbor, Maryland. [PDF]
Schenk, M., Guest, S.D. & McShane, G.J (2014), "Novel Stacked Folded Cores for Blast-Resistant Sandwich Panels"; International Journal of Solids and Structures, Volume 51, Issue 25–26, pp. 4196–4212 [DOI]
Schenk, M. & Guest, S.D. (2013), "Geometry of Miura-Folded Meta-Materials"; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 110(9):3276--3281. [DOI]
Schenk, M., Kerr, S., Smyth, A.M. & Guest, S.D. (2013), "Inflatable Cylinders for Deployable Space Structures " Proceedings of the First Conference Transformables 2013, 18—20th September 2013, Seville, Spain. [PDF]
Schenk, M. & Guest, S.D. (2014), "On Zero Stiffness"; Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science, Volume 228, Issue 10, pp. 1701—1714. [PDF preprint | DOI]
Fernandez, J. M., Schenk, M., Prassinos, G., Lappas, V.J., Erb, S.O. (2013), "Deployment Mechanisms of a Gossamer Satellite Deorbiter" 15th European Space Mechanisms and Tribology Symposium 2013 (ESMATS 2013), 25–27th September 2013, Noordwijk, The Netherlands. [PDF]
Lappas, V.J., Fernandez, J.M., Stohlman, O., Viquerat, A., Prassinos, G., Theodorou, T., Schenk, M. (2013), "Demonstrator Flight Missions at the Surrey Space Centre involving Gossamer Sails. The Third International Symposium on Solar Sailing, 11–13th June 2013, Glasgow.
Viquerat, A.D., Schenk, M. & Lappas, V.J (2013), "DEPLOYTECH : nano-satellite testbeds for gossamer technologies" AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference 2013, 8–11th April 2013, Boston, Massachusetts. Paper number AIAA 2013-1805.
de Paula Pellegrini, S., Tolou, N., Schenk, M. & Herder, J.L. (2013), "Bistable Vibration Energy Harvesters: a review." Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, Volume 24 Issue 11. [DOI]
Schenk, M., Allwood, J.M. & Guest, S.D. (2011), "Cold Gas-Pressure Folding of Miura-ori Sheets", proceedings of International Conference on Technology of Plasticity (ICTP 2011), September 25-30th, 2011, Aachen, Germany. Published in a special edition of Steel Research International. Pre-print: [PDF]
Schenk, M., Guest, S.D., (2011), "Origami Folding: A Structural Engineering Approach". In Origami5, proceedings of 5OSME, 5th international conference on Origami in Science, Mathematics and Education, July 14-15th 2010, Singapore. pp. 293-305. ISBN: 9781568817149. Pre-print: [PDF]
Barents, R., Schenk, M., Van Dorsser, W.D., Wisse, B.M., & Herder, J.L. (2011), "Spring-to-Spring Balancing as Energy-Free Adjustment Method in Gravity Equilibrators", ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, Volume 133, Issue 6, pp 061010. [DOI | PDF]
Winner of the Best Paper Award at the ASME IDETC/CIE 2009 conference, August 30-September 2, 2009, San Diego, CA. Paper number DETC2009-86770.
Schenk, M., Guest, S.D. (2009), "Folded Textured Sheets", In proceedings of IASS 2009 Symposium, September 28-October 2, 2009, Valencia, Spain. [PDF]
Van Dorsser, W.D., Barents, R., Wisse, B.M., Schenk, M. & Herder, J.L. (2008), "Energy-Free Adjustment of Gravity Equilibrators by Adjusting the Spring Stiffness", Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part C, Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science, Volume 222, Issue 9, pp. 1839–1846. [DOI]
Schenk, M., Guest, S.D. & Herder, J.L. (2007), "Zero Stiffness Tensegrity Structures", International Journal of Solids and Structures, Volume 44, Issue 20, pp. 6569–6583. [DOI | PDF]
Schenk, M., Herder, J.L. & Guest, S.D. (2006), "Design of a Statically Balanced Tensegrity Mechanism", In proceedings of ASME IDETC/CIE 2006 conference, September 10-13th 2006, Philadelphia, USA. Volume 2: 30th Annual Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B, pp. 501-511. [PDF]

Theses & Reports

Schenk, M. (2011). "Folded Shell Structures", PhD Thesis at University of Cambridge. [PDF]
Schenk, M. (2006). "Theory and Design of Statically Balanced Tensegrity Mechanisms", Master's thesis at Delft University of Technology. [PDF]

Selected Talks & Presentations

"Folding the Future: How Origami is Transforming Engineering" Public lecture as part of Best of Bristol Lecture Series, Wills Memorial, March 11th 2019 [video]
"Experimental Continuation of Nonlinear Structures" Structures Research Group seminar series, Cambridge University Engineering Department (CUED), 4th May 2018.
"Experimental Continuation of Nonlinear Structures: Theory and Experiments" Dynamics and Control Group seminar series, University of Bristol, 31st January 2018.
"Origami: The Art of Folding in Science and Engineering" New Scientist Live event, ExCel, London, 23rd September 2016.
"Residual Creases: mechanics of partly (un)folded structures". Seminar at Workshop on Folding and Creasing of Thin Plate Structures, EPSCI, Paris, March 26th 2015.
"Origami in Deployable Structures for Small Satellites". Seminar at 2014 Workshop on Origami Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 14--16th 2014.


  • Origami Cylinder GUI One application of engineering origami, is the use of origami fold patterns to compactly inflatable cylindrical booms for deployable space structures. As part of work on DeployTech I developed a small design tool in Matlab to explore different variations of fold patterns and assess their deployment strains: Origami Cylinder GUI.


Thomson & Tait Twisting Ring

As part of the 'On Zero Stiffness' paper we did some finite element simulations of the Thomson & Tait twisting ring. Take an initially straight rod with uniform bending stiffness, and bend it arbitrarily (but elastically) along its length. In this deformed configuration any twisting of the rod along its centroidal axis requires no torque, and the structure thus has zero stiffness. The explanation is immediately intuitive: there exists no preferential bending axis and thus any twisted orientation of the rod will have identical strain energy. This example was first described by William Thomson (later known as Lord Kelvin) and Peter Guthrie Tait in their 1867 Treatise on Natural Philosophy.

The mechanical behaviour is markedly different if an initially curved rod is subjected to the same loads, and a ring will deform into a saddle-shaped configuration.


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