Robotics Sciences And Systems (RSS)

Ann Arbor, June 19th, 2016

A Full-day Broadening Participation
in Computing Workshop

Invited Speakers

Julie Adams

Vanderbilt University

Dr. Julie A. Adams joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Vanderbilt University in August 2003, founding the Human-Machine Teaming Laboratory at that time. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Dr. Adams was an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Before returning to academia, she worked in Human Factors for Honeywell, Inc. and the Eastman Kodak Company from 1995 to 2000. Dr. Adams was also an Adjunct Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Rochester from 1999 until she joined RIT.

Pratik Agarwal


Pratik Agarwal is a software engineer working on Google's self driving car project. Pratik obtained his PhD from University of Freiburg, Germany and a Master's degree in computer science from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests include graph based localization and mapping methods robust to data-association errors and multi-object multi-sensor object tracking.

Nancy Amato

Texas A&M University

Nancy M. Amato is Unocal Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University where she co-directs the Parasol Lab. Her main areas of research focus are motion planning and robotics, computational biology and geometry, and parallel and distributed computing. She has graduated 16 PhD students, with most of them going on to careers in academia (7) and government or industry research labs (5), 25 master's students, and has worked with more than 100 undergraduate researchers and 10 high school students, with the majority being students from groups underrepresented in computing. She currently supervises 15 PhD students, 3 masters students, and more than 10 undergraduate and high school researchers.

Kira Barton

University of Michigan

Prof. Kira Barton (bartonkl@umich.edu) received her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2001. Barton continued her education in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and completed her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 2006 and 2010, respectively. She held a postdoctoral research position at the University of Illinois from Fall 2010 until Fall 2011, at which point she joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Her primary research focus is on precision coordination and motion control for emerging applications, with a specialization in iterative learning control. Barton’s work intersects controls and manufacturing and combines innovative manufacturing processes with enhanced engineering capabilities. The potential impact of this research ranges from building high-resolution DNA sensors for biological applications, to the integration of advanced sensing and control for rehabilitation robotics.

Alan Kuntz

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hello! I am a computer science PhD student and graduate research assistant at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the computational robotics group. My research interests include motion planning and control for continuum robots, such as concentric tube robots and steerable needles. I am specifically interested in surgical applications such as skull base surgery and lung tumor biopsy. Please see my cv for more information.

Todd Murphey

Northwestern University

Professor Murphey's research focuses on computational methods in dynamics and control, with applications in neuroscience, health science, robotics, and automation. The group focuses on computational models of embedded control, biomechanical simulation, dynamic exploration, and hybrid control. The mathematical approaches used by the group lead to many orders of magnitude improvement in computational efficiency for reliable real-time implementation. Applications include assistive exoskeleton control, stabilization of energy networks, bio-inspired active sensing, entertainment robots, robotic exploration, and software-enabled stroke rehabilitation. His group's work on robotic marionettes has been featured at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.

Peter Pastor


Peter Pastor is a Senior Roboticist at Google[x]. Prior to joining Google in early 2014, Peter earned a Ph.D. as well as a M.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. In 2008, he received his diploma in Computer Science from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany. During his studies, Peter was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, and was a visiting researcher at robotics department at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute in Hikaridai, Japan. Peter authored over 25 peer-reviewed publications and won the overall best paper award at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in 2011. His research interests lie in the development and application of machine learning techniques to robotic grasping and manipulation.

Dawn Tilbury

University of Michigan

Dawn Tilbury is a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and I have a courtesy appointment in the EECS department. My research interests lie in the area of control systems, and she is a member of the Robotics Group and the Controls Group in the College of Engineering. Her undergraduate degree is in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. She did my M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of California in Berkeley, in the EECS Department in the Intelligent Machines and Robotics Laboratory. As a graduate student, she had the opportunity to be a visiting scholar at various places including: the robotics group at LAAS in Toulouse, LSS at Supelec in Paris, LIDS at MIT, and the robotics lab at Harvard.

During her sabbatical leave in 2001-2002, she was an Academic Visitor at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, NY in the Performance Management Group, and a Visiting Professor at ITIA, the Institute for Industrial Technologies and Automation, in Milan, Italy. During the summer of 2003, she was a summer professor intern at DaimlerChrysler in the Advance Manufacturing Engineering group in Auburn Hills, MI. In May 2004, She taught a course (ME 360) at Shanghai JiaoTong University as part of the UM-SJTU cooperative agreement. She is an alumna of the Defense Science Study Group; see Annie Anton's web page for a description of our activities. She is also a former member of the Information Science and Technology (ISAT) Study Group.

During her sabbatical leave in 2010-11, she was a Guest Professor in the Department of Automatic Control at Lund University in Sweden. She worked on the DIAdvisor project.

She is now the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering.

Shawna Thomas

Texas A&M University

Howdy! I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Computer Science at Texas A&M University. I work in the Parasol Lab with Dr. Nancy Amato. Our group develops randomized motion planning algorithms than can be applied to many different areas such as: mobile robots, virtual prototyping, computational biology and computational neuroscience. My research focus is on motion planning algorithms and their application to computational biology.