Scholars' Studio: Robot Research at the Commons. February 27, 2014
All slides are linked below in PDF format.
Should We Bother? Prioritizing New Cancer Technologies.
Jeanette Birnbaum, Health Services. (
Jeanette’s research career began in a laser lab where she studied an imaging system that had potential applications to health care…some day. Through a post-bachelor fellowship at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at UW, where she also completed her MPH, she happily transitioned into population health research that has implications for health care today. Her PhD work in Health Services uses modeling to provide early-stage evaluations of new cancer technologies. Jeanette's dissertation papers have won student prizes from UW's Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program and the Health Policy Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association.

Perception and Understanding – Key to the Intelligent Surgical Robot

  • Yangming Li, Electrical Engineering

Yangming received the PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Science and Technology of China in 2010. He was a Visiting PhD student at APRIL Lab., and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Ground Robot Research Center of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He serves as associate research fellow at Institute of Intelligent Machines, CAS. He is a Postdoctoral research associate at the BioRobotics Lab in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UW.

Robots in the Skies

  • David Shean, Earth and Space Sciences

David is a Ph.D. student in the Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences and a research assistant at the Applied Physics Lab Polar Science Center. David received his ScB in Geophysics and ScM in Geology from Brown University, where his early research involved documenting past glaciation and evidence for climate change on Mars.  Prior to UW, David worked for Yellowstone National Park, Boston University, and Malin Space Science Systems.  His current research relies on satellite/airborne remote sensing observations to study present-day dynamics and variability of the Antarctic/Greenland ice sheets and glaciers in the Pacific Northwest.

Rhetorical Lessons from Robotic Patients

  • Lilly Campbell, English

Lilly is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Washington and a composition instructor in the Expository Writing Program. Her research interests include disciplinary writing, rhetorics of science and medicine, and feminist rhetoric.

Robotic Pets for Older Adults

  • Amanda Lazar, Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education

Amanda is a third year PhD student studying Biomedical and Health Informatics. She is interested in the use of technology to increase the engagement of older adults in enjoyable activities that promote wellbeing and mental health. She is currently studying the use of a multi-functional computer system to support the activities and interactions of people with dementia and their loved ones. You can read more about her research at

If You Teach a Robot to Talk

  • Brent Woo, Linguistics

Brent is in his first year in the Linguistics PhD program at the University of Washington. He has degrees from UCLA and the much colder Eastern Michigan University in all sorts of things. His research focuses on the syntax of human language and computational methods to evaluate theories of syntax and process natural language. In his spare time, he plays the organ while blindfolded and builds IKEA furniture without instructions.

Secure Telerobotics

  • Tamara Bonaci, Electrical Engineering

Tamara is a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and a member of the UW BioRobotics Lab. She is interested in security and privacy of emerging cyber-physical technologies, including teleoperated robotic systems and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). The topic of her dissertation project is “Privacy and Security by Design in BCIs” and the goal of this project is identification of privacy threats arising from the BCI usage, and the development of prevention methods.

Robotic Hurricane Sailboat

  • Andreas von Flotow, Aeronautics and Astronautics

Andreas attended an assortment of universities, studying biology, journalism, and finally engineering at the University of British Columbia, the Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Universität Konstanz, and the Luleå University of Technology before graduating with a double major in mechanical engineering and materials science from Oregon State University and the Universität des Saarlandes, respectively. While he would ultimately like to make an attempt at a PhD, Andreas is now writing his master's on self-funded research he conducts in the drone lab; robotic sailboats. Ultimately, Andreas will depart the comfort of academia, so if you are interested in collaborating with him, please email Andreas at:

Glitches and Ghosts: Queer Memory and/as Artificial Intelligence

  • Sean Jarvis, Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies.

Sean is a third-year doctoral student in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies with a focus on Sexuality and Queer Studies. His work concerns the questions of the body as a text, the body as data, and the implications of those ideas for queer legal histories and medicolegal histories of immigration.