Augustine Professor in Engineering
Dept of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE)
Dept of Computer Science (COS)
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Research Interests: My lab studies Swarm Robotics and Collective Intelligence; we investigate many topics on the border of Robotics, AI, and Biology. Two main areas are: (1) Biologically-inspired Robot Collectives, including both novel hardware design for bio-inspired robots and robot swarms, and decentralized collective algorithms, theory, and programming models (2) Biological Collectives, including both mathematical models and field/lab experiments to study self-organization in cells, insects, and fish. For more about our lab see the SSR Website
Contact: Email: email@example.com
Professional Bio (CV):
I am the Norman R. Augustine '57 *59 Professor in Robotics at Princeton University, joint between the departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science (2022-present). Prior to joining Princeton I was the Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University and a founding Faculty Member of the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Before becoming faculty, I spent a year as a Research Fellow in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. I received my PhD and was a Postdoc Lecturer at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL) supported by the Bell Labs GRPW Fellowship (1995-2001).
I am grateful to have received the Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship (2005), NSF Career Award (2007), Anita Borg Early Career Award (2010), Radcliffe Fellowship (2012), and be an invited TED Speaker (2017), an AAAI Fellow (2020) and an ACM Fellow (2020). In 2014, I was chosen for the Nature's 10 Award, given to the top ten influential scientists and engineers by the journal Nature. In 2017, I was an invited TED Speaker at the annual TED conference in Vancouver. In 2021, I was featured in Newsweek as one of America's 50 Greatest Disruptors.
I co-founded ROOT Robotics in 2017, an educational robotics company aimed at broadening participation in coding, AI, and robotics through creative early education; Root was acquired by iRobot (2019). My lab also developed the Kilobot swarm robots, which have been commercialized by K-Team Inc. Both Root Robots and Kilobots can be purchased online, and over 10K robots have been sold worldwide. In 2020-21 I was an Amazon Scholar working on algorithms for warehouse multi-robot systems with Amazon Robotics. I have also conducted field studies with biologists on social insects in Namibia (2012) and Panama (2016), and tested robots on a ZeroG flight with the MIT space exploration initiative (2021).
I am the author of a popular Scientific American blog article on tenure-track life (The Awesomest 7-year Postdoc), the founding advisor for the Harvard Women-in-CS Club (WiCS) and WEcode (2014-2020), and the current faculty advisor for the Princeton NSBE Chapter. Recently I helped start the the Black-in-Robotics Boston Chapter (BiR) and Amazon Day1 Fellowship. I am honored to have received the McDonald Mentoring Award, and to have a large network of mentees, peers, and mentors who care about these same issues. I work on many diversity and equity issues within Robotics/CS/Academia; you can read more about this on my Activism page.
Personal Bio: Outside of research, I enjoy the arts (painting, music, and dance) and our Indian(me)+AfroCaribbean(in-laws) culture with my husband and two adult kids. Civic engagement and social justice is very important to my family. My husband Quinton Zondervan (also an MIT alum) is an elected Cambridge City Councillor (2017-present) who works on climate and racial justice (TEDx talk: Go Solar and Save)
Princeton Profile and Augustine Professorship (July 2022)
MIT Technology Review, RoboSwarm (Aug 2016)
Nature 10: Ten people who mattered in science (Nature, Dec 2014)