Soft and continuum robots have immense potential to assist humans with tasks that require navigation and manipulation in unstructured environments. In this talk, I present my group’s research on the design, modeling, and control of a variety of soft and continuum robots. I begin by discussing soft vine-inspired robots, which move through their environment by extending from their tip and are well suited for navigation and manipulation within confined spaces. In particular, I discuss our research on vine robot field deployment, shape sensing, force sensing, and collapse modeling. I then present our research on two other bioinspired robots: spider monkey tail-inspired robots for grasping objects, and amoeba-inspired robots for navigation in confined spaces. Finally, I discuss our research on soft wearable robots for replacing or assisting the motion of the upper limbs. This research helps make robots more capable of assisting humans in the unstructured environments of everyday life.
Margaret Coad joined the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in the fall of 2021, and she is currently an Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. She leads the Innovative Robotics and Interactive Systems (IRIS) Lab, which explores the design, modeling, and control of innovative robotic systems to improve human health, safety, and productivity; she also teaches courses in robotics and soft robotics. Prior to joining Notre Dame, she completed her Ph.D. degree in 2021 and M.S. degree in 2017 in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University under the direction of Professor Allison Okamura, and her B.S. degree in 2015 in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. She won the Robotics and Automation Magazine Best Paper Award for 2020 for her work on vine robots, and she has been a finalist for several Best Paper Awards at international robotics conferences. Outside of academics, she plays ultimate frisbee and sings in choir.
This seminar will provide PhD students and postdocs with some information on how to navigate the academic job market. The seminar will touch on 1) benefits and possible challenges of the academic career path, 2) the many aspects of the academic job search (such as timing, required documents, interview schedule, …), and 3) the essential tasks junior faculty (and people aspiring to be) must master quickly.