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RSS 2018 Workshop on:

Robot Mediated autism Intervention:
Hardware, Software and Curriculum 




Prof. Nilanjan Sarkar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University: Prof. Sarkar is interested in the analysis, design, and development of intelligent and autonomous systems that can work with people in a versatile and natural way. The applications of this research range from helping individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities in learning skills, aiding stroke patients to regain some of their movement abilities through robot-assisted rehabilitation and providing more autonomy in robots for a variety of tasks. Prof. Sarkar’s team is developing new generations of robots and computer-based intelligent systems such as virtual reality systems that can sense human emotion from various implicit signals and cues such as one’s physiology, gestures, facial expressions and so on, to be able to interact with people in a smooth and natural way. Prof. Sarkar’s current research involves both theoretical analysis and experimental investigation of electromechanical systems, sensor fusion and machine learning, modeling of human-robot and human-computer interaction, kinematics, dynamics and control theory leading to the development of these smart systems. 

Henny Admoni, Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University: Prof. Admoni’s research focuses on developing intelligent, autonomous robots that help humans on complex tasks like eating a meal or learning a new skill. Prof. Admoni applies her background in robotics, computer science, and cognitive psychology to build mathematically rigorous algorithms grounded in human behavior research. These algorithms enable robots to detect, interpret, and respond to human verbal and nonverbal behavior. Applications of Prof. Admoni’s research include robot home assistants, robot tutors, and robotic therapy tools.

Dr. Thierry Karsenti, M.A., M.Ed., Ph.D. holds the Canada Research Chair on Technologies in Education.  He is a Full Professor at the University of Montreal and the director of CRIFPE (Research Center on Teachers and Teacher Education), which received the Canadian Education Association Whitworth Award for Best Education Research Center in Canada. He is a full member of the Royal Society of Science. Pr. Karsenti received many other national and international awards for his work in the field of education technology. He published more than 20 books and 250 scientific articles on the use of technologies in education. Furthermore, as part of his professional activities, Professor Karsenti also participates in various projects of international scope (UNESCO, OECD, European Community, etc.), thereby playing a key role in a vast international network in which the technologies are becoming a high priority in education. He is currently working on many research project on the use of the NAO robot both in elementary and secondary schools.

Dr. Laura Buccanfuso, Founder, and CEO of Vän Robotics, LLC:  

Dr. Buccanfuso is interested in exploring the considerable potential of robots for making life better for children with educational, social and communicative challenges.  To this end, she employs various computational techniques to examine interpersonal social dynamics and social robot behaviors that contribute to improved, productive human-robot interactions.

Francesca Dansereau is a Ph.D. candidate in Human Development at McGill University.

Francesca has worked as an integration technology specialist, an adaptive
technology trainer for Microcomputer Science and as an RDI certified consultant in private practice. The research she has conducted in the field focuses on neurodevelopmental disabilities (down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities), quality of life and education technology. Expanding her expertise, her dissertation focuses on career development and autism spectrum disorder for which she founded The Social Tree Foundation in 2017 to open a career center with a multidisciplinary team of professionals in the Montreal area. Through
her private practice work, she has recently received a contract part of the Cree Health Board as part of the Neurodevelopmental Diagnostic and Intervention Clinic. She administers various academic assessments and supports the neuro-diagnositic team for fetal alcohol syndrome disorders.

Sara Iatauro, Ph.D. (Student), English Montreal School Board, Educational Technologist. Experienced Educational Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in E-Learning, Coaching, Educational Technology, and Robotics education with a Graduate degree focused in Educational/Instructional Technology and STEAM+robotics.

Mary Ellen Paradiso, a certified speech and language specialist in the State of New Jersey, received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Kean University. She has been a full time employee of the Ridgefield Public School district for 29 years and was named Shaler Academy’s Teacher of the Year in 2011. Mrs. Paradiso has focused much of her work in early education providing communication services to special needs students; many on the autistic spectrum. Always looking to improve communication skills, she is an advocate for collaboration with her colleagues and learning new techniques for therapy.  When approached four years ago to include a humanoid robot as a teaching tool, she was skeptical but willing. Now, Mrs. Paradiso has embraced using a NAO robot as an educational aid while working with her students and is looking for new programs to expand communication possibilities. Currently the NAO robot is used with individual students, whole classes, and within individualized speech and language sessions. The goals are to promote joint attention, following directions, vocabulary development, basic concepts and communication. Students respond with interest and wonder.

Michael D. Radice, Chairman, Technology Advisory Board, ChartaCloud Robotteca. Mike is a 47 year veteran of technology services product design and development. His achievements include; building and deploying a global telecommunications network that spanned over 180 countries, building the largest utility billing system in the U.S. real estate industry and the creation of the IRS/U.S. electronic system for filing personal income tax returns. Mike was on the executive leadership teams for two successful IPOs. -NASDAQ and NYSE. For the past three years, Mike has turned his attention to applied social and collaborative robotics including an intense developmental focus on the use of robots in autism therapies.