Katherine Kuchenbecker, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, has been awarded the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Chair. The chair was established by the Class of 1940 at its 50th reunion to recognize outstanding young professors at Penn. It rotates among the four undergraduate Schools for five-year terms.
Kuchenbecker is a world-renowned expert in haptic (touch-based) interactions and interfaces, which enable a user to touch virtual objects and distant environments as though they were real and within reach. Her research focuses on improving the realism and tactile quality of touch-based virtual interactions and interfaces, especially through such applications as robot-assisted surgery, stroke rehabilitation, and personal robots, which are advancing new opportunities for interactions among humans, computers, and machines.
The director of the Haptics Group at Penn, Kuchenbecker previously served as Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation and has received both the Lindback Award, the highest University-wide award for distinguished teaching, and the Trustees Council of Penn Women Award for Undergraduate Advising. She was named one of the 2010 “Brilliant Ten” by Popular Science and received Early Career Awards from both the National Science Foundation and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
Kuchenbecker earned a Ph.D. (2006), M.S. (2002), and B.S. (2000) in Mechanical Engineering, all from Stanford University.
The Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Chair was held most recently by professors Philip Nichols of the Wharton School, Julie Fairman of the School of Nursing, and Thomas Sugrue of the School of Arts and Sciences.