Alexis E. Block

Alexis E. Block is currently a doctoral fellow in the Center for Learning Systems, a joint program between the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and ETH Zurich. She is supervised by Otmar Hilliges (ETH), Roger Gassert (ETH), and Katherine Kuchenbecker (MPI).

She earned her B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (with honors) and her M.S.E. in Robotics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and 2017, respectively, while working in the Haptics Lab in GRASP. She was honored with the Penn Alumni Association Student Award of Merit at graduation, she received an Honorable Mention for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and she is co-chairing HRI Pioneers 2019.

Her research blends physical human-robot interaction, social robotics, and haptics. Her work with HuggieBot, the robot she designed to hug people as part of her masters thesis while still at Penn, has garnered significant media attention in 2018, including news articles by IEEE Spectrum, The Times, and NBC News. HuggieBot was mentioned on NPR's “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” radio program, and Block did a radio interview on “The Paul Ross Show on Talk Radio." Seth Meyers joked about HuggieBot during his opening late-night monologue on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and NowThis Media's video about HuggieBot has more than 250,000 views!

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