Heather Culbertson is a Gabilan Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on the design and control of haptic devices and rendering systems, human-robot interaction, and virtual reality. Particularly she is interested in creating haptic interactions that are natural and realistically mimic the touch sensations experienced during interactions with the physical world. Previously, she was a research scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University where she worked in the Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine (CHARM) Lab. She received her PhD in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM) at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 working in the Haptics Group, part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. She completed a Masters in MEAM at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, and earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2010. She is currently serving as the Vice-Chair for Information Dissemination for the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics. Her awards include a citation for meritorious service as a reviewer for the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Best Paper at UIST 2017, and the Best Hands-On Demonstration Award at IEEE World Haptics 2013.
Dr. Culbertson's research investigates how we use our sense of touch to communicate with the physical world and uses this knowledge to design haptic devices and rendering algorithms. The goal of her research is to leverage our knowledge of the human sense of touch to create haptic interactions that are natural and realistically mimic their physical counterparts. She is interested in applying these haptic devices to applications in virtual reality, medicine, human-robot interaction, and HCI.