Nadia Figueroa, Ph.D.

• Assistant Professor and Researcher in Collaborative Human-Aware Robotics •

I am the Shalini and Rajeev Misra Presidential Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM) Department at the University of Pennsylvania; and faculty advisor at the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) laboratory. Before joining Penn, I was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Interactive Robotics Group of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), advised by Prof. Julie A. Shah. I obtained a Ph.D. in Robotics, Control and Intelligent Systems from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), advised by Prof. Aude Billard. Prior to this, I spent time as a Research Assistant in the Robotics and Mechatronics Institute at the German Aerospace Center and at NYU Abu Dhabi. I hold a B.Sc. in Mechatronics from Monterrey Tech and M.Sc. in Automation and Robotics from TU Dortmund.

Research Group

My main research interest focuses on developing collaborative human-aware robotic systems: robots that can safely and efficiently interact and physically collaborate with humans in the human-centric dynamic spaces we inhabit. This involves research at the intersection of machine learning, control theory, artificial intelligence, perception, and psychology - with a physical human-robot interaction perspective. Interested in working with me? Contact me if:

  • You are a UG/MSE student enrolled at Penn MEAM/ROBO and searching for research experience.
  • You are applying to Ph.D. program at Penn MEAM and would like to be advised by me.
  • You are searching for post-doc opportunities.
Please include your CV, link to relevant publication/s (if applicable) and a short statement describing your research interests. Before contacting me, I recommend everyone to read my research statement and commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion.

Google Scholar LinkedIn Github CVShort Bio PhD Thesis Textbook

Shalini and Rajeev Misra Presidential
Assistant Professor
University of Pennsylvania
Address: 270 Towne Building, 220 S. 33rd Street, Philadelphia PA, 19104
Email: nadiafig [at] seas [dot] upenn [dot] edu

Upcoming Events
News & Media Coverage
Invited Talks and Lectures
Honors and Awards

University of Pennsylania (Penn)
MEAM-520 Introduction to Robotics (Spring 2022)
Final project demos:


Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL)
MICRO-401 Machine Learning Programming (Fall 2016/Fall 2017)
Head Teaching Assistant and Main Syllabus Architect and Developer.
MICRO-570 Advanced Machine Learning (Spring 2016/2017)
Head Teaching Assistant and Tutorial Developer.
MICRO-455 Applied Machine Learning (Fall 2015)
Teaching Assistant.
Co-developer of ML_toolbox .

Research Highlights

• Learning Complex Sequential Tasks from Demonstration: Uni-Manual and Bi-Manual Case Studies •

• Learning Stable Dynamical System (DS) Representations of Complex Motions from Demonstrations: •
Task and Joint Space Approaches applied to Manipulation, Navigation and Co-Manipulation

• Multi-Arm and Humanoid Control: DS based Coordination, Grasping, Co-Manipulation, •
Transitioning Strategies and Learning-based Self-Collision Avoidance

• Robot Controller Understanding and Safe Physical Human-Robot Interaction •

Community Service and Outreach
  • Treasurer of the Researchers and Postdocs Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics (RPA3) within the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at MIT for the 2020-2021 Academic Year.
  • Community Development and Diversity Co-Chair of the RPA3 within the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at MIT for the 2020-2021 Academic Year.
  • Member of the MIT Postdoc Association - Advocacy and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (PDA-DE&I). Within this committee I was part of the team of postdocs that conducted and analyzed results on the "Postdoc Hiring and Recruitment at MIT Survey" with the initial goal of examining the impact hiring and recruiting has on the diversity of the postdoc population at MIT. The full report of our survey analysis can be found here .
  • Member of the CSAIL Postdoc and Graduate Student Council (CPGSC) at MIT CSAIL. This council was formed this year by Prof. Daniela Rus in an effort to tackle issues important to the CSAIL community of graduate students and postdocs such as DE&I, harrasment, mental health and faculty relations.
  • Member of the CSAIL Ahead Committee led by Prof. Daniel Jackson focused on improving community and culture at CSAIL.
  • Mentor within the Minds Matter Boston (MMB) program for the Junior Class of 2020-2021.

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