Posted September 14, 2012 Atlanta, GA
The top-tier science magazine, Popular Science, has named Andrea Thomaz, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, one of 2012’s “Brilliant 10,” an award given by the publication to ten scientists under 40 whose innovations will change the world. Thomaz, along with nine other researchers, is featured in the October issue of the magazine.
As Director of the College of Computing’s Socially Intelligent Machines research lab, Thomaz ‘s research focuses on all aspects of human-robot interaction and, specifically, on machines that learn new tasks and goals from ordinary people in everyday environments. This research works from the assumption that machines meant to learn from people can better take advantage of the ways in which people naturally approach teaching.
Through the development of new computational models, Thomaz is working to build machines that participate in social learning environments. As a result, she has improved the performance of a machine's learning behavior through attention to human interaction and improving the experience of the human teacher by designing interactive learning algorithms based on how people teach, in order to develop a smooth human-robot relationship. Thomaz’s work with robotics opens up a wider world of personal robotics, in which machines are doing anything their owners can program them to do—without actually being programmers.
In 2009, Thomaz was awarded the prestigious “MIT Tech Review 2009 Young Innovators Under 35” for her work in robot-human interaction and the development of Simon. Additionally, she has been named a College of Computing Professor of Excellence for her outstanding contributions to the Institute and to her field of study. Thomaz holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.