People

Holly Yanco

Holly Yanco is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Director of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. She was named Distinguished University Professor at the university in 2015. Her research interests include human-robot interaction, multi-touch computing, interface design, robot autonomy, fostering trust of autonomous systems, evaluation methods for human-robot interaction, and the use of robots in K-12 education to broaden participation in computer science. Yanco's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, including a CAREER Award, the Army Research Office, DARPA, NIST, and Google. Yanco was the General Chair of the 2012 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction and is now the co-chair of the conference's steering committee. She served on the Executive Council of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) from 2006-2009 and was the Symposium Chair for AAAI from 2002-2005. She is a senior member of AAAI. Yanco has a PhD and MS in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a BA in Computer Science and Philosophy from Wellesley College.

Momotaz Begum

Momotaz Begum is a Research Assistant Professor in Computer Science at UMass Lowell. Her research is focused on integrating machine learning and artificial intelligence with advance technologies to improve the quality of life of people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Begum's doctoral research involved designing a bio-inspired Bayesian model of visual attention for embodied robots. She received her M.Eng from Memorial University, Canada in 2005, and her Ph.D, Electrical and Computer Engineering, from University of Waterloo, Canada, in 2010. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Socially Intelligent Machine lab at GaTech (2010-2011) and in the AI & Robotics team at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute of the University of Toronto (2012-2013.) 

Professor Begum has interests in robot perception and learning, human-robot interaction, cyber-physical systems, computer vision, and SLAM for mobile robots. Currently she is concentrating on an interdisciplinary research of robot perception and learning. This research is focused on designing intelligent robotics systems and algorithms to realize robot-mediated autism intervention and to promote home-based rehabilitation for children with cerebral palsy. 

Dan Brooks

Dan is a doctoral student at UMass Lowell. He graduated from West Virginia University in 2009 with two Bachelor Degrees, one in Computer Engineering and another in Computer Science. In 2013 he received a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.

Dan's master’s research investigated the effects on human-robot interaction of a bilateral shared-control steering system for driving ground based robots using a haptic joystick. His current primary research area is studying and improving human-robot interaction when fully autonomous robotic platforms experience failures.

Dan has interned with various groups including the Emerging Technologies group at the Coast Guards Operations Systems Center, the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA's Ames Research Center, the Autonomous Driving group at Bosch Research in Palo Alto, and the ROS team at the Open Source Robotics Foundation. He spends his spare time and money on rock climbing, white water kayaking, mountain biking, backpacking, mountaineering, caving, and backcountry skiing.

Abe Shultz

Abe Shultz graduated with his Master’s degree in Computer Science from UMass Lowell in April 2013, where he continues as a research assistant in the Robotics Lab.  Prior to that, he was in the software industry, working for Radiospire, RSA, and EMC. Even further back, in the murky mists of time, he got his bachelor's degree in computer science from WPI. In his spare time, he is an electronics hobbyist.

Eric McCann

Eric graduated from Middlesex Community College in 2009 with an Associate Degree in Computer Science; prior to a summer research opportunity he was hooked-up with, through a professor from Middlesex (thanks Professor Bleichman!) he had no experience working with robots. Since this opportunity he's continued his work with Microsoft's robotics development system.  In 2011, he received an honorable mention for the CRA Undergraduate Research Award and graduated from UMass Lowell with a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science.  Eric continues his work at the UML Robotics Lab. He currently is researching a 10-robot interface, and receives everyone’s appreciation by ‘making problems disappear.’  In his free time Eric enjoys long walks on the beach, and procrastination.

Carlos Ibarra-Lopez

Having participated on the Rover Hawk team during 2013 while an exchange student at UMass Lowell, Carlos, once he was done with his undergrad in 2014, decided to leave his warmer home in Mexico and return to UML for his Master's degree. Currently he's working on development of interfaces for commanding human agents in human-robot teams via wearable computers, and teaching Valkyrie how to walk with more confidence (and less fear of falling). In his free time, Carlos enjoys old video games, and trying to put a Raspberry Pi in every device possible.

Jordan Allspaw

Jordan is a Computer Science undergraduate at UMass Lowell. After graduating high school in 2008 he has moved away from his hometown in California to the more seasonal northeast. Before changing to a Computer Science major he studied at Northeastern University as a Chemical Engineer, and maintains a strong interest and background in the sciences. In the Robotics Lab he has had a chance to work on various multi-touch systems and looks forward to his future projects. An eagle scout and ex-track runner, his hobbies include distance running and video games.

James Kuczynski


James is a Computer Science undergraduate at UMass Lowell. He began his college studies as a dual enrollment student at Middlesex Community College while still in 10th grade. In 2014 he graduated with 2 Associates Degrees, in Computer Science and Music, as well as Student of the Year awards for mathematics, music, and Supplemental Instruction Leadership. The employee information system final class project specification which he designed while working at MCC as a tutor and SI Leader is still used by the Programming II classes every semester. James' work at the lab includes computer vision software, methods of porting data between ROS and generic programs, and user interfaces for robotic applications. He has not succumbed to the temptation to build a robot army to conquer the world, but instead only uses his powers for good. A SRLA certified Level 2 tutor, he spends his spare time playing classical piano, working on numerous personal software projects, and moonlighting as a consultant for MCC's Academic Centers for Enrichment department.

Adam Norton

Adam Norton is the Manager of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. His research interests include the design of robot control interfaces, evaluation methods for robots and end users, and using robotics for outreach with students. At the NERVE Center Adam is responsible for evaluating robot capabilities and developing new test methods for robots and end users of robots. He has developed test methods with NIST for response robots (ASTM E54.08.01) and autonomous industrial vehicles (ASTM F45), evaluated human-robot interaction (HRI) at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, and autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for DARPA's Fast Lightweight Autonomy program. Adam has worked in the Robotics Lab at UMass Lowell since 2006 as the media and graphic designer. Adam has also aided in designing and fabricating robot modifications for some of the lab's robots. He is an instructor and core member of the Artbotics program, which combines art, computer science, and robotics to create interactive, kinetic sculptures. He graduated from UMass Lowell in 2010 with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art and Graphic Design.

Robotics Lab Alumni