Maja Matarić is at the forefront of the growing field of “socially assistive” robotics, building intelligent machines that can interact with humans socially, rather than physically, to help them learn new skills or recover from illness and injury. Her Interaction Lab at the University of Southern California is currently developing robot-assisted therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders, survivors of stroke and traumatic brain injuries, and people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Matarić is a professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics at USC, founding director of the USC Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems, co-director of the USC Robotics Research Lab and Vice Dean for Research in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from MIT. She has received Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring, a National Science Foundation Career Award, and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society EarlyCareer Award and the LA Times Magazine named her a “visionary” in 2010. In 1999, she was featured in the science documentary Me & Isaac Newton, which investigated the creative mindset behind scientific exploration.