Maja Matarić is the Chan Soon-Shiong Distinguished Professor in the Computer Science Department, Neuroscience Program, and the Department of Pediatrics University of Southern California, founding director of the USC Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center (RASC), co-director of the USC Robotics Research Lab, and the lead of the Viterbi K-12 STEM Center. She received her PhD in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from MIT in 1994, MS in Computer Science from MIT in 1990, and BS in Computer Science from the University of Kansas in 1987.
Prof. Matarić is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow of IEEE, Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). She is a recipient of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from President Obama, the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award for Innovation, Okawa Foundation Award, NSF Career Award, the MIT TR35 Innovation Award, and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award. At USC she has been awarded the Viterbi School of Engineering Service Award and Junior Research Award, the Provost’s Mentoring Award and Center for Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship, the Mellon Mentoring Award, the Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Service Award, a Remarkable Woman Award, and was named a Distinghished Professor. She is featured in the science documentary movie “Me & Isaac Newton”, in The New Yorker (“Robots that Care” by Jerome Groopman, 2009), Popular Science (“The New Face of Autism Therapy”, 2010), the IEEE Spectrum (“Caregiver Robots”, 2010), and is one of the LA Times Magazine 2010 Visionaries.
Prof. Matarić has published extensively, is the author of a popular introductory robotics textbook, “The Robotics Primer” (MIT Press 2007), is on the editorial board of the ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction, and has served as an associate editor of three major journals. She has served on a number of advisory boards, including the National Science Foundation Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) Division Advisory Committee, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council, and the Willow Garage and Evolution Robotics Scientific Advisory Boards.
Prof. Matarić’s Interaction Lab’s research into socially assistive robotics is aimed at endowing robots with the ability to help people help themselves, through individual non-contact assistance in convalescence, rehabilitation, training, and education. Her research is developing algorithms, models, and methods for personalized robot-assisted therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders, infants at risk for movement delays, stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors, individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, as well as healthy elderly and other user populations. Her research team has developed some of the first and longest deployments of such system in real world settings: hospitals, therapy centers, schools, and homes.
Prof. Matarić is actively involved in K-12 educational outreach. She is the lead of the USC Viterbi K-12 STEM Center, and has raised federal, corporate, and foundation grant support for and developed free open-source curricular materials for elementary, middle-school, and high school robotics courses, K-12 teacher development programs, K-12 STEM equity and inclusion programs, and after-school robotics programs and competition training, all aiming to engage student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics.
Prof. Matarić’s university leadership experience includes serving as the appointed USC Interim Vice President of Research (Jan 2020-Jul 2021), the appointed USC Viterbi School of Engineering Vice Dean for Research (Jul 2006-Dec 2019), and as the elected President of the USC faculty and the Academic Senate (2005-2006).
Prof. Matarić is also the co-founder of Embodied, Inc., which launched Moxie (in May 2020), an in-home socially assistive robot for supporting child development.