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CalTech's Young Investigator Lecture Series

CalTech's Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences hosts an annual Young Investigator Lecture Series for early career researchers (senior PhD students, young postDocs) particularly those who come from historically underrepresented communities in STEM. The series is aimed at showcasing candidates' research, and providing a sort of trial run of an academia job interview. I had an excellent time at CalTech when I went to present my research there towards the end of April, 2023. I was hosted by Dr. Aaron Ames and had a chance to see his lab as well as some of the other exciting research being done at CalTech.

Talk Details:

Exoskeleton-Based Training For Novel Motor Skill Acquisition (YILS Lecture)

Humans are highly adaptable and can learn to interact with their environment. Technology for human use capitalizes on this ability through interfaces like touch screens and controllers. However, human motor behavior is difficult to quantify and predict which limits the effectiveness of physical human-robot interactions (HRI). For example, upper-body exoskeleton robots for rehabilitation have only shown comparable or lower training effects than traditional physical therapy, despite their promising sensing and actuation capabilities. My research interprets HRI through the lens of neuroscience and translates the findings into intelligent engineering solutions. In this talk, I discuss human learning in a robotic exoskeleton environment. I start by exploring methods to quantify human learning during robot interactions. I then motivate novel exoskeleton interaction modes based on observed task-specific expert behaviors. Finally, I present a curriculum-based approach for adaptive motor training protocol design. This work has several potential applications including motor re-training for rehabilitation, athletic, and surgical skill training.

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