Daniela Rus is the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT. Rus’ research interests are in robotics, artificial intelligence, and data science.
The focus of her work is developing the science and engineering of autonomy, toward the long-term objective of enabling a future with machines pervasively integrated into the fabric of life, supporting people with cognitive and physical tasks. Her research addresses some of the gaps between where robots are today and the promise of pervasive robots: increasing the ability of machines to reason, learn, and adapt to complex tasks in human-centered environments, developing intuitive interfaces between robots and people, and creating the tools for designing and fabricating new robots quickly and efficiently. The applications of this work are broad and include transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, monitoring the environment, underwater exploration, smart cities, medicine, and in-home tasks such as cooking.
Rus serves as the Associate Director of MIT’s Quest for Intelligence Core, and as Director of the Toyota-CSAIL Joint Research Center, whose focus is the advancement of AI research and its applications to intelligent vehicles. She is a member of the Toyota Research Institute advisory board.
Rus is a Class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow, a fellow of ACM, AAAI and IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of the 2017 Engelberger Robotics Award from the Robotics Industries Association. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University.
John has created a career out of bringing ideas, networks and people together to generate powerful results. Currently, John serves as Managing Director and Partner at Link Ventures, and as Chief Network Officer, SVP Corporate Development of Cogo Labs. Before joining Link Ventures and Cogo Labs, John’s deep curiosity and penchant for problem-solving led him to a diverse set of roles spanning many fields and interests. Previously, John was a VP at Meta, a Y-Combinator augmented reality startup based in Silicon Valley. John’s also served as the Head of Innovation and New Ventures at the MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture Group, and the Managing Director of Emerging Worlds SIG, where he led the launch of collaborative innovation centers in Mumbai, Nashik, and Hyderabad.
John also channels his passion and curiosity into cultivating platforms for thought and exchange. John is the Founder & CEO of ARIA, a community focused on the potential of augmented reality and the Blockchain+AI+Human, which takes place at MIT and the World Economic Forum in Davos with MIT Professor Sandy Pentland. John also founded Ideas in Action Inc., a non-profit that creates and produces TEDxBeaconStreet, whose talks have accumulated 250+ million YouTube views.
John was also a co-Founder of Citizen Schools, an advisor for PhotoButler, Vestigo Ventures and Founders Forum (Boston), an MIT Connection Science Fellow, a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and a graduate of Hamilton College. John was recognized by Harvard Business Review for his leadership; by BostonInno in 2014 as a top 50 on Fire in Boston; Boston Chamber with a TOYL (Ten Outstanding Young Leaders) Award in 2006. In his free time, John is a passionate photographer and an accomplished triathlete (qualified for the worlds and 4x nationals). John and his family live in Brookline, MA.
Rucha is a sophomore (originally from Ames, Iowa) at MIT; she is a candidate for a Bachelor’s Degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, on a pre-med track. She was nominated for the FRC Dean’s List Award by mentors on her high school FRC team, was an NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Affiliate Award Recipient, and is a Dr. Bart Kamen Memorial FIRST Scholar. She is currently pursuing a research position in the O’Gara Lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is a TA for Intro Biology in her learning community, and is a Social Impact Fellow at Learning Seeds. Her interests include dancing on the Bhangra team, travelling, and solving crosswords.
Stephanie is a freshman (originally from Manhattan, KS) planning on majoring in computer science and minoring in business analytics. She participates in Battlecode as a developer and financial chair, MIT’s Machine Intelligence Community as a former DevOps and current Marketing member, HackMIT’s organizing team, and is actively involved in the dance and music scenes on campus. Stephanie is currently conducting research under the Department of Materials Science and Engineering to develop digital fibers for fabric computing – her responsibilities include prototyping fiber sensors, processing activity and temperature data, and developing convolutional neural networks to classify and make predictions based on the data. In her spare time, she enjoys participating in hackathons with friends, playing and teaching violin, and learning to spin poi (hopefully poi on fire soon!).
Vittorio is a sophomore studying aerospace engineering and physics at MIT. He grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut, where he attended Trumbull High School. Outside of TEDx, he serves as Propulsion Lead for the MIT Rocket Team, and has engaged in projects in both the Space Systems and Space Propulsion Laboratories. Some of his work includes modifying the test data processing software used for REXIS, an instrument aboard the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, and developing new materials for electrospray thruster emitter chips. His interests include space exploration, propulsion, and photography.
Ziyuan Zhu is a designer and developer focusing on harnessing inter-scale tools to confront real-world issues. She is one of the three SOM China Prize winners in 2019, and also the recipient of Sakura Technology Prize, Israel Technion full scholarship. She used to work in Uber, Blocher Partner and Archdaily. Recently, her work with the team has been selected into the 2019 UABB Biennale in Shenzhen/Hongkong.
Tooba is an undergraduate student majoring in Biological Engineering, with minors in Data Science and Public Policy. Her research experiences span from gene drives to synthetic biology, but she also enjoys working on science policy and communication. She has been involved with the MIT Biotech group since her freshman year at MIT.
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Brandon is a sophomore at MIT majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Brandon took an interest from an early age in computers, robotics, and science at large which he naturally migrated to his experience at MIT. In addition to his duties for TEDxMIT, Brandon participates in Poker Club, front-end website development, and Android application development for MIT D-Lab. Brandon is also a varsity athlete for MIT’s swim and dive team with 14 years of experience. In his spare time, Brandon enjoys hiking, metalsmithing, learning new languages, and doing hackathons/personal projects with his friends.
TEDx events are independently organized TED conferences, operated under license from TED. They present local versions of the well-known TED format, immersing local attendees in an experience of interdisciplinary ideas, broad perspectives and playful creativity. These events spread more than ideas — at their best, they develop into communities where learning and imagination collide, leading to novel brainstorms and new ideas among inspired minds. Yale, Oxford, Harvard, Caltech, and Stanford have each held TEDx events, along with hundreds of other universities around the world.
TEDxMIT is an event a long time in the making. John Werner, a fellow at MIT’s School of Engineering, had the TEDxMIT license since 2013. John Werner and Daniela Rus, over a lunch at Catalyst restaurant in Kendall Square, laid out a plan to organize a focal-point event for the MIT and wider communities: by holding an event to celebrate the incredible talent in the MIT community. Central to this event, TEDxMIT would build a coalition of faculty, students, academics, administrators, entrepreneurs, artists, designers and innovators. From the onset, Werner and Rus wove a student group led by MIT undergraduate co-founders Rucha Kelkar ’22 and Stephanie Fu ’22 into the planning team. The first event, held on May 28, 2019 in MIT’s Stata Center, was a success: 14 speakers, over 600 attendees, thousands of connections made, and hundreds of thousands of video views. Join us in amplifying these ideas as we work to make TEDxMIT a key forum for the technology innovation community in the fall and spring semesters.