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 junior (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 the Lead Speaker Relations & Media Specialist at Learning Seeds. Her interests include dancing on the MIT Bhangra team, travelling, and solving crosswords.
Varsha is a sophomore from Cypress, California, and is majoring in Computer Science and Brain and Cognitive Science at MIT. She is interested in exploring how technology and design can be used to address racial and gender injustice. Along with being in TEDxMIT, Varsha is involved in MIT Leadership Training Institute, Global Research Consulting Group, and TechX. In her free time, Varsha loves reading memoirs, going on long runs, experimenting with different overnight oat recipes, and exploring new restaurants/cafes with friends.
Claire is a freshman from Houston, Texas pursuing Computer Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. Her academic interests lie in the numerous mysterious processes of human cognition, and whether or not it is possible to replicate the same behavior in machines. She is also involved with UROP at the Saxelab, MIT’s Asian Dance Team, the Undergraduate Association, MIT CodeIt, and MITxHarvard Women in AI. Outside of academics, she enjoys art, listening to music, being outdoors, and reading science fiction.
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Abi is a junior from Denver, Colorado. He is studying Computer Science. Outside of TEDxMIT, Abi is involved at UROP and MIT Capital Partners. In his free time, he loves the outdoors and enjoys biking.
Katherine is a freshman majoring in Computer Science and Management at MIT, originally hailing from Los Angeles, California. Outside of TEDxMIT, she’s involved with HackMIT and the Undergraduate Association (MIT’s student government) and in her free time, she loves to compose music, read, and nerd about various topics with her friends.
Jessica is a first-year graduate student from Ontario, Canada studying Computational Science and Engineering. Her research focuses on computational chemistry, using atomistic simulations and machine learning to develop better catalysts. Jessica loves the outdoor, board games, dessert, and all things science!
Lucy is a freshman from East Brunswick, New Jersey studying biological engineering and economics at MIT. She is interested in the intersection of biological innovation and communication, where out-of-the-box ideas can be translated into everyday realities. To that end, she is a vaccine strike team intern with the CDC Foundation. There, she identifies gaps and challenges in the vaccine rollout process in various socioeconomic and cultural groups and aids in the development and implementation of community-centered approaches to increasing vaccine acceptance. Drawn to the mysterious world of biophysics, she will also be interning at the United States Department of Defense this summer in the Air Force Research Laboratory. As an extension of her scientific explorations, Lucy also enjoys playing piano in MIT’s Emerson Scholars Program and Chamber Music Society and capturing birdsongs in nature. Above all, she loves listening to others’ stories and better appreciating the power of the human experience.
Lauren is a sophomore from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Fascinated with how fields of science intertwine, she is majoring in Chemical-Biological Engineering and hoping to minor in Environment and Sustainability at MIT. Lauren loves to hike, snowboard, travel, and play board/card games.
Jacob Rodriguez is a current freshman majoring in both Aerospace Engineering and Physics at MIT. Raised in Orange County California, his professional interests and experience lie in Quantum Vacuum Propulsion and Robotics having interned at NASA Goddard, JPL, and Jet Brains. Being the first in his family to go to college, Jacob is also very passionate about bridging the gap between low-income minority students and STEM careers. Using the networks he’s accumulated through being a FRC Dean’s List Winner, Gates Scholar and Questbridge scholarship recipient, he’s hosted multiple events in both high school and college to show students with his similar background that anything is possible. Having impacted over 3,000 students already and partially owing TED talks to his success, he hopes to use his story to inspire the nation’s next generation of diverse scientists and engineers. His other interests include volleyball, electric guitar, cycling, astronomy, and getting lost in the woods.
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.