Alumnus Honored as One of Nation's Top Scientists
A 1996 Alma College alumnus who is now an assistant professor of
computer science at Brown University was recently honored at the White
House as one of the nation’s top young scientists.
Chad Jenkins was selected as one of the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his research on the development of methods for autonomous robot control and perception. His work advances the idea that robot control and computational perception are better learned from human demonstration rather than by explicit computer programming.
PECASE program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers who,
early in their careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at
the frontiers of knowledge. This Presidential Award is the highest
honor bestowed by the U.S. Government on scientists and engineers
beginning their independent careers.
“I was extremely excited to get this award,” said Jenkins. “When your country recognizes your effort, that’s a big deal.”
Jenkins joined 58 other award recipients and President George W. Bush for a White House photo opportunity on Nov. 1.
The Office of Naval Research funded Jenkins’ grant proposal, which was one of six research projects selected by the U.S. Department of Defense for presidential recognition.
Chad and his wife, Sarah Loftus, are both 1996 Alma graduates. Chad has a master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Ph.D in computer science from the University of Southern California. He is in his fourth year as a faculty member at Brown University.
“Being at Alma was a great experience because of the small classes and professors who emphasized teaching and individual attention,” said Jenkins. “It really helped to have professors who really cared.”
He cites faculty members Myles McNally, Tim Sipka, John Putz and Mel Nyman as “big influences.” He also credits physics professor John Gibson “for pushing me to work hard. He would write on my papers, ‘You can do better than this.’ That had a big impact on me.”
His current academic research interests include “bringing robots to the people,” according to his faculty Website at Brown University.
“That is, finding ways for typical humans to program or teach robots that behave according to their expectations,” he states. “Toward this end, my research examines problems relating to robot learning from demonstration, robot perception of humans, dexterous manipulation, dimension reduction of robot experiences, and human-robot collaboration.”
Posted: Mon, November 12th, 2007 at 3:26PM