Upcoming Events

MnRI Seminar: Robotics in neurorehabilitation (UMN Kinesiology and Rehabnetics)

The application of robotic devices to improve health outcomes is viewed as one of the most promising avenues to advance to a new standard of health care. In neurorehabilitation with its focus of restoring sensory and motor function in the neurological populations, current clinical practice faces several challenges.

First, it lacks objective outcome measures with high sensitivity and reliability to assess and monitor disease progression and therapeutic success. Second, repeated and rigorous physical exercise is required for neurological patients to restore their functional independence, yet the current standard of care cannot deliver the amount of exercise needed given the cost structure of the health care system.

Rehabilitation robots can address these problems by facilitating minimally supervised intervention. Recent advances in robotic devices provide a range of opportunities from objective, sensitive and reliable outcome measures to highly advanced rehabilitation therapy with minimal supervision. This talk presents an overview on the use of robotic technology in neurorehabilitation.

Jürgen Konczak will provide a short overview on the market potential and the barriers for adapting such technologies in clinical settings.   

Rachel Hawe will highlight the use of robotic assessments in individuals with stroke and children with hemiparetic cerebral palsy. She will discuss how assessments can lead to interventions and how current technology can be translated into clinically applicable devices.  

Naveen Elangovan will present the recent advances of robot-aided sensorimotor assessments. He will discuss the future of rehabilitation robots as an adjunct to traditional rehabilitation from the technology translation and commercialization perspective. 

About the speakers

Juergen Konczak Ph.D. (Professor at the UMN's School of Kinesiology and Director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory) His team has been involved in clinical research and the commercialization of robotic rehabilitation technology for treating neurological conditions such as stroke that received funding through the NIH REACH and the NSF PFI programs.

Rachel Hawe DPT, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Director of the Neurorehabilitation Across the Lifespan (NeuRAL) Lab) She has a background in biomedical engineering, physical therapy, and clinical neuroscience. Her research is focused on using technology including robotics to improve our understanding of sensorimotor deficits in individuals with stroke and cerebral palsy, leading to more targeted interventions. 

Naveen Elangovan Ph.D. (Research scientist at the University of Minnesota and a Co-founder of Rehabnetics Medical LLC) He is a trained physical therapist. His research interests include translating laboratory research to clinical practice in the field of neurological rehabilitation. He is specifically interested in employing novel rehabilitation methods to improve sensorimotor function in people with stroke and movement disorders.

Past Events

MnRI MS in Robotics AMA

The Minnesota Robotics Institute (MnRI) will be having a round-table 'AMA' (Ask Me Anything) regarding MnRI and the Master's in Robotics program. MnRI administration will be available to answer any and all questions; joining are Director Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, Graduate Program Advisor Travis Henderson, and more!

We invite anyone interested in learning more about the program to attend via Zoom — especially those who are planning to attend or interested in applying for the Fall 2022 Semester.

MnRI Seminar: Noah Goldfarb

The potential role of artificial intelligence for hidradenitis suppurativa severity assessment

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a painful, devastating inflammatory skin condition characterized by inflammatory nodules, abscess and draining tunnels that significantly effect patients’ quality of life. HS is fairly common condition, with a prevalence of 0.1% in the Unites States. Currently, only one medication is federal drug administration (FDA) approved for the treatment of HS.

The overarching goal of the proposed study is to determine whether AI is capable of improving the accuracy and reliability of HS severity and activity assessments for the use in clinical trials. The initial stage will be training the algorithm with images from a single location, the axilla. If successful, future studies will incorporate other locations of the body to create an HS AI severity assessment tool which can be validated for clinical trial use.

About Dr. Noah Goldfarb

Dr. Noah Goldfarb graduated from SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine in 2009 and completed a combined residency in internal medicine and dermatology in 2014. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota in the Departments of  Medicine and Dermatology and staff physician at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. Dr Goldfarb’s clinical interests include autoimmune skin diseases, hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and complex medical dermatology.

He runs an HS specialty clinic and combined rheum-derm clinic at University site and continues to attend as a hospitalist at the VA, working with medical students and residents. Dr. Goldfarb is also passionate about education. He is the medical student coordinator at the VA, the dermatology interest group advisor at the University of Minnesota, the Dermatology Pathophysiology Discipline Director for the Human Health & Disease 3 Course (HHD3) for second year medical students and the Residency Program Co-Director for the Combined Internal Medicine/Dermatology program.

MnRI Spring Seminar: Drs. Kathryn Cullen and Jessica Simacek


Mental health and developmental disorders in children represent an important public health problem. There is a critical need for innovative research to better understand these disorders early in life, to facilitate improved interventions.

Telepractice as a service delivery mechanism has rapidly expanded in recent years due to necessity during the COVID 19 pandemic. In addition to expanding clinical services, telepractice offers new avenues for research. In particular, this approach allows researchers to examine children’s behavior in natural environments (e.g., their homes or communities).

This presentation will discuss how telepractice is being used at the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB) as a research tool. Specifically, we will showcase how teleoutreach is being used to (1) investigate the impact of home-based interventions for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their caregivers, and (2) support youth who engage in non-suicidal self injury and their families. While to date, this research has focused on manual coding of behavior, we will use this presentation to invite new collaborations with colleagues in the computer sciences and engineering fields to work with us to analyze these rich video datasets in new ways.

Potential opportunities may include developing algorithms to automatically characterize aspects of child movement or behavior, or child-parent interactions, which may signal risk or response to intervention. Another potential opportunity may emerge through computational analyses of speech recordings, either through identification of voice biomarkers that signify risk using speech-processing techniques, or with natural language processing to identify cognitive/linguistic features that may map on to neurodevelopment and mental health states.

Around the Institute — Spring Webinar

You're invited to an inside look at Minnesota Robotics Institute research!

Join Minnesota Robotics Institute (MnRI) Director Nikos Papanikoloupoulous and faculty members Derya Aksaray, Brad Holschuh, and Catherine Qi Zhao to learn about some exciting robotics-related research projects across several UMN departments. The presentation will highlight recent research projects dealing with soft-robotics & adaptive wearable materials, reinforcement learning for verifiable autonomy, computer vision in the healthcare field, as well as MnRI's M.S. in Robotics program.

Speakers include AEM's Derya Aksaray, CDES' Brad Holschuh, and CS&E's Catherine Qi Zhao.

About the Minnesota Robotics Institute

The Minnesota Robotics Institute (MnRI) is an outcome of the University of Minnesota’s Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) initiative that brings together interdisciplinary researchers to solve grand challenges and increase Minnesota’s position as a worldwide leader in robotics research and education.

The Institute is housed in the Gemini-Huntley Robotics Research Laboratory. This new 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art robotics research facility in Shepherd Laboratories includes nine flexible robotics labs and various work spaces for faculty and graduate students—including a two-story drone lab and labs that will provide research space for research on underwater robots.

MnRI Seminar: Morgan Turner

Dr. Morgan Turner is the recipient of the CRA/CCC/NSF Computing Innovation Fellowship.  Morgan's Ph.D. is in Evolutionary Biology and she studies multi-dimensional kinematics of animal locomotion (e.g., alligators, dinosaurs), specifically the interaction of the feet when walking on a variety of ground surfaces.  Morgan is also a visual artist and her research involves some serious data visualization challenges. Morgan will be presenting her research and how it crosses the line into robotics.

MnRI Town Hall

This MnRI Town Hall meeting aims to listen to your feedback regarding our research programs and also discuss some new directions in our research priorities.

Come join us for an afternoon with MnRI.

UMN Machine Learning Seminar

The UMN Machine Learning Seminar Series brings together faculty, students, and local industrial partners who are interested in the theoretical, computational, and applied aspects of machine learning, to pose problems, exchange ideas, and foster collaborations. The talks are every Thursday from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. during the Fall 2021 semester.

This week's speaker is Salman Avestimehr (University of Southern California).

Robotics 8970 Colloquium: Professor Michael McAlpine

3D Printing Functional Materials and Devices

The ability to three-dimensionally interweave biological and functional materials could enable the creation of devices possessing personalized geometries and functionalities. Indeed, interfacing active devices with biology in 3D could impact a variety of fields, including biomedical devices, regenerative biomedicines, bioelectronics, smart prosthetics, and human-machine interfaces. Biology, from the molecular scale of DNA and proteins to the macroscopic scale of tissues and organs, is three-dimensional, often soft and stretchable, and temperature-sensitive. This renders most biological platforms incompatible with the fabrication and material processing methods that have been developed and optimized for functional electronics, which are typically planar, rigid, and brittle. A number of strategies have been developed to overcome these dichotomies.

Our approach is to utilize extrusion-based multi-material 3D printing, which is an additive manufacturing technology that offers freeform, autonomous fabrication. This approach addresses the challenges presented above by (1) using 3D printing and imaging for personalized device architectures; (2) employing ‘nano-inks’ as an enabling route for introducing a diverse palette of functionalities; and (3) combining 3D printing of biological and functional inks on a common platform to enable the interweaving of these two worlds, from biological to electronic. 3D printing is a multiscale platform, allowing for the incorporation of functional nanoscale inks, the printing of microscale features, and ultimately the creation of macroscale devices. This blending of 3D printing, functional materials, and ‘living’ inks may enable next-generation 3D printed devices.

About Dr. Michael McAlpine

Michael McAlphine

Michael C. McAlpine is the Kuhrmeyer Family Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. He received a B.S. in Chemistry with honors from Brown University (2000), and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University (2006).

His current research is focused on 3D printing functional materials and devices for biomedical applications, with recent breakthroughs in 3D printed deformable sensors and 3D printed bionic eyes (one of National Geographic’s 12 Innovations that will Revolutionize the Future of Medicine). He has received several awards for this work, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award.


Natural Language Processing Seminar Series: Katie Stasaski

Katie Stasaski is a Ph.D. student at University of California, Berkeley.

The Minnesota Natural Language Processing (NLP) Seminar is a venue for faculty, postdocs, students, and anyone else interested in theoretical, computational, and human-centric aspects of natural language processing to exchange ideas and foster collaboration.

Contact Dongyeap Kang ( for any questions or inquiries.

Robotics 8970 Colloquium: Stephen Guy

Simulating Human Motions for Social AI

About Stephen Guy
Stephen J. Guy is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on the development of artificial intelligence for use in autonomous robotics (e.g., collision avoidance and path planning under uncertainty) and computer simulations of human movement and behavior (e.g., crowd simulation and virtual characters). Stephen's work has had a wide influence in games, VR, and real-time graphics industries: his work on motion planning has been licensed by Relic Entertainment, EA, and other digital entertainment companies; he has been a speaker in the AI Summit at GDC, the leading conference in the games development industry. He is the recipient of several awards including the Charles E. Bowers Faculty Teaching Award and multiple best paper awards for his research work in simulation and planning. Stephen's academic work has appeared in top venues for robotics, AI and computer graphics including SIGGRAPH, IJRR, IEEE Trans. on Robotics, AAMAS, AAAI, and IJCAI. His work on simulating virtual humans has been widely covered in popular media including newspapers, magazines, documentaries, and late-night TV. Prior to joining Minnesota, he received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2012 from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill with support from fellowships from Google, Intel, and the UNCF, and his B.S. in Computer Engineering with honors from the University of Virginia in 2006.