Lillian’s PhD work focused on creating new materials for robots. By designing the geometry of a material, she created new “meta-materials” that have different properties from the original. This mathematical approach enabled her to create robot balls that dramatically expand in volume, soft grippers that can work in dangerous environments, and pressure sensors directly embedded within a robot body.
As a Schmidt Science Fellow, she will apply her robotics work to clinical applications through the Cohen Lab at the National Institutes of Health. Lillian will use her experience building soft robotic sensors to provide force, pressure and strain information to clinicians. This extra data will supplement existing techniques such as MEG and EMG to improve patients’ stroke and cerebral palsy treatments.
Lillian is inspired by the work of disability activists who highlight the need to celebrate and accommodate body diversity. By studying how people navigate their changing bodies and environments, Lillian hopes to create robots that are just as adaptable as humans.