About the series
The NSF Directorate for Engineering will host a Distinguished Lecture by Dr. Ayanna Howard, Dean of Engineering at The Ohio State University and Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean's Chair. Dr. Howard will speak on "Socially Interactive Robots for Equitable Healthcare Outcomes." This virtual, public event will begin at 11:00 AM Eastern on May 4, 2022.
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Dr. Howard’s lecture will provide insights into how robots and artificial intelligence (AI) can change the texture of our day-to-day experiences through examples of research focused on robots interacting with humans, with an emphasis on healthcare robotics that can enable a healthier, less stressful, equality of life. It is estimated that 15% of children aged 3 through 17 born in the U.S. have one or more developmental disabilities. For many of these children, proper early intervention can provide a mechanism to support the child’s academic, developmental, and functional goals from birth and beyond.
With the recent advances in robotics and AI, early intervention protocols using robots are now ideally positioned to make an impact in this domain. Numerous challenges must still be addressed to enable successful interaction between patients, clinicians, and robots. These include developing intelligence methods to enable personalized adaption to the needs of the child; ensuring equitable outcomes and mitigation of possible healthcare inequities that derive from the use of AI learning methods; and ensuring that the system can provide engaging and emotionally appropriate feedback to the user. In this presentation, Dr. Howard will discuss the role of robotics and AI for pediatric therapy and highlight methods and preclinical studies that bring us closer to this goal.
Dr. Ayanna Howard is the Dean of Engineering at The Ohio State University and Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean's Chair. She also holds a faculty appointment in the college’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with a joint appointment in Computer Science and Engineering. Previously she was the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Prior to Georgia Tech, Dr. Howard was at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she held the title of Senior Robotics Researcher and Deputy Manager in the Office of the Chief Scientist. Her research encompasses advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), assistive technologies, and robotics, and has resulted in over 275 peer-reviewed publications. At NASA, she worked on designing advanced technologies for future Mars rover missions. Now, she works on projects ranging from healthcare robots to developing methods to mitigate bias and trust in AI. In 2013, she founded Zyrobotics, an education technology startup, which designs AI-powered STEM tools and learning games to engage children with diverse abilities. She has also served as the Associate Director of Research for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Chair of the Robotics Ph.D. program, and the Associate Chair for Faculty Development in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech.
Dr. Howard is a Fellow of IEEE, AAAI, AAAS, and the National Academy of Inventors. She is also the recipient of the Anita Borg Institute Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award, CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award, NSBE Janice Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award, and ACM Athena Lecturer Award. To date, Dr. Howard’s unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of other public recognitions, including highlights in Vanity Fair, USA Today, Upscale, Black Enterprise, and TIME Magazine, as well as being recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider and one of the Top 50 U.S. Women in Tech by Forbes.