Dr. sc. M.S.E.
Alexis is an Assistant Professor at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She directs the SaPHaRI (social, physical, human-robot interaction) lab, where her research combines social psychology, haptics, and human-robot interaction to create unique systems capable of social-physical human-robot interaction (spHRI), a nascent field that extends HRI and will be imperative for the future of social robotics.
From August 2021-August 2023, Alexis was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Biomechatronics lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was supported by a competitive Computing Innovation Fellowship.
In 2022, Alexis was awarded an Otto Hahn Medal by the Max Planck Society for outstanding scientific achievement by a junior scientist for her doctoral work. She also received the "Best Hands-On Demonstration" award (with co-authors) at EuroHaptics 2022 for HuggieBot.
Block is currently serving as the General Chair for the Gordon Research Seminar in Robotics. In 2018 she was selected as an HRI Pioneer and in 2019 she was elected and served as the General Chair for HRI Pioneers, a top workshop at the Human-Robot Interaction Conference (HRI).
Alexis completed her Dr.sc. at ETH Zurich and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, as part of the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems, in Computer Science. She obtained her M.S.E., in Robotics and her B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania. During her undergraduate degree, she also received two minors: mathematics and engineering entrepreneurship (with Penn Engineering and Wharton Business School).
Her research has garnered significant media attention. Block's research has been published in outlets such as The New York Times, National Public Radio (NPR), IEEE Spectrum (twice), and Nature Outlook, to name a few.
Alexis is passionate about teaching undergraduate students and advocating for mental health and overall well-being.
Human-Robot Interaction; Haptics; Robotics;
Selected Publications and Research
- In the Arms of a Robot: Designing Autonomous Hugging Robots with Intra-Hug Gestures ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction (THRI): Special Issue on Affect and Embodiement in HRI (Accepted - coming early 2023),
- The Six Hug Commandments: Design and Evaluation of a Human-Sized Hugging Robot with Visual and Haptic Perception. ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) (2021),
- Softness, Warmth, and Responsiveness Improve Robot Hug Quality., International Journal of Social Robotics (2018),
- Emotionally Supporting Humans Through Robot Hugs, HRI Pioneers Workshop held in conjunction with the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) (2018),
- Robust Tactile Perception of Artificial Tumors Using Pairwise Comparisons of Sensor Array Readings, IEEE Haptics Symposium (2106),
- Fall 2023 (CWRU) - ECSE 600: Introduction to Human-Robot Interaction
- Fall 2018, Fall 2019 (ETH Zurich) - Human-Computer Interaction
- Spring 2017 (UPenn) - Project Management
- Fall 2016 (UPenn) - Design of Mechatronic Systems