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Sonia Roberts

ESE PhD Student

Contact: soro at seas dot upenn dot edu


I am currently a second-year Electrical and Systems Engineering PhD student in Kod*lab, which is part of the GRASP lab at the University of Pennsylvania. I am interested in legged locomotion, biologically inspired (as opposed to biomimetic) robots, embodied cognition and biomechanics.

I graduated from Vassar College in 2010 with a B.A. in Cognitive Science where I worked under Prof. John Long building and experimenting with biologically inspired robots to test hypotheses about biomechanics and evolutionary biology. I also worked briefly for Prof. Nancy Ide on a natural language processing project.

Prior to coming to UPenn, I worked as a research technician on the Fly Olympiad Project at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus attempting to create a functional map of the Drosophila melanogaster brain.


Under development.

  • Obstacle porosity classification. Report
  • Penetration resistance calculation using a robot leg
  • Mobility challenges in fragile environments


Roberts, Sonia F., Jonathan Hirokawa, Hannah G. Rosenblum, Hassan Sakhtah, Andres A. Gutierrez, Marianne E. Porter, and John H. Long, Jr. 2014. Testing biological hypotheses with embodied robots: adaptations, accidents, and by-products in the evolution of vertebrates. Frontiers in Robotics and AI 1, 12. (Journal)

Long, John H., Jr., Nicole Krenitsky, Sonia Roberts, Jonathan Hirokawa, Josh de Leeuw, and Marianne Porter. 2011. Testing Biomimetic Structures in Bioinspired Robots: How Vertebrae Control the Stiffness of the Body and the Behavior of Fish-like Swimmers. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 51 (1), pp. 158–175. (Journal)

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