About Me

Julia Ebert, apprentice robot herder

CV

Curriculum Vitae

Education

Cambridge, MA
2016 –
Harvard University
PhD Candidate in Computer Science
Advisor: Prof. Radhika Nagpal
London, UK
2016
Imperial College London
Master of Research in Bioengineering, with Distinction
Advisors: Prof. Etienne Burdet, Dr. Ildar Farkhatdinov
Thesis: Assisting Balance Recovery with a Lower Limb Exoskeleton
Boston, MA
2015
Northeastern University
BS in Behavioral Neuroscience, Minor in Computer Science
GPA: 3.98 / 4.0, summa cum laude
Honors Thesis: Asymmetric Learning in an Asymmetric Bimanual Task

Research

Cambridge, MA
Harvard University Self-Organizing Systems Research Group
Prof. Radhika Nagpal
2017 –
2016 –
LARVAbot: Locomotion of autonomous robots via aggregation
Multi-feature perception and decision making in robot collectives
Livermore, CA
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Dr. Michael Schneider
2018 –
Collaborative Autonomy for Space Situational Awareness
London, UK
Imperial College Human Robotics Group
Prof. Etienne Burdet and Dr. Ildar Farkhatdinov
2015 – 2016
Co-control of balance recovery in a lower limb exoskeleton
Boston, MA
Northeastern University Action Lab
Prof. Dagmar Sternad
2014 – 2015
2012 – 2015
2011 – 2012
Prediction and stability in control of objects with complex dynamics
Learning and long-term retention of an asymmetric bimanual task
Effects of central fatigue on cognitive and motor performance
Nahant, MA
Northeastern University Marine Science Center
Prof. Joseph Ayers
May – Aug. 2015
Neuro-inspired rheotaxis and antenna design in a robotic lobster
Watertown, MA
Interactive Motion Technologies
July – Sept. 2014
Integrated stroke assessment software in rehabilitation robotics
Tübingen, DE
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
Prof. Stefan Schaal
July – Dec. 2013
Learning and exploration in a novel dimensionality-reduction task

Grants and Scholarships

2016
Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF)
2015
Marshall Scholarship
2014
Northeastern Provost Undergraduate Advanced Research Award
2013
Barry Goldwater Scholarship
2013
Northeastern Provost Undergraduate Research Award
2013
DAAD Undergraduate Scholarship
2013
Northeastern Presidential Global Scholarship
2010
Northeastern National Merit Scholarship

Awards

2018
Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University
2016
Finalist, Hertz Fellowship
2016
Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP)
2015
Northeastern University Honors Program Distinction
2015
Northeastern Honors in Behavioral Neuroscience
2015
Northeastern Alex Skavenski Award for Behavioral Neuroscience
2015
Northeastern Sears B. Condit Award for academic achievement
2010 – 2015
Northeastern Dean’s List (6 semesters)
2015
Finalist; Rhodes, Fulbright, and Mitchell Scholarships

Publications

See publications section

Teaching

Cambridge, MA
Harvard University
Fall 2018
Spring 2018
Teaching Staff, How To Make (Almost) Anything, Harvard section
Teaching Fellow, CS 189: Autonomous Robot Systems
Boston, MA
Northeastern University
2014 – 2015
2012 – 2014
2011 – 2013
Teaching Assistant, CS 2510: Fundamentals of Computer Science (2 semesters)
Tutor, CS 2510: Fundamentals of Computer Science (3 semesters)
Undergraduate Mentor, Proactive Recruitment in Science and Mathematics (PRISM)

Outreach and Service

2018
Guest, Brains On! science podcast live show
2017, 2018
Volunteer, Boston Public Schools Science Fair
2016
Volunteer, EuroHaptics 2016
2010 – 2015
Volunteer, Northeastern Civic Engagement Program
2014
Tutor team leader, TechBoston Academy
2014
Teacher, NEU Splash Program (Class: "This is your Brain")
2011 – 2013
Volunteer, Brigham and Women's Hospital
2010 – 2011
Mentor, Massachusetts General Hospital Youth Program

Skills

Programming
Python (including Django, NumPy) • MATLAB • C/C++ (including OpenMP, AVR, Arduino) • HTML/CSS • LaTeX • JavaScript • Java
Fabrication
Laser cutting • 3D printing • Vinyl cutting • CNC milling, ShopBot • Electronics design (Eagle) and production • Soldering • Sewing • Molding and casting
Other
Computer-aided design (OnShape) • Database design • Linux • Embedded programming • 3D motion capture • Kinematic and EEG data collection in human subjects

Relevant Coursework

Computer Science
Biologically-inspired Multi-agent Systems • Distributed Systems • Machine Learning • Network Algorithms • Computational Neurodynamics • Artificial Intelligence • Robotics
Science and Engineering
How to Make (Almost) Anything • Biomimetics • Comparative Neurobiology • Human Neuroanatomy • Biochemistry • Genetics and Molecular Biology • Organic Chemistry
Mathematics
Stochastic Methods for Data Analysis, Inference and Optimization • Biological Signal Processing • Statistics and Data Analysis • Multivariable Calculus • Linear Algebra • Differential Equations

Activities and Interests

Sport
Harvard University curling team • Imperial College and Goodenough College fencing clubs • Cycling
Music
Northeastern University pep band, drumline, and wind ensemble • Clarinet • Saxophone • Percussion
Other
Web design and development • Graphic design • Writing • Baking

Research

Robot swarms + humans + space = ???

Collective Perception and Decision Making in a Robot Swarm

Advisor: Prof. Radhika Nagpal, Harvard University

This research aims to improve the ability of a large group of robots to perceive and understand their environment by employing agents with different perceptual skills.

Some Results

Julia Ebert, Melvin Gauci and Radhika Nagpal. 2018. Multi-feature collective decision making robot swarms. In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems, 1711–1719.

Collaborative Autonomy for Space Situational Awareness

Advisor: Dr. Michael Schneider, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Tracking satellites is an important component of space situational awareness (SSA). However, current ground-based tracking approaches rely on centralized detection and require hours to accurately estimate an orbit. A constellation of low-cost, autonomous cube satellites could provide a fast and robustly decentralized architecture for SSA. We propose distributed particles filters as a method to iteratively refine orbit estimates with low communication bandwidth. We demonstrate the feasibility of this approach by implementing our algorithm in simulation. This simulator can also be used to evaluate the parameter space for future satellite constellation design, as well as test the system's robustness to failures.

Some Results

Julia Ebert, Joshua Meyers, William Dawson and Michael Schneider. 2018. Collaborative Autonomy for Space Situational Awareness. Poster at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Summer Student Poster Symposium (8 August 2018). Livermore, CA.

Cooperative Exoskeleton Control for Human Balance Recovery

Advisors: Prof. Etienne Burdet and Dr. Ildar Farkhatdinov, Imperial College London

Maintaining balance in the face of perpurbations is essential to walking and standing. For my masters thesis, I developed controls for LOPES (LOwer-extremity Powered ExoSkeleton, University of Twente) to assist humans with balance recovery after perturbations, using a combination of feed-forward and feedback control (such as hip torques and a PD controller). We found that even simple, single-joint torques are sufficient to reduce the time to a recovery movement and the energy used by subjects in recovery.

Some Results

Julia Ebert, Ildar Farkhatdinov, Geiss van Oort, Edwin van Asseldonk and Etienne Burdet. 2016. Preliminary Study on Assisting Balance Recovery with Lower Limb Exoskeleton. Poster at EuroHaptics 2016 (4–7 July 2016). London, UK.

Stability and Predictability in Human Control of Complex Objects

Advisor: Prof. Dagmar Sternad, Northeastern University

We examined human control of physical interaction with objects that exhibit complex dynamics, hypothesizing that humans exploited stability properties of the human-object interaction. Using a simplified 2D model for carrying a cup of coffee, we developed a virtual implementation to identify human control strategies. The specific task was to transport the cart-pendulum model of a cup of coffee to a target, as fast as possible, while accommodating assistive and resistive perturbations. To assess trajectory stability, we applied contraction analysis. We showed that when the perturbation was assistive, humans absorbed the perturbation by controlling cart trajectories into a contraction region prior to the perturbation. When the perturbation was resistive, subjects passed through a contraction region following the perturbation. Entering a contraction region stabilizes performance and makes the dynamics more predictable. This human control strategy could inspire more robust control strategies for physical interaction in robots.

Some Results

Salah Bazzi, Julia Ebert, Neville Hogan and Dagmar Sternad. 2018. Stability and Predictability in Dynamically Complex Physical Interactions. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 5540–5545.

Salah Bazzi, Julia Ebert, Neville Hogan and Dagmar Sternad. 2018. Stability and predictability in human control of complex objects. Chaos, 28, 10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5042090

Bimanual Learning and Retention

Advisor: Prof. Dagmar Sternad, Northeastern University

Participants were asked to perform a task in which one arm is moved rhythmically while the other makes fast, discrete movements when cued. Over 20 sessions of practice, participants learned the task asymmetrically: while they learned to make much faster discrete movements, they failed to attenuate the perturbation these discrete movements caused in the rhythmic arm. After 6 months, subjects retained the skills they learned, including the asymmetry.

I proposed this research in my application the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and conducted the work for my undergraduate honors thesis. It was also funded by two Provost Undergraduate Research Awards.

Some Results

Julia Ebert, Se-Woong Park and Dagmar Sternad. 2015. Asymmetric Learning in an Asymmetric Bimanual Task. Poster at Society for the Neural Control of Movement 25th Annual Meeting (20–24 April 2015). Charleston, SC.

Publications

Making the world a better place, one peer-reviewed article at a time

Papers

Julia Ebert, Melvin Gauci and Radhika Nagpal. 2018. Multi-feature collective decision making robot swarms. In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems, 1711–1719.

Salah Bazzi, Julia Ebert, Neville Hogan and Dagmar Sternad. 2018. Stability and Predictability in Dynamically Complex Physical Interactions. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 5540–5545.

Salah Bazzi, Julia Ebert, Neville Hogan and Dagmar Sternad. 2018. Stability and predictability in human control of complex objects. Chaos, 28, 10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5042090

Ildar Farkhatdinov, Julia Ebert, Geiss van Oort, Edwin van Asseldonk and Etienne Burdet. 2018. Experiments on Human Balancing Co-Control in Standing. Submitted to IEEE RA-L.

Se-Woong Park, Julia Ebert and Dagmar Sternad. Asymmetric Learning in an Asymmetric Bimanual Task. In preparation.

Conference Abstracts and Posters

Julia Ebert, Joshua Meyers, William Dawson and Michael Schneider. 2018. Collaborative Autonomy for Space Situational Awareness. Poster at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Summer Student Poster Symposium (8 August 2018). Livermore, CA.

Julia Ebert, Melvin Gauci and Radhika Nagpal. 2018. Multi-Feature Collective Decision Making in Robot Swarms. Poster at DOE CSGF Program Review (15–19 July 2018). Washington, DC.

Julia Ebert, Clark Teeple, Emma Steinhardt and Sharad Ramanathan. 2018. Infotaxis in a Multi-agent Sensor Network. Poster at DOE CSGF Program Review (24–27 July 2017). Washington, DC.

Ildar Farkhatdinov, Julia Ebert, Geiss van Oort, Edwin van Asseldonk and Etienne Burdet. 2017. Human Balance Augmentation with Lower Limb Exoskeleton Robot. Poster at RehabWeek 2017 workshop: Towards a next generation of wearable robotic devices for human-oriented assistance and therapy (17 July 2017). London, UK.

Julia Ebert, Ildar Farkhatdinov, Geiss van Oort, Edwin van Asseldonk and Etienne Burdet. 2016. Preliminary Study on Assisting Balance Recovery with Lower Limb Exoskeleton. Poster at EuroHaptics 2016 (4–7 July 2016). London, UK.

Dagmar Sternad, Albert Mukovskiy, Julia Ebert and Tjeerd Dijkstra. 2016. Dynamic Stability in the Control of Complex Objects. Poster at Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement 2016 (12–17 June 2016). Mt. Sterling, OH.

Julia Ebert, Se-Woong Park and Dagmar Sternad. 2015. Asymmetric Learning in an Asymmetric Bimanual Task. Poster at Society for the Neural Control of Movement 25th Annual Meeting (20–24 April 2015). Charleston, SC.

Julia Ebert, Albert Mukovskiy, T Dijkstra and Dagmar Sternad. 2015. Why You Don't Spill Your Coffee. Poster at Northeastern University Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo (RISE) (9 April 2015). Boston, MA.

Julia Ebert, S Kim, Dagmar Sternad and Stefan Schaal. 2014. Learning and exploration in a novel dimensionality-reduction task. Poster at Society for the Neural Control of Movement 24th Annual Meeting (20–25 April 2014). Amsterdam, NL.

Julia Ebert, Se-Woong Park and Dagmar Sternad. 2014. Asymmetric Learning in an Asymmetric Bimanual Task. Poster at Northeastern University Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo (RISE) (10 April 2014). Boston, MA.

Julia Ebert, Se-Woong Park and Dagmar Sternad. 2013. Asymmetric Learning in an Asymmetric Bimanual Task. Poster at Northeast Undergraduate Research and Development Symposium (2–3 March 2013). Biddeford, ME.

Julia Ebert, Se-Woong Park, L Griffen, T O'Neil Pirozzi and Dagmar Sternad. 2012. Central Fatigue in Cognitive and Motor Performance. Poster at Northeastern University Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo (RISE) (29 March 2012). Boston, MA.

Side Projects

I make a lot of mostly useless things.

image/svg+xml

Lazy Baker

Python Django Wagtail CMS

It's cookbook-style recipe website using the Wagtail CMS framework for Django. It was a fun challenge for myself to build the whole thing in a weekend and a week's worth of evenings. I was bad at keeping track of recipes from various cookbooks, websites, and a very poorly organized recipe box. Clearly, the easiest solution to this problem was to build an entire website from scratch.

   Find a tasty recipe    View on GitHub
image/svg+xml

The Owen Tribune

Python Django

A satirical fake news website, styled after the New York Times and New Yorker. I made it as a Christmas present (for someone named Owen).

   Read fake news    View on GitHub
image/svg+xml

Jekyll Polymer

HTML JavaScript Jekyll Google Polymer

This project combines the static website generation of Jekyll with the web components framework of Google Polymer to create a full-featured material design blog template.

   View demo    View on GitHub

Suture Score

Python Ruby Matlab JavaScript

Suture Score is an application to provide instant, objective feedback on suturing technique to surgical trainees. To prepare for assessments and surgery, students need as much practice as possible. Using innovative image recognition techniques, Suture Score aims to enhance trainees' practice to improve their suturing skills.

Suture Score was created at the NHS-sponsored TELHack hackathon, where it won first place. It's now being tested for further development and use within the NHS.

   View website
image/svg+xml

Science Clickbait

Python Django

"Paul Erdös Warned Us About Amino Acids, But Look What's Happening Now."

"These Facts About Surface-Wave Tomography Will Change the Way You Look at Deformations in the Space-Time Continuum Forever."

Tired of ridiculous clickbait titles all over your social media feeds? Confuse your friends and amuse yourself with science-themed clickbait headlines.

Like the joke, this very stupid "artificial intelligence" is basically a bunch of "if" statements to fill in templates. That's what you get for a procrastination project in finals week.

   Make a headline    View on GitHub

VROOM: Vacuum Robot Overcoming Obstacles and Messes

Python

VROOM was a final project for an artificial intelligence course. It is a simulated robotic vacuum cleaner designed to explore its environment, classify the types of obstacles it encounters, and plan an efficient path to clean dirt in expected locations. It makes use of many classical AI algorithms such as A* search and naive Bayes classification.

   View on GitHub
image/svg+xml

Blurber

Python

Blurber is a web app to create fake book blurbs. Using the titles and descriptions of the top 300 books in every category on Amazon, this app will generate randomly generate new book blurbs with the power of Markov chains.

Blurber was created with Mustafa Camurcu and Shreyas Mahimkar at HackBeanpot 2015, where it was a finalist.

   Try it    View on GitHub

Media

Shameless self-promotion

Humans control complex objects by exploiting their stability

Physics Today, 1 October 2018

A short write-up about our Chaos paper: "Concepts from dynamical systems help to elucidate the subtle physics of how we move."

   Read article

Robotstravaganza

Brains On! Podcast

I was a guest on a live show of Brains On! (a science podcast for kids) at the Cambridge Science Festival. I showed off my LARVAbots and talked about bioinspired collective robotics.

   Listen

Interview at TELHack NHS Hackathon

Health Innovators TV

"TELHack innovators speak about the inspiration behind their idea, challenges along the way and how their innovation will help improve patient care."

   Watch Video

Honors Student Wins Marshall Scholarship

Northeastern News, 5 December 2014

"Julia Ebert, S’15, has won a Marshall Scholarship to pursue a one-​​year master’s of research in bioengineering at Imperial College London starting in the fall.

"Founded by the British government in 1953 to commemorate the Marshall Plan, the post­graduate scholarship allows up to 40 intellectually distinguished American students to study in the United Kingdom each year."

   Read article

Stories to Inspire: Julia Ebert

Northeastern University Scholars Program

"Behavioral neuroscience student and Goldwater Scholar, Julia Ebert, discusses her research."

   Watch video

Honors Student Named Goldwater Scholar

Northeastern News, 24 April 2013

"Julia Ebert, a third-​​year behavioral neuroscience major, has been awarded a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The merit-​​based scholarship is awarded annually to 300 college sophomores and juniors nationwide who are studying science, engineering, or mathematics. Scholarship nominees must demonstrate prior experience in a research setting and submit a proposal to the Foundation Board of Trustees based on work that has advanced their sfield of study and furthered their career objectives."

   Read article