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Meet Dr. Kerstin Haring

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Author(s)

Ritchie School Communications Team

Specializing in Robotic Collaborations

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Prefer reading over video? Check out the transcript below. 

Sedak Puri 

My name is Sedak Puri. I'm a current junior here at the University of Denver, studying computer science. And right now we're with Kerstin Haring. And she is a new faculty here.

Kerstin Haring 

I'm a young assistant professor here at the University of Denver. And my main research focus is human-robot interaction.

SP

Very cool. And how did you kind of choose the University of Denver, of all places in the country?

KH

Of all places I could go? Well, they have like a very interesting program, or like a very interesting call for  jobs, which includes the robotics part I'm working in, but also at the interdisciplinary approach, because it's very, very important for my research area that you include other disciplines, otherwise, it won't be working. And that was very attractive. It's a very good school, it has a good reputation. That was important. And it's a gorgeous campus in the middle of Colorado. And like Colorado. So, that definitely helps.

SP

You mentioned robotics, could you talk a bit more specifically about your research interests?

KH

Everyone talks about robotics and how they're going to take over the world. But then you don't have robots around here, right? Like no one, no one is bringing me coffee or, no robot is bringing me coffee... They're just not ubiquitous, right? And there's only these two scenarios of, well, they're going to take over the world, but we don't, have them anywhere around us. So I'm here because I want to change that, right? And I want to change that in a meaningful way. So we have robots that actually help us that team up with us, or that work with us. So instead of a robot just does a stupid task, right? You can basically create collaborations with them to achieve a task together.

SP

Very cool. What is your background before coming to the University of Denver?

KH

Yeah, so I started studying in Germany, which was computer science, and robotics and AI. And then also, I started to learn about cognitive science, basically- very boiled down, like building computational models of human behaviors. And I found that, well, humans are pretty interesting, right? We make some interesting decisions, when it comes, especially to technology and how we interact with it, that you wouldn't think of like sometimes it's not how the technology intended you to do it. So I thought that's very interesting. And then I moved over to Japan, and Japan has very interesting robots. So they have an interesting approach in terms of that they create robots, and then they integrate them into whatever the need might be. And Western people at times... we build towards a certain need. So Japan reverses this a little bit. So they have very beautiful designed robots. And sometimes the question is, well, what do they actually do, but it doesn't matter that much. So going there to study human robot interaction was pretty fascinating and very interesting. So I got my hands on some very cool robots.

SP

That's very fascinating, completely unique background there as well. Other than academia, do you have any other interests outside of robotics?

KH

Um, yeah, well, I like my cat, right? Who would have thought?

SP

Yeah.

KH

I like the outdoors, right? Hence, Colorado. I grew up skiing and snowboarding. I like to do both. When it's steep downhill and covered in snow. I'm always game to do that. So that's probably where you're going to find me. And in the winter, up in the mountains. Yeah.

SP

So I've heard about a TV show that you were part of, could you talk a bit more about that?

KH

Yes. So, when I was in Japan, I was part of a TV show on NHK. And it's Terebidedoitsugo, and that means how you can learn German on TV. So I was I was basically teaching some German on a national TV show.

SP

That's really cool. So do you have any favorite pop culture robots?

KH

The ones I really like are Japanese ones, right? We have Astro Boy. And Doraemon. I like Doraemon because he has a dokodemo door in his belly.

SP

Okay,

KH

Basically, which is like a, I don't know, like a vacuum door. So basically, anything could be in there. And you can go any place, which is pretty cool.

SP

And what kind of excites you the most about this industry that you're in?

KH

I think the opportunities and the potential, right, because we actually can change how we do things in hospitals and in terms of education, right? We can create machines and robots, which do help people who really need it.

SP

That's very exciting, I'd really, to thank you for coming here and talking to us. And thank you for coming and joining us at the University of Denver.

KH

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for having me.