Daniela Rus selected as CSAIL Director

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 9:30pm

Daniela Rus, Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Daniela Rus, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been named the next director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), effective May 23. 

Rus succeeds Anant Agarwal, who was recently named president of edX, an online learning initiative of MIT and Harvard University. Rus served as associate director of CSAIL from 2008 to 2011, and has been co-director of CSAIL’s Center for Robotics since 2005. She also directs CSAIL’s Distributed Robotics Laboratory. Rus is the first woman to serve as director of CSAIL.

Rus, a renowned roboticist, is known for spearheading research in programmable matter and distributed robotics. Her research interests in distributed robotics and mobile computing have led to a range of novel projects in transportation, security, environmental modeling and monitoring, underwater exploration, and agriculture. 

Rus’ group has built robots that can tend a garden, bake cookies from scratch, cut a birthday cake, fly in swarms without human aid to perform surveillance functions — and dance with humans. (She orchestrated such a performance last summer with the Pilobolus dance company in New York.) 

“I very much look forward to working with Daniela in this role,” says Dean Ian A. Waitz of MIT’s School of Engineering. “She is an exceptional scholar, and an excellent leader with a strong vision for the future of CSAIL.”

Rus is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Award and is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2002 and is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the IEEE (formerly the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). She serves on the scientific advisory board for the Max Planck Institute, on the editorial board for the Journal of Autonomous Robots, and on the long-term planning board for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. 

Before coming to MIT in 2003, Rus was a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, where she founded and directed two laboratories in robotics and mobile computing. Rus earned her PhD in computer science from Cornell University. 

CSAIL is MIT’s largest interdepartmental laboratory, with 900 members and more than 100 principal investigators coming from eight departments. CSAIL includes approximately 50 research groups organized into three focus areas: artificial intelligence, systems and theory. Each group is composed of faculty principal investigators; graduate and undergraduate students and postdocs; and research staff.

The research groups are supported by grants from U.S. government agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and others; as well as international corporate sponsors such as Boeing, Cisco, DuPont, Microsoft, Nokia, NTT, Pfizer, Quanta, SAP, Shell and Toyota.